Anglo-Frisian languages
The Anglo-Frisian languages (also known as North Sea Germanic or Ingvaeonic) form a group of West Germanic languages
West Germanic languages
The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three traditional branches of the Germanic family of languages and include languages such as German, English, Dutch, Afrikaans, the Frisian languages, and Yiddish...

 consisting of Old English
Old English language
Old English or Anglo-Saxon is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century...

, Old Frisian
Old Frisian
Old Frisian is a West Germanic language spoken between the 8th and 16th centuries in the area between the Rhine and Weser on the European North Sea coast. The Frisian settlers on the coast of South Jutland also spoke Old Frisian but no medieval texts of this area are known...

, and their descendants. The Anglo-Frisian family tree is:
  • Anglo-Frisian
    • Anglic
      Anglic can refer to:* Old English and the languages descended from it.* A simplified system of English spelling invented by the Swedish philologist Robert Eugen Zachrisson in 1930....

       (Insular Anglo-Frisian)
      • English
        English language
        English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

      • Scots
        Scots language
        Scots is the Germanic language variety spoken in Lowland Scotland and parts of Ulster . It is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Celtic language variety spoken in most of the western Highlands and in the Hebrides.Since there are no universally accepted...

      • Yola
        Yola language
        Yola is an extinct West Germanic language formerly spoken in Ireland. A branch of Middle English, it evolved separately among the English who followed the Norman barons Strongbow and Robert Fitzstephen to eastern Ireland in 1169....

        Extinct language
        An extinct language is a language that no longer has any speakers., or that is no longer in current use. Extinct languages are sometimes contrasted with dead languages, which are still known and used in special contexts in written form, but not as ordinary spoken languages for everyday communication...

    • Frisian (Continental Anglo-Frisian)
      • West Frisian
        West Frisian language
        West Frisian is a language spoken mostly in the province of Friesland in the north of the Netherlands. West Frisian is the name by which this language is usually known outside the Netherlands, to distinguish it from the closely related Frisian languages of Saterland Frisian and North Frisian,...

      • East Frisian
        East Frisian
        East Frisian is an adjective referring to East Frisia, a region in Germany. It can refer specifically to:*East Frisians, the people from the region*East Friesian , a breed of sheep originating there...

        Saterland Frisian language
        Saterland Frisian, also known as Sater Frisian or Saterlandic , is the last living dialect of the East Frisian language. It is closely related to the other Frisian languages—North Frisian, which, like Saterland Frisian, is spoken in Germany and West Frisian, which is spoken in the Netherlands.- Old...

      • North Frisian
        North Frisian language
        North Frisian is a minority language of Germany, spoken by about 10,000 people in North Frisia. The language is part of the larger group of the West Germanic Frisian languages.-Classification:...

The Anglo-Frisian languages are distinguished from other West Germanic languages partially by the Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law
Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law
In historical linguistics, the Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law is a description of a phonological development in some dialects of West Germanic, which is attested in Old English, Old Frisian, and Old Saxon...

, Anglo-Frisian brightening, and by the palatalization
In linguistics, palatalization , also palatization, may refer to two different processes by which a sound, usually a consonant, comes to be produced with the tongue in a position in the mouth near the palate....

 of Proto-Germanic
Proto-Germanic language
Proto-Germanic , or Common Germanic, as it is sometimes known, is the unattested, reconstructed proto-language of all the Germanic languages, such as modern English, Frisian, Dutch, Afrikaans, German, Luxembourgish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, and Swedish.The Proto-Germanic language is...

 * to a coronal
Coronal consonant
Coronal consonants are consonants articulated with the flexible front part of the tongue. Only the coronal consonants can be divided into apical , laminal , domed , or subapical , as well as a few rarer orientations, because only the front of the tongue has such...

Affricate consonant
Affricates are consonants that begin as stops but release as a fricative rather than directly into the following vowel.- Samples :...

 before front vowels, e.g.
  • English cheese, West Frisian tsiis vs. Dutch
    Dutch language
    Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

     kaas, Low German
    Low German
    Low German or Low Saxon is an Ingvaeonic West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands...

     Kees, German
    German language
    German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

     Käse; or
  • English church, West Frisian tsjerke vs. Dutch kerk, Low German Kerk, Kark, German Kirche.

The early Anglo-Frisian and Old Saxon
Old Saxon
Old Saxon, also known as Old Low German, is the earliest recorded form of Low German, documented from the 8th century until the 12th century, when it evolved into Middle Low German. It was spoken on the north-west coast of Germany and in the Netherlands by Saxon peoples...

 speech communities lived close enough together to form a linguistic crossroads
A Sprachbund – also known as a linguistic area, convergence area, diffusion area or language crossroads – is a group of languages that have become similar in some way because of geographical proximity and language contact. They may be genetically unrelated, or only distantly related...

 which is why they share some of the traits otherwise only typical of Anglo-Frisian languages. 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
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 and the adjacent Low German dialects, bringing it into the West Germanic dialect continuum
Dialect continuum
A dialect continuum, or dialect area, was defined by Leonard Bloomfield as a range of dialects spoken across some geographical area that differ only slightly between neighboring areas, but as one travels in any direction, these differences accumulate such that speakers from opposite ends of the...

, whereas Anglic has essentially become a half-Germanic language isolate.

Anglo-Frisian Developments

The following is a summary of the major sound changes affecting vowels in chronological order:
  1. Backing and nasalization of West Germanic ā̆ before a nasal consonant;
  2. Loss of n before a spirant, resulting in lengthening
    Compensatory lengthening
    Compensatory lengthening in phonology and historical linguistics is the lengthening of a vowel sound that happens upon the loss of a following consonant, usually in the syllable coda...

     and nasalization
    In phonetics, nasalization is the production of a sound while the velum is lowered, so that some air escapes through the nose during the production of the sound by the mouth...

     of preceding vowel;
  3. The present and preterite plurals reduced to a single form;
  4. A-fronting: WGmc ā̆ǣ, even in the diphthongs ai and au;
  5. Palatalization (but not phonemicization of palatals);
  6. A-restoration: ǣā under to the influence of neighboring consonants;
  7. Second fronting: OE dialects (except West Saxon) and Frisian ǣē;
  8. A-restoration: a restored before a back vowel in the following syllable (later in the Southumbrian dialects); Frisian æuau → Old Frisian ā/a;
  9. OE breaking; in West Saxon palatal diphthongization follows;
  10. i-mutation followed by syncope
    In phonology, syncope is the loss of one or more sounds from the interior of a word; especially, the loss of an unstressed vowel. It is found bothin Synchronic analysis of languages and Diachronics .-Found synchronically:...

    ; Old Frisian breaking follows;
  11. Phonemicization of palatals and assibilation, followed by second fronting in parts of West Mercia;
  12. Smoothing and back mutation.


Compare the words for the numbers one to ten in the Anglo-Frisian languages.
Language 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
English one two three four five six seven eight nine ten
Scots ane
twa three
fower five sax seiven
Yola oan twye dhree vour veeve zeese zeven ayght neen dhen
West Frisian ien twa trije fjouwer fiif seis sân acht njoggen tsien
Saterland Frisian aan twäi
träi fjauwer fieuw säks soogen oachte njugen tjoon
North Frisian (Mooring dialect
Mooring (North Frisian dialect)
Mooring or Bökingharde Frisian is a dialect of the North Frisian language spoken in Niebüll and the amt of Bökingharde in the German region of North Frisia. The name Mooring refers to the Risum Bog...

fjouer fiiw seeks soowen oocht nüügen tiin
  • Ae /eː/, /jeː/ is the adjectival form used before nouns.
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