Staten Island Web logo



Awhile back, my daughter was lucky enough to win a foreign scholarship(Youth for understanding) that enabled her to do her senior year in a high school overseas. Her first choice was France, second Spain, third Holland and fourth Germany.

Since she had already taken 3years of French, we hoped there would be a slot open in France. It turned out the only slot open was in Holland, and of all places in the Northwest of Holland...also known as Friesland. She gained enough fluency with the "normal" Dutch to get by in school, but outside of school, everyone spoke Frisian and that's the language she brought back to the states with her. There are a few words in Frisian that come close to English, but the dialect that resembles English the most is called "Plattdeutsch".

Plattdeutsch is mostly spoken around Hamburg and the lands west and south of it...called Ost Friesland. The Germans still regard the part of Holland that borders it as part of the Reich and call it West Friesland. This is not looked upon kindly by the Dutch Frisians, who were at the forefront of the resistance fighters against the Nazis in WWII.

My daughter's room in her host family's house had a "secret room" (a la Anne Frank) behind the wall where the family hid Jews and other refugees from the Gestapo. The head of the household tells stories of going out at night (he was 13) and helping sabotage railroad lines and mining bridges. Even today (and he is a clergyman!), he hates Germans so much that he will purposely give German tourists false directions if they happen to get lost in his neck of the woods.

As far as Greek goes, one of the most popular poems in modern Greek literature is entitled "SKATA". If you know what scatology means...you get the picture.

Anyhow, roughly translated the poem goes something like this:

SKATA here, SKATA there, SKATA way over there,
SKATA in the sky, SKATA on the earth,
SKATA all over space.

SKATA you eat, SKATA you drink,
SKATA you SKATA

From SKATA you came,
And to SKATA you'll go back
SKATA.

A pretty earthy philosophy, but true enough!...:)
Addendum: "The Story of English" narrated by Robert MacNeill can be ordered from Amazon.com. The set of 5videos will cost you about $90, but well worth it!



Staten Island WebŪ Forums Index.