April 30, 2013

DE MAITIID - A Frisian Song - Part III

This is the third and final post about the children’s song, “De Maitiid.” To conclude, let’s look at one of the verses that was not translated on Mama Lisa’s website.

As twa jonge minske-herten troch de leafe bin ferbûn…
As two young human hearts are bound through love…

As is pronounced much like “Oz,” as in the Emerald City thereof. It means “as,” “when,” or “if.”

Twa looks very much like what it means in English: “two.”  Say it with a  -w- and an extra- long “ah” like in “father," rather like the first syllable of the word “twaddle.” TWAAH.

Jong is pronounced with a full “oh” as in “row” or the exclamation “oh!” It too is a cognate, this time meaning “young.” YOHNG.

Minske was discussed just below in Part II.

Hert means “heart” and is said with the “eh” sound in “wear”… think of “wearing your heart on your sleeve” to remember the vowel. HEHrt.

Troch is West Frisian for “through.” It is a very common word and is quite useful to know. Say it with an “oh” like in “row” and the harsh “ch” in the German “Bach” or Hebrew “l’chaim!” TROHch.

To review, de means “the” and is said with a schwa.

Leafde gives us another example of spellings changing over the past century: it is under ljeafde in P. Sipma’s glossary. Leafde, however, is the correct modern spelling. This is the word for “love,” and it is said with an “ih” vowel as in “bit” followed by a schwa, with another schwa on the end. LihUHv-duh.

My best guess on bin is that it is a conjugation of the verb “to be.” In any case, it sounds just like the English word it looks like.

Ferbûn is from ferbine, which means “to connect” or “to bind.” Say it with an “eh” in the first syllable and a full “oo” as in “moon” in the second syllable. FEHR-boon.

En it houlik wurd besletten ‘t grutte libben wurd begûn
And the wedding establishes (that) a great life has begun

Remember, en means “and”; it is pronounced with an “eh” as in “pen” or “ih” as in “pin.” EHn. Also recall that it is said with a schwa and means “the” or “it.” UHt.

Houlik is the modern West Frisian word for “wedding” or “marriage.”

Wurd sounds a lot like the English “word” with a more rounded vowel and means “be” or “become” in this context. It is from the verb wurde (old spelling: wirde) “to become” or “to be.” Wurd as a noun is the West Frisian word for “word.”

Besletten means “establish.” The first syllable takes a schwa, the second an “eh” as in “let,” and the last syllable another schwa. BUH-sleht-uhn. As a side note, words beginning in be­- in modern Frisian are sometimes spelled beginning with a bi- in Sipma’s glossary.

As discussed in the very first lesson, ‘t is a short form for it, pronounced with a schwa.

Grut (or grutte) is an essential word to know! It means “large,” “great,” “grand,” “important,” and so on. Say it with an “oo” as in “moon” and a schwa on the end. GROO-tuh.

Libben means “life” and is pronounced with an “ih” as in “live” and a schwa in the second syllable. Lih-buhn.

Begûn is from the verb begjinne meaning “begin” or “start” (old spelling: bigjinne). Bih-GOOn / BUH-gyih-nuh.

April 19, 2013

DE MAITIID - A Frisian Song - Part II

If you listen to the YouTube recording listed on Mam Lisa's site, starting at 1:57, you’ll notice a difference from what was covered in Part I. Instead of jin (you), they use the word ús, which means "our" or “us” and is pronounced with a vowel that sounds somewhat between an “ih” as in “bit” and an “ee” as in “creek.” EEs.

Studying Frisian is not always an exact science, especially with so few resources available in English. With that in mind, let’s look at the next few lines of “De Maitiid.” You might notice some variation between the pronunciations gathered from P. Sipma’s book and the online recording.

 De moaie maitiid mei syn blauwe loft…
The beautiful springtime with its blue sky…

Moai is a very useful Frisian word. It means “nice” or “beautiful” and is pronounced with the “oy” ending found in “boy.” Here, there is a final –e added in the Frisian and a final schwa added to our pronunciation. MOY-uh. According to P. Sipma on page 61 of his free book, this is because it is following a definite or indefinite article (de) and is modifying a masculine or feminine noun. At this stage, I’m personally not worrying about points of grammar too much, though.

Mei sounds like the English “my,” rhyming with “dye.” MIGH. You can spot the -ei combination­ in a number of Frisian words, including dei, discussed previously. Remember that the –ei­ diphthong sounds like the word “eye” when you see it. 

Syn means “his” or “its” and is pronounced like the English word “seen.”

Blauwe is the West Frisian for “blue” and is a cognate. It is pronounced with the –ow- diphthong in the English “vow” or the German word "Frau" and is followed by a schwa. BLAU-uh,

Loft means sky: just hink of the English word “lofty” to remember it. The vowel is a full “oh” like in “road” or “boat.” LOHFt.

Is foar minsken en foar blom grif it moaiste skoft.
For people and for flowers is certainly the most beautiful period of time.

Foar is said with a rounded “oh” followed by a long “ah” as in “father.” FOH-ahr. It means “before,” “for,” or “to.”

Minsken is the plural of minske and means "humans," "a person," or "men." It ends with a schwa vowel; according to P. Sipma, the first syllable has a similar vowel to the “ih” in “mint.” MIHNskuh. However, if you listen to the song, they seem to be saying it with more of an -ay sound like in “bay” or “day.”

Blom was discussed previously here. It means “flower” and is pronounced with an “oh” as in “roam.”

Grif is said with an “ih” so that it rhymes with “cliff,” at least according to Sipma. In the song, it does sound a bit different, doesn't it? In any case, grif means “certainly,” “surely,” or “truly.”

Notice the –ste ending on moaie in this line. Just like in English, -st indicates that the adjective is the most of something, i.e., the most beautiful.

Skoft is said with a full “oh” too, like loft.  It means a “period of time,” “a while,” or “a part of the day.”  SKOHft.

That’s it for the chorus. In Part III, we’ll look at one of the verses of “De Maitiid” that is not translated on the website. The first verse is about birds in treetops, but I cannot find translations for all of the words, so I’m going to leave it be and go straight to the second verse.

April 13, 2013

DE MAITIID - A Frisian Song - Part I

Let’s take a look at the lyrics of the children's song “De Maitiid,” introduced just below. I’ll start with the chorus, which is translated on Mama Lisa's website. The translation is very helpful, but it is not entirely literal. So we’ll break the song down word by word:

Dan komt de maitiid, maitiid yn it lân...
Then comes the springtime, springtime in the land…

Dan means then and is pronounced much like the English word “dawn.”

Komt means “he, she, or it comes” and is pronounced with a full, rounded “oh,” like in “road.” KOHMt.

De maitiid has been covered in the previous post.

Yn is a cognate. It means “in” and is prenounced with a long “ee” sound, as in “seen.” EEn. Remember to distinguish it from the West Frisian in meaning “a” or “an” and pronounced with a schwa.

It means “the” or “it” and is said with a schwa. UHt.

Lân means “land” and is pronounced with a long “ah” as in “father.”  Actually, it sounds a lot like the English word “lawn.” That should make it easier to remember. You also see this word in the West Frisian for Frisia itself: Fryslân.  Say it with a long “ee” in the first syllable, and accent on the first syllable. FREES-lahn.

Dan laket alles, alles jin sa oan...
Then laughs everything, everything (laughs) upon you…

Notice that the website translates this as everything smiles upon you, which conveys the connotation quite well: this is a nice children’s song, after all, celebrating the arrival of spring. When we say that everything is laughing at you in English, that is not so nice.

Laket means that something or someone is laughing. Say it with a long “ah” in the first syllable and a schwa in the second syllable. LAH-kuht. The infinitive of the verb is laitsje ("to laugh"), which is said like the word “lie” followed by a –ts- sound, a –y-, and schwa. LIGH-tsyuh.

Alles means what it looks like, “all.” Say the first syllable with the “o” in words like “pot” or “cot” that sounds very similar to a long “ah” and use a schwa in the second syllable. It sounds a lot like the English word “soulless” with the s- dropped and shorter –ou- sound.

Jin as several meanings, including a formal or plural “you.” It is said with a y- and an “ih” like in “bit.” YIHn.

Sa means “so” and is pronounced with an “ah,” rather like the English word “saw” with a less drawn-out vowel ending. This word shows up a lot.  Fortunately, it looks like its English cognate.

Oan has all kinds of meanings and appears all over the place in West Frisian. It can mean “on, to, in, upon, near, along...” and so on. Take a look at this online dictionary entry to get an idea of how versatile oan is. Say it with a round “oh” like in “boat” and a schwa before the final -n. OHuhn. I would not be too surprised if the schwa gets blurred away in the spoken language, though. So it might sound more like the word “own” in everyday speech.

That should be enough Frisian vocabulary for one day. Part II will be up soon.

April 2, 2013

MAITIID - "spring, springtime"

Maitiid looks like it could be about the month of May, but it is actually the word for all of spring. The vowels following the m- are pronounced like the word "my," with the same diphthong we have in words like "eye" or "nigh." The second part, tiid, means "time" and is said with the long "ee" sound in the English word "week." MIGH-teed. You can remember the sound of the first syllable by remembering that "springtime is nigh."

Let's see it in a sentence borrowed from Frisian Wikipedia:

De maitiid is ien fan de fjouwer jiertiden.
The springtime is one of the four seasons.

De means "the" and is pronounced with a schwa.

Is is just like its English twin "is," as mentioned before.

Ien means "one" or "somebody." It is said with a long "ee" like in "week" or "keen," followed by a schwa before the final -n. EE-uhn. I'm guessing that it might be hard to hear the schwa in regular speech, though. Maybe you'd just hear EEn.

Don't you just hate it when you pick up a foreign language book, and they expect you to memorize a whole list of numbers by chapter four? That is not a particularly effective way to learn, well, anything. People rely on context to retain information. So, that's my approach to my own studies and to this blog. No ridiculous lists. All right, stepping off my soapbox...

Fan is a great word to know. You hear it all the time in modern West Frisian. It is pronounced with the sort of "o" heard in the word "pot" or "on," similar to the long "ah" sound in "father." Actually, this word sounds a lot like the word for a young deer... FAWN. It means "of" or "by," but it shows up in all sorts of contexts. Note that P. Sipma spells it fen  if you are using his glossary from 1913. This is not the first time his spellings differ from modern use, by any means.

Fjouwer means "four" and is pronounced rather like the English word "flower," but with a -y- sound replacing the -l-. FYAU-uhr.

Jiertiden is the plural of jiertiid (see that word tiid again?), which means "season" or, more literally, " time of year."  The letter that looks like a "j" is pronounced "y," just like in German. Say the singular with a short "ih" vowel and let the -r- fall away: YIH-teed. The plural has a schwa in the final syllable. YIH-teed-uhn.

Finally, here is a Frisian children's song about the spring. We'll look into the lyrics in more detail soon, including some parts that have not been translated yet on the website.