West Frisian language

West Frisian
Native toNetherlands
RegionFriesland, Groningen
EthnicityWest Frisians
Native speakers
470,000 (2001 census)[1]
Official status
Official language in
Netherlands (Province of Friesland)
Regulated byFryske Akademy
Language codes
ISO 639-3fry
Present-day distribution West Frisian languages, in the Netherlands
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West Frisian, or simply Frisian (Westerlauwersk Frysk or simply Frysk, pronounced [friːs(k)]; Dutch: Westerlauwers Fries, pronounced [fris]) is a West Germanic language spoken mostly in the province of Friesland (Fryslân) in the north of the Netherlands, mostly by those of Frisian ancestry. It is the most widely spoken of the Frisian languages.

In the study of the evolution of English, West Frisian is notable as being the most closely related foreign tongue to the various dialects of Old English spoken across the Heptarchy, these being part of the Anglo-Frisian branch of the West Germanic family, and is therefore often considered to be in-between English and Dutch — Dutch is widely dubbed in-between the Anglo-Saxon derived components of English and German.


The name "West Frisian" is only used outside the Netherlands, to distinguish this language from the closely related Frisian languages of Saterland Frisian and North Frisian spoken in Germany. Within the Netherlands, however, "West Frisian" refers to the West Frisian dialect of the Dutch language while the West Frisian language is almost always just called "Frisian" (in Dutch: Fries for the Frisian language and Westfries for the Dutch dialect). The unambiguous name used for the West Frisian language by linguists in the Netherlands is Westerlauwers Fries [ˈʋɛstərˌlʌu̯ərs ˈfris] (West Lauwers Frisian), the Lauwers being a border river that separates the Dutch provinces of Friesland and Groningen.