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: : : : : (70,000) (30,000) (8,000) , familycolor = Indo-European , fam2 =
Germanic
Germanic
, fam3 = West Germanic , fam4 = North Sea Germanic , ancestor =
Old Saxon Old Saxon, also known as Old Low German, was a Germanic language and the earliest recorded form of Low German (spoken nowadays in Northern Germany Northern Germany (german: link=no, Norddeutschland) is a linguistic, geographic, socio-cultura ...
, ancestor2 =
Middle Low German Middle Low German or Middle Saxon (autonym: ''Sassisch'', i.e. "Saxon", Standard German, Standard High German: ', Dutch language, Modern Dutch: ') is a developmental stage of Low German. It developed from the Old Saxon language in the Middle ...
, dia1 = West Low German , dia2 = East Low German , iso2 = nds , iso3 = nds , iso3comment = (Dutch varieties and Westphalian have separate codes) , lingua = 52-ACB , map = Nds Spraakrebeet na1945.svg , mapcaption = Present day Low German language area in Europe. , glotto = lowg1239 , glottoname = Low German , notice = IPA Low German or Low Saxon (in the language itself: , and other names; german: Plattdeutsch, ) is a West Germanic language variety spoken mainly in
Northern Germany Northern Germany (german: link=no, Norddeutschland) is a linguistic, geographic, socio-cultural and historic region in the northern part of Germany which includes the coastal states of Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Lower Saxony an ...
and the northeastern part of the
Netherlands ) , anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Kingdom of the Netherlands , established_title = Before independence , established_date = Spanish Neth ...

Netherlands
. The dialect of Plautdietsch is also spoken in the Russian Mennonite diaspora worldwide. Low German is most closely related to Frisian and
English
English
, with which it forms the North Sea Germanic group of the West Germanic languages. Like Dutch, it is spoken north of the Benrath and Uerdingen isoglosses, while ( Standard) High German is spoken south of those lines. Like Frisian, English, Dutch and the
North Germanic languages
North Germanic languages
, Low German has not undergone the High German consonant shift, as opposed to Standard High German, which is based on High German dialects. Low German evolved from Old Saxon (Old Low German), which is most closely related to Old Frisian and Old English (Anglo-Saxon). The Low German dialects spoken in the Netherlands are mostly referred to as Low Saxon, those spoken in northwestern Germany (
Lower Saxony Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a States of Germany, German state (') in Northern Germany, northwestern Germany. It is the second-largest state by land area, with , and fourth-largest in populati ...
, Westphalia,
Schleswig-Holstein Schleswig-Holstein (; da, Slesvig-Holsten; nds, Sleswig-Holsteen; frr, Slaswik-Holstiinj) is the Northern Germany, northernmost of the 16 states of Germany, comprising most of the historical duchy of Holstein and the southern part of the form ...
,
Hamburg (male), (female) en, Hamburger(s), Hamburgian(s) , timezone1 = Central (CET) , utc_offset1 = +1 , timezone1_DST = Central (CEST) , utc_offset1_DST = +2 , postal ...
,
Bremen Bremen (Low German also: ''Breem'' or ''Bräm''), officially the City Municipality of Bremen (german: Stadtgemeinde Bremen, ), is the capital of the Germany, German States of Germany, state Bremen (state), Free Hanseatic City of Bremen (''Freie H ...
, and
Saxony-Anhalt Saxony-Anhalt (german: Sachsen-Anhalt ; nds, Sassen-Anholt) is a States of Germany, state of Germany, bordering the states of Brandenburg, Saxony, Thuringia and Lower Saxony. It covers an area of and has a population of 2.18 million inhabit ...
west of the
Elbe The Elbe (; cs, Labe ; nds, Ilv or ''Elv''; Upper and dsb, Łobjo) is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Giant Mountains of the northern Czech Republic The Czech Republic, or simply Czechia, is a landloc ...
) as either Low German or Low Saxon, and those spoken in northeastern Germany ( Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania,
Brandenburg Brandenburg (; nds, Brannenborg; dsb, Bramborska ) is a states of Germany, state in the northeast of Germany bordering the states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Saxony, as well as the country of Poland. With an ar ...
, and Saxony-Anhalt east of the Elbe) mostly as Low German. This is because northwestern Germany and the northeastern Netherlands were the area of settlement of the
Saxons The Saxons ( la, Saxones, german: Sachsen, ang, Seaxan, osx, Sahson, nds, Sassen, nl, Saksen) were a group of Germanic peoples, Germanic * * * * peoples whose name was given in the early Middle Ages to a large country (Old Saxony, la, Saxo ...
( Old Saxony), while Low German spread to northeastern Germany through eastward migration of Low German speakers into areas with a Slavic-speaking population ( Germania Slavica). It has been estimated that Low German has approximately 1.6 million speakers in Germany, primarily Northern Germany, and 2.15 million in the Netherlands.


Geographical extent


Inside Europe


Germany

It has been estimated that Low German has approximately 2 to 5 million speakers (depending on the definition of 'native speaker') in Germany, primarily in Northern Germany. Variants of Low German are spoken in most parts of
Northern Germany Northern Germany (german: link=no, Norddeutschland) is a linguistic, geographic, socio-cultural and historic region in the northern part of Germany which includes the coastal states of Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Lower Saxony an ...
, for instance in the states of
Lower Saxony Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a States of Germany, German state (') in Northern Germany, northwestern Germany. It is the second-largest state by land area, with , and fourth-largest in populati ...
,
North Rhine-Westphalia North Rhine-Westphalia (german: Nordrhein-Westfalen, ; li, Noordrien-Wesfale ; nds, Noordrhien-Westfalen; ksh, Noodrhing-Wäßßfaale), commonly shortened to NRW (), is a States of Germany, state (''Land'') in Western Germany. With more tha ...
,
Hamburg (male), (female) en, Hamburger(s), Hamburgian(s) , timezone1 = Central (CET) , utc_offset1 = +1 , timezone1_DST = Central (CEST) , utc_offset1_DST = +2 , postal ...
,
Bremen Bremen (Low German also: ''Breem'' or ''Bräm''), officially the City Municipality of Bremen (german: Stadtgemeinde Bremen, ), is the capital of the Germany, German States of Germany, state Bremen (state), Free Hanseatic City of Bremen (''Freie H ...
,
Schleswig-Holstein Schleswig-Holstein (; da, Slesvig-Holsten; nds, Sleswig-Holsteen; frr, Slaswik-Holstiinj) is the Northern Germany, northernmost of the 16 states of Germany, comprising most of the historical duchy of Holstein and the southern part of the form ...
,
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (MV; ; nds, Mäkelborg-Vörpommern), also known by its Anglicisation, anglicized name Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania, is a Federated state, state in the north-east of Germany. Of the country's States of Germany, sixtee ...
,
Saxony-Anhalt Saxony-Anhalt (german: Sachsen-Anhalt ; nds, Sassen-Anholt) is a States of Germany, state of Germany, bordering the states of Brandenburg, Saxony, Thuringia and Lower Saxony. It covers an area of and has a population of 2.18 million inhabit ...
, and
Brandenburg Brandenburg (; nds, Brannenborg; dsb, Bramborska ) is a states of Germany, state in the northeast of Germany bordering the states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Saxony, as well as the country of Poland. With an ar ...
. Small portions of northern
Hesse Hesse (, , ) or Hessia (, ; german: Hessen ), officially the State of Hessen (german: links=no, Land Hessen), is a States of Germany, state in Germany. Its capital city is Wiesbaden, and the largest urban area is Frankfurt. Two other major histor ...
and northern
Thuringia Thuringia (; german: Thüringen ), officially the Free State of Thuringia ( ), is a states of Germany, state of central Germany, covering , the sixth smallest of the sixteen German states. It has a population of about 2.1 million. Erfurt is t ...
are traditionally Low Saxon-speaking too. Historically, Low German was also spoken in formerly German parts of
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative provinces called Voivodeships of Poland, voivodeships, covering an area of . Poland has a population of over 38 million and is ...
as well as in East Prussia and the Baltic provinces (modern Estonia and Latvia). The Baltic Germans spoke a distinct Low German dialect, which has influenced the vocabulary and phonetics of both Estonian and Latvian. The historical Sprachraum of Low German also included contemporary northern Poland, East Prussia (the modern Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia), a part of western Lithuania, and the German communities in Estonia and Latvia, most notably their Hanseatic cities. German speakers in this area fled the Red Army or were forcibly expelled after the border changes at the end of World War II. The language was also formerly spoken in the outer areas of what is now the city-state of
Berlin Berlin ( , ) is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3.7 million inhabitants make it the European Union's most populous city, according to population within city limits. One of Germany's sixteen constituen ...
, but in the course of urbanisation and national centralisation in that city, the language has vanished (the Berlin dialect itself is a northern outpost of High German, though it has some Low German features). Today, there are still speakers outside Germany to be found in the coastal areas of present-day
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative provinces called Voivodeships of Poland, voivodeships, covering an area of . Poland has a population of over 38 million and is ...
(minority of ethnic German East Pomeranian speakers who were not expelled from Pomerania, as well as the regions around Braniewo). In the Southern
Jutland Jutland ( da, Jylland ; german: Jütland ; ang, Ēota land ), known anciently as the Cimbric or Cimbrian Peninsula ( la, Cimbricus Chersonesus; da, den Kimbriske Halvø, links=no or ; german: Kimbrische Halbinsel, links=no), is a peninsula of ...
region of Denmark there may still be some Low German speakers in some German minority communities, but the Low German and North Frisian dialects of
Denmark ) , song = ( en, "King Christian stood by the lofty mast") , song_type = National and royal anthem , image_map = EU-Denmark.svg , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Danish Realm, Kingdom of Denmark ...
can be considered moribund at this time.


The Netherlands

Dialects of Low German are spoken in the northeastern area of the Netherlands (
Dutch Low Saxon Dutch Low Saxon ( or ''Nederlaands Nedersaksies''; nl, Nederlands Nedersaksisch) are the West Low German, Low Saxon dialects of the Low German language that are spoken in the northeastern Netherlands and are written there with local, unstandard ...
) and are written there with an unstandardized orthography based on Standard Dutch orthography. The position of the language is, according to UNESCO, vulnerable. Between 1995 and 2011 the numbers of parent speakers dropped from 34% in 1995 to 15% in 2011. Numbers of child speakers dropped from 8% to 2% in the same period. According to a 2005 study 53% speak Low Saxon or Low Saxon and Dutch at home and 71% could speak it in the researched area. The total number of speakers is estimated at 1.7 million speakers.The Other Languages of Europe: Demographic, Sociolinguistic, and Educational Perspectives by Guus Extra, Durk Gorter; Multilingual Matters, 2001 - 454; page 10. There are speakers in the Dutch north and eastern provinces of
Groningen Groningen (; gos, Grunn or ) is the capital city and main municipality of Groningen (province), Groningen province in the Netherlands. The ''capital of the north'', Groningen is the largest place as well as the economic and cultural centre of t ...
,
Drenthe Drenthe () is a provinces of the Netherlands, province of the Netherlands located in the northeastern part of the country. It is bordered by Overijssel to the south, Friesland to the west, Groningen (province), Groningen to the north, and the G ...
, Stellingwerf (part of
Friesland Friesland (, ; official fry, Fryslân ), historically and traditionally known as Frisia, is a Provinces of the Netherlands, province of the Netherlands located in the country's northern part. It is situated west of Groningen (province), Groning ...
),
Overijssel Overijssel (, ; nds, Oaveriessel ; german: Oberyssel) is a Provinces of the Netherlands, province of the Netherlands located in the eastern part of the country. The province's name translates to "across the IJssel", from the perspective of the ...
,
Gelderland Gelderland (), also known as Guelders () in English, is a province of the Netherlands, occupying the centre-east of the country. With a total area of of which is water, it is the largest province of the Netherlands by land area, and second b ...
,
Utrecht Utrecht ( , , ) is the List of cities in the Netherlands by province, fourth-largest city and a List of municipalities of the Netherlands, municipality of the Netherlands, capital and most populous city of the Provinces of the Netherlands, pro ...
and
Flevoland Flevoland () is the twelfth and youngest Provinces of the Netherlands, province of the Netherlands, established in 1986, when the southern and eastern Flevopolders, together with the Noordoostpolder, were merged into one provincial entity. It i ...
, in several dialect groups per province.


Outside Europe and the Mennonites

There are also immigrant communities where Low German is spoken in the Western hemisphere, including
Canada Canada is a country in North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering over , making it the world ...
, the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
,
Mexico Mexico (Spanish language, Spanish: México), officially the United Mexican States, is a List of sovereign states, country in the southern portion of North America. It is borders of Mexico, bordered to the north by the United States; to the so ...
,
Belize Belize (; bzj, Bileez) is a Caribbean and Central American country on the northeastern coast of Central America. It is bordered by Mexico to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and Guatemala to the west and south. It also shares a wate ...
,
Venezuela Venezuela (; ), officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ( es, link=no, República Bolivariana de Venezuela), is a country on the northern coast of South America, consisting of a continental landmass and many Federal Dependencies of V ...
,
Bolivia , image_flag = Bandera de Bolivia (Estado).svg , flag_alt = Horizontal tricolor (red, yellow, and green from top to bottom) with the coat of arms of Bolivia in the center , flag_alt2 = 7 × 7 square p ...
,
Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country in the southern half of South America. Argentina covers an area of , making it the List of South American countries by area, second-largest ...
,
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, ...
,
Paraguay Paraguay (; ), officially the Republic of Paraguay ( es, República del Paraguay, links=no; gn, Tavakuairetã Paraguái, links=si), is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to th ...
and
Uruguay Uruguay (; ), officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay ( es, República Oriental del Uruguay), is a country in South America. It shares borders with Argentina to its west and southwest and Brazil to its north and northeast; while bordering ...
. In some of these countries, the language is part of the
Mennonite Mennonites are groups of Anabaptism, Anabaptist Christianity, Christian church communities of denominations. The name is derived from the founder of the movement, Menno Simons (1496–1561) of Friesland. Through his writings about Reformed Chris ...
religion and culture. There are Mennonite communities in
Ontario Ontario ( ; ) is one of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada.Ontario is located in the geographic Eastern Canada, eastern half of Canada, but it has historically and politically been considered to be part of Central Canada. Located ...
,
Saskatchewan Saskatchewan ( ; ) is a Provinces and territories of Canada, province in Western Canada, western Canada, bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, to the northeast by Nunavut, and on t ...
,
Alberta Alberta ( ) is one of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada, provinces and territories of Canada. It is part of Western Canada and is one of the three Canadian Prairies, prairie provinces. Alberta is bordered by British Columbia to t ...
,
British Columbia British Columbia (commonly abbreviated as BC) is the westernmost Provinces and territories of Canada, province of Canada, situated between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains. It has a diverse geography, with rugged landscapes that include ...
,
Manitoba Manitoba ( ) is a Provinces and territories of Canada, province of Canada at the Centre of Canada, longitudinal centre of the country. It is Canada's Population of Canada by province and territory, fifth-most populous province, with a population o ...
,
Kansas Kansas () is a U.S. state, state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern United States. Its Capital city, capital is Topeka, Kansas, Topeka, and its largest city is Wichita, Kansas, Wichita. Kansas is a landlocked state bordered by Nebras ...
and
Minnesota Minnesota () is a state in the upper midwestern region of the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primaril ...
which use Low German in their religious services and communities. These Mennonites are descended from primarily Dutch settlers that had initially settled in the Vistula delta region of
Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian: ''Prūsa'' or ''Prūsija'' was a Germans, German state on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. It formed the German Empire under Prussian rule when it united the German states in 1871. It was ''de facto'' dissolved ...
in the 16th and 17th centuries before moving to newly acquired
Russia Russia (, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning Eastern Europe and North Asia, Northern Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, largest country in the ...
n territories in
Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in Eastern Europe. It is the List of European countries by area, second-largest European country after Russia, which it borders Russia–Ukraine border, to the east and northeast. Ukraine ...
in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and then to the
Americas The Americas, which are sometimes collectively called America, are a landmass comprising the totality of North America, North and South America. The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere and comprise the New World. ...
in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The types of Low German spoken in these communities and in the
Midwest The Midwestern United States, also referred to as the Midwest or the American Midwest, is one of four Census Bureau Region, census regions of the United States Census Bureau (also known as "Region 2"). It occupies the northern central part of ...
region of the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
have diverged since emigration. The survival of the language is tenuous in many places, and has died out in many places where assimilation has occurred. Members and friends of the Historical Society of North German Settlements in Western New York ( Bergholz, NY), a community of Lutherans who trace their immigration from Pomerania in the 1840s, hold quarterly "Plattdeutsch lunch" events, where remaining speakers of the language gather to share and preserve the dialect. Mennonite colonies in
Paraguay Paraguay (; ), officially the Republic of Paraguay ( es, República del Paraguay, links=no; gn, Tavakuairetã Paraguái, links=si), is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to th ...
,
Belize Belize (; bzj, Bileez) is a Caribbean and Central American country on the northeastern coast of Central America. It is bordered by Mexico to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and Guatemala to the west and south. It also shares a wate ...
, and Chihuahua,
Mexico Mexico (Spanish language, Spanish: México), officially the United Mexican States, is a List of sovereign states, country in the southern portion of North America. It is borders of Mexico, bordered to the north by the United States; to the so ...
have made Low German a "co-official language" of the community. East Pomeranian is also spoken in parts of Southern and Southeastern Brazil, in the latter especially in the state of , being official in five municipalities, and spoken among its ethnically European migrants elsewhere, primarily in the states of
Rio de Janeiro Rio de Janeiro ( , , ; literally 'River of January'), or simply Rio, is the capital of the state of the same name, Brazil's third-most populous state, and the second-most populous city in Brazil, after São Paulo. Listed by the GaWC as a b ...
and . East Pomeranian-speaking regions of Southern Brazil are often assimilated into the general
German Brazilian German Brazilians (German language, German: ''Deutschbrasilianer'', Hunsrik: ''Deitschbrasiliooner'', pt, teuto-brasileiros) refers to Brazilians of full or partial Germans, German ancestry. German Brazilians live mostly in the country's South ...
population and culture, for example celebrating the , and there can even be a language shift from it to in some areas. In , nevertheless, Pomeranian Brazilians are more often proud of their language, and particular religious traditions and culture, and not uncommonly inheriting the nationalism of their ancestors, being more likely to accept marriages of its members with Brazilians of origins other than a Germanic Central European one than to assimilate with Brazilians of
Swiss Swiss may refer to: * the adjectival form of Switzerland *Swiss people Places *Swiss, Missouri *Swiss, North Carolina *Swiss, West Virginia *Swiss, Wisconsin Other uses *Swiss-system tournament, in various games and sports *Swiss International A ...
, Austrian, Czech, and non-East Pomeranian-speaking German and Prussian heritage – that were much more numerous immigrants to both Brazilian regions (and whose language almost faded out in the latter, due to assimilation and internal migration), by themselves less numerous than the Italian ones (with only Venetian communities in areas of highly Venetian presence conserving Talian, and other Italian languages and dialects fading out elsewhere).


Nomenclature

The language grouping of Low German is referred to, in the language itself as well as in its umbrella languages of German and Dutch, in several different ways, ranging from official names such as Niederdeutsche and Nederduits to more general characterisations such as "dialect". The proliferation of names or characterisations is due in part to the grouping stretching mainly across two different countries and to it being a collection of varieties rather than a standardised language. There are different uses of the term "Low German": # A specific name of any West Germanic varieties that neither have taken part in the High German consonant shift nor classify as
Low Franconian Low Franconian, Low Frankish, NetherlandicSarah Grey Thomason, Terrence Kaufman: ''Language Contact, Creolization, and Genetic Linguistics'', University of California Press, 1991, p. 321. (Calling it "Low Frankish (or Netherlandish)".)Scott Shay ...
or
Anglo-Frisian The Anglo-Frisian languages are the Anglic ( English, Scots, and Yola) and Frisian varieties of the West Germanic languages. The Anglo-Frisian languages are distinct from other West Germanic languages due to several sound changes: besides ...
; this is the scope discussed in this article. # A broader term for the closely related, continental
West Germanic languages The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three branches of the Germanic family of language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabu ...
unaffected by the High German consonant shift, nor classifying as
Anglo-Frisian The Anglo-Frisian languages are the Anglic ( English, Scots, and Yola) and Frisian varieties of the West Germanic languages. The Anglo-Frisian languages are distinct from other West Germanic languages due to several sound changes: besides ...
, and thus including
Low Franconian Low Franconian, Low Frankish, NetherlandicSarah Grey Thomason, Terrence Kaufman: ''Language Contact, Creolization, and Genetic Linguistics'', University of California Press, 1991, p. 321. (Calling it "Low Frankish (or Netherlandish)".)Scott Shay ...
varieties. In Germany, native speakers of Low German call their language , , , , , (South-Westphalian), (Eastphalian), (Low Prussian), or . In the Netherlands, native speakers refer to their language as , , , or the name of their village, town or district. Officially, Low German is called or (Nether or Low German language), or (Nether or Low German) in High German by the German authorities, (Nether or Low German language), or (Nether or Low German) in Low German by the German authorities and (Nether or Low Saxon) by the Dutch authorities. , and , are seen in linguistic texts from the German and Dutch linguistic communities respectively. In Danish it is called , or, rarely, . Mennonite Low German is called . "Low" refers to the flat plains and coastal area of the northern European lowlands, contrasted with the mountainous areas of central and southern Germany,
Switzerland ). Swiss law does not designate a ''capital'' as such, but the federal parliament and government are in Bern, while other federal institutions, such as the federal courts, are in other cities (Bellinzona, Lausanne, Luzern, Neuchâtel, St. Gall ...
, and
Austria The Republic of Austria, commonly just Austria, , bar, Östareich is a country in the southern part of Central Europe, lying in the Eastern Alps. It is a federation of nine States of Austria, states, one of which is the capital, Vienna, ...
, where High German (Highland German) is spoken. Etymologically however, ''Platt'' meant "clear" in the sense of a language the simple people could understand. In Dutch, the word can also mean "improper", "rude" or "too simple" which is why the term is not popular in the Netherlands. The colloquial term denotes both Low German dialects and any non- standard Western variety of German; this use is chiefly found in northern and Western Germany and is not considered to be linguistically correct. The
ISO 639-2 ISO/IEC 2022, ISO 639- 2:1998, ''Codes for the representation of names of languages — Part 2: Alpha-3 code'', is the second part of the ISO 639 International standard, standard, which lists Language code, codes for the representation of the nam ...
language code for Low German ( Low Saxon) has been nds ( or ) since May 2000.


Classification

Low German is a part of the continental West Germanic
dialect continuum A dialect continuum or dialect chain is a series of language varieties spoken across some geographical area such that neighboring varieties are mutually intelligible, but the differences accumulate over distance so that widely separated vari ...
. To the West, it blends into the
Low Franconian languages Low Franconian, Low Frankish, NetherlandicSarah Grey Thomason, Terrence Kaufman: ''Language Contact, Creolization, and Genetic Linguistics'', University of California Press, 1991, p. 321. (Calling it "Low Frankish (or Netherlandish)".)Scott Shay ...
, including Dutch. A distinguishing feature between the Southern Low Franconian varieties and Low German varieties is the plural of the verbs. Low German varieties have a common verbal plural ending, whereas Low Franconian varieties have a different form for the second person plural. This is complicated in that in most Low Franconian varieties, including standard Dutch, the original second-person plural form has replaced the singular. Some dialects, including again standard Dutch, innovated a new second-person plural form in the last few centuries, using the other plural forms as the source. To the South, Low German blends into the High German dialects of
Central German Central German or Middle German (german: mitteldeutsche Dialekte, mitteldeutsche Mundarten, Mitteldeutsch) is a group of High German languages, High German dialects spoken from the Rhineland in the west to the former eastern territories of Germ ...
that have been affected by the High German consonant shift. The division is usually drawn at the Benrath line that traces the '' – '' isogloss. To the East, it abuts the
Kashubian language Kashubian or Cassubian (Kashubian: ', pl, język kaszubski) is a West Slavic languages, West Slavic language belonging to the Lechitic languages, Lechitic subgroup along with Polish language, Polish and Silesian language, Silesian.Stephen Barbou ...
(the only remnant of the Pomeranian language) and, since the expulsion of nearly all Germans from the Polish part of
Pomerania Pomerania ( pl, Pomorze; german: Pommern; Kashubian: ''Pòmòrskô''; sv, Pommern) is a historical region on the southern shore of the Baltic Sea in Central Europe, split between Poland and Germany. The western part of Pomerania belongs to ...
following the Second World War, also by the
Polish language Polish (Polish: ''język polski'', , ''polszczyzna'' or simply ''polski'', ) is a West Slavic languages, West Slavic language of the Lechitic languages, Lechitic group written in the Latin script. It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as t ...
. East Pomeranian and Central Pomeranian are dialects of Low German. To the North and Northwest, it abuts the Danish and the
Frisian languages The Frisian (, ) languages are a closely related group of West Germanic languages, spoken by about 500,000 Frisian people, who live on the southern fringes of the North Sea in the Netherlands and Germany. The Frisian languages are the closest li ...
. Note that in Germany, Low German has replaced the Frisian languages in many regions. Saterland Frisian is the only remnant of East Frisian language and is surrounded by Low German, as are the few remaining North Frisian varieties, and the Low German dialects of those regions have influences from Frisian substrates. Most linguists classify the dialects of Low German together with
English
English
and Frisian as the ''
North Sea The North Sea lies between Great Britain, Norway, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. An epeiric sea, epeiric sea on the European continental shelf, it connects to the Atlantic Ocean through the English Channel in the south and the ...
Germanic'' or ''
Ingvaeonic North Sea Germanic, also known as Ingvaeonic , is a postulated grouping of the northern West Germanic languages that consists of Old Frisian, Old English language, Old English, and Old Saxon, and their descendants. Ingvaeonic is named after the ...
'' languages. However, most exclude Low German from the group often called Anglo-Frisian languages because some distinctive features of that group of languages are only partially observed in Low German, for instance the Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law (some dialects have ''us'', for "us" whereas others have , ), and because other distinctive features do not occur in Low German at all, for instance the palatalization of /k/ (compare palatalized forms such as English ''cheese'', Frisian to non-palatalized forms such as Low German or , Dutch , German ).


Language or dialect

The question of whether today's Low German should be considered a separate language or a dialect of German or even Dutch has been a point of contention.
Linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and structure. Linguis ...
offers no simple, generally accepted criterion to decide the question. Scholarly arguments have been put forward for classifying Low German as a German dialect. As stated above, the arguments are not linguistic but rather sociopolitical and revolve mainly around the fact that Low German has no official standard form or use in sophisticated media. The situation of Low German may thus be considered a "pseudo-dialectized abstand language" (""). In contrast,
Old Saxon Old Saxon, also known as Old Low German, was a Germanic language and the earliest recorded form of Low German (spoken nowadays in Northern Germany Northern Germany (german: link=no, Norddeutschland) is a linguistic, geographic, socio-cultura ...
and
Middle Low German Middle Low German or Middle Saxon (autonym: ''Sassisch'', i.e. "Saxon", Standard German, Standard High German: ', Dutch language, Modern Dutch: ') is a developmental stage of Low German. It developed from the Old Saxon language in the Middle ...
are generally considered separate languages in their own right. Since Low German has strongly declined since the 18th century, the perceived similarities with High German or Dutch may often be direct adaptations from the dominating standard language, resulting in a growing inability by speakers to speak correctly what was once Low German proper. Others have argued for the independence of today's Low German dialects, taken as continuous outflow of the Old Saxon and Middle Low German tradition. ''Glottolog'' classifies six varieties of Low German as distinct languages based on a low degree of
mutual intelligibility In linguistics, mutual intelligibility is a relationship between languages or dialects in which speakers of different but related Variety (linguistics), varieties can readily understand each other without prior familiarity or special effort. It ...
. Eastern Low German and Plautdietsch are classified as part of Greater East Low German, while Eastphalian, Westphalic, and the North Low Saxon languages, German Northern Low Saxon and Gronings, are classified as part of West Low German.


Legal status

Low German has been recognized by the Netherlands and by Germany (since 1999) as a
regional language * A regional language is a language spoken in a region of a sovereign state, whether it be a small area, a federated state or province or some wider area. Internationally, for the purposes of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Lan ...
according to the
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) is a European treaty (CETS 148) adopted in 1992 under the auspices of the Council of Europe to protect and promote historical regional language, regional and minority languages in E ...
. Within the official terminology defined in the charter, this status would not be available to a dialect of an official language (as per article 1a), and hence not to Low German in Germany if it were considered a dialect of German. Advocates of the promotion of Low German have expressed considerable hope that this political development will at once lend legitimacy to their claim that Low German is a separate language, and help mitigate the functional limits of the language that may still be cited as objective criteria for a mere dialect (such as the virtually complete absence from legal and administrative contexts, schools, the media, etc.). At the request of
Schleswig-Holstein Schleswig-Holstein (; da, Slesvig-Holsten; nds, Sleswig-Holsteen; frr, Slaswik-Holstiinj) is the Northern Germany, northernmost of the 16 states of Germany, comprising most of the historical duchy of Holstein and the southern part of the form ...
, the German government has declared Low German as a
regional language * A regional language is a language spoken in a region of a sovereign state, whether it be a small area, a federated state or province or some wider area. Internationally, for the purposes of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Lan ...
. German offices in Schleswig-Holstein are obliged to accept and handle applications in Low German on the same footing as Standard High German applications. The ruled in a case that this was even to be done at the patent office in
Munich Munich ( ; german: München ; bar, Minga ) is the capital and most populous city of the States of Germany, German state of Bavaria. With a population of 1,558,395 inhabitants as of 31 July 2020, it is the List of cities in Germany by popu ...
, in a non–Low German region, when the applicant then had to pay the charge for a translator, because applications in Low German are considered not to be written in the German language.


Varieties of Low German

* Low Saxon or West Low German () ** East Frisian Low Saxon ** Northern Low Saxon *** Holsteinian (Holsteinisch) *** Schleswigian (Schleswigsch) *** Dithmarsch (Dithmarsisch) *** North Hanoverian (Nordhannoversch) *** Emslandish (Emsländisch) *** Oldenburgish (Oldenburgisch) *** Gronings and Noord-Drents **** Hogelandsters **** Oldambtsters **** Stadsgronings **** Veenkoloniaals **** Westerkwartiers ***** Kollumerpompsters ***** Kollumerlands ***** Middaglands ***** Midden-Westerkwartiers ***** Zuid-Westerkwartiers **** Westerwolds ** Westphalian () *** Westmünsterländisch *** Münsterländisch *** South Westphalian () *** East Westphalian () *** Stellingwerfs *** Drents **** Midden-Drents **** Zuid-Drents *** Twents **** Twents-Graafschaps **** ''Twents'' *** Gelders-Overijssels **** Achterhoeks **** Sallands **** Oost-Veluws (partly classified as Veluws) **** Urkers *** Veluws **** Oost-Veluws (partly classified as Gelders-Overijssels) **** West-Veluws ** Eastphalian () * East Low German () ** ** ** Central Pomeranian () ** East Pomeranian () ** Low Prussian () ** (
Mennonite Mennonites are groups of Anabaptism, Anabaptist Christianity, Christian church communities of denominations. The name is derived from the founder of the movement, Menno Simons (1496–1561) of Friesland. Through his writings about Reformed Chris ...
Low German, used also in many other countries)


History


Old Saxon

Old Saxon (), also known as Old Low German (), is a West Germanic language. It is documented from the 9th century until the 12th century, when it evolved into
Middle Low German Middle Low German or Middle Saxon (autonym: ''Sassisch'', i.e. "Saxon", Standard German, Standard High German: ', Dutch language, Modern Dutch: ') is a developmental stage of Low German. It developed from the Old Saxon language in the Middle ...
. It was spoken on the north-west coast of Germany and in
Denmark ) , song = ( en, "King Christian stood by the lofty mast") , song_type = National and royal anthem , image_map = EU-Denmark.svg , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Danish Realm, Kingdom of Denmark ...
(Schleswig-Holstein) by
Saxon people The Saxons ( la, Saxones, german: Sachsen, ang, Seaxan, osx, Sahson, nds, Sassen, nl, Saksen) were a group of Germanic peoples, Germanic * * * * peoples whose name was given in the early Middle Ages to a large country (Old Saxony, la, Saxo ...
s. It is closely related to Old
Anglo-Frisian The Anglo-Frisian languages are the Anglic ( English, Scots, and Yola) and Frisian varieties of the West Germanic languages. The Anglo-Frisian languages are distinct from other West Germanic languages due to several sound changes: besides ...
( Old Frisian,
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, with its earliest forms spoken by the inhabita ...
), partially participating in the Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law. Only a few texts survive, predominantly in baptismal vows the Saxons were required to perform at the behest of
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; german: Karl der Große; 2 April 747 – 28 January 814), a member of the Carolingian dynasty, was King of the Franks from 768, King of the Lombards from 774, and the first Holy ...
. The only literary texts preserved are ''
Heliand The ''Heliand'' () is an epic poem in Old Saxon, written in the first half of the 9th century. The title means ''saviour'' in Old Saxon (cf. German language, German and Dutch language, Dutch ''Heiland'' meaning "saviour"), and the poem is a Bibl ...
'' and the Old Saxon Genesis.


Middle Low German

The Middle Low German language () is an ancestor of modern Low German. It was spoken from about 1100 to 1600. The neighbouring languages within the
dialect continuum A dialect continuum or dialect chain is a series of language varieties spoken across some geographical area such that neighboring varieties are mutually intelligible, but the differences accumulate over distance so that widely separated vari ...
of the
West Germanic languages The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three branches of the Germanic family of language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabu ...
were
Middle Dutch Middle Dutch is a collective name for a number of closely related West Germanic languages, West Germanic dialects whose ancestor was Old Dutch. It was spoken and written between 1150 and 1500. Until the advent of Modern Dutch after 1500 or c. 155 ...
in the West and
Middle High German Middle High German (MHG; german: Mittelhochdeutsch (Mhd.)) is the term for the form of German language, German spoken in the High Middle Ages. It is conventionally dated between 1050 and 1350, developing from Old High German and into Early New Hi ...
in the South, later substituted by
Early New High German Early New High German (ENHG) is a term for the period in the history of the German language generally defined, following Wilhelm Scherer, as the period 1350 to 1650. The term is the standard translation of the German (Fnhd., Frnhd.), introduce ...
. Middle Low German was the
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a Natural language, language systematically used to make communication possib ...
of the
Hanseatic League The Hanseatic League (; gml, Hanse, , ; german: label=German language, Modern German, Deutsche Hanse) was a Middle Ages, medieval commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and market towns in Central Europe, Central and Norther ...
, spoken all around the
North Sea The North Sea lies between Great Britain, Norway, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. An epeiric sea, epeiric sea on the European continental shelf, it connects to the Atlantic Ocean through the English Channel in the south and the ...
and the
Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that is enclosed by Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Sweden and the North European Plain, North and Central European Plain. The sea stretches from 53°N to 66° ...
. It had a significant influence on the Scandinavian languages and other languages around the Baltic Sea. Based on the language of Lübeck, a standardized written language was developing, though it was never codified.


Contemporary

There is a distinction between the German and the Dutch Low Saxon/Low German situation.


Germany

After mass education in
Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is situated between ...
in the 19th and 20th centuries, the slow decline which Low German had been experiencing since the end of the
Hanseatic League The Hanseatic League (; gml, Hanse, , ; german: label=German language, Modern German, Deutsche Hanse) was a Middle Ages, medieval commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and market towns in Central Europe, Central and Norther ...
turned into a free fall. The decision to exclude Low German in formal education was not without controversy, however. On one hand, proponents of Low German advocated that since it had a strong cultural and historical value and was the native language of students in northern Germany, it had a place in the classroom. On the other hand, High German was considered the language of education, science, and national unity, and since schools promoted these values, High German was seen as the best candidate for the language of instruction. Initially, regional languages and dialects were thought to limit the intellectual ability of their speakers. When historical linguists illustrated the archaic character of certain features and constructions of Low German, this was seen as a sign of its "backwardness." It wasn't until the efforts of proponents such as Klaus Groth that this impression changed. Groth's publications demonstrated that Low German was a valuable language in its own right, and he was able to convince others that Low German was suitable for literary arts and was a national treasure worth keeping. Through the works of advocates like Groth, both proponents and opponents of Low German in formal education saw the language's innate value as the cultural and historical language of northern Germany. Nevertheless, opponents claimed that it should simply remain a spoken and informal language to be used on the street and in the home, but not in formal schooling. In their opinion, it simply did not match the nationally unifying power of High German. As a result, while Low German literature was deemed worthy of being taught in school, High German was chosen as the language of scholarly instruction. With High German the language of education and Low German the language of the home and daily life, a stable diglossia developed in Northern Germany. Various Low German dialects are understood by 10 million people, but many fewer are native speakers. Total users of Low German (nds) are approximately 2.5 million, with 300,000 native speakers in Brazil and 1,000 in Germany as of 2016. The KDE project supports Low German (nds) as a language for its computer desktop environment, as does the
GNOME A gnome is a mythological creature and diminutive spirit in Renaissance magic and alchemy, first introduced by Paracelsus in the 16th century and later adopted by more recent authors including those of modern fantasy literature. Its character ...
Desktop Project.
Open-source software Open-source software (OSS) is Software, computer software that is released under a Open-source license, license in which the copyright holder grants users the rights to use, study, change, and Software distribution, distribute the software an ...
has been translated into Low German; this used to be coordinated via a page on SourceForge, but as of 2015, the most active project is that of KDE.


Netherlands

In the early 20th century, scholars in the Netherlands argued that speaking dialects hindered language acquisition, and it was therefore strongly discouraged. As education improved, and mass communication became more widespread, the Low Saxon dialects further declined, although decline has been greater in urban centres of the Low Saxon regions. When in 1975 dialect folk and rock bands such as Normaal and became successful with their overt disapproval of what they experienced as "misplaced Dutch snobbery" and the Western Dutch contempt for (speakers of) Low Saxon dialects, they gained a following among the more rurally oriented inhabitants, launching Low Saxon as a sub-culture. They inspired contemporary dialect artists and rock bands, such as , , , Nonetheless, the position of the language is vulnerable according to UNESCO. Low Saxon is still spoken more widely than in Northern Germany. Efforts are made in Germany and in the Netherlands to protect Low German as a
regional language * A regional language is a language spoken in a region of a sovereign state, whether it be a small area, a federated state or province or some wider area. Internationally, for the purposes of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Lan ...
.


Sound change

As with the
Anglo-Frisian The Anglo-Frisian languages are the Anglic ( English, Scots, and Yola) and Frisian varieties of the West Germanic languages. The Anglo-Frisian languages are distinct from other West Germanic languages due to several sound changes: besides ...
and , Low German has not been influenced by the High German consonant shift except for old having shifted to . Therefore, a lot of Low German words sound similar to their English counterparts. One feature that does distinguish Low German from English generally is final devoicing of obstruents, as exemplified by the words 'good' and 'wind' below. This is a characteristic of Dutch and German as well and involves positional neutralization of voicing contrast in the coda position for obstruents (i.e. t = d at the end of a syllable.) This is not used in English except in the Yorkshire dialect, where there is a process known as '' Yorkshire assimilation''. For instance: ''water'' , ''later'' , ''bit'' , ''dish'' , ''ship'' , ''pull'' , ''good'' , ''clock'' , ''sail'' , ''he'' , ''storm'' , ''wind'' , ''grass'' , ''hold'' , ''old'' . The table below shows the relationship between Low German consonants which were unaffected by this chain shift and their equivalents in other West Germanic languages. Contemporary Swedish and Icelandic shown for comparison; Eastern and Western North Germanic languages, respectively. ''Notes'': :* High German is a loanword from Low German :** The series –, etc. are
cognates In historical linguistics, cognates or lexical cognates are sets of words in different languages that have been inherited in direct descent from an etymology, etymological ancestor in a proto-language, common parent language. Because language c ...
, not semantic equivalents. The meanings of some of these words have shifted over time. For example, the correct equivalent term for "wife" in modern Dutch, German and Swedish is , and respectively; using , or for a human is considered archaic in Swedish and nowadays derogatory in Dutch and German, comparable to " wicked girl". No cognate to / / has survived in English (compare Old English "lady"; the English word '' frow'' "woman, lady" rather being a borrowing of the Middle Dutch word). :*** Pronounced ''shepp'' since the 17th century


Grammar

Generally speaking, Low German
grammar In linguistics, the grammar of a natural language is its set of structure, structural constraints on speakers' or writers' composition of clause (linguistics), clauses, phrases, and words. The term can also refer to the study of such constraint ...
shows similarities with the
grammar In linguistics, the grammar of a natural language is its set of structure, structural constraints on speakers' or writers' composition of clause (linguistics), clauses, phrases, and words. The term can also refer to the study of such constraint ...
s of Dutch, Frisian, , and Scots, but the
dialect The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) arou ...
s of Northern
Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is situated between ...
share some features (especially
lexical Lexical may refer to: Linguistics * Lexical corpus or lexis, a complete set of all words in a language * Lexical item, a basic unit of lexicographical classification * Lexicon, the vocabulary of a person, language, or branch of knowledge * Lexical ...
and syntactic features) with German dialects.


Verbs

In Low German verbs are conjugated for person, number, and tense. There are five tenses in Low German:
present tense The present tense (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated or ) is a grammatical tense whose principal function is to locate a situation or event in the present time. The present tense is used for actions which are happening now. In order to ...
,
preterite The preterite or preterit (; list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated or ) is a grammatical tense or verb form serving to denote events that took place or were completed in the past; in some languages, such as Spanish, French, and English, it ...
, perfect, and
pluperfect The pluperfect (shortening of plusquamperfect), usually called past perfect in English, is a type of verb form, generally treated as a grammatical tense in certain languages, relating to an action that occurred prior to an aforementioned time i ...
, and in Mennonite Low German the present perfect which signifies a remaining effect from a past finished action. For example, "", "I am come", means that the speaker came and he is still at the place to which he came as a result of his completed action. Unlike Dutch, High German, and southern Low German, the northern dialects form the past participle without the prefix ''ge-'', like the Scandinavian languages, Frisian and . Compare northern Low German to the German past
participle In linguistics, a participle () (from Latin ' a "sharing, partaking") is a nonfinite verb, nonfinite verb form that has some of the characteristics and functions of both verbs and adjectives. More narrowly, ''participle'' has been defined as "a wo ...
. This past
participle In linguistics, a participle () (from Latin ' a "sharing, partaking") is a nonfinite verb, nonfinite verb form that has some of the characteristics and functions of both verbs and adjectives. More narrowly, ''participle'' has been defined as "a wo ...
is used with the auxiliary verbs ''hewwen/hebben'' "to have" and ''wesen/sin/sien'' "to be". When the past
participle In linguistics, a participle () (from Latin ' a "sharing, partaking") is a nonfinite verb, nonfinite verb form that has some of the characteristics and functions of both verbs and adjectives. More narrowly, ''participle'' has been defined as "a wo ...
ends with ''-en'' or in a few oft-used words like ''west'' (been). There is also a progressive form of verbs in present, corresponding to the same in the Dutch language. It is formed with ''wesen'' (to be), the preposition ''an'' (at) and ''dat'' (the/it). : 1 Instead of ''wesen, sien'' (to be) Saxon uses ''doon'' (to do) to make to present continuous. : 2 Many see the ''n'' as an old dative ending of ''dat'' which only occurs when being shortened after prepositions. This is actually the most frequently-used form in colloquial Low German. : 3 This form is archaic and mostly unknown to Low German speakers. It is the same pattern as in the English example "I am making." The present participle has the same form as the infinitive: ''maken'' is either "to make" or "making".


Adjectives

The forms of Low German's adjectives are distinct from other closely related languages such as German and English. These forms fall somewhere in between these two languages. As in German, the adjectives in Low German may make a distinction between singular and plural to agree with the nouns that they modify, as well as between the three genders, between the nominative and oblique cases and between indefinite (weak) and definite (strong) forms.SASS Plattdeutsche Grammatik 2.5.2. Deklination der Adjektive
/ref> However, there is a lot of variation in that respect and some or all of these distinctions may also be absent, so that a single undeclined form of the adjective can occur in all cases, as in English. This is especially common in the neuter. If the adjective is declined, the pattern tends to be as follows: As mentioned above, alternative undeclined forms such as ''dat lütt Land'', ''de lütt Lannen'', ''en stark Kerl'', ''de stark Kerl'', ''stark Kerls'', ''de stark Kerls'' etc. can occur.


Phonology


Consonants

*A common feature of the Low German speaking dialects, is the retraction of / / to . *The sound [] can occur as an allophone of // among dialects. *// and // can have allophones as [] and []. *// can be articulated as uvular [] among Northern dialects and younger speakers. * The sound // can also be realized as fricative or affricate sounds ~ [], in word-initial position.


Vowels

* [] and [] can occur as allophones of // and //. *Vowel backness of // to [] may also occur among dialects. * [] can be heard as an allophone of // within diphthongs. *Long phonemes //, //, //, occur mostly in the Geest dialects, while in other dialects, they may be realized as diphthongs.


Writing system

Low German is written using the
Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by the Ancient Rome, ancient Romans to write the Latin language. Largely unaltered with the exception of extensions (such as diacritics), it used to write Eng ...
. There is no official standard
orthography An orthography is a set of convention (norm), conventions for writing a language, including norms of spelling, hyphenation, capitalization, word, word breaks, Emphasis (typography), emphasis, and punctuation. Most transnational languages in the ...
, though there are several locally more or less accepted orthographic guidelines. Those in the
Netherlands ) , anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Kingdom of the Netherlands , established_title = Before independence , established_date = Spanish Neth ...

Netherlands
are mostly based on Dutch orthography and may vary per dialect region, and those in
Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is situated between ...
mostly follow German orthography. To the latter group belongs the orthography devised by Johannes Sass. It is mostly used by modern official publications and internet sites, especially the Low German Wikipedia. This diversity, a result of centuries of official neglect and suppression, has a very fragmenting and thus weakening effect on the language as a whole, since it has created barriers that do not exist on the spoken level.Dieter Stellmacher: ''Niederdeutsche Grammatik - Phonologie und Morphologie''. In: Gerhard Cordes & Dieter Möhn: ''Handbuch zur niederdeutschen Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft''. Berlin: Erich Schmidt Verlag 1983, p.239. Interregional and international communication is severely hampered by this. Most of these systems aim at representing the
phonetic Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Linguists who specialize in studying the physical properties of speech are phoneticians. ...
( allophonic) output rather than underlying (
phonemic In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme () is a unit of sound that can distinguish one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most List of dialects of English, dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West M ...
) representations. An alternative spelling based on
etymology Etymology ()The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) – p. 633 "Etymology /ˌɛtɪˈmɒlədʒi/ the study of the class in words and the way their meanings have changed throughout time". is the study of the history of the Phonological chan ...
was the Algemeyne Schryvwyse developed by Reinhard Franz Hahn, which was designed mostly with Northern Low German dialects in mind. In 2020, a group of Dutch and German Low German Wikipedians took Hahn's principles and used them to create the Nysassiske Skryvwyse (New Saxon Orthography), which is aimed to cover all dialects on both sides of the Dutch-German border. That being as it may, many writers follow guidelines only roughly. This adds numerous idiosyncratic and often inconsistent ways of spelling to the already existing great orthographic diversity.


Notable Low German writers and performers

* Heinrich Bandlow * Hans-Friedrich Blunck * John Brinckmann * De fofftig Penns * Gorch Fock * Friedrich Wilhelm Grimme (Westphalian: Sauerländisch) * Klaus Groth (Dithmarsisch) * August Hermann * Joachim Mähl * Johann Meyer (Dithmarsisch) * Martha Müller-Grählert * Fritz Reuter (Mecklenburgisch-Vorpommersch) * Willem Schröder * Julius Stinde * Rudolf Tarnow * Augustin Wibbelt (Westphalian: Münsterländisch) * Wilhelm Wieben * Hans-Jürgen Massaquoi * Normaal * Daniël Lohues
Middle Low German Middle Low German or Middle Saxon (autonym: ''Sassisch'', i.e. "Saxon", Standard German, Standard High German: ', Dutch language, Modern Dutch: ') is a developmental stage of Low German. It developed from the Old Saxon language in the Middle ...
authors: * Eggerik Beninga * Balthasar Russow * Albert Suho Plautdietsch authors: * Arnold Dyck * Reuben Epp * Jack Thiessen


See also

* 1614 Low German Bible * Bible translations into German * Friar Rush * Hamborger Veermaster * The Juniper Tree (fairy tale) *
Meuse-Rhenish Meuse-Rhenish (German: ''Rheinmaasländisch'', Dutch: ''Maas-Rijnlands'', and French: ''francique rhéno-mosan'') is the modern term for literature written in the Middle Ages in the greater Meuse-Rhine area, in a literary language that is eff ...
* Moin * Ohnsorg-Theater * Masurian dialect


Notes


References


Bibliography

*


External links

* http://www.plattmaster.de/ * http://www.platt-online.de/ * http://www.niederdeutschzentrum.de/ * https://www.deutsch-plattdeutsch.de/


Online dictionaries


Plattmakers dictionary
with more than 20,000 word entries, with translations and interface available in several languages (English too)
Dictionary of the Drents dialect
(Dutch)


Information


Nu is de Welt platt!
International resources in and about Low German
Building Blocks of Low Saxon (Low German)
an introductory grammar in English and German
Niederdeutsch/Plattdeutsch in Westfalen
by Olaf Bordasch
Mönsterlänner Plat
by Klaus-Werner Kahl


Organisations


IJsselacademie
(Overijssel and Veluwe, the Netherlands)
Staring Instituut
(Achterhoek, the Netherlands)
Stichting Stellingwarver Schrieversronte
(Friesland, the Netherlands)
SONT
(General, the Netherlands)
Oostfreeske Taal
(Eastern Friesland, Germany)
Diesel - dat oostfreeske Bladdje
(Eastern Friesland, Germany)
Institut für niederdeutsche Sprache e.V.
(General, Germany) {{Use dmy dates, date=March 2017 Languages of Germany West Germanic languages German dialects Dutch dialects Danish dialects North Sea Germanic