- Frisian place-names and place-names in Friesland
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- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication (ACLC)
This article sketches etymological, distributional and judicial aspects of placenames in the Frisian regions of the Netherlands and Germany. As a result of settlement history, a number of name suffixes is overrepresented in the Frisian regions: -haim, -ing > -ens, -werd, -werf and additionally -büll in North Friesland. The Frisian onomastic landscape is not unique in the application of these name types, but rather in the specific cocktail of the types and their high densities. Friesland’s names bear witness of a massive resettlement in the aftermath of the Great Migrations. The second part of the article shows how Frisian names are linguistically adopted and partly assimilated in the adjacent languages Dutch and German. Dutch and German exonyms for Frisian place-names show a mixture of archaic forms and superficial phonological and morphological replacement. The trend seems to be: the larger the place, the older the exonym. As Frisian has had the status of a minority language since many centuries, Frisian endonyms are hardly used as official names in the Netherlands and Germany. An exception is found in the Dutch province of Fryslân, where Frisian endonyms have been adopted as official names since the fifties of the last century. Although highly symbolic in its impact, this aspect of language emancipation has been the object of severe debates and reluctant acceptance by Dutch state authorities.
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