March 28, 2013

HYNSTEBLOM - "dandelion"

I recently spotted a few dandelions making an early appearance, so they will be the topic of this post.

Hynsteblom literally translates as "stallion flower." Blom (a flower or bloom) is pronounced with the long "oh" vowel in the exclamation oh!" and  hynst (stallion) is pronounced with the short "ih" sound "hint." The middle vowel is the ubiquitous schwa. HIHNST-uh-blohm.

Let's look at a sentence about dandelions lifted from the entry at Frisian Wikipedia:

Yn april kinne se hiele greiden giel kleurje.   
In April they can color whole grasslands yellow.

Yn means "in" but is said with a long "ee" like in "seen." EEn.
Be careful not to confuse it with the West Frisian article in meaning "a" or "an" and said with a schwa (uhn).

Based on other entries, my best guess on april is a long "ah" like in "father" before the -p- and a short "ih" like in "still" before the final -l. But it is not among the entries in my admittedly outdated glossary.

Kinne means "can, may, or able to." It is said with a short "ih" like in the English word "kin" and ends with a schwa. KIHNnuh.

Se means "she" or "they" and is said with a schwa. Suh.

Hiel is the West Frisian for "whole." It is pronounced with a long "ee" like in "heal" followed by a schwa. HEEuhl. The ideas of being healed and being whole are connected, so remember the word  that way.

Greide means "grassland" and is pronounced with same the diphthong heard in "high," "tide," and "eye."  It ends with a schwa. GRIGH-duh.

Giel means "yellow" and is pronounced with a long "ee" vowel like in "seek" followed by a schwa. GEEuhl.

Finally, kleurje is the verb form of the word kleur or "color." The noun form is said with the purse-lipped "o" with an umlaut over it that is found in German, followed by a schwa. KLÖ-uhr. For the verb form, -je is placed on the end, which sounds like a y- immediately followed by a schwa. KLÖ-uhr-yuh. Note the similarity to its English cognate "color."

March 22, 2013

GJIN - "no, none"

Today's post is based on a Wikipedia article about Manx cats in Frisian as well as on P. Sipma's book. Gjin is a very useful word that means that there is none of something. It is pronounced similar to the English word "gin," but with a y- before the "ih" vowel. GYIHn.

In kat hat gjin sturt. 
A cat has no tail.

The word in is pronounced with a schwa and means "a" or "an." UHn.

Kat is pronounced like the English "cot," the little bed you might sleep on in a cabin or tent. Don't be fooled by its familiar look: it does not have the same vowel as its English cognate.

Hat - "he, she, or it has." The -a- is an "ah" sound like in "father." This comes from the infinitive verb hawwe, "to have," pronounced with an "ah" like in "father," a -v- in the middle, and a schwa at the end. HAHVuh.

Sturt means "tail," and its vowel is pronounced like the German "o" with an umlaut over it, like it rhymes with dirt, but with more of a rounded sound.

It is important to bear in mind that modern Frisian spelling sometimes differs from older sources. Sipma spells sturt as stirt. Another example I have found is the spelling of the word for "wall." Per Sipma, it is written mûrre, but some modern sources spell it muorre.  According to his glossary, it is pronounced with an "oo" vowel like in "moon" followed by an "oh" vowel like in the exclamation "oh!" and ends with a schwa. MOO-OHruh.

March 18, 2013

TSJUSTER - "dark"

Here's a sound we don't see often at the beginning of words in English. Tsjuster, "dark" or "darkness,"  begins with a sound like a t- in front of the word "chew" and ends with a syllable like the word "stir." TCHEW-stuhr.

Here it is in a sentence:

It bern is bang by tsjuster.
The child is afraid of the dark.

It means "the" or "it." As discussed previously, this word is pronounced with a schwa. UHt, rhyming with "hut."

Bern means "child" and apparently is pronounced with a "eh" vowel, like in "bear."  BEHrn. If you click on the link, you can see Frisian Wikipedia's entry on different kinds of children: babies, toddlers, etc.

Is is like "is" in English.

Bang is pronounced with the long "ah" in "father" and not like the American English word that looks the same. It means "timid, afraid, or concerned." However, a loud bang could certainly make a person afraid. BAHng.

According to P. Sipma's glossary, by is supposedly pronounced like the word "bay" and means "at, near, or with." However, that transcription is from a century ago. In modern usage it actually seems to be pronounced just like the English word "by."

March 11, 2013

SELS - "self"

Time for another cognate. Sels means "self" and sounds like the English word "sells," except the final -z sound might be a bit softer in Frisian.

A few examples of use:

Ik sels. "I myself." IHk SEHlz.

Hy wol it sels dwaen. "He wants to do it himself." Remember, hy  ("he") rhymes with the word "hay," the stuff horses eat. But we could also say she wants to do it herself, and use hja instead of hy.  Hja is pronounced much the way it looks, like the German word for "yes" with an h- in front of it. Or like the sound people supposedly make in karate. Hja!

Wol means "wants to" or "wills to" and is pronounced like "vole," the small, gray furry critters.

It means "it" or "the," but is said with the vowel schwa: UHt.

Dwaen means "to do" and is pronounced with a long "a" like in the word "father." DWAHn.

March 4, 2013

OER - "over" / Words for Winter

This preposition looks a lot like its English sibling, but is pronounced OO-uhr, with the long vowel sound in the word "moon" and a schwa before the final -r.

Here is a piece from Sipma's book, from a poem called Winternocht (Winter Joy). The Frisian word winter sounds like the English one, but with a v- instead of a w- at the beginning. Nocht has an "oh" vowel like in "boat" or "oh!" and the harsh "ch" discussed in the NACHT post just below.

Oer hûs, oer klûs, oer finne
Leit leeljeblank en wyt...

The accented û also has the long OO sound.

Hûs means "house" and is said HOOz, with a softer final -z than in English.

Klûs means "cottage" or a cell or hermitage. Say it KLOOz, also with the softer ending.

Finne means "pasture" or "grazing ground" and is prnounced with a short "ih" sound like the vowel in the word "bit" and a schwa at the end. FIH-nuh.

Leit, which sounds like the English word "light," means that something lies in a place, as snow might lie on the ground. Note that it has the same vowel sound, which will hopefully help with memorization.

Leelje means "lily" and has a long "ey" like in the word "bay" or the ubiquitous "eh?" used in some parts of Canada. It has a "yuh" sound at the end: a y- plus a schwa. The second part of the word, blank, means "bright" and has an "ah" sound as in "father."  LAY-LYUH-blahnk - "lily-bright."

En means "and." A nice, common word. Say it with a solid "eh" vowel like in "pen" or "hen."

Finally, wyt means "white." It begins with a v- and has the "ee" vowel found in the word "creek." VEEt.

So, the translation is:

Over house, over cottage, over pasture,
lies lily-bright and white...

We're reading about snow of course, but that raises another question: how do we say "snow" in Frisian?

"Snow" is snie. The vowels are another "ee" as in "creek" and a schwa on the end. SNEE-uh.