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Frisian Linguistics

Teutonic Mythology

Early Frisian Records

Frisian Migrations to England

Frisian Family Names

Germanic Languages

Frisian - English similarities

Frisian Exports

last updated Feb 2018


Frisian - Dutch Dictionary

West Frisian Dictionary

Translate online: Frisian to/from English

Online woordenboeken / Dictionaries

Etymologic origin of (Old) English words

'Old English' dictionary from/to modern English

'Old English' polyglot

the Frisian Tongue

"Fries Volkslied / Anthem" door/ by 'de Kast'

Frisian Linguistics

Frysk = Fries = Frisian = Friesian = Frise = Frieze = Frison = Friesisch = Frizian

Germanic language groups around 0AD

Etymology / Phonology

West, East and North Frisian Tongues (ref. Popkema)

Toen Fries nog op het Engels leek

Wikipedia - Description of Frisian Languages

Aspects of Old Frisian Philology, 1840-1890-1990 (Bremmer, v/d Meer, Vries)

Altfriesisches Worterbuch, von Richthofen

An Introduction to Old Frisian, by Rolf Bremmer (2009)

A New Step in Old Frisian Lexicography by Popkema: The Altfriesisches Handworterbuch (von Richthofen)

Short summary of Frisian literature in English

Frisian language and Literature by WT Hewitt, a historical study (1879, Univ of Cal)

Phonology & grammar of modern West Frisian, by P Sipma (1913)

Waling Dijkstra - Friesche Spreekwoorden / Frisian Sayings (1913)

Trends in Linguistics - Frisian, by TL Markey (partial copy, 1981)

Frisian Linguistics / Taalkundige Bijdragen tot den Frieschen Tongval,, E. Wassenbergh (1806)

'A Comparative Grammar of the Teutonic Languages', by James Helfenstein (1870) - Many refs to 'Old Frisian'

'Old English' language history

Etymologic origin of (Old) English words

Frisian Literature

Frisian Bible - Fryske Bibel - Wumkes Vertaling

'Us Heit' / 'Our Father' in Frisian

Us Heit yn 'e himel, (Our Father, which art in heaven,)

lit jo namme hillige wurde, (hallowed be thy name;)

lit jo keninkryk komme, (thy kingdom come;)

lit jo wil dien wurde (thy will be done,)

op ierde likegoed as yn 'e himel. (in earth as it is in heaven.)

Jou s hjoed s deistich brea (Give us this day our daily bread.)

en ferjou s s skulden (And forgive our trespasses,)

sa't wy s skuldners ek ferjn hawwe; (as we forgive them that trespass against us.)

en lit s net yn fersiking komme, (And lead us not into temptation;)

mar ferlos s fan 'e kweade; (but deliver us from evil.)

want jowes is it keninkryk (For thine is the kingdom,)

en de krft (the power,)

en de hearlikheid (and the glory,)

oant yn ivichheid.

Amen. (forever and ever. Amen)

1000 Friese Gedichten / 1000 Frisian rhymes

Frisian Wikipedia

Sljucht en Rjucht - Walling Dijkstra

de Vrije Fries - Fries Genootschap

Friese Volksalmanak - G.T.N. Suringar

Iduna - Harmen Sytses

Old Frisian / Altfriesisches Worterbuch door Tileman Wiarta (1786)

Old Frisian / Altfriesisches Worterbuch door Dr Karl Baron von Richthofen (1840)

Old Frisian / Oud Friesch woordenboek, Foeke Buitenrust Hettema (1888, proefschrift)

Frisian Law / Jurisprudentia Frisica

'Beschrijvinge van de Heerlijkheydt Frieslandt', Christianus Schotanus, Frisan/Dutch/Latin (1603 - 1671)

Frisian Law / Friesche Regtkennis (Iurisprudentia Frisica) - (15th century transl. of Frisian handwriting) by Jhr Mr Montanus Hettema (1834)

'Teutonic Mythology' by Jacob Grimm (1785 - 1863)

The first study of Germanic Linguistics (Search for 'Frisian')

Teutonic Mythology, by Jacob Grimm (1882) Volume 1

(worship, temples, priest, gods (weekdays), heroes)

Search Vol 1: 'Frisian'

Teutonic Mythology, by Jacob Grimm (1883) Volume 2

(elves, giants, creation, elements, trees/animals, sky, day and night, summer/winter, time/world, souls/death

Search Vol 2: 'Frisian'

Teutonic Mythology, by Jacob Grimm, Volume 3 (1883)

(poetry, specters, devils, magic, superstition, sickness, herbs/stones, spells/charms)

Search Vol 3: 'Frisian'

Teutonic Mythology, by Jacob Grimm, Volume 4 (1888)

(author's supplement, Anglo-Aaxon genealogies, superstitions, spells

Search Vol 4: 'Frisian'

see also:

'A Comparative Grammar of the Teutonic Languages', by James Helfenstein (1870) - Many refs to 'Old Frisian'

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Early Frisians during Roman times

Germanic peoples 150AD

Here are found some authentic online references via Google Books that give some of the earliest insights into who lived where and did what in early Northern Europe.

the Germania of Tacitus (here abbr.), by Harold Mattingly (sort on 'Frisii' for ref pages)

the Germania of Tacitus, Ethological Dissertations and Notes, by Lathem (sort on 'Frisians')

Tacitus' Agricola and Germania, Townshend, ed. 1894 (sort on 'Frisians')

Germania and Agricola of Tacitus, English notes by Althon, 1852 (sort on "Frisii')

Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (1784)

The Provinces of the Roman Empire from Caesar to Diocletian, Volume 9, Theodor Mommsen (Stanford, 1887)

Search 'Frisians' (noun: volk / people)

Search 'Frisian' (adj.: volk / people)

Search 'Frisii' (noun: stam / people)

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Migration of Frisian people and language

DNA linking Frisians to English peoples

Combined with linguistics and modern DNA research, a completer picture can be established of early Germanic peoples, their kinship, customs and language(s).

Wikipedia - Frisia of Old

The Frisian Tribe: from Caesar to Charlemagne - good summary

Migration patterns derived from Archeology

Migration pattern derived from DNA (Frisian DNA same as English DNA)

Y Chromosome Evidence for Anglo-Saxon Mass Migration (Frisian DNA same as English DNA)

Tribal distribution 2000 year ago

Migrations to Britain

Northern Europe 2000 years ago:

On the northern border of the Roman empire, around the time of Christ, the Rhine formed a natural barier between the Germanic barbarians and the Roman legions. The tribes had moved there after the breakup of Celtic Europe around 300BC, who had sacked Rome in 369BC. Historians Tacitus, 58-117AD ('Germania'. Agricola', "Annals") and Pliny the Elder (23-79AD) mention a score of Germanic tribes that resisted Roman expansion beyond this boundary, "spirited antagonists' who 'loved freedom more than life', 'destroying, capturing and cutting to pieces Roman Legions', or in cases, suffering 'dearly bought' Roman victories.

The Rhine becomes the boundary:

In 9AD Roman general Varus with 3 legions (~18K soldiers making up the 17th, 18th, and 19th legions) was soundly defeated in the Teutoburg Forest by the Germanic Cheruski, despite having received warnings beforehand.

Tacitus describes in 'the Annals of Imperial Rome' how the Frisians revolted against imposed Roman duties in 28AD and defeated the Romans in the battle of Baduhenna Wood, and appear to have been left in peace thereafter. Claudius in 43AD shifted Roman attention away from the Rhine to the conquest of Britannia.

The Rhine remained well protected by the invited presence of the Batavian cohorts, and who also played an important part in the subsequent Roman conquest of Brittania (ref. 'Agricola').

Roman Placenames on the continent:

Many place names (nearly all) on the Rhine river as later in Britannia derive from Roman names of old.

Roman names along the Rhine (squares showing forts), from "Romeinen, Friezen, Franken' by van Es

Some town names with Roman origins along the Rhine boundary:

Bonn (Bonna)

Koln (Colonia Claudia Agripinensis)

Aachen (Aquisgranium)

Xanten (Castra Vetera)

Nijmegen (Ulpia Noviomagus Batavorum)

Kesteren (Castra)

Maurik (Mauricium)

Utrecht (Trajectum ad Rhenum = 'ford')

Leiden (Lugdunum Batavorum)

Alphen (Albaniana)

Roman Placenames in Britannia:

Roman town names in Britannia, from John Burke's excellent 'Roman England'

Some names with Roman origins in Britannia (note: Castra = Roman Fort = Chester/Cester/Caster/Xeter):

Bath (Aquae Sulis)

Brancaster (Branodumun)

Carlisle (Luguvallium)

Colchester (Camelodumun)

Lincoln (Lindum)

Doncaster (Danum)

Dorchester (Dornovaria)

Dover (Dubris)

Exeter (Isca Dumnoniorum)

Gloucester (Glevum)

Leicester (Ratae Coritanorum)

London (Londinium)

Manchester (Mamucium)

Silchester (Calleva Atrebatum)

Veralium (St Albans)

Winchester (Venta Belgarum)

Wroxeter (Viroconium Cornoviorum)

York (Eboratum)

Following are some of the Germanic tribes above the Rhine which merited recognition in the days of the Romans (ref. Tacitus' Germania, 100AD):

Germanic Tribes across the Rhine in the Roman days:

These are some of the Germanic tribes above the Rhine which merited recognition in the days of the Romans (ref. Tacitus 'Germania' and 'Agricola', 98AD):

Marsi, Gambrivii, Vandali, Caninefates, Batavi (of the Chatti), Tungri (across the Rhine), Mattiaca, Aravisci, Treves, Chatti (Hessians), Usipii (~Usipetes), Tencteri, Bructeri, Chamavi and Agrivarii (~here presumed Saxon tribes, later called the Franks), Dulgibini, Chasuarii, Frisii (Greater and Lesser), Chauci (~later called Saxons), Cherusci, Fosi, Cimbri (doubtful), Suevi (~Schwabians), Semnones, Langobardi (~Lombards), Reudigni, Angli (~Angles), Avioni, Waringi, Eudoses, Suardones, Nuithrones, Hermunduri, Naristi, Markomanni, Quadi, Marsigni, Burii, Lygians, comprising of (H)arii, Helvecones, Manimi, Elysii, and Naharvali; coastal Gothones (~Goths), Rugii and Lemovii, and across the water the Suiones (~Swedes), and Sitones

'Missing' tribes:

Note that Saxons, Jutes, Franks, Allemanni, Teutons, and Burgundians are not found in Tacitus decription of Germania (98AD). Pliny (23 - 79AD) does mention (NH 4-99) as part of the Vandalii, the (small) tribe of the Burgodiones (Burgundians), the Varinnae, the Charini and the Gutones (Goths)i. The Vandali, Suevi and Lygians are considered collective names, like the Allemani, and the later Franks and Saxons and Longobards ('long beards'). In fact, Taylor even suggest that the very names look to be derived from equipment of the invading hosts, "whether armed with javelin (franca), sword (seax), or partisan (Langbarta)". Be aware that historical naming is frequently done by 'outsiders', rarely the people themselves (just like the Finns call Finland 'Suomi', or the Romans used 'Germani' after one tribe by that name (the Tungri who first crossed the Rhine) ref. Tacitus). Of all the mentioned Germanic tribes in Germania, only 4 remain in existence today: the Frisians (Frisii), the English (Angli), the Schwabians (the Suevi) and the Swedes (Suiones). Several other tribal designations 'of old' remain in modern geography, like the Batavi (the Betuwe, Batavia (=Djakarta)), the Tungri (Tongeren), the Langobardi (Lombardy), the Burgundians (Bourgondy), the Franks (France), the Allemanni (Germans are 'les Allemands' in French) and the Goths (Gothenburg).

Scandinavian origins of Germanic tribes:

Interestingly, many Germanic tribes trace their origins to Scandinavia, be it via legend or language (Angli, Jutes, Langobards, Franks, Vandals, are all known to have hailed from the distant North (ref. 'Salland' in Holland (named after the Salian Franks on their decent from the North to France), and Frankenland (the Hessian Franks in central Germany). The Goths, of whom nothing is known before 250AD, also are said to hail from Scandinavia: they did leave the Ulfilas translation of the Bible of around 350AD, one of the oldest. Renowned linguist Jacob Grimm holds 'the Frisians in every sense the transition to the Scandinavians' (customs, language, veneration of groves, idol worship) (Teutonic Mythoolgy, Vol 1). These traveling Goths split into the East and West Goths, known to history as Ostrogoths and Visigoths, who later roamed to Southern Europe and Iberia (a form of Gothic was spoken in Asia minor up to the 18th century). After the Romans had been defeated by the Visigoths in 379AD, Rome itself was sacked in 410AD by Alaric, king of the Visigoths, and Genseric king of the Vandals sacked Rome in 455AD after gaining control of Roman North Africa and sacking Carthage in 439AD.

An unlikely depopulation view:

A view compiled in the last decade or so, proposes that the original Frisians are not the same as those of post-Roman times. Inclement weather, rising sea levels, Roman servitude, coastal raiding, or Saxon migratory destruction are claimed as possible contributing factors. This would, in addition to well known mercenary (cohort) services (as a form of Roman tribute) by many Germanic tribes, however, seem to go in the face of archeological finds of, for instance, the Franks just 100 miles south in central Netherlands along the Rhine.

The Salian Franks, who in the same general period up to 500AD thrived and increased greatly in numbers, status and wealth, were living in the same climatic (cold and wet) conditions, close to the sea (=raiders), significantly closer to the opressive Romans (ref. 'Romeinen, Friezen, Franken in het Hart van Nederland', by van Es and van Hessen), and were part of the general migrations of the day. Similarly, the coastal tribe of the Chauci (later called 'Saxons') are listed by Tacitus as being not only 'in control of a large territory but filling it', to such an extent that they overflowed into Britannia not long thereafter.

What about Frisia Maiores which extended well beyond the higher elevations just south of the coast line, which in any case was further south then as it is now (note today's once-coastal names for inland towns ending on -Geest (=higher sand ridge, as in Grootegast, Westergeest, Uitgeest) and -Schoot (=bay, as in OudeSchoot, Aalschoot). Yet ancient Frisians disappeared entirely from the map between the period of Roman peace and prosperity (the Pax Romana (!) 50 -250AD), only to reappear in name and custom after 400AD (as 'Saxons'?), with their Frisian language and nomenclature intact? (see the references to numerous Frisian names in Britain below, many more than names referring to Saxon of Anglian descent in Britain). No people except the Hebrews have ever returned from such a diaspora, and they were the chosen ones.

In any case, it appears that the 'archeological disappearance' concerns mostly the area of West Friesland (present North Holland) and not all parts of (present) Friesland and Groningen. DNA research may settle the issue, as it appears to corroborate mass migration to Britain around 500AD, correlating with an expected depopulation of the continent. Earlier departure by the Frisians due to closer proximity to Britain (even as Roman cohorts in the first century in Kent, well before the Anglo and Saxon migrations) could explain the many geographically Frisian place names in Britain that we do not seem to find for the other tribes. In any case, Frisian and English (Anglo-Saxon) DNA is closely intertwined (=indistinghuishable), obviously stemming from a common genealogical root (see earlier).

Map showing location of Frisii Maiores and Frisii Minores, by Menso Alting (1697)

Collapse of the Roman Empire:

The Roman internal decline was followed by the rampage of the Huns under Atilla, an extremely violent and rapacious Asiatic tribe from the east who were only defeated in 451AD by Roman general Flavius Aetius at the Cataluanian Plains (in modern France), and finally by the Visigoths in 469, after which the Huns disappear from history.

During the collapse of the Roman empire between 400 and 500AD (it had ceased to exist in 476AD), many of these Germanic tribes became restless and started migrating, drawn in part by the obvious power vacuum (pursued by the Salian Franks!), although no immediate cause is known. Possibly population pressure, although hard to imagine in a modern context.

Germanic migrations to Britannia:

Frisians, a coastal people

In the fifth century Angles and Jutes from today's Denmark, Frisians from the North Sea coast, and Saxons from Northern Germany pushed their way via the Northern European coast into Britain, ending some 470 years of Roman rule. Roman historian Procopius (500 - 554 AD) in his 'Gothic Wars', describes Frisians among the three nations Angiloi, Phrissones, and Britones, that inhabited Britain in his time. 'Saxons' were supposed by him to be the collective term for the Teutonic (Germanic) tribes harrassing the coast in the latter days of the empire. Frisian speakers occupied an area called Frisia Magna, or Greater Frisia, along the coast between the Schelde (north of Gaul, around modern Belgium) and past the Weser (near Denmark, location of present day North Frisian Isles and Schleswig-Holstein, which was taken from Denmark by Germany in 1864). The Roman historians like Tacitus referred to these peoples as the coastal Ingaevones, as separate from the inland Istvaeones, (likely the later, land-based Franks) and Irminones, or Herminones (the Elbe or East Germanic tribes).

Place names on the continent as evidence of migrations:

Migrating Saxons have left evidence by place names along the Northsea coast named after them, like Sexbierum (Friesland) and Sassenheim (South Holland), and Essex, Sussex and Wessex in England (a name itself derived from the Angles). Still today West Flanders shows Saxon and Frisian place names (Fressain (Fresinghem), Freton), Ref. Taylor below, 'Words and Places', P86 that also occur in England.

Saxon Patronymic Villages in France (Taylor, 'Words and Places', p96)

Frisian place names in Britannia as evidence of migrations:

The Angles, Jutes, Saxons and Frisians clearly spoke a mutually intelligable Germanic language (which became 'Old English') that diverged AFTER arriving in various parts of England, not before (ref. Edmunds below, p16), as evidenced by distinct place names' suffixes (-by, -thorpe , -brough, -wick (Angle), -hem (-um), -ton, -berg, -ing (Frisian), -ham, -ton, -bury, -ing (Saxon)). The Frisian speakers among the invaders left a number of (geographic) Frisian place names in various counties of England:

Yorkshire: Frising Hall (Fresinghale), Fryston(e), Fraisthorpe, Frisby (Friseby)

Leicester: Frisby on the Wreake, Frisby, Frisby Lodge, Freezeland

Nottingham: Friezland

Worcestershire: Frisland

Cumberland: Frizington

Warwickshire: Frizhill, Freasley (Freseley)

Pembrokeshire: Freystrop

Staffordshire: Friezeland

Gloucester: Freezing-Hill

Sussex: Fri(e)ston

Suffolk: Fressingfield (Lodge), Friston, Freston, Framlingham, Friswell (Hall)

Lincolnshire: Friston, Frieston, and Friesthorpe

Buckinghamshire: Friesden

Wiltshire: Fresdon

Hampshire: Freeze End

Devon: Friscomb, Friseham

Manchester (Chrester/WestMorland): Friezland

Scotland: Firth of Forth is called 'Frisian Sea' by Nennius (*769AD), the northern shore the 'Frisian Shore'.

Map showing counties of England at the time of the Domesday book in 1086

Friesland since:

After Danish excursions around 600AD (covering an area in Northern England, called Danelaw and European coastal regions, see dotted lines), Viking invasions,brought more Scandinavian elements to England and northern continental Europe in Europe between 800 and 1000AD, as shown on this map (see solid lines).

Map showing Viking invasions of Europe and England between 800-1000AD ('Anglo-Saxon Chronicles', Anne Savage, publ. 1982)

In the Middle Ages, Frisian was spoken all along the North Sea's southern coast, and was an important language of trade in the Hanseatic League. Since Old English was the common language of coastal areas, Frisian is likely to have developed, as with the development of Middle English after the Norman invasion of 1066, into a somewhat separate tongue from this period onwards. It is marked by an abundance of diphthongs (a sound formed by a combination of two vowels lacking in other Germanic languages).

In 1498 Duke Albert of Saxony took over Friesland and changed the language of government from Frisian to Dutch. Today, Frisian is still spoken by many in the North of the Netherlands and again taught in the schools, and also still resembles English more than other languages (see many examples following

English placename References

Jessie M. Lyons - Frisian Place-names in England p.644 (1918)

Domesday Book (by order of William the Conqueror, 1086) (old script

Domesday Book and Beyond - 3 essays in the Early History of England

Flavell Edmunds - Traces of History in the Names of Places, p.16: no distinction betw. Saxons, Jutes, Frisians and Angles (1869)

A. Goodall - Placenames of South West Yorkshire (sort on "Frisian') (1913)

Taylor - 'Words and Places' (sort on 'Frisian') (1873)

Henry Barber: British placenames and their meanings ('Frisian Pers and Fam. names) (1894)

Typical Frisian family names

Typical Frisian family names end on -a and are identifyable with suffixes -ing(a), -(s)ma, -na, -ra, -da, -ia, and -stra, all having the genetive conjugational meaning 'of': for example Steringa, Kingma, Draaisma, Algera, Alberda, Menalda, Winia, Dijkstra etc.

Frequently, educated Frisians of the middle ages, after a Renaissance practice, assumed Romanised or Grecian names (before people carried last names), such as professional names like Nauta (skipper, sailor), Faber (carpenter, blacksmith), Pistorius (baker), Mercator ( merchant), Agricola (farmer), Couperus (cooper)

Many such names were geographical names which carried a certain social status until even the present century, like the Latinised Winsemius (from the village of 'Winsum'), Heydanus (from the 'heide'=heath), Schotanus (from the village 'Schoot'), Fontanus (from the 'font'=water well), Montanus (from the Mountain=van den Berg), Bogardus (from the 'bo(omg)aard'=orchard), Roldanus (from the village 'Rolde'), Greidanus (from the 'greide'=pasture), Silvius (from the 'Silva'=woods), or patronyms like Adriani, Sybrandi, Gerbrandi ('of the father' by that name), or even Greek patronyms (-ides, -(a)eus), like Hilarides, Antonides, Simonides, or Petraeus ('of someone' with that first name).

There are also many names originating on the North European coast ending on -ke, that are of a Frisian diminutive origin, like -ken, ke, ock, and cock (German -chen, Flemish -kin): bull becomes bullock, hill becomes hillock, Tom becomes Tomkin (or resulting in Tomke, little Tom), ref. 'British Family Names' - H.Barber (1891). Witness numerous names like Bethke, Beulke, Blaschke, Gerke, Hapke, Manzke, Renke, Badtke, Schoepke, Penske, Wandke, Willeke, but also names with endings like Harkin, Atkins, and Aiken. The Germanic -ke suffix is not to be confused with the Slavic -ka ending (Kafka, Panenka, Lipka, Blinka, Wenka, Zatka).


'British Family Names - Their Origin and Meaning' - H.Barber (1891)

Walling Dijkstra Friesch Woordenboek, Vol 4, Friesche namen / Frisian names (1898)

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Origins of Germanic languages

This table shows the historic relationship of the various European language groups

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Frisian / English similarities

The languages of the (old) Angles, Saxons and Frisian are considered to have been (nearly) the same, after migration to England referred to as 'Old English'. The originals developed into newer and finally modern versions as shown in the diagram. Ingwaeonic (Ingaevonic) similarities between English and Frisian include what is referred to as 'Ingwaeonisms', distinct differences from German (Herminonic), Frankish (Istvaeonic) or Scandinavian, as the tables with (pro)nouns, verbs etc lower down clearly confirm.

Some notable differences of Ingvaeonic tongues with the Dutch/German are:

- loss of the German nasal sounds, as in five (Eng) fiif (Frl), vijf (Dutch), vs funf (Germ);

or goose (Eng), gos (Frl), vs. gans (Dutch) and ganz (Germ)

- loss the German -t as in the verb to be: is (Eng, Frl, Dutch), vs ist (Germ);

- loss of consonants (-g) in the middle of a word: rain / rein (Engl/Fris), regen (Dutch/Germ), brain / brein (Engl/Fris), vs bregen (Old Saxon), nail / neil (Engl/Fris), vs nagel (Dutch/Germ)

- loss of the dative and accusative differences: me (Eng, Frl), mij (Dutch) but mir/mich (Germ)

- loss of the -g ending, changed for a -y or -i sound: way (Eng), wei (Frl) vs. weg (Dutch/Germ)

or day (Eng), dei (Frl) vs dag/tag (Dutch/Germ) etc

see below for an abundance of examples where (modern) Frisian most closely resembles modern English, followed by Dutch and German, and in instances, Scandinavian.

Comparison of Friesian / English and nearby Germanic languages

'Old English' dictionary from/to modern English

'Old English' polyglot

'Old English' language history

woordenboeken / Dictionaries Friese Taal / Frisian / Frison / Friesisch

Online woordenboeken / Dictionaries

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Other Frisian Exports

Friesian Horse

Friesian-Holstein dairy cattle

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