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FROM 22.9.22


North Frisians

North Frisian is a very heavily subdivided language, with nine insular and mainland dialects. Preserving this diversity involves many issues. Should Frisian be recognised as a regular school subject? What impacts are mass tourism and rising house prices having on local communities? What is the extent of government support? Many North Frisians today speak Low German or German (and rarely Danish) as their native language. Rituals like the Biikebrennen bonfire night offer ways of participating in the North Frisian community beyond language.

Frisian at school

Schools are vital for passing on the North Frisian language. Many parents speak little or nothing of the language, because it used to be seen as old-fashioned not to teach children in standard High German. Even in the 1980s, teachers were still warning of the disadvantages of letting children grow up bilingual, let alone learn Frisian as their first language. So it’s important to many families today that children can actually learn the language in school. As yet, however, Frisian is a regular timetabled subject only in the senior classes on Föhr and at one Danish school. Other schools are unable to recruit teachers specifically for the subject. Teachers must also develop their own teaching materials. Accordingly, not enough young people currently see teaching Frisian as a career prospect. As with the equally crucial problem that public radio broadcasts virtually nothing in Frisian, changes to political priorities are urgently required here, both on the state and federal levels.