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Bildts in The Netherlands

Language designations:

  • In the language itself: Bildts
  • ISO 639-3 standard: not available

Language vitality according to:

Linguistic aspects:

  • Classification:
    Indo-European > Germanic > West-Germanic > Weser-Rhine Germanic > Low Franconian > Hollandic > Bildts, as well as
    Indo-European > Germanic > West-Germanic > North-Sea Germanic > Anglo-Frisian > Frisian > West Frisian > Bildts.
    See bild1234 on Glottolog
  • Script: Latin

Language standardization

A first academic series of standardisation of Bildts came from Hotze Sytses Buwalda, who wrote various articles from 1935 onwards1) In 1963, he wrote the general booklet Hoe skrive wy 't in 't Bildts (How do we write it in Bildts) 2)3) This standard for Bildts is highly influenced by the writing of author Waling Dykstra (1821-1914), who wrote several stories in Bildts, from 1852 onwards4)5).

In 1996, the first dictionary of Bildts, Woordeboek fan 't Bildts. En list fan toponimen, was published by the Fryske Akademy, as the collective work of Hotze Sytzes Buwalda, Sytse H Buwalda en Anne C.B. van der Burg 6)7). This dictionary was welcomed greatly, some even saying it raised the status of Bildts from a dialect to a language 8).

As the popularity and need of the dictionary was high - it was sold out for several years - a second edition was published9)10). This second edition did not include the toponymical list, but did include a slightly adapted version of the aforementioned writing guide Hoe skrive wy ’t in ’t Bildts (covering additional information, such as a detailed orthography and grammar). The dictionary was the collective work of H.S. Buwalda, S.H. Buwalda, A.C.B. van der Burg, and H. Sijens11)12).


Language Area

Bildts is highly linked to the area Het Bildt, as the mixed language developed there due to language contact between Frisian speakers and speakers of the Dutch varieties from South and North Holland13)14). Half of the speakers live within this area, and most of the other half live in the vicinity15). Het Bildt is a polder in the North-West of the province of Fryslân, the Netherlands, reclaimed after the first dykes in that area in 150516).

The Bildt area also formed a municipality, Het Bildt. In 1984, part of the former municipality Barradeel was added to Het Bildt, which included the Frisian speaking village of Minnertsga (Fr. Minnertsgea). In 2018, a large amalgamation into the new municipality Waadhoeketook place of the former municipalities Franekeradeel, Menameradiel, and part of Littenseradiel into the new municipality Waadhoeke. In this new administrative area, speakers of Bildts are a relatively small minority. In the municipality Waadhoeke, most residents speak Frisian and Dutch, and in addition to Bildts, there is also a local variety of Town Frisian called Franekers17) 18).

A map of the province of Fryslân with the langauge varieties. the area of It Bilt is shown in the North-West. Source: Jong, Gerbrich de & Hoekstra, Eric. (2020, May 14). A general introduction to Frisian. Taalportaal. Retrieved from
A map of the province of Fryslân that shows the language varieties. The area of It Bilt (NL: Het Bildt) is shown in the North-West. The thick line indicates the Frisian speaking region. Also shown on the map is the city Frjentsjer (NL: Franeker) where Franekers is spoken.19)

Speaker numbers

It is estimated that there are six to ten thousand speakers of Bildts 20)21)22).

The Frisian census on regional languages 2014 reported the following responses from Het Bildt regarding both language skills (productive and receptive) and usage and exposure:23)

Table 1: Bildts language skills of respondents

Can understand Can speak Can read Can write
≥ 90% 50−60% 50−60% 10−15%

Table 2: Bildts language use of respondents

Uses Bildts daily Hears Bildts daily Has Bildts as mother tongue
60−75% ≥ 70% 30−45%

Education of the language

History of language education:

The call for Bildts language education was set in motion due to the lower educational law amendment of 1974, which allowed Frisian to be used as language of instruction at all levels of primary education, and which established Frisian as a regular subject in all primary schools of the province of Fryslân, starting in 1980. Propelled by this, action was taken and Bildts was allowed to be taught next to Frisian. To provide for educational materials, a special committee,De Commissie Bildts, was established in 1979. Nowadays, Kemissy Meertalighyd (‘the Multilingualism Committee’) and Cedin have taken up most of this work.24)

In 1984, the Frisian speaking village Minnertsga/Minnertsgea was added to municipality Het Bildt, which caused another wave for the Bildts language and culture movement, eventually leading to equal status for both languages in the new enlarged municipality. In 1980, Stiching Ons Bildt was founded to support the language and culture, which organised Bildts language courses for example.25) This organisation merged with the Bildts Dokumintasysintrum, cultural-archaeological visitor centre Aerden Plaats, and the abovementioned Kemissy Meertalighyd into the Stichting Bildts Aigene foundation in 2015, of which the last two went their own way again after a few years.

In the years leading to formation of the new municipality Waadhoeke in 2018, the Bildts language and culture movement was very active again, with recognition of the Bildts language as one of their aims (also see Legislation of language education). Although Bildts was not recognised on national level, the province of Fryslân as well as the municipality of Waadhoeke stated that they would promote and continue to financially support the Bildts language.26)27)28)

Nowadays, Bildts language education is mainly provided at primary schools. It is also offered as language courses for adults.

Legislation of language education

In 2018, the municipality Het Bildt amalgamated into the larger municipality of Waadhoeke. In anticipation of this administrative change, there was an increased amount of activity and efforts to have Bildts recognised as a (minority) language.

For this, researchers at the Fryske Akademy were asked to research Bildts, which led to several studies 29)30)31). They concluded that Bildts is neither a Frisian nor a Dutch dialect, but a mixed language. Eric Hoekstra, one of the co-authors: “We hope that our analysis of Bildts, as a mixed language rather than as a dialect of either Frisian or Dutch, may serve the policy makers of the Ministry, who will decide on the recognition of Bildts as a language” 32)

Despite the efforts, Bildts was not recognised on European or national level, but the language has received recognition at both provincial and municipal level.

European Legislation

In 2016, municipality Het Bildt and language activists were in pursuit of recognition for Bildts under part II of European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages. They received support of the Province of Fryslân for this recognition, but the Dutch government decided not to recognise Bildts as a regional or minority language.33)34)

This decision came after a negative advise from the Taalunie (Language Union) in 2016. The Union was of the opinion that, though Bildts as hybrid language is neither Dutch nor Frisian, it does not mean Bildts is a language rather than a variery of either Dutch of Frisian. The Union states that the purpose of the Charter is not to “elevate more regional languages to distinct cultural languages. Mixed varieties do not need an own umbrella if they can shelter underneath the common umbrella of existing cultural languages.” 35)

National Legislation

Bildts is not recognised as a regional or minority language in the Netherlands.
In 2017, after the negative advise of the Taalunie (Language Union), a petition to recognise Bildts was presented to members of the Dutch Parliament and Senate, but the topic was not discussed in the plenary session on the amalgamation. 36)37)38)

The Dutch law on Primary Education allows for regional language varieties “which are in lively use” as medium of instruction besides Dutch at primary level.39)

Local Legislation

The Province of Fryslân as well as the municipality Waadhoeke support Bildts, and have included the language in their language policies:

  • The Dutch state, the Province of Fryslân and amalgamated municipalities, including Waadhoeke have signed the agreement Bestjoerlike oerienkomst Frysk taalbelied yn de nije gemeenten Ljouwert en Súdwest-Fryslân en yn de nij te foarmjen gemeente Waadhoeke ('Administrative Agreement Frisian Language Policy in the New Municipalities Leeuwarden and Súdwest-Fryslân and the Upcoming Municipality Waadhoeke')(2017), which states that Waadhoeke will strive to include Bildts in a multilingual language policy.
  • For education in Fryslân, a regional language can be taught instead of Frisian 40)
  • In 2004, the Province of Fryslân underlined the support of Bildts and other regional languages in the Notysje Streekalen ('policy memorandum regional languages'.41) Due to this policy memorandum, the province financially supported Stichting Ons Bildt, and it drew up a policy on youth and education.42) The province has made similar policies for art & culture, language, heritage and education in 2011−2015 with Grinzen oer(Across Borders), in 2016−2020 with Mei hert, holle en hannen(With heart, head, and hands'), and in 2021−2024 with Nij Poadium(‘New Platform’/’New Stage’). Thus, the province has been supportive towards Bildts, although the main responsibilities to carry out the policies lie with the municipality.
  • Municipality Waadhoeke has a multilingual language policy Waadhoeke: Lân fan Taal ('Waadhoeke: Land of Languages') which includes Bildts, supports Bildts education, and specifies financial support.

Institutional support for education of the language:

Institutional support

Bildts education and educational materials is supported and provided by:

  • Bildts Aigene, which is a foundation originating in Stichting Ôns Bildt and the former cooperative entity Bildts documentatiecentrum. Bildts Aigene has a section Language and Education, which, according to their year report 2019:43)
    • organises language courses for both native and non-native speakers, both in class as well as online;
    • develops multilingual learning materials for primary schools;
    • publishes books;
    • organises the yearly Bildts spelling test and poetry evening.
  • Kemissy Meertalighyd, was part of the umbrella organisation of Stichting Bildts Aigene since 2015, but not anymore.44) The committee provides multilingual materials as well as information on multilingualism, and collaborates with Cedin’s Centre for Multilingualism. The materials of Kemmissy Meertalighyd are aimed at teachers in the municipality Waadhoeke.

Educational materials

Educational materials are made by a few organisations: Bildts Aigene, Kemissy Meertalighyd, Cedin Taalsintrum Frysk and various initiatives, often in cooperation and/or published by De Bildtse Boekerij/BildtTaal or Afûk.

The province of Fryslân and municipality has financially supported the production of pre-school and primary school educational materials in Bildts.45)46) Almost all materials are made available online for free by Bildts Aigene and Kemissy Meertalighyd.


For pre-school, the Frisian series Tomke has been translated to Bildts, both books as short stories. Tomke is to be read to children aged 2-4 to stimulate the language use. The Bildtse Post, the local newspaper, also published a Tomke story every week, around 200 in total47)

Primary school

There is one study book made in Bildts for the two highest years of primary scool, which is Bildtse Taalrotonde, published by the Komissy Meertalighyd in 2006. It is translated from the Frisian study book Fryske Taalrotonde.

Moreover, there are various learning materials developed by Komissy Meertalighyd (in cooperation with Cedin):

  • Themed lessons (e.g. food, art, the municipality, astronomy);
  • A series with short stories and accompanying songs about the leading character Bob de Krôb;
  • Short stories;
  • Puzzles;
  • Songs (e.g. CD Speule met Bildts)

Two primary schools have made own materials to use in class, one school for all levels, the other school for the lower and middle years.48)

During the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, a Bildts colouring and story booklet was published and provided for free for the first three years of primary schools.49)

Adult education

Besides Bildts language courses for adults, Bildts Aigene also offers the online learning environment, Digibildts.

Financial support

The educational activities are financially supported by the municipality, but nonetheless “also exist by the grace of volunteer effort, having allowed this infrastructure to exist cost-effectively.”50)

Teacher support

According to the 2018 Frisian study on language education, teachers express a need for a specific Bildts didactic teacher course.51)

Some primary teachers, from four out of the six schools in the former municipality, have attended courses to improve the Bildts language skills. These courses include Bildts for native speakers, Bildts for non-native speakers, or courses on multilingualism. Two schools promote the attandence of such courses, two schools are open for teachers to request the courses. 52)

Education presence

In 2018, the coaltion of the municipality of the Waadhoeke expressed in their agreement to promote multilingualism as wel as promote and preserve the multilingual character of the municipality. For this, a multilingual themed lesson plan should become available for all schools.53)

Pre-school education

There are several pre-school facilities in the Bildt, where Bildts may be used informally.54)

Primary education

A study on Frisian language education by Varkevisser and Walsweer (2018)55) also did research on Bildts language education at primary schools in the former municipality Het Bildt. This study showed that Bildts is taught up to one hour a week at five of eight primary schools. Two schools do not teach Bildts, as they are situated in Minnertsga/Minnertsgea, and the third school that does not teach Bildts states the low number of Bildts speaking pupils, which is 1 in 6, as the reason. Out of these eight schools, five have a language policy which include both Frisian and Bildts. The Bildts language classes don't take place at all levels, but mostly take place in the lower levels and are often dependent on the teacher. What is more, three schools also use Bidts as language of instruction.

Table showing teaching time for Bildts language eduation56)

schools education at lower levels education a higher levels
1 15 min per week -
1 15 min per week 15 min per week
1 30 min per week 30 min per week
1 30-45 min per week occasional study material
1 1 study afternoon on project basis

Table showing learning goals for Bildts language education57)

schools learning goals
all language attitude
5 listening skills
5 vocabulary
4 speaking skills
3 reading skills
0 writing skills

The Bildts language proficiency is not tested, as adequate means to do so have not been developed.58)

Adult education

For adult education, Bildts Aigene offers:

  • Bildts for non-native speakers
    15 lessons which aims at listening, reading and speaking skills.
  • Bildts for native speakers
    12 lessons which aims at reading, speaking and writing skills.
  • Online courses
    The courses are also offered online. A selection of lessons may be tried for free.

Online learning resources


  • Bildts Aigene
    Organises language courses, also online, has archive on Bildts history. Also has a webshop with Bildts books.
  • Kemissy Meertalighyd
    Develops educational materials and makes them available online.
  • Cedin: Centrum Meertaligheid
    Assists and promotes multilingual education in Fryslân. Also develops multilingual educational materials.
  • Afûk
    The Frisian language education organisation, which organises Frisian courses, publishes books and educational materials, has a book store (also online), and promotes multilingualism in Fryslân.
  • Sintrum Frysktalige Berne-opfang (SFBO)
    Centre for Frisian pre-school education, which promotes multilingual pre-schools in Fryslân.
  • Bildtse Post
    The newspaper in Bildts language.

Online resources

1) , 3) , 6)
Buwalda, S. (2020, 16 January). Te gast: de Fryske Akademy en de Bildtse taal. Leeuwarder Courant. Retrieved from
Leeuwarder Courant (1994, February 9). Bildtse taalkundige Buwalda sturven. Leeuwarder Courant. Retrieved from:
4) , 8) , 10) , 12)
Van Sluis, P. (2015). Present position of Bildts. In Van Sluis, P. Seven perspectives on Bildts: The Bildts language status in a European context (pp.22-27). Mercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning. Retrieved from
Tresoar & De Vries, A. (2019). Dykstra, Waling. Sirkwy. Retrieved from
7) , 14)
Hoekstra, E. & Van Koppen, M. (2001). Het Bildts als resultaat van Fries-Hollands taalcontact. In D. Boutkan and A. Quak (eds) Language contact. Substratum, superstratum, adstratum in Germanic languages. Amsterdamer Beiträäge zur Alteren Germanistik. Band 54. Rodopi, Amsterdam - Atlanta, 89-106. Retrieved from
9) , 11)
Omrop Fryslân (2013, November 13). Nije edysje Biltsk wurdboek. Omrop Fryslân. Retrieved from
13) , 15) , 16) , 17) , 20) , 24) , 25) , 30) , 42)
Van Sluis, P. (2015). Seven perspectives on Bildts: The Bildts language status in a European context. Mercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning. Retrieved from
Omrop Fryslân 2017, January 25). Biltkers komme mei petysje oar erkenning Biltske taal. Omrop Fryslân. Retrieved from
Jong, Gerbrich de & Hoekstra, Eric. (2020, May 14). A general introduction to Frisian. Taalportaal. Retrieved from
Hoekstra, E, and Van Koppen, M. (2001). Het Bildts als resultaat van Fries-Hollands taalcontact. In D. Boutkan and A. Quak (eds) Language contact. Substratum, superstratum, adstratum in Germanic languages. Amsterdamer Beiträäge zur Alteren Germanistik. Band 54. Rodopi, Amsterdam - Atlanta, 89-106. Retrieved from
22) , 31) , 33)
Sluis, P. van, Hoekstra, E. & Velde, H. Van de (2016). Bildts as a mixed language. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 2016 (242), 59-80. DOI:
Provincie Fryslân (2014). Streektalenatlas 2014: streektalen in beeld. Provinsje Fryslân.
Coalitie Waadhoeke: CDA, SAM, FNP (2018). Nije grinzen, nije kânsen: Coalitie-akkoord Waadhoeke 2018-2022 CDA, SAM en FNP. Retrieved from
27) , 45)
Deputearre Steaten fan Fryslân (2018). Moasje 1141, erkenning Biltsk. Retrieved from
Van Sluis, P. (2015). Seven perspectives on Bildts: The Bildts language status in a European context. Mercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning. pp. . Retrieved from
Fryske Akademy, (2016). Is het Bildts een zelfstandige taal?. Fryske Akademy.
Fryske Akademy, (2016). Is het Bildts een zelfstandige taal?. Fryske Akademy. Original quote in Dutch:“Wij hopen dat we de beleidsmakers van het Ministerie, die over de erkenning van het Bildts als taal beslissen, van dienst kunnen zijn met onze analyse van het Bildts als een mengtaal, die noch als dialect van het Fries, noch als dialect van het Nederlands gezien kan worden.”
Parlementaire Monitor (2016). Brief regering; Verzoek om erkenning van het Bildts onder het Europees Handvest voor regionale talen of talen van minderheden. Parlementaire Monitor. Retrieved from
Raadswerkgroep het Bildts (2016). Taalunieadvies over de erkenning van het Bildts. Taalunie. Original quote in Dutch: “Het Europees Handvest heeft tot doelstelling bestaande cultuurtalen te beschermen, niet meer streektalen tot aparte cultuurtalen te verheffen. Gemengde variëteiten hoeven geen eigen paraplu’s te krijgen als ze onder de gezamenlijke paraplu’s van bestaande cultuurtalen kunnen schuilen.”
Omrop Fryslân (Februari 7, 2017). Petysje Bilkerts foar erkenning taal oerlange yn Den Haag. Omrop Fryslân. Retrieved from]].
Tweede Kamer (2017). Samenvoeging gemeenten. Report Tweede Kamer of Februari 8, 2017. Retrieved from
Omrop Fryslân (March 13, 2018). Provinsje stipet Waadhoeke om Biltsk taalbelied te meitsjen. Omrop Fryslân. Retrieved from
Wet op het primair onderwijs, Art. 9, par. 13. Retrieved from
Fryslân (2015). Beleidsregel voor het verkrijgen van ontheffing voor het vak Fries in het primair en voortgezet onderwijs. Provinciaal blad van Fryslân 2014 (3671). Retrieved from
Provinsje Fryslân (October 13, 2004). Persbesluitenlijst. Open Nieuwsbank. Retrieved from
43) , 44)
Bildts Aigene (2020). Jaarverslag 2019. Retrieved from
46) , 50) , 54)
Van Sluis, P. (2015). Bildts in education. In Van Sluis, Seven perspectives on Bildts: The Bildts language status in a European contextpp 25-26. Mercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning. pp. . Retrieved from
Lokaal Nieuwsnet (August, 29, 2018). Bildtse foorleesferhaaltsys Tomke in de Bildtse Post. Bildtse Post. Retrieved from
48) , 51) , 52) , 55) , 56) , 57) , 58)
Varkevisser, N. A. & Walsweer, A. P. (2018). It Bilt. In Varkevisser, N. A. & Walsweer, A. P., It is mei sizzen net te dwaan: rapport taalplan Frysk - Ynventarisaasje nei de stân fan saken oangeande it (fak) Frysk yn it primêr en fuortset ûnderwiis. (pp.128-136). Provinsje Fryslân.
Franeker Courant (May 14, 2020). Kleur- en leesboekje voor leerlingen Bildtse basisscholen. Franeker Courant. Retrieved from
Coalitie Waadhoeke: CDA, SAM, FNP (2018). Nije grinzen, nije kânsen: Coalitie-akkoord Waadhoeke 2018-2022 CDA, SAM en FNP. Retrieved from
languages/bildts_in_the_netherlands.txt · Last modified: 2024/04/25 11:55 by ydwine

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