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EducationUniversity of Groningen Summer Schools

Old Frisian and its neighbours

Old Frisian Summer School

In collaboration with Oxford University

The central theme of this summer school concerns medieval language shifts along the North Sea coast: Old Frisian, Old/Middle Dutch and Old Saxon/Middle Low German. Old Frisian is a West Germanic language spoken by inhabitants of the coastal region of the Low Countries since approx. the 5th century. The Old Frisian language area stretched as far as the Rhine/Meuse estuaries in the south-west and the Weser mouth in the north-east. During the Middle Ages language shifts took place both in the south-western area (in favor of Dutch) and in the north-eastern area (in favor of Low German). As a result, Frisian is at present still spoken in the Dutch province of Fryslân as well as in various isolated regions and islands of Northwestern Germany.

Old Frisian deserves international attention because of its close connection to Old English. Knowledge of Old Frisian deepens insights into the Old English language and, more broadly, into the development of West Germanic. It has been handed down in a relatively small but coherent corpus of, mostly, late-medieval law texts and a number of sagas (1100-1550 AD) – a well-hidden gem!

The Old Frisian Summer School will be of interest to BA and MA students as well as PhD’s in the field of Old Germanic languages. The participants will learn to read and interpret Old Frisian texts and get a good grasp of its grammatical structures. There will be lectures about the various language shifts Frisian experienced over the medieval period when it gave way to Dutch or Low German in formerly Frisian-speaking areas. There will be due attention to the sociolinguistic processes which may have steered these phenomena.

old things

Arrival at the University of Groningen is planned on 21 June 2020; the classes will be taught from 22-26 June, with a social programme on 27 June. The programme will include visits to archeological and historical sites in the medieval Frisian heartland, as well as a full day of classes in the Frisian capital Leeuwarden, where also various Old Frisian manuscripts can be viewed.

Confirmed speakers
  • Prof. Frits van Oostrom (Utrecht University)
  • Prof. Arjen Versloot (University of Amsterdam)
  • Prof. Vincent van Heuven (Leiden University)
  • Prof. Rolf Bremmer (Leiden University)
  • Dr. Johanneke Sytsema (University of Oxford)
  • Dr. Michiel de Vaan (University of Lausanne)
  • Dr. Han Nijdam (Frisian Academy)
  • Dr. Redmer Alma
  • Dr. Anne Popkema (University of Groningen)

The Old Frisian Summer School is organised by University of Groningen in partnership with Oxford University and in co-operation with the Frisian Academy, Tresoar (the main Frisian archival and library institution) and the University of Amsterdam; students at these institutions will receive considerable discount. For more information, please contact us at ofss

Practical information

Dates & location 21 - 27 June 2020, Groningen the Netherlands
Level BA/MA/PhD/Postdoc/Postdoc
Participation fee
Incl. manuscript viewings, transport to Leeuwarden on Wednesday, lunches, conference dinner, city tour and welcoming drinks (Sunday), excursion (Saturday), entrance to University Museum

€ 300 (excluding housing)

Housing Housing (7 nights, from Sunday 21 June to Saturday 27 June), in a 10-bed dorm in the Bud Gett hostel in the city center. Housing fee is € 100, incl. tourist tax, breakfast on all days, and a bike
Academic coordinator Dr. Anne Popkema, Faculty of Arts
Contact ofss

This summer school is designed for students of the various Old Germanic languages, graduate and post-graduate students.
It is expected that the participants have a sufficient command of the English language to actively participate in the discussions and to present their own work in English.

Learning outcomes

The workload is estimated at 40 hours (five days from 9-5 with lectures, workshops, assignments and (paper) presentations).
Participants who attend all sessions and who present a research proposal or paper on Friday will receive a certificate of participation signed by the coordinators of the summer school. Upon request the certificate can mention the workload of 40 hours (28 hours corresponds to 1 ECTS). Students can apply for recognition of these credits to the relevant authorities in their home institutions, therefore the final decision on awarding credits is at the discretion of their home institutions. We will be happy to provide any necessary information that might be requested in addition to the certificate of attendance.

Application procedure

To apply, please fill out the online application form. Please note that you will be asked to upload a CV and proof of academic level (BA/MA/PhD/Postdoc).

All applications will be reviewed by our selection committee. Applicants will be notified of their admission status within two weeks. The final deadline for application is 15 April 2020.

Last modified:28 January 2020 2.56 p.m.