Stadsfries dialects

Stadsfries or Town Frisian (Dutch: Stadsfriesch, Stadfriesch, Stadsfries, Stadfries; West Frisian: stedsk, stedfrysk) is a set of dialects spoken in certain cities in the province of Friesland in the northern Netherlands, namely Leeuwarden, Sneek, Bolsward, Franeker, Dokkum, Harlingen, Stavoren, and to some extent in Heerenveen. For linguistic reasons, the outlying and insular dialects of Midsland (Terschelling), Ameland, Het Bildt, and Kollum are also sometimes tied to Stadsfries.

The vocabulary of Stadsfries is derived primarily from Dutch. The dialects began in the late 15th century, when Frisia lost its political independence to the Netherlands. For many living in Frisia, learning Dutch became a necessity. The result was a mixture of Hollandic dialect vocabulary and West Frisian grammar and other language principles. Since this process began, the West Frisian language itself has evolved, such that Stadsfries is further away from modern Frisian than it is from Old Frisian. Norval Smith states that Stadsfries is a Frisian–Dutch mixed language.[1]

The name of the dialect group, Stadsfries, is not an endonym but is instead a Dutch term for the language. Stad (German: Stadt) is a Germanic term for "city" or "town", seen in English place names such as "Hempstead". In Stadsfries, the term for the dialect group is Stadsfrys or Stads, or each dialect is known simply by a name derived from the particular city name, such as Liwwarders for the dialect of Leeuwarden. In West Frisian, the dialects are known as stedsk ("city-ish"), which does not indicate the idea that Stadsfries is a form of Frisian. To indicate this difference, one can call (West) Frisian-proper Boerenfries ("farmer-Frisian").

Town Frisian
Native toNetherlands
Native speakers
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Areas in which Stadsfries is spoken


The vocabulary of Stadsfries is mainly Dutch though the West Frisian language influence is notable. Furthermore, a set of word forms are used that are clearly West Frisian, not Dutch. Examples:

Stadsfries West Frisian Dutch English
hammer hammer hamer hammer
joeke jûkje jeuken itching

The language also has typical West Frisian words that don't exist (in that sense) in Dutch, usually this concerns domestic words and words from the mainly West Frisian language agricultural sector. Examples:

Stadsfries West Frisian Dutch English
mem mem moeder mother
heit heit vader father
jaar jaar uier udder
jarre jarre gier manure

Other differences between Dutch and West Frisian can be traced back to the Dutch dialect of the 16th century. Example:

Stadsfries West Frisian Dutch English
lêge lizze liggen lie down

Finally, several words have survived in the Stadsfries language due to Dutch influence that have since disappeared from the West Frisian language. Examples:

Stadsfries West Frisian Dutch English
kyn bern kind child
farndel fearn een vierde (deel) one fourth (as in division)


Stadsfries phonology deviates from Dutch in the absence of the voiced sounds /v/ and /z/ at the beginning of words. Dutch words like this often have an equivalent Stadsfrisian translation that instead starts with the unvoiced sounds /f/ and /s/. The Dutch sounds sequence /sx/ does not exist in Stadsfries, but is often replaced with /sk/. Stadsfries has these properties in common with West Frisian, as well as several Dutch dialects.

The plurals match West Frisian (skip-skippen), as do the diminutives (popke, autootsje, rinkje), except those in Stavers (poppy, autootsy, rinkje), where Hollands rules are followed.

The verbs are missing two West Frisian weak classes, but do use West Frisian rules for forming past participles: they never get the affix ge- (ik hew maakt; hest dou dat sien?). Stadsfrisian kept the West Frisian pronouns do, jo and jimme (informal you, formal you, plural you), although do and jo are almost always written as dou and jou. These words can in fact be used as criteria for deciding whether a Hollandic-West Frisian mixed dialect can still be considered Stadsfries. The Dutch dialect called "West Frisian" spoken in the West Friesland region of North Holland for example does not have these words and is therefore considered Hollandic.


There is no standardized, officially recognized spelling for Stadsfries. The very few authors that write in it each use their own spelling conventions. The most commonly used spelling is that in the Woordenboek fan ut Liwwarders (Leeuwarden Dictionary). This spelling convention is closely related to, but more phonetic than West Frisian, and does not use the letter û.


The use of Stadsfries is declining rapidly, especially in Leeuwarden. No more than a quarter of the city's population (approximately 20,000 people) speaks the language, although that percentage is higher in smaller towns. In the first half of the twentieth century the town of Heerenveen had a local strand of Stadsfries known as Haagjes Fries, spoken especially around Oranjewoud, near the country home of the Frisian stadhouder.

Use of most dialects (as well as the West Frisian language) is declining, but because West Frisian is considered prestigious and even recognized as a Dutch national language, Stadsfries has become a sociolect of the lower classes, especially in the cities. The transition from dialect to sociolect happened primarily in the 20th century. Around 1900, the Stadsfries dialects were still considered regional strands of Dutch and given a much higher status than Frisian. With the rise of Standard Dutch in society's upper classes, brought on particularly by education and mass media, Stadsfries stopped being considered a strand of Dutch. Since the lower classes had less exposure to Standard Dutch, they remained as some of the only speakers of Stadsfries.


  1. ^ Smith, Norval (1995). "An annotated list of creoles, pidgins, and mixed languages". In Arends, Jacques; Muysken, Pieter; Smith, Norval (eds.). Pidgins and Creoles: An Introduction. John Benjamins. pp. 331–374. ISBN 978-90-272-5236-4. p. 373.

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List of Germanic languages

The Germanic languages include some 58 (SIL estimate) languages and dialects that originated in Europe; this language family is a part of the Indo-European language family. Each subfamily in this list contains subgroups and individual languages.

The standard division of Germanic is into three branches,

East Germanic languages

North Germanic languages

West Germanic languagesThey all descend from Proto-Germanic, and ultimately from Proto-Indo-European.

South Germanic languages, an attempt to classify some of the West Germanic languages into a separate group, is rejected by the overwhelming majority of scholars.

† denotes extinct languages.


Sneek (Dutch: [sneːk] (listen); West Frisian: Snits) is a city southwest of Leeuwarden and seat of the former municipality of Sneek in the province of Friesland (Netherlands). As for 2011 it is part of the municipality Súdwest Fryslân. The city had approximately 33,855 inhabitants in January 2017.Sneek is situated in Southwest-Friesland, close to the Sneekermeer and is well known for its canals, the Waterpoort (Watergate, the symbol of the city), and watersport (Sneekweek). Sneek is one of the Friese elf steden (Eleven cities). The city is very important for the southwest area of Friesland (the "Zuidwesthoek").

West Frisian language

West Frisian, or simply Frisian (Westerlauwersk Frysk or Frysk, pronounced [friːs(k)]; Dutch: Fries [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 three Frisian languages.

For English linguists, West Frisian is notable as being the most closely related language to English outside of Britain, and it is often considered to be "in between" English and Dutch.

Languages and dialects of Benelux

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