Introduction Frisian is a Germanic language closely related to English. It is spoken in North-west Europe, with its most important branch in the province of Friesland, in the Netherlands. This variety is referred to as West Frisian in order to distinguish it from other branches in Germany (which are referred to as North Frisian and East Frisian). West Frisian, East Frisian and North Frisian are not mutually intelligible. During the Middle Ages, Friesland was monolingual and autonomous. Old Frisian was the official language of government and many legal documents survive from this period. From the sixteenth century, however, Dutch was used as the official language of the Netherlands in the halls of government, the judiciary, in education and in religion. Frisian virtually ceased being used in written form until a revival occurred at the end of the nineteenth century, as a result of which the language has gradually re-entered more domains. Frisian currently enjoys official status in the Netherlands as the second language of the state and in recent decades has acquired in Friesland a modest place alongside Dutch in government, judiciary and education. The province is commonly referred to by its Frisian name (Fryslân) and many places have official Frisian names. Today, Friesland has some 650,000 inhabitants, half of whom are L1 speakers of Frisian, but nearly all of whom have some understanding of the language. Thanks to the presence of Frisian in the education system, significant numbers also have reading and writing skills, although since this provision only dates from after the Second World War, many of the older generation, in particular, still prefer to use Dutch.