February 22, 2015

HIEL OF HEAL? - Whole Or Half?

Some of the matters I've been dealing with through the past months seem to be under control for now. So, back to having fun with Frisian:

Today, let's study a treacherous pair that can cause confusion: hiel and heal. These two similar-looking words have entirely different meanings.

Hiel means "whole" and is said with a long "ee" like the English word "heel." It can have a faint schwa before the final -l.  HEE-uhl.

Heal means "half" and has a slight difference in pronunciation: it is said with an "ih" as in the English word "hit" before the faint schwa. HIH-uhl.

Let's look at hiel in a sentence from the early Frisian-language publication Sljucht en Rjucht ("Simple and Right"):

Alle minsken binn' myn broerren
En de hiele wrâld myn thús...

All people are my brothers
And the whole world is my home...

De hiele wrâld is a useful phrase, meaning "the whole world." Remember, wrâld begins with a v- sound and takes a long "ah" like in "father." VRAHld.

Next, let's look at heal in a few short phrases:

...de eagen heal ticht...
...the eyes half-closed...

...in heal miljoen minsken...
...a half-million people...

All well and good, but how do we remember the difference between the two when starting out? Here's a trick I came up with:

For heal, think of becoming whole as the purpose of healing. If something is already whole, it does not need to be healed. So, heal (which looks but does not sound entirely like the English word "heal") is a half, but never a whole.

What about hiel? I think of the heliosphere to remember this one. You could see the whole world from there. Which brings us back to de hiele wrâld.

To end, here is a song sung by Anneke Douma about how the whole world changes but Friesland remains the same:


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