It is hoped that the use of Frisian will make the supermarkets more grounded in their surroundings, and give tourists a ‘genuine experience’
Translated by Thomas Ansell
Eastermar (Tytsjerksteradiel) and Damwâld (Dantumadiel) will be the first locations for Frisian-language supermarkets, so reports the Omrop Fryslân. Lots of people in existing supermarkets do speak Frisian, but in these supermarkets you’ll also be able to see Frisian-language adverts, packaging, and signage.
The initiative has come from the language institute Afûk, and there is national interest in the project: a delegation from the Ministry of Internal Affairs will come to Friesland in February to see the new supermarkets.
Afûk is working in collaboration with all supermarkets that would like to participate, and is providing an portion of funds as a subsidy. “There are more supermarkets that have reacted to our offer”, says Fokke Jagersma from Afûk, “but if you are part of a national chain it takes a lot of effort to translate everything, set it in a design, and get everything ready.”
“We have had interest from all corners, and lots of other may follow our example. We have also heard from the Ministry [of Internal Affairs]: why are we only doing this with Frisian? Outside of Friesland there are also lots of dialects and languages; including Dutch Saxon and Limburgs”, said Jagersma.
Frisian is now visible in both Eastermar and Damwâld: “In the first instance, you’ll see it on signs. The staff often speak in Frisian, there are lots of regional products, but the visibility of the language is another story. In those two places, there are now signs in either Frisian or two languages. If you look at the German supermarket chain Edeka you’ll see that they have already done this, and it creates a bond with people in their own town- and also with people from the region, and even for tourists.”
According to Jagersma, it’s also a draw for tourists. He sets his case thus: “If you, yourself, are in another country, you want to be able to taste the difference. In 2018 we have lots of tourists that noted the invisibility of the Frisian language- the ‘couleur locale’. And, if you strengthen this with local products, you have a great story.”
Luckily, the project has been approached with a comedic eye. So, you’ll find little asides on packaging and signs, for example packs of drinks say ‘Foar de toarst’ (‘for the thirst’), and on toilet paper ‘Foar as de krante op is’ (‘for when you are out of newspaper’). One supermarket; ‘Alles ûnder ien Dak’ (‘everything under one roof’) in Eastermar has gone with ‘fleis yn blik, smaaklik en maklik’ (‘meat in container, tasty and easy’), and ‘de friezer, it bliuwt langer goed’ (‘the freezer, it keeps it better for longer’).
Image via Pixabay user Peggy CCI