An Introduction to Old Frisian

History, Grammar, Reader, Glossary

Rolf H. Bremmer, Jr. | University of Leiden
ISBN 9789027232557 | EUR 105.00 | USD 158.00
ISBN 9789027232564 | EUR 36.00 | USD 54.00
ISBN 9789027290045 | EUR 105.00/36.00*
| USD 158.00/54.00*
Google Play logo
This is the first text book to offer a comprehensive approach to Old Frisian. Part One begins with a succinct survey of the history of the Frisians during the Middle Ages, their society and literary culture. Next follow chapters on the phonology, morphology, word formation and syntax of Old Frisian. This part is concluded by a chapter on the Old Frisian dialects and one on problems regarding the periodization of Frisian and the close relationship between (Old) Frisian and (Old) English. Part Two consists of a reader with a representative selection of twenty-one texts with explanatory notes and a full glossary. A bibliography and a select index complete the book. Written by an experienced teacher and researcher in the field, An Introduction to Old Frisian is an essential resource for students and researchers of Frisian, Old English and other ‘Old’ Germanic languages and cultures, and for medievalists working in this area. The second unrevised 2011 reprint of the original edition contains several corrections.
[Not in series, 147] 2009.  xii, 237 pp.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“Bremmers in das Altfriesische einführendes Werk ist seit Längerem die erste Veröffentlichung dieser Art auf Englisch. [...] Das Buch lässt für Lernende des Altfriesischen eigentlich kaum Wünsche offen. Zusammen mit Hofmanns und Popkemas 2008 erschienen ‘Altfriesisches Handwörterbuch’ kann es jedem, der sich mit dieser Sprachstufe des Friesischen befasst, unbedingt empfohlen werden.”
“While one should normally be cautious about evaluating a textbook before one has taught with it, this work seems eminently suitable as a textbook. The grammatical descriptions are clear, concise, and, to the best of my knowledge, accurate. The explanatory notes are also praiseworthy, as they will help clarify tricky passages, and the sizable glossaries only enhance the book's value. I have also consulted it on a number of occasions to answer questions about Old Frisian. I would not hesitate to use this book to teach Old Frisian to graduate students or advanced undergraduates, and the author is to be lauded for his significant contributions to Frisian Studies.”
“Old Frisian has long been a well-kept secret in historical linguistics and philology -- despite the tremendous historical and cultural value of the texts, its status as the closest relative of English and important position within West Germanic, as well as the bright light Old Frisian evidence can shed on the broader history of the Germanic languages. We have long needed a solid, English-language introduction to the language from a leading specialist. This book provides all that in a most engaging way.”
“An exceedingly fine overview of the genesis, rationale, and layout of Bremmer's An Introduction to Old Frisian (hereafter IOF) is provided in the Preface (ix-xi). In it the reader learns that the IOF has been fifteen years in the making, that it offers neophytes the essentials of Old Frisian (OF) grammar 'for reading the texts on their own (x), and that it makes available to OF scholars insights into the more challenging questions informing the linguistic study of OF and its grounding in comparative Germanic.
The lure of the study of Old Frisian is to some significant extent its extralinguistic geographic, social, political, cultural factors, attractive as pacesetters of legal rights and freedom. Bremmer has eloquently woven these factors into his lucid presentation of the inner machinery of the Old Frisian language, thereby snatching this language from relative obscurity among the Germanic languages.”
“Bremmer manifestly is an expert of Old Frisian studies. [...] the Introduction is well written and succeeds in its aim of introducing Old Frisian.”
“There has never been an available "Reader" in English, and German introductions are not user-friendly or are out of print. Bremmer's book therefore fills a gap, and is particularly accessible for the modern student, graduate or undergraduate, with (as the subtitle says) "History, grammar, reader [and] glossary" all within the same covers. Working through the twenty texts selected would give anyone a good grasp of the language, and should be fairly easy for anyone who remembers their Old English. [...] Bremmer's book on its own is enough both to stimulate interest in a long-neglected language and literature, and to add a very welcome further perspective for students of comparative Germanic linguistics.”
“It is hard to overstate the advantages of Bremmer’s book over the existing introductions to Old Frisian. Bremmer has produced an admirably wide-ranging and up-to-date introduction to Old Frisian in English, and it is to be hoped that it will succeed in bringing this language and its literature to the attention of the wider range of philologists and medieval scholars which it deserves.”
“Reading An Introduction to Old Frisian, I was impressed to note how much work has been done in Old Frisian studies since my first encounter with the field in the late 1980's.”
“Alles in allem liegt mit Bremmers Introduction to Old Frisian ein Lehrbuch vor, welches endlich eine lange bestehende Lücke füllt und sowohl den Studierenden wie auch den Dozierenden ein modernes Lehrmittel and die Hand gibt...Zweifelsfrei liegt ein Lehrbuch vor, welches das Studium des Altfriesischen für Lernende und Lehrende attraktive macht und die Studierenden für diese wenig beachtete Altgermanische Sprache motivieren kann.”
“Es, pues, este manual una muy buena introducción en los estudios de frisística que, tal vez, algún día florezcan aquende Pirineos.”
“Dieses Buch eröffnet die Chance, auch das Altfriesische gelegentlich wieder in den Kanon historisch-germanistischer Lehrverantstaltungen aufzunehmen. Es ist ein ‘textbook’ in der angelsächsischen Tradition: Nach einer allgemeinen Einführung werden Phonologie, Morphologie, Lexikologie, Syntax und Dialekte des Altfriesischen grundlegend auf gut 100 Seiten dargestellt [...]. Das Buch is einführend, in gut lesbarem Englisch, und zugleich weiterführend durch sachkundige Kommentare und aktuelle Literaturverweise.”
“Those who have struggled with the difficult dialectal manifestations of Old Frisian, not sure if dialectal differences are the result of date of the texts, or of the localization of those texts, are sure to be pleased with a new grammar, and in English, in which there are answers to such questions.”
“Bremmer's book is a gem […] I am grateful for this book and consider it a prize for the field. We are fortunate to have such a primer from a seasoned Old Frisian scholar.”
An Introduction to Old Frisian fills a long-felt need in Frisian Studies, Germanic Philology and Medieval Studies. With its competent and up-to-date treatment of Old Frisian grammar and literature, its succinct survey of the (cultural) history of the Frisian countries in the Middle Ages and its careful selection of Old Frisian texts, Bremmer's book will appeal to a broad readership.”
“This text book is an inspiring and state-of-the-art introduction to Old Frisian language and literature. It will prove to be an essential tool not only for students focussing on Frisian, but also for those who want to study Old Frisian in the context of the Germanic language group.”
An Introduction to Old Frisian provides an outstanding, comprehensive introduction to a language that has remained inaccessible to a broad audience of scholars. The book is equally suitable as a course textbook or as a text for self-study. Bremmer’s engaging style as well as the wealth of linguistic, cultural, and historical information make for enjoyable reading and provide us with a modern, accessible, and affordable introduction to a fascinating corpus. As one reads the well-conceived chapters it becomes clear that the author is one of the only scholars in the world with the depth and breadth of expertise and with the extensive experience teaching Old Frisian who could write such a book. It is a major contribution to our field.”
“This is a good and a very useful introduction to the history, language and texts of Old Frisian, which I can hardly wait to use with my students!”
“As Bremmer, an experienced teacher, knew '...some may think that what is being offered here is too much, while others would have wished for more' (p.x). The inevitable caviling by a reviewer aside, it should be emphasized that the book offers as much as one expects from it and does so in an exemplary way. At every step, including the texts in the reader, one finds the imprint of the author's original scholarship, enjoys his control of the subject, and profits by his didactic talent. There is no doubt that this Introduction will serve generations of students and contribute in a most radical way to their familiarity with Old Frisian.”
“Rolf Bremmer's new text fills a long-standing gap in scholarship with an accessible introduction to the study of Old Frisian, the language most closely related to Old English.[...] The text contains much that will be informative to Germanic linguists specializing in English, German, or Scandinavian, yet the style is accessible to non-specialists. With such qualities, the book will be useful for students and scholars for years to come.”
Cited by

Cited by 67 other publications

Anderson, Carl Edlund
2016. Scyld Scyldinga: Intercultural Innovation at the Interface of West and North Germanic. Neophilologus 100:3  pp. 461 ff. DOI logo
Askedal, John Ole
2014. What is West Germanic today?. NOWELE. North-Western European Language Evolution 67:1  pp. 95 ff. DOI logo
2014. The Bracteate Hoard from Binham — An Early Anglo-Saxon Central Place?. Medieval Archaeology 58:1  pp. 44 ff. DOI logo
Benskin, Michael
2011. Present Indicative Plural Concord in Brittonic and Early English1. Transactions of the Philological Society 109:2  pp. 158 ff. DOI logo
Berg, Thomas & Marion Neubauer
2014. From unit-and-ten to ten-before-unit order in the history of English numerals. Language Variation and Change 26:1  pp. 21 ff. DOI logo
Blaxter, Tamsin
2021. Diachronic dialectology: new methods and case studies. Transactions of the Philological Society 119:S1  pp. 1 ff. DOI logo
Botsman, Andriy, Olga Dmytruk & Valeria Bondarenko
2023. Desquamation mechanism of the gothic preterite-present verb origin. Current issues of Ukrainian linguistics: theory and practice :47  pp. 105 ff. DOI logo
Bremmer, Rolf H.
2020. “Thi Wilde Witsing”: Vikings and Otherness in the Old Frisian Laws. The Journal of English and Germanic Philology 119:1  pp. 1 ff. DOI logo
Bremmer Jr, Rolf H.
2023. Reading Old Frisian laws as literature. Studia Neophilologica 95:2  pp. 281 ff. DOI logo
Bremmer Jr, Rolf H.
2021. Bilan des études sur le vieux-frison (1992-2021). Revue germanique internationale :34  pp. 93 ff. DOI logo
Bucci, Giacomo
2023. The Contribution of Germanic to the Expansion of Partitive‐Related Phenomena in the Prehistoric Circum‐Baltic Area1. Transactions of the Philological Society 121:3  pp. 427 ff. DOI logo
Buckley, Kevin & Carl Vogel
2019. Using character N-grams to explorediachronic change in medieval English. Folia Linguistica 53:s40-s2  pp. 249 ff. DOI logo
Colleran, Rebecca
2019. Leveraging grammaticalization. In Developments in English Historical Morpho-Syntax [Current Issues in Linguistic Theory, 346],  pp. 77 ff. DOI logo
Corbett, Greville G.
2022. Splits, internal and external, as a window into the nature of features. Morphology 32:1  pp. 45 ff. DOI logo
de Vaan, Michiel
2010. Another Frisianism in Coastal Dutch:Traam, Treem, Triem‘Crossbeam’. Journal of Germanic Linguistics 22:4  pp. 315 ff. DOI logo
de Vaan, Michiel
2014. The emergence of Dutch. NOWELE. North-Western European Language Evolution 67:1  pp. 3 ff. DOI logo
Vaan, Michiel de
2020. Gallo-Romance lenition in Germanic loanwords. NOWELE. North-Western European Language Evolution 73:2  pp. 221 ff. DOI logo
Deskis, Susan E.
2020.  Lyric Modes and Metaphor in The Wife’s Lament . English Studies 101:4  pp. 383 ff. DOI logo
Getz, Robert
2017. Old English mānwrǣce and godwrǣce, with an emendation of Elene 811b. NOWELE. North-Western European Language Evolution 70:1  pp. 1 ff. DOI logo
Giliberto, Concetta
2017. Old Frisian skalk: A ‘Servant’ or a ‘Rogue’?. Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik 77:1-2  pp. 117 ff. DOI logo
Goldstein, David
2022. Correlated grammaticalization. Diachronica 39:5  pp. 658 ff. DOI logo
Hall, Tracy Alan
2021. The Realization of West Germanic+[sk] in Low German. Beiträge zur Geschichte der deutschen Sprache und Literatur 143:1  pp. 1 ff. DOI logo
Hansen, Bjarne Simmelkjær Sandgaard
2014. The outcome of PIE *-ē̆i̯(C)# and *-ē̆u̯(C)# in Germanic. NOWELE. North-Western European Language Evolution 67:2  pp. 149 ff. DOI logo
Harrison, Perry Neil
2018. Historical Infanticide and the “Massacre of the Innocents” in the Old Saxon Heliand. Neophilologus 102:2  pp. 203 ff. DOI logo
Heggarty, Paul, Cormac Anderson, Matthew Scarborough, Benedict King, Remco Bouckaert, Lechosław Jocz, Martin Joachim Kümmel, Thomas Jügel, Britta Irslinger, Roland Pooth, Henrik Liljegren, Richard F. Strand, Geoffrey Haig, Martin Macák, Ronald I. Kim, Erik Anonby, Tijmen Pronk, Oleg Belyaev, Tonya Kim Dewey-Findell, Matthew Boutilier, Cassandra Freiberg, Robert Tegethoff, Matilde Serangeli, Nikos Liosis, Krzysztof Stroński, Kim Schulte, Ganesh Kumar Gupta, Wolfgang Haak, Johannes Krause, Quentin D. Atkinson, Simon J. Greenhill, Denise Kühnert & Russell D. Gray
2023. Language trees with sampled ancestors support a hybrid model for the origin of Indo-European languages. Science 381:6656 DOI logo
Hoekstra, Eric
2017. On the Origin and Development of an Embedded v-Initial Construction in Frisian. Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik 77:1-2  pp. 171 ff. DOI logo
Hoekstra, Eric & Arjen P. Versloot
2019. Factors promoting the retention of irregularity. Morphology 29:1  pp. 31 ff. DOI logo
Hoekstra, Jarich
2018. Frisian genitives. In Germanic Genitives [Studies in Language Companion Series, 193],  pp. 37 ff. DOI logo
Holman, Eric W., Cecil H. Brown, Søren Wichmann, André Müller, Viveka Velupillai, Harald Hammarström, Sebastian Sauppe, Hagen Jung, Dik Bakker, Pamela Brown, Oleg Belyaev, Matthias Urban, Robert Mailhammer, Johann-Mattis List & Dmitry Egorov
2011. Automated Dating of the World’s Language Families Based on Lexical Similarity. Current Anthropology 52:6  pp. 841 ff. DOI logo
Howe, Stephen
2017. Aye–ay: An Anglo-Frisian Parallel. Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik 77:1-2  pp. 210 ff. DOI logo
Howell, Robert B.
2016. REVIEWS - A Historical Phonology of English. By Donka Minkova. (Edinburgh Textbooks on the English Language—Advanced). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014. Pp. xvi, 424. Paperback. £24.99. . Journal of Germanic Linguistics 28:3  pp. 266 ff. DOI logo
Kostakis, Andrew
2024. The Phonology of Mid Vowels in Germanic Languages. Journal of Germanic Linguistics 36:2  pp. 112 ff. DOI logo
Laker, Stephen
2017. Early Changes of Dental Fricatives: English and Frisian Compared. Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik 77:1-2  pp. 243 ff. DOI logo
2019. Celtic influence on Old English vowels: a review of the phonological and phonetic evidence. English Language and Linguistics 23:3  pp. 591 ff. DOI logo
Clare A. Lees
2012. The Cambridge History of Early Medieval English Literature, DOI logo
Mailhammer, Robert, William W. Kruger & Alexander Makiyama
2015. Type frequency influences phonological generalizations: Eliminating stressed open syllables with short vowels in West Germanic. Journal of Germanic Linguistics 27:3  pp. 205 ff. DOI logo
Markus, Manfred
2022. Wright about Wight: A dialect glossary of the Isle of Wight based on EDD Online. Journal of Linguistic Geography 10:2  pp. 76 ff. DOI logo
Mathys, Audrey
2021. Philologie et syntaxe comparée des états anciens du germanique. Revue germanique internationale :34  pp. 183 ff. DOI logo
Neidorf, Leonard & Rafael J. Pascual
2019. Old Norse Influence on the Language ofBeowulf: A Reassessment. Journal of Germanic Linguistics 31:3  pp. 298 ff. DOI logo
Nijdam, Han & Jorieke Savelkouls
2017. The Manuscript Collection of the Frisian State Historian Simon Abbes Gabbema (1628–1688) from an Old Frisian Perspective. Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik 77:1-2  pp. 303 ff. DOI logo
Norton, Juliana & Christopher D. Sapp
2021. Dialectal Variation in Old Saxon and the Origins of the Hêliand Manuscripts. The Journal of English and Germanic Philology 120:4  pp. 516 ff. DOI logo
Popkema, Anne Tjerk
2017. The Freeska Landriucht (1074R): A Book from Oldersum Castle Library Retrieved. Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik 77:1-2  pp. 333 ff. DOI logo
Repanšek, Luka
2015. K problematiki palatalizacije velarov v stari frizijščini. Jezikoslovni zapiski 17:2 DOI logo
Salmons, Joseph
2017. The Anglo-Frisian Relationship as Contact and Linkage. Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik 77:1-2  pp. 377 ff. DOI logo
Stanley, Eric Gerald
2015. Old English documentary discourse. NOWELE. North-Western European Language Evolution 68:1  pp. 1 ff. DOI logo
Stiles, Patrick
2017. The Comparative Method, Internal Reconstruction, Areal Norms and the West Germanic Third Person Pronoun. Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik 77:1-2  pp. 410 ff. DOI logo
Stiles, Patrick V.
van Bree, Cor
2017. The Frisian Substrate beneath the Groningen Dialect. Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik 77:1-2  pp. 65 ff. DOI logo
van der Wal, Marijke J.
2024. Non-native communication in eighteenth-century maritime circles. In Investigating West Germanic Languages [Studies in Germanic Linguistics, 8],  pp. 225 ff. DOI logo
van Gelderen, Elly
2019. Reflexive pronouns in the Lindisfarne glosses. NOWELE. North-Western European Language Evolution 72:2  pp. 220 ff. DOI logo
Versloot, Arjen
2014. Methodological reflections on the emergence of Old Frisian. NOWELE. North-Western European Language Evolution 67:1  pp. 23 ff. DOI logo
Versloot, Arjen
2016. Die Endungen -os/-as und -a des Nominativ/Akkusativ Plurals der a-Stämme im Altsächsischen. Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik 76:4  pp. 464 ff. DOI logo
Versloot, Arjen P.
2017. Proto-Germanicaiin North and West Germanic. Folia Linguistica 51:s38-s1  pp. 281 ff. DOI logo
Versloot, Arjen P.
2018. Sprachverlust und Halbsprecher einer sterbenden Sprache. NOWELE. North-Western European Language Evolution 71:1  pp. 99 ff. DOI logo
Versloot, Arjen P.
2024. The Old English gerund in ‑enne or ‑anne . NOWELE. North-Western European Language Evolution 77:1  pp. 14 ff. DOI logo
Versloot, Arjen P. & Elżbieta Adamczyk
2018. Plural inflection in North Sea Germanic languages. In Reorganising Grammatical Variation [Studies in Language Companion Series, 203],  pp. 17 ff. DOI logo
Visser, Willem
2011. Historical gender change in West Frisian. Morphology 21:1  pp. 31 ff. DOI logo
Watts, Sheila
2019. Chapter 2. Gender stability, gender loss. In The Determinants of Diachronic Stability [Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today, 254],  pp. 11 ff. DOI logo
White, David L.
2018. Reasons to Think That Anglo-Frisian Developed in Britain. Anglica. An International Journal of English Studies :27/2  pp. 5 ff. DOI logo
White, David L.
2019. Possible Solutions for Long-Standing Problems Involving Old English Verbs. Anglica. An International Journal of English Studies :28/2  pp. 25 ff. DOI logo
White, David L.
2020. Possible Solutions for Long-standing Problems Involving Old English Nominal Forms. Anglica. An International Journal of English Studies :29/2  pp. 27 ff. DOI logo
[no author supplied]
2011. References. In A Grammar of Old English,  pp. 323 ff. DOI logo
[no author supplied]
[no author supplied]
2019. References. In A Contrastive Grammar of Brazilian Pomeranian [Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today, 248],  pp. 273 ff. DOI logo

This list is based on CrossRef data as of 20 may 2024. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.


Main BIC Subject

CFF: Historical & comparative linguistics

Main BISAC Subject

LAN009000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
ONIX Metadata
ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2008045390 | Marc record