Frisian literature

Frisian literature

Frisian literature is works written in the Frisian languages, particularly that of West Frisian spoken in the province of Friesland in the Netherlands, from which most texts were produced or have survived. The first texts written in Frisian emerge around the 13th century. Frisian as a written language has for the most part historically been secondary to Dutch and Latin for all official purposes.


Texts written in Frisian first appear in manuscripts from the late medieval period. Records of these, however, are fairly scarce and would generally not constitute literature, even if they did show some poetic merit. In 1498, Dutch became the official language in Friesland for all purposes of writing but Frisian would survive as a spoken language among the common people. Through the Renaissance, some authors would consciously attempt to preserve their language in short written works. Middle Frisian would generally be considered to begin around this time in the mid 16th century. The greatest impact would come from Gysbert Japix, a schoolteacher from Bolsward. Japix showed great talent in his poetry that could compare to many of the best Dutch and English poets, which went a long way in proving Frisian's worth as a written language and bringing about a revival amongst other Frisian authors in appreciating their native language. However this would again slow by the 18th century, which would bring about the end of the Middle Frisian period.

Modern Frisian

Modern Frisian, beginning around 1800 with the Romantic movement, went through a tremendous rebirth. Many authors would once again come to appreciate their language, and scholars would look at Frisian from an academic standpoint. Organizations were formed that drew supporters from upper and middle-class backgrounds. A further push of Dutch influence from the education system prompted three brothers, Joast Halbertsma, Eeltsje Halbertsma, and Tjalling Halbertsma, to create works in Frisian, including De âlde Friezen.

ee also

* West Frisian language
* Dutch literature


* [ Tsead Bruinja has a collection of articles on Frisian language and literature]

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