Scope and Content
Title: Steven Lasswell/Peter Tiersma Frisian research archive
Identifier/Call Number: Mss 321
UC Santa Barbara Library, Department of Special Research Collections
Language of Material:
9.5 linear feet
(3 cartons, 4 document boxes, 3 flat boxes, 71 audiocassettes)
Lasswell, Steven Theophilos, 1952-
Tiersma, Peter Meijes
Date (inclusive): 1926-2016
Date (bulk): 1980-2016
Abstract: Materials created and collected by the linguist Steven Lasswell in the course of writing his 1998 dissertation An Ecological
Reference Grammar of Sölring North Frisian, as well as materials by and from the legacy of the late Peter Tiersma, Frisian
linguist and professor of law.
Special Research Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library
Language of Material:
The collection is in English, Frisian, various dialects of German, Plautdietsch, Dutch, and Danish.
The collection is open for research.
Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Research Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish
or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Research Collections. Permission for publication
is given on behalf of the Department of Special Research Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended
to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.
[Identification of Item], Steven Lasswell/Peter Tiersma Frisian research archive, Mss 321. Department of Special Research
Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.
Additions acquired by Special Research Collections, as a gift by Steven Lasswell, in 2016, with an additional increment in
File names retain the creator's naming convention.
Scope and Content
The Frisian Research Archive comprises materials used by the linguist Steven Lasswell in producing his 1998 dissertation
An Ecological Reference Grammar of Sölring North Frisian as well as materials by and from the legacy of the late Peter Tiersma, Frisian linguist and professor of law. The Ecological
Reference Grammar is particularly significant as not only the sole English-language treatment of Sölring, but also as the
only exhaustive study of the language ever made – a language that is one of the most closely related to English and is thus
of special interest historically.
Given the 'ecological' perspective of the dissertation for which it served as basis and Lasswell's pan-Frisian approach to
his subject, the archive has much more than a purely grammatical orientation. With the term
ecological here signifying the broadest possible approach to language, including knowledge of society, culture, and history of the speech
community, the materials used encompass both academic and non-academic treatments of issues that bear on the functioning of
the speech community on Söl (German Sylt), the North Sea island that is the home of the variety of North Frisian that is the
focus of the study. Accordingly, there are manuscript and printed writings in Sölring, including an extensive body of correspondence
between the author and inhabitants of the island; many of the published materials written by the Sölring islanders themselves;
and several of the pedagogical works being used in schools to try to promote the language to a new generation. Of major importance
is the collection of the newspaper Fuar Söl'ring Lir published during 1926-1939 and 1953-1970 in Sölring by Hermann Schmidt.
Unique is the manuscript translation (in photocopy) of the entire New Testament by Peter Michael Clemens (1804-1870), from
which the four Gospels were finally published in Germany and the Netherlands by Hindrik Brouwer in 2008. At the heart of
the collection are approximately twenty-one hours of conversation with speakers of Sölring that were recorded by Lasswell
on research trips in 1992 and 1993.
In addition to looking at the grammar and other structural characteristics of Sölring, Lasswell devoted much attention in
his dissertation and other writings to the issue of language endangerment, language maintenance, and language revitalization,
and the archive contains a number of source documents on these subfields of sociolinguistics which were emerging in the 1990s
and which continue to be important in the face of widespread language loss around the world.
In conducting his research, Lasswell maintained close contacts throughout the historical area of the three Frisias (north,
east, and west), and there are language materials in and about not only Sölring, but also Fering-Öömrang, the other insular
variety of North Frisian; Freesk, Mooring, Frasch and Halunder (mainland varieties); and Seeltersk (East Frisian). Frysk,
centered in the Frysian province of the Netherlands and the most widespread variety of Frisian, is also represented in the
archive, and it is in fact to the "West Frisians" that Lasswell and many Frisianists look for inspiration in today's efforts
at measures for maintaining and revitalizing the much smaller varieties of North and East Frisian, which are structurally
changing and rapidly disappearing under unrelenting pressure from Standard German as the most viable and useful mode of communication
in society in Germany. A large number of research materials are in German; further studies in Dutch, and Danish and other
Scandinavian tongues round out the selection of foreign languages present in the archive.
Additional material was acquired in later half of 2016 (Boxes 7-10) and is comprised of correspondence, newspapers, magazines,
academic papers and related research materials, books, and notes. The correspondence relates to conferences, article publishing,
and general correspondence amongst the academic community. The research materials are in English, German, and Danish. Beyond
correspondence, many of the records relate to writing, publishing, and conferences Lasswell participated in from the mid 1990s
to early 2000s.
The collection has been divided into four series: Series I. Research Files, Series II. Newspapers and Manuscripts, Series
III. Additions, and Series IV. Audio.
Books on the Frisian Language from the libraries of Steven Lasswell and Peter Tiersma have been separated from the collection
and cataloged. These may be accessed via the UCSB Library catalog under Steven Lasswell/Peter Tiersma Collection.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Frisian language -- Dialects
Manuscripts (document genre)
Clippings (information artifacts)