Chapter 15. On the (in-)stability of Frisian

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Gorter & Jonkman (1995) is a presentation of the results of a large-scale survey of the position of the Frisian language in Fryslân. Their general conclusion is that the position of the Frisian language is one of stability in as far as profinciency, use and attitudes are concerned. In this paper we strongly criticize this conclusion for being partly based on unclear questions, on an implausible interpretation of the quantitative data, and for being in conflict with other research results, and neglecting developments in the linguistic properties of Frisian. Our counterconclusion is that there is ample evidence showing that Gorter and Jonkman’s view on the position of Frisian is too optimistic. Furthermore we argue that their survey indicates that Frisian functions mainly as an informal, spoken language for the (great) majority of speakers. The language situation in Fryslân can not be described as diglossic however, since Frisian and Dutch are not in complementary use, and the social status of Frisian cannot considered to be low. Finally we claim that the scientific relevance of Gorter & Jonkman (1995) is rather marginal, due to the fact that the results of the survey are not discussed within a context of scientific debate.


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