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|Originally England, Scottish Lowlands and the North Sea coast from Friesland to Jutland; today worldwide|
The Anglo-Frisian languages are distinguished from other West Germanic languages partially by the Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law, Anglo-Frisian brightening, and by the palatalization of Proto-Germanic *k to a coronal affricate before front vowels, e.g.
- English cheese, West Frisian tsiis vs. Dutch kaas, Low German Kees, German Käse; or
- English church, West Frisian tsjerke vs. Dutch kerk, Low German Kerk, Kark, German Kirche.
The early Anglo-Frisian and Old Saxon speech communities lived close enough together to form a linguistic crossroads which is why they share some of the traits otherwise only typical of Anglo-Frisian languages.1 However, despite their common origins, Anglic and Frisian have become very divergent, largely due to the heavy Norse and French influences on English and similarly heavy Dutch and Low German influences on Frisian. The result is that Frisian has now far more in common with Dutch and the adjacent Low German dialects, bringing it into the West Germanic dialect continuum, whereas Anglic has stronger North Germanic and non-Germanic influences than the languages on the mainland.
The following is a summary of the major sound changes affecting vowels in chronological order:2
- Backing and nasalization of West Germanic ā̆ before a nasal consonant;
- Loss of n before a spirant, resulting in lengthening and nasalization of preceding vowel;
- The present and preterite plurals reduced to a single form;
- A-fronting: WGmc ā̆ → ǣ, even in the diphthongs ai and au;
- Palatalization (but not phonemicization of palatals);
- A-restoration: ǣ → ā under to the influence of neighboring consonants;
- Second fronting: OE dialects (except West Saxon) and Frisian ǣ → ē;
- A-restoration: a restored before a back vowel in the following syllable (later in the Southumbrian dialects); Frisian æu → au → Old Frisian ā/a;
- OE breaking; in West Saxon palatal diphthongization follows;
- i-mutation followed by syncope; Old Frisian breaking follows;
- Phonemicization of palatals and assibilation, followed by second fronting in parts of West Mercia;
- Smoothing and back mutation.
The words for the numbers one to ten in the Anglo-Frisian languages:
- Ae /eː/, /jeː/ is the adjectival form used before nouns.3
|ha west||have been||ben geweest||bin gewesen|
|twa skiep||two sheep||twee schapen||zwei Schafe|
|Ross / Pferd|
|it giet oan||it's on||het gaat door||es geht weiter/los|
The grouping was first proposed in Nordgermanen und Alemannen (1942) by the German linguist and philologist Friedrich Maurer (1898–1984), as an alternative to the strict tree diagrams which had become popular following the work of the 19th-century linguist August Schleicher and which assumed the existence of an Anglo-Frisian group.7
- The German linguist Friedrich Maurer rejected Anglo-Frisian as a historical subdivision of the Germanic languages. Instead, he proposed North Sea Germanic or Ingvaeonic, a common ancestor of Old Frisian, Old English and Old Saxon.
- Robert D. Fulk, “The Chronology of Anglo-Frisian Sound Changes”, Approaches to Old Frisian Philology, eds., Rolf H. Bremmer Jr., Thomas S.B. Johnston, and Oebele Vries (Amsterdam: Rodopoi, 1998), 185.
- Grant, William; Dixon, James Main (1921) Manual of Modern Scots. Cambridge, University Press. p.105
- Also known as Anglo-Saxon.
- Some include West Flemish. Cf. Bremmer (2009:22).
- For a full discussion of the areal changes involved and their relative chronologies, see Voyles (1992).
- Friedrich Maurer (Lehrstuhl für Germanische Philologie - Linguistik)
Friedrich Maurer (1942), Nordgermanen und Alemannen: Studien zur Sprachgeschichte, Stammes- und Volkskunde, Strasbourg: Hünenburg.