Fewer and fewer people learn and use (West) Frisian each year
Translated by Thomas Ansell
As reported by the Friesch Dagblad, a Foundation for the Frisian language, the Brede Maatskiplijke Diskusje Frysk (BMD Frysk) wants to help stop the decline of Frisian through a wide-scale discussion with young people.
A trial conversation will take place next year with 30 young people (18-30) from the Trynwâlden region near Leeuwarden. If the congress is a success, then the discussion will be widened to include people from across the Province, in around twenty or thirty villages.
Rimmer Mulder, the head of the BMD Frysk foundation, young people are very important in deciding the future of Frisian in the coming decades. “They’re the generation that will have children and decide whether to pass on the language”, says Mulder, “do they want to see more Frisian education in schools as mandatory, or not?”
The group is not open for applications, instead the BMD Frysk will solicit participants from its network. “If we have open applications we’re worried that we will get ‘the usual suspects’ joining in. Then the group will just be those that only want more Frisian against groups that want to do away with the language”, says Mulder.
“The province has, over the last 20 years, put millions into supporting the language, but Frisian isn’t gathering a huge amount of support. If nothing further happens, the language will disappear. They’ll always be spoken Frisian, and things such as songs and poems, but as a written and daily language, it will disappear”, Mulder adds.
The discussion forum is being supported by a grant of between six and eight thousand euros from the Province of Friesland, and the Roelof Geertsma Fûns.
Image: a stone with Frisian poem in Leeuwarden. The poem was written by Frisian poet Fedder Schurer, to commemorate the 1950 ‘Kneppelfreed‘ affair, which led to Frisian being recognised as an official language in the Netherlands.