The Frisian Vowel System Back to: language.htm

West Frisian differs from Dutch in vocabulary, in grammar, and in vowel system. 1 2 3 4

Like Dutch it has a four-step system of shorts:
y           oe  
  i       o   u  
    e          
      a          

and of longs and diphthongs:
                         
    ee   oo               eu
              ei/ij   au/ou   ui  
      aa                  

In addition, however, West Frisian has
a number of 'curled' diphthongs:
ie           oe   ue
  ea       oa      
      /        
                 

and its 'broken' counterparts:
i           uo   ju
  e       o      
                 
                 
as well as two 'stretched' vowels:
ii          

With fourteen vowel phonemes more than Dutch, one may call this a 'rich' vowel system.

It must be stated, that other Frisian dialects have quite different, but also rather rich vowel systems. For a possible explanation of that 'wealth' see A phonematic catastrophy.