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A Handbook of the English Language by Latham

17 and the Old Frisian of the Frisian Laws


18. _The Frisians._--At the present moment the language of the Dutch province of Friesland is materially different from that of the other parts of the kingdom of Holland. In other words it is not Dutch. Neither is it German--although, of course, it resembles both languages. On the other hand, it is more like the English than any other language or dialect in Germany is.

It is a language of considerable antiquity, and although at present it is spoken by the country-people only, it possesses a considerable literature. There is the _Middle_ Frisian of Gysbert Japicx,[17] and the _Old_ Frisian of the Frisian Laws.[18] The older the specimen of the Frisian language the more closely does it show its affinity to the English; hence the earliest Frisian and the Anglo-Saxon are exceedingly alike. Nevertheless they differ.

s. 19. The Frisian was once spoken over a far greater area than at present. It was the original language of almost all Holland. It was the language of East Friesland to a late period. It was, probably, the language of the ancient Chauci. At the present time (besides Friesland) it survives in Heligoland, in the islands between the Ems and Weser, in part of Sleswick, and in a few localities in Oldenburg and Westphalia.

Hence it is probable that the original Frisian, extending to an uncertain and irregular distance inland, lay between the Saxons and the sea, and stretched

from the Zuyder Zee to the Elbe; a fact which would leave to the latter nation the lower Elbe and the Weser as their water-system: the extent to which they were in direct contact with the ocean being less than we are prepared to expect from their subsequent history.

On the other hand the _a priori_ probabilities of there being Frisians as well as Anglo-Saxons amongst the conquerors of Great Britain are considerable.--See ss. 55, 56.

s. 20. The Anglo-Saxon area coincided--

1. _Politically._--With the kingdom of Hanover, the duchy of Oldenburg, and parts of Westphalia and Holstein.

2. _Physically._--With the basin of the Weser.

It was _certainly_ from the Anglo-Saxon, and _probably_ from a part of the Frisian area that Great Britain was first invaded.

This is as much as it is safe to say at present. The preceding chapter investigated the _date_ of the Germanic migration into Britain; the present has determined the _area_ from which it went forth.

* * * * *



s. 21. The area occupied by the Saxons of Germany has been investigated; and it now remains to ask, how far the language of the occupants was absolutely identical throughout, or how far it fell into dialects or sub-dialects.

There were at least _two_ divisions of the Saxon; (1st) the Saxon of which the extant specimens are of English origin, and (2nd), the Saxon of which the extant specimens are of Continental origin. We will call these at present the Saxon of England, and the Saxon of the Continent.

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