People who study the evolution of the English language have always had a fascination with Frisian.
In their older forms, the two languages shared vocabulary and grammar patterns that differed from other Germanic languages.
It’s less clear today. The Norman invasion of England in 1066 resulted in a French invasion of English, while Dutch has rubbed off on Frisian, or at least the version of Frisian that is spoken in the Netherlands.
English has become the world’s premier language. And Frisian … it has managed to hang on, against the odds. It’s now making a comeback, partly thanks to the European Union and Dutch government support (sometimes begrudgingly) for Frisian language schools, news media and performance arts. Frisians themselves are more likely to say their language has survived because of the determination of the Frisian people. Non-Frisians in the Netherlands sometimes characterize this as stubbornness. Whatever it is, people in villages across the province of Friesland still speak Frisian. And increasingly, young people write in Frisian, especially when using social media.
So what about that connection with English? It goes back at least 1,400 years. The English king Ethelbert oversaw the establishment of the so-called Kentish laws, the first laws that we know of written in any Germanic language. The Kentish Laws are the oldest surviving documents in Old English.