‘The spelling of the sounds u, u:, u.ə, ŭo is a muddle’: Oer de stavering fan it /u(:)/-lûd sûnt 1879

Translated title of the contribution: ‘The spelling of the sounds u, u:, u.ə, ŭo is a muddle’: About the spelling of the sounds /u(:)/ since 1879

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Abstract

This article examines an aspect of the history of the orthography of Frisian. The Frisian spelling uses the characters û and oe to represent the sounds /u/ and /u:/. The original Frisian spelling rules dating from 1879 tried to prescribe the correct use of these two characters. These rules, however, were inconsistent and complex, as their use depended on the spelling of Dutch and the dialects of City Frisian. This caused doubt and uncertainty for language users. In 1913 the Frisian linguist Pieter Sipma characterised these complex rules as ‘a muddle’. Because of the inconsistencies and the lack of clarity, a new rule for the spelling of these sounds was introduced in 1945. This new rule was not much of an improvement, for the use of the characters oe and û now depended on the Old Frisian form of the word in question. After the introduction of this new rule, another complication emerged when it appeared that dictionaries, textbooks and teachers did not keep to this new rule, but reverted to the old rules or even created their own ones. In 2015, a small spelling adjustment and the release of a word list with preferred spelling (Foarkarswurdlist foar it Frysk) solved the problem of misapplying the spelling rules of the sounds /u/ and /u:/. The article concludes with a paragraph in which the possible causes of this ‘muddle’ are discussed.
Translated title of the contribution‘The spelling of the sounds u, u:, u.ə, ŭo is a muddle’: About the spelling of the sounds /u(:)/ since 1879
Original languageFrisian
Pages (from-to)38-75
Number of pages39
JournalUs Wurk. Tydskrift foar frisistyk
Volume67
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2018

Keywords

  • spelling
  • orthografy
  • Frisian

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