Sandhi Rules in Frisian and variability in their Manifestations

Yuri OKABE(プリマケアクリニック)

Frisian is a West Germanic language, spoken by some 400,000 people in Friesland, a province of the Netherlands. Frisians are all bilinguals of Frisian and Dutch, the latter being the official language of the country. Intensive contacts between the two philologically related languages have resulted in further similarities between them. This has created a unique opportunity to study interference in comparable syntagms.

The present study was designed to explore variability in manifestations of five sandhi rules in Frisian, as described by van der Meer (1979) and Riemersma (1979). Either sandhi fails to manifest or different rules apply under the corresponding conditions in Dutch.

The author, proficient in Frisian and Dutch, conducted interviews with three native speakers of Frisian in both languages. Each interview consisted of spontaneous speech, the reading aloud of a short story and separate sentences, and the so-called Berko test for syllabization. After transcribing the recorded material, the pronunciation of each informant was assessed with regard to manifestations of the sandhi rules.

The results revealed that although the sandhi rules of the Frisian type were dominant in the speech of all the informants, they were applied to variable degrees. Interference from Dutch presumably explained part of this variability. Intralinguistic factors, e.g., phonetic, lexical, semantic and syntactic conditions, as well as extralinguistic factors, e.g.,the formality level and the manner of speaking, were also found to influence their manifestations. Sandhi is thus intermingled with processes within the language, as well as loaded with communicative functions of speech.