PRONUNCIATION GUIDE – Or: What’s With All The Brackets, Anyways?

The goal of this comic is to help you learn to “hear” Frisian as well as read it!

Approximate pronunciations for English-speaking learners are provided in brackets below each comic panel.

Here is a guide to the pronunciations in brackets. It lists vowel combinations first, followed by consonants further down:

[AH] – similar to [AW], the long “a” in “father.”

[AW] – the vowel in the English word “dot.” In Frisian, dat pronounced like English “dot” is a very common word. We’d render it as [DAWT] in brackets.

[AY] – you won’t be seeing this one very often, but it’s the same sound in English “May” or “day” or “whey.”

[EH] and [E] – the vowel in the words “bend” or “net.”

[EE] – the sound in the words “greet” or “leak” or “eek!”

[IGH] – like the English word “eye”… the vowel in “night” or “dye” or “why.” This is a very common sound! Go ahead and remember it now. It’ll pop up all the time in the comics!

[IH] – the short vowel in “ick” or “bit.”

[OH] – the vowel in “oh!”

[OO] – the long vowel in “moon.”

[OW] – as in “ow!” or “ouch!” … a common sound in Frisian words spelled with -au- or -ou-.

[OY] – as in “boy”… or, better yet, oy vey gevalt!

[UH] – the ubiquitous “schwa” vowel that also shows up everywhere in English. It’s the indistinct vowel in the second syllable of the word “nation” or, for our purposes, both syllables of “onion.”

[Y–] – The written letter -j- in Frisian is our “y”… for example, hjoed (“today”) is pronounced [YOOT] (notice the -h- is silent and that the final -d- becomes a “t”).

[kh] – a fricative consonant that we don’t have in English, the harsh “ch” in the German word “Bach” or the Hebrew “l’chaim!”

[r] – slightly rolled when it is pronounced, but it also goes silent in some words. E.g., Frisian moarn (“morning”) is pronounced like [MWAWn].