A dialect map of the northern Netherlands. Urkers is the green bit at the western tip of the pink area at the bottom center.
Urkers is the local language of the municipality and former island of Urk, located on the west coast of the Dutch province of Flevoland. Urk was an island until the middle of the 20th century. It was originally located in the Zuiderzee, a bay of the North sea, which became an inland sea called IJsselmeer when a dam was built to secure the Dutch coast against floods. Inhabitants of Urk had been mostly fishermen and still predominantly make their living from North Sea fishing.
Urkers is part of the dialect continuum that links Dutch Low Saxon dialects in the North and East of Urk to the Lower Franconian dialects, mainly in the South, West, and North-West of Urk. Standard Dutch, and Afrikaans are also part of the Lower Franconian group. Urkers is considered a part of the Low Saxon group of languages despite the fact that it is quite extreme in that group and both geographically and linguistically at its edge. Lower Saxon has its main distribution in Northern Germany in the federal states Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. For native speakers from those areas, it is unlikely to understand Urkers well.
The author Gerrit Pasterkamp has written books in Urkers, including translations of the Jewish and Christian Psalms and belletristic works. There is at least one band, Leuster, that publishes some of their songs sung in Urkers on CD.
Urkers is not recognized as a minority language by the Dutch government. A request to have an ISO 639-3 code assigned to Urkers was deferred due to incomplete treatment of the scope the rest of Low Saxon.
- ISO change request 2009-039
- Section Urks in the Book by Harrie Scholtmeijer: Taal in stad en land: Utrechts, Veluws en Flevolands, Sdu Uitgevers, Den Haag 2002, ISBN 90-12-09008-3