Holly (De Fries) Flaherty wanted to know more about Friesland. Her paternal grandfather was from Friesland and spoke Dutch, but her maternal grandfather was from Friesland and spoke German. She heard that there were two provinces called Friesland – one German and one Dutch. She wanted to know if they were connected, historically, and whether Denmark was once considered Friesland.
To answer this question we have to go back. WAY back.
Once upon a time, in the first centuries BC and AD, the Frisians lived along the North Sea coast. They covered an area from the modern province of Zeeland in the Netherlands all the way to the Elbe river in northern Germany, or perhaps as far as Denmark.
Over time, the region was divided and got different rulers. One part in the Netherlands became the province of Friesland. One part in Germany became Ost-Friesland [East Frisia]. The northern part of the province of Noord-Holland is still known as West-Friesland [West Frisia].
In the Netherlands, the Frisian language is mainly spoken in Friesland. In Ost-Friesland, most people speak a Low Saxon dialect. People from the different modern areas known as East, West, and [plain] Friesland cannot understand each other’s language. Emigrants from any of these regions may identify as Frisian though, which can confuse their descendants.
- “Frisia,”, Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frisia : revision 14:46, 16 November 2016)