The Info List - Low German

--- Advertisement ---

Plattdütsch, Plattdüütsch, Plattdütsk, Plattduitsk German: Plattdeutsch, Niederdeutsch Dutch: Nederduits

Native to Northern Germany Western Germany Eastern Netherlands Southern Denmark

Ethnicity Dutch, Frisians
and Germans; Historically Saxons ( Germanic peoples
Germanic peoples
and modern regional subgroup of Germans)

Native speakers

301,000 in all countries; 6.7[a] to 10 million passive speakers (2001)[1][2][3]

Language family



West Germanic


Low German

Early forms

Old Saxon

Middle Low German


West Low German East Low German

Official status

Official language in


 Schleswig-Holstein  Hamburg  Lower Saxony  Mecklenburg-Vorpommern[5]


Recognised minority language in

(100,000)[7]   Bolivia
(70,000)[8]   Paraguay

Language codes

ISO 639-2 nds

ISO 639-3 nds (Dutch varieties and Westphalian have separate codes)

Glottolog lowg1239  Low German[10]

Linguasphere 52-ACB

Approximate area in which Low German/Low Saxon dialects are spoken in Europe.

This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode
characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Low German
Low German
or Low Saxon (Low German: Plattdütsch, Plattdüütsch, Plattdütsk, Plattduitsk; Dutch Low Saxon: Nedersaksies; German: Plattdeutsch, Niederdeutsch; Dutch: Nederduits) is a West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany
and the eastern part of the Netherlands. It is also spoken to a lesser extent in the German diaspora worldwide (called the Plautdietsch), by ethnic Frisians wherever Friso-Saxon dialects
Friso-Saxon dialects
are spoken, and in Southern Denmark. As an Ingvaeonic language, Low German
Low German
is quite distinct from the Irminonic (High German) languages like Standard German, and closely related to Dutch, Frisian and English.[11] This difference resulted from the High German consonant shift, with the Uerdingen and Benrath lines being two notable linguistic borders. It has been estimated that Low German
Low German
has approximately 301,000 native speakers in all countries;[3] while 6.7 to 10 million understand it. A 2005 study by H. Bloemhof, Taaltelling Nedersaksisch, showed 1.8 million spoke it daily in the Netherlands.[12]


1 Geographical extent

1.1 Inside Europe 1.2 Outside Europe and the Mennonites

2 Nomenclature 3 Classification

3.1 A language or a mere dialect? 3.2 Legal status

4 Varieties of Low German

4.1 In Germany 4.2 In the Netherlands

5 History

5.1 Old Saxon 5.2 Middle Low German 5.3 Contemporary

5.3.1 Germany 5.3.2 Netherlands

6 Sound change 7 Grammar

7.1 Nouns 7.2 Dative den/dän 7.3 Verbs 7.4 Adjectives 7.5 Personal pronouns

8 Phonology

8.1 Consonants

9 Writing system 10 Notable Low German
Low German
writers and performers 11 See also 12 Notes 13 References 14 Bibliography 15 External links

15.1 Online dictionaries 15.2 Information 15.3 Organizations

Geographical extent[edit] Inside Europe[edit]

Sign in standard German (top) and low German (below).

It has been estimated that Low German
Low German
has approximately 301,000 native speakers in all countries;[3] while 6.7 million people understand it – 5 million in Germany, primarily Northern Germany,[1] and 1.7 million in the Netherlands.[2] Dialects of Low German
Low German
are spoken in the northeastern area of the Netherlands
(Dutch Low Saxon) and are written there with an unstandardised orthography based on Standard Dutch orthography. The position of the language is according to UNESCO vulnerable.[13] Between 1995 and 2011 the numbers of speakers of parents dropped from 34% in 1995 to 15% in 2011. Numbers of speakers of their children dropped in the same period from 8% to 2%.[14] Variants of Low German
Low German
are spoken in most parts of Northern Germany, for instance in the states of Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Hamburg, Bremen, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony-Anhalt, and Brandenburg. Small portions of northern Hesse
and northern Thuringia
are traditionally Low Saxon-speaking too. Historically, Low German
Low German
was also spoken in formerly German parts of Poland
as well as in East Prussia
East Prussia
and the Baltic States
Baltic States
of Estonia
and Latvia. The Baltic Germans
spoke a distinct Low German
Low German
dialect, which has influenced the vocabulary and phonetics of both Estonian and Latvian languages. The historical Sprachraum of Low German
Low German
also included contemporary northern Poland, East Prussia
East Prussia
(the modern Kaliningrad Oblast
Kaliningrad Oblast
of Russia), a part of western Lithuania, and the German communities in the Baltic states, most notably the Hanseatic cities of modern Latvia
and Estonia. German speakers in this area fled the Red Army
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, 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). Under the name Low Saxon, there are speakers in the Dutch north-eastern provinces of Groningen, Drenthe, Stellingwerf (part of Friesland), Overijssel, and Gelderland, in several dialect groups per province. Today, there are still speakers outside Germany
and the Netherlands
to be found in the coastal areas of present-day Poland
(minority of ethnic German East Pomeranian
East Pomeranian
speakers who were not expelled from Pomerania, as well as the regions around Braniewo).[citation needed] In the Southern Jutland
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
can be considered moribund at this time.[citation needed] Outside Europe and the Mennonites[edit] Main articles: Plautdietsch
and East Low German There are also immigrant communities where Low German
Low German
is spoken in the Western hemisphere, including Canada, the United States, Mexico, Belize, Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay
and Uruguay. In some of these countries, the language is part of the Mennonite religion and culture.[15] There are Mennonite
communities in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Kansas and Minnesota
which use Low German
Low German
in their religious services and communities. These Mennonites are descended from primarily Dutch settlers that had initially settled in the Vistula delta
Vistula delta
region of Prussia
in the 16th and 17th centuries before moving to newly-acquired Russian territories in Ukraine
in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and then to the Americas
in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The types of Low German
Low German
spoken in these communities and in the Midwest
region of the United States
United States
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, Belize, and Chihuahua, Mexico
have made Low German a "co-official language" of the community.[citation needed]

A public school in Witmarsum Colony (Paraná, Southern Brazil), teaches in the Portuguese language
Portuguese language
and in Plautdietsch.[16]

East Pomeranian
East Pomeranian
is also spoken in parts of Southern and Southeastern Brazil, in the latter especially in the state of Espírito Santo, being official in five municipalities, and spoken among its ethnically European migrants elsewhere, primarily in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Rondônia. East Pomeranian-speaking regions of Southern Brazil
are often assimilated into the general German Brazilian
German Brazilian
population and culture, for example celebrating the Oktoberfest, and there can even be a language shift from it to Riograndenser Hunsrückisch in some areas. In Espírito Santo, nevertheless, Pomeranian Brazilians are more often proud of their language, and particular religious traditions and culture,[17] 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, Austrian, Czech, and non-East Pomeranian-speaking German and Prussian heritage[clarification needed] – 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)[clarification needed], 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).[clarification needed]

Speakers of low German outside Europe

Approximate distribution of native speakers of German or a German variety outside Europe (according to Ethnologue 2016[18] unless referenced otherwise) Numbers of speakers should not be summed up per country, as they most likely overlap considerably. Table includes varieties with disputed statuses as separate language.

Standard German Hunsrik/Hunsrückisch Low German & Plautdietsch Pennsylvania Dutch Hutterite

Argentina 400,000 N/A 4,000 N/A N/A

Australia 79,000 N/A N/A N/A N/A

Belize N/A N/A 9,360 N/A N/A

Bolivia 160,000 N/A 60,000 N/A N/A

Brazil 1,500,000 3,000,000 8,000 N/A N/A

Canada 430,000 N/A 80,000 15,000 23,200

Chile 35,000 N/A N/A N/A N/A

Costa Rica N/A N/A 2,000 N/A N/A

Israel 200,000 N/A N/A N/A N/A

Kazakhstan 30,400 N/A 100,000 N/A N/A

Mexico N/A N/A 40,000 N/A N/A

Namibia 22,500 N/A N/A N/A N/A

New Zealand 36,000 N/A N/A N/A N/A

Paraguay 166,000 N/A 40,000 N/A N/A

Russia N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

South Africa 12,000 N/A N/A N/A N/A

Uruguay 28,000 N/A 2,000 N/A N/A

United States 1,104,354[19] N/A 12,000 118,000 10,800

Sum 4,597,392 3,000,000 357,360 133,000 34,000

Nomenclature[edit] 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
High German consonant shift
nor classify as Low Franconian or Anglo-Frisian; this is the scope discussed in this article. A broader term for the closely related, continental West Germanic languages unaffected by the High German consonant shift, nor classifying as Anglo-Frisian, and thus including Low Franconian varieties spoken in Germany
such as Kleverlandish, but not those in the Netherlands, thus excluding Dutch.

In Germany, native speakers of Low German
Low German
call their language Platt, Plattdüütsch or Nedderdüütsch. In the Netherlands, native speakers refer to their language as dialect, plat, nedersaksies, or the name of their village, town or district. Officially, Low German
Low German
is called Niederdeutsch (Nether or Low German) by the German authorities and Nedersaksisch (Nether or Low Saxon) by the Dutch authorities. Plattdeutsch, Niederdeutsch and Platduits, Nedersaksisch are seen in linguistic texts from the German and Dutch linguistic communities respectively. In Danish it is called Plattysk, Nedertysk or, rarely, Lavtysk. Mennonite
Low German
Low German
is called Plautdietsch. "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, and Austria, where High German (Highland German) is spoken.[20] Etymologically however, Platt meant "clear" in the sense of a language the simple people could understand. In Dutch and German, the word Plat can also mean "improper", "rude" or "too simple" which is why the term is not popular in the Netherlands. The colloquial term Platt denotes both Low German
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.[21] The ISO 639-2 language code for Low German
Low German
(Low Saxon) has been nds (niedersächsisch or nedersaksisch, neddersassisch) since May 2000. Classification[edit] Low German
Low German
is a part of the continental West Germanic dialect continuum. To the West, it blends into the Low Franconian
Low Franconian
languages, including Dutch. A distinguishing feature between the Southern Low Franconian varieties and Low German
Low German
varieties is the plural of the verbs. Low German
Low German
varieties have a common verbal plural ending, whereas Southern Low Franconian
Low Franconian
varieties have a different form for the second person plural. Northern Low Franconian
Low Franconian
varieties, including standard Dutch, have also developed a common verbal plural ending. To the South, Low German
Low German
blends into the High German dialects of Central German
Central German
that have been affected by the High German consonant shift. The division is usually drawn at the Benrath line
Benrath line
that traces the maken – machen isogloss. To the East, it abuts the Kashubian language
Kashubian language
(the only remnant of the Pomeranian language) and, since the expulsion of nearly all Germans from the Polish part of Pomerania
following the Second World War, also by the Polish language. East Pomeranian
East Pomeranian
and Central Pomeranian are dialects of Low German. To the North and Northwest, it abuts the Danish and the Frisian languages. Note that in Germany, Low German
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
Low German
dialects of those regions have influences from Frisian substrates. Some classify the northern dialects of Low German
Low German
together with English and Frisian as the North Sea
North Sea
Germanic or Ingvaeonic languages. However, most exclude Low German
Low German
from that group often called Anglo- Frisian languages
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
Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law
(some dialects have us, os for "us" whereas others have uns, ons), and because other distinctive features do not occur in Low German
Low German
at all, for instance the palatalization of /k/ (compare palatalized forms such as English cheese, Frisian tsiis to non-palatalized forms such as Low German
Low German
Kees or Kaise, Dutch kaas, German Käse). A language or a mere dialect?[edit] The question of whether Low German, as spoken today, should be considered a separate language, rather than a dialect of German or even Dutch, has been a point of contention. Linguistics
offers no simple, generally accepted criterion to decide this question. Scholarly arguments have been put forward in favour of classifying Low German as a German dialect.[22] As said, these arguments are not linguistic but rather socio-political and build mainly around the fact that Low German
Low German
has no official standard form or use in sophisticated media. The situation of Low German
Low German
may thus be considered a "pseudo-dialectized abstand language" ("scheindialektisierte Abstandsprache").[23] In contrast, Old Saxon
Old Saxon
and Middle Low German
Middle Low German
are generally considered separate languages in their own rights. Since Low German has undergone a strong decline 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 incapability of speakers to speak correctly what was once Low German proper.[24] Others have argued for the independence of today's Low German dialects, taken as continuous outflow of the Old Saxon
Old Saxon
and Middle Low German tradition.[25] Legal status[edit] Low German
Low German
has been recognized by the Netherlands
and by Germany (since 1999) as a regional language according to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. 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
Low German
in Germany
if it were considered a dialect of German. Advocates of the promotion of Low German
Low German
have expressed considerable hope that this political development will at once lend legitimacy to their claim that Low German
Low German
is a separate language, and help mitigate the functional limits[clarification needed] 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.).[26] At the request of Schleswig-Holstein, the German government has declared Low German
Low German
as a regional language. German offices in Schleswig-Holstein
are obliged to accept and handle applications in Low German
Low German
on the same footing as Standard High German applications.[27] The Bundesgerichtshof
ruled in a case that this was even to be done at the patent office in Munich, in a non–Low German region, when the applicant then had to pay the charge for a translator,[28] because applications in Low German
Low German
are considered "nicht in deutscher Sprache abgefasst" (not written in the German language). Varieties of Low German[edit] In Germany[edit]

West Low German

East Frisian Low Saxon Northern Low Saxon Westphalian language Eastphalian language

East Low German

Brandenburgisch Mecklenburgisch-Vorpommersch Mittelpommersch East Pomeranian Low Prussian Plautdietsch
( Mennonite
Low German, used also in many other countries)

In the Netherlands[edit] The Dutch Low Saxon
Dutch Low Saxon
varieties, which are also defined as Dutch dialects, consist of:

and Noord-Drents

Hogelandsters Oldambtsters Stadsgronings Veenkoloniaals Westerkwartiers

Kollumerpompsters Kollumerlands Middaglands Midden-Westerkwartiers Zuid-Westerkwartiers


Stellingwerfs Drents

Midden-Drents Zuid-Drents


Twents-Graafschaps Twents


Achterhoeks Sallands Oost-Veluws (partly classified as Veluws) Urkers


Oost-Veluws (partly classified as Gelders-Overijssels) West-Veluws

History[edit] Main article: History of Low German Old Saxon[edit] Main article: 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. It was spoken on the north-west coast of Germany
and in Denmark
by Saxon peoples. It is closely related to Old Anglo-Frisian
(Old Frisian, Old English), 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. The only literary texts preserved are Heliand
and the Old Saxon
Old Saxon
Genesis. Middle Low German[edit] Main article: Middle Low German The Middle Low German language
German language
is an ancestor of modern Low German. It was spoken from about 1100 to 1600. The neighbouring languages within the dialect continuum of the West Germanic languages
Germanic languages
were Middle Dutch in the West and Middle High German
Middle High German
in the South, later substituted by Early New High German. Middle Low German
Middle Low German
was the lingua franca of the Hanseatic League, spoken all around the North Sea
North Sea
and the Baltic Sea.[29] It had a significant influence on the Scandinavian languages. Based on the language of Lübeck, a standardized written language was developing, though it was never codified. Contemporary[edit] There is a distinction between the German and the Dutch Low Saxon/Low German situation. Germany[edit] After mass education in Germany
in the 19th and 20th centuries, the slow decline which Low German
Low German
had been experiencing since the end of the Hanseatic League
Hanseatic League
turned into a free fall. The decision to exclude Low German
Low German
in formal education was not without controversy, however. On one hand, proponents of Low German
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.[30] Initially, regional languages and dialects were thought to limit the intellectual ability of their speakers. Because of Low German’s archaic features and constructions, historical linguists considered it “backwards.” It wasn’t until the efforts of proponents such as Klaus Groth
Klaus Groth
that this impression changed. Groth’s publications demonstrated that Low German
Low German
was a valuable language in its own right, and he was able to convince others that Low German
Low German
was suitable for literary arts and was a national treasure worth keeping.[30] Through the works of advocates like Groth, both proponents and opponents of Low German
Low German
in formal education saw the language’s innate value as the cultural and historical language of northern Germany. Nevertheless, the 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. According to them, it simply did not match the nationally unifying power of High German. As a result, while Low German
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.[30] Various Low German
Low German
dialects are understood by 10 million people, but many fewer are native speakers. Total users in all countries are 301,000.[31] The KDE
project supports Low German
Low German
(nds) as a language for its computer desktop environment,[32] as does the GNOME
Desktop Project. Open source
Open source
software has been translated into Low German; this used to be coordinated via a page on Sourceforge,[33] but as of 2015, the most active project is that of KDE.[34] Netherlands[edit] 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 Boh Foi Toch (nl) 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 Daniël Lohues (nl), Mooi Wark (Nl), Jovink en de Voederbietels (Nl), Hádiejan (Nl) Nonetheless, the position of the language is vulnerable according to UNESCO.[13] Between 1995 and 2011 the numbers of speakers of parents dropped from 34% in 1995 to 15% in 2011. Numbers of speakers of their children dropped in the same period from 8% to 2%.[14] Low Saxon is still spoken more widely than in Northern Germany. A 2005 study showed that in the Tweante
region 62% of the inhabitants used Low Saxon daily, and up to 75% regularly.[citation needed] Efforts are made in Germany
and in the Netherlands
to protect Low German
Low German
as a regional language. Sound change[edit] As with the Anglo- Frisian languages
Frisian languages
and the North Germanic languages, Low German
Low German
has not been influenced by the High German consonant shift except for old /ð/ having shifted to /d/. Therefore, a lot of Low German words sound similar to their English counterparts. One feature that does distinguish Low German
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.[35] For instance: water [wɒtɜ, ˈwatɜ, ˈwætɜ], later [ˈlɒːtɜ, ˈlaːtɜ, ˈlæːtɜ], bit [bɪt], dish [dis, diʃ], ship [ʃɪp, skɪp, sxɪp], pull [pʊl], good [ɡou̯t, ɣɑu̯t, ɣuːt], clock [klɔk], sail [sɑi̯l], he [hɛi̯, hɑi̯, hi(j)], storm [stoːrm], wind [vɪˑnt], grass [ɡras, ɣras], hold [hoˑʊl(t)], old [oˑʊl(t)]. The table below shows the relationship between Low German
Low German
consonants which were unaffected by this chain shift and their equivalents in other West Germanic languages; Swedish (a North Germanic language) is also shown for comparison.

Proto-Germanic High German Low German Dutch English German West Frisian Swedish

-k- -ch- maken maken make machen meitsje maka (arch.)

k- k- Keerl (fellow) kerel churl Kerl * tsjirl (arch.) karl

d- t- Dag dag day Tag dei dag

-t- -ss- eten eten eat essen ite äta

t- z- (/t͡s/) teihn tien ten zehn tsien tio

-tt- -tz-, -z- (/t͡s/) sitten zitten sit sitzen sitte sitta

-p -f, -ff Schipp, Schepp schip ship Schiff skip skepp ***

p- pf- Peper peper pepper Pfeffer piper peppar

-β- -b- Wief, Wiever wijf, wijven ** wife, wives Weib, Weiber ** wiif, wiven viv **


* German Kerl is a loanword from Low German ** The series Wief–wijf, etc. are cognates, 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 vrouw, Frau and fru respectively; using wijf, Weib or viv for a human is considered archaic in Swedish and nowadays derogatory in Dutch and German, comparable to "wicked girl". No cognate to Frau / vrouw / fru has survived in English (compare Old English frōwe "lady"; the English word frow "woman, lady" rather being a borrowing of the Middle Dutch word). *** Pronounced shepp since the 17th century


This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (May 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

This article may require cleanup to meet's quality standards. The specific problem is: Besides being unsourced, the article is wrong (or at best incomplete and misleading). Also, as there are different Low German
Low German
dialects with different grammar, it probably makes more sense to give the dialectal grammar in articles like Northern Low Saxon, Low Prussian
Low Prussian
dialect, Westphalian language etc. Please help improve this article if you can. (October 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Generally speaking, Low German
Low German
grammar shows similarities with the grammars of Dutch, Frisian, English, and Scots, but the dialects of Northern Germany
Northern Germany
share some features (especially lexical and syntactic features) with German dialects. Nouns[edit] Low German
Low German
declension has only two morphologically marked noun cases, where accusative and dative together constitute an oblique case, and the genitive case has been lost.

Example case marking: Boom (tree), Bloom (flower), Land (land)

  Masculine Feminine Neuter

Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural

Nominative en Boom, de Boom Bööm, de Bööm nö Bloom, de Bloom Blomen, de Blomen en Land, dat Land Lannen, de Lannen

Oblique en Boom, den Boom Bööm, de Bööm nö Bloom, de Bloom Blomen, de Blomen en Land, dat Land Lannen, de Lannen

Dative den/dän[edit] In most modern dialects, the nominative and oblique cases are primarily distinguished only in the singular of masculine nouns. In some Low German
Low German
dialects, the genitive case is distinguished as well (e.g. varieties of Mennonite
Low German.) It is marked in the masculine gender by changing the masculine definite determiner 'de' from de to den/dän. By contrast, German distinguishes four cases: nominative, accusative, genitive, and dative. So, for example, the definite article of the masculine singular has the forms: der (nom), den (acc), des (gen), and dem (dat.) Thus case marking in Low German is simpler than in German. Verbs[edit] In Low German
Low German
verbs are conjugated for person, number, and tense. Verb conjugation for person is only differentiated in the singular. There are five tenses in Low German: present tense, preterite, perfect, and pluperfect, and in Mennonite
Low German
Low German
the present perfect which signifies a remaining effect from a past finished action. For example, "Ekj sie jekomen", "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.

Example verb conjugation: slapen, "to sleep"

  Present Preterite Perfect

Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural

1st Person ik slaap wi slaapt/slapen ik sleep wi slepen ik heff slapen wi hebbt/hebben slapen

2nd Person du slöppst ji slaapt/slapen du sleepst ji slepen du hest slapen ji hebbt/hebben slapen

3rd Person he, se, dat slöppt se slaapt/slapen he, se, dat sleep se slepen he, se, dat hett slapen se hebbt/hebben slapen

Unlike Dutch, German, and southern Low German, the northern dialects form the participle without the prefix ge-, like the Scandinavian languages, Frisian and English. Compare to the German past participle geschlafen. This past participle is formed with the auxiliary verbs hebben "to have" and wesen/sien "to be". It should be noted that e- is used instead of ge- in most Southern (below Groningen in the Netherlands) dialects, though often not when the past participle ends with -en or in a few oft-used words like west (been). The reason for the two conjugations shown in the plural is regional: dialects in the central area use -t while the dialects in East Frisia and the dialects in Mecklenburg[example needed] and further east use -en. The -en suffix is of Dutch influence. The -t ending is however more often encountered, even in areas where -en endings were prominent due to the fact that these -t endings are seen as kennzeichnend Niederdeutsch, that is to say a well-known feature of Low German. There are 26 verb affixes. 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).

  Low German Dutch English

Main form Ik bün an't Maken. Ik ben aan het maken. I am making.

Main form 2 Ik do maken.1 - -

Alternative form Ik bün an'n Maken.2 Ik ben aan het maken. -

Alternative form 2 Ik bün maken.3 Ik ben makende. I am making.

1 Instead of 'to 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
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[edit] 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. Unlike German, Low German does not have a distinction for strong and weak forms of adjectives. However, its adjectives still do have endings, whereas English adjectives do not. The adjectives in Low German
Low German
make a distinction between singular and plural to agree with the nouns that it modifies.[36] To express the difference between the singular and plural, Low German
Low German
uses the following adjective endings:

Adjective Ending Example Gloss

(zero) lütt small

-e (singular) dat lütte Huus the small house

-en (plural) de lütten Hüüs the small houses

Personal pronouns[edit] Like German, Low German
Low German
maintains the historical Germanic distinction between the second person singular and second person plural. In English and German, this distinction would translate to “thou” and “du” referring to one person, and “ye” and “ihr” referring to more than one person. The second person pronouns for each case are given below to further illustrate this distinction.[36]

Case Singular Plural

Nominative du “thou” ji “ye”

Accusative di “thee” jug “you”

Dative di “thee” jug “you”

Genitive din, dinen “thy”, “thine” jug’ “your”

In the genitive (possessive) case, the pronoun functions in the same way as an adjective and so it may take an ending if needed to match the singular or plural status of the noun it is modifying. So, for example, if “you” possess multiple books, then [dinen] would be used to express that the singular second person possesses multiple objects: the books. If several people in the second person (“you all”) possessed multiple books, then [jug’] would be used instead.[36] Phonology[edit] Consonants[edit] Since there is no standard Low German, there is no standard Low German consonant system. However, one trait present in the whole Low German speaking area,[37] is the retraction of /s z/ to [s̠ z̠].[37] However, there are speakers with non-retracted [s z].[citation needed] The table shows the consonant system of North Saxon, a West Low Saxon dialect.[38]

  Labial Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal-Velar Glottal

Plosive p  b t  d   k  ɡ  

Fricative f  v s  z ʃ x  ɣ h

Nasal m n   ŋ  

Approximant/Trill   r l    

Writing system[edit] Low German
Low German
is written using the Latin alphabet. There is no true standard orthography, only several locally more or less accepted orthographic guidelines, those in the Netherlands
mostly based on Dutch orthography, and those in Germany
mostly based on German orthography. To the latter group belongs the standard orthography devised by Johannes Sass. It is mostly used by modern official publications and internet sites, especially the Low German. 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[39].[citation needed] Interregional and international communication is severely hampered by this. Most of these systems aim at representing the phonetic (allophonic) output rather than underlying (phonemic) representations, but trying to conserve many etymological spellings. Furthermore, many writers follow guidelines only roughly. This adds numerous idiosyncratic and often inconsistent ways of spelling to the already existing great orthographic diversity. In 2011, writers of the Dutch Low Saxon
Dutch Low Saxon
developed a spelling that would be suitable and applicable to all varieties of Low Saxon in the Netherlands, although the semi-official dialect institutes have not picked up on this, or indicated that they[which?] believed that yet another writing system will only further confuse dialect writers rather than suit them.[citation needed] The new spelling was introduced to the Dutch Low Saxon
Dutch Low Saxon
to unify the spelling of categories, templates and comparable source code writings. In 2018, a team of writers from both the Dutch and the German Low Saxon completed the New Saxon Spelling, which aims to unite the different spelling systems of the Netherlands
and Germany. Unlike traditional spelling systems, this spelling does not focus on correct display of pronunciation, but instead seeks mutual legibility for both German and Dutch readers of Low Saxon, based on etymology. Readers may apply their own pronunciation. As such, it can be seen as an extension of the Algemeyne Schrievwies' by Reinhard Franz Hahn. Notable Low German
Low German
writers and performers[edit]

Heinrich Bandlow Eggerik Beninga Hans-Friedrich Blunck Reuben Epp De fofftig Penns Gorch Fock Johannes Gillhoff Klaus Groth August Hermann Sam Marx, father of the Marx Brothers[40]. Fritz Reuter Julius Stinde Albert Suho Rudolf Tarnow Wilhelm Wieben Balthasar Russow Also: Wilhelm Busch
Wilhelm Busch
would, in some of his High German rhymed stories, include excerpts in Low German.

See also[edit]

1614 Low German
Low German
Bible Bible translations into German Friar Rush Hamborger Veermaster The Juniper Tree (fairy tale) Meuse-Rhenish Moin Ohnsorg-Theater Masurian dialect


^ 5 million in northern Germany
and 1.7 million in eastern Netherlands


^ a b "Gechattet wird auf Plattdeusch". Noz.de. Retrieved 2014-03-14.  ^ a b The Other Languages of Europe: Demographic, Sociolinguistic, and Educational Perspectives by Guus Extra, Durk Gorter; Multilingual Matters, 2001 - 454; page 10. ^ a b c Saxon, Low Ethnologue. ^ German: § 23 Absatz 1 Verwaltungsverfahrensgesetz (Bund). Die Frage, ob unter deutsch rechtlich ausschließlich die hochdeutsche oder auch die niederdeutsche Sprache subsumiert wird, wird juristisch uneinheitlich beantwortet: Während der BGH in einer Entscheidung zu Gebrauchsmustereinreichung beim Deutschen Patent- und Markenamt in plattdeutscher Sprache das Niederdeutsche einer Fremdsprache gleichstellt („Niederdeutsche (plattdeutsche) Anmeldeunterlagen sind im Sinn des § 4a Abs. 1 Satz 1 GebrMG nicht in deutscher Sprache abgefaßt.“ – BGH-Beschluss vom 19. November 2002, Az. X ZB 23/01), ist nach dem Kommentar von Foerster/Friedersen/Rohde zu § 82a des Landesverwaltungsgesetzes Schleswig-Holstein
unter Verweis auf Entscheidungen höherer Gerichte zu § 184 des Gerichtsverfassungsgesetzes seit 1927 (OLG Oldenburg, 10. Oktober 1927 – K 48, HRR 1928, 392) unter dem Begriff deutsche Sprache sowohl Hochdeutsch wie auch Niederdeutsch zu verstehen. ^ Unterschiedliche Rechtsauffassungen, ob Niederdeutsch in Deutschland insgesamt Amtssprache ist – siehe dazu: Amtssprache (Deutschland); zumindest aber in Schleswig-Holstein
und Mecklenburg-Vorpommern ^ Maas, Sabine (2014). Twents op sterven na dood? : een sociolinguïstisch onderzoek naar dialectgebruik in Borne. Münster New York: Waxmann. p. 19. ISBN 3830980337.  ^ Cascante, Manuel M. (8 August 2012). "Los menonitas dejan México". ABC (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 February 2013. Los cien mil miembros de esta comunidad anabaptista, establecida en Chihuahua desde 1922, se plantean emigrar a la república rusa de Tartaristán, que se ofrece a acogerlos  ^ Los Menonitas en Bolivia
Archived 3 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine. CNN en Español ^ El Comercio: Menonitas cumplen 85 años en Paraguay
con prosperidad sin precedentes ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Low German". Glottolog
3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.  ^ Lower Saxony, Encyclopædia Britannica, "[Low German], a dialect closely related to Dutch, Frisian, and English, is quite distinct from the official High German..." ^ Bloemhoff, H. (2005). Taaltelling Nedersaksisch. Een enquête naar het gebruik en de beheersing van het Nedersaksisch in Nederland. Groningen: Sasland. ^ a b "UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in danger". www.unesco.org.  ^ a b Driessen, Geert (2012). "Ontwikkelingen in het gebruik van Fries, streektalen en dialecten in de periode 1995-2011" (PDF). Radboud University Nijmegen. Retrieved 2017-04-29.  ^ "Platdietsch". 2008-01-27. Retrieved 2008-02-29.  ^ "O trilinguismo no Colégio Fritz Kliewer de Witmarsum. (Paraná) [The trilingualism the College of Fritz Kliewer Witmarsum (Paraná)]" (PDF) (in Portuguese). Elvine Siemens Dück. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 June 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2012.  ^ (in Portuguese) Claudio Vereza, Espírito Santo's state assemblyman by the Workers' Party The Pomeranian people in Espírito Santo Archived 21 December 2012 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Ethnologue 19th Edition (2016) ^ U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration - Language Use in the United States: 2007 ^ Cf. the definition of high in the Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
(Concise Edition): "[…] situated far above ground, sea level, etc; upper, inland, as […] High German". ^ Atlas zur deutschen Alltagssprache (AdA) ^ J. Goossens: "Niederdeutsche Sprache. Versuch einer Definition", in: J. Goossens (ed.), Niederdeutsch. Sprache und Literatur, vol. 1, Neumünster 1973. ^ W. Sanders: Sachsensprache — Hansesprache — Plattdeutsch. Sprachgeschichtliche Grundzüge des Niederdeutschen, Göttingen 1982, p. 32, paraphrasing Heinz Kloss: "Abstandsprachen und Ausbausprachen", in: J. Göschel et al. (edd.), Zur Theorie des Dialekts, Wiesbaden 1976, pp. 301–322. ^ Hubertus Menke: "Niederdeutsch: Eigenständige Sprache oder Varietät einer Sprache?", in: Eva Schmitsdorf et al. (edd.), Lingua Germanica. Studien zur deutschen Philologie. Jochen Splett zum 60. Geburtstag, Waxmann, Münster et al. 1998, pp. 171–184, in particular p. 180. ^ Hubertus Menke: "Niederdeutsch: Eigenständige Sprache oder Varietät einer Sprache?", in: Eva Schmitsdorf et al. (edd.), Lingua Germanica. Studien zur deutschen Philologie. Jochen Splett zum 60. Geburtstag, Waxmann, Münster et al. 1998, pp. 171–184, in particular p. 183f. ^ Cf. Institut für niederdeutsche Sprache – Sprachenpolitik ^ Sprachenchartabericht of the regional government of Schleswig-Holstein
for 2016, p. 14 f. ^ Cf. the German article on Niederdeutsche Sprache. ^ Sanders, W. (1982) Sachsensprache, Hansesprache, Plattdeutsch. Sprachgeschichtliche Grundzüge des Niederdeutschen. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Rupprecht. ^ a b c Langer, Nils and Robert Langhanke. "How to Deal with Non-Dominant Languages – Metalingusitic Discourses on Low German
Low German
in the Nineteenth Century". Linguistik Online. 58.1.  ^ "Low Saxon". Ethnologue. Retrieved 28 September 2017.  ^ http://l10n.kde.org/stats/gui/trunk-kde4/nds/[dead link] ^ nds.sourceforge.net (defunct) ^ KDE
op Platt ^ See John Wells, Accents of English, pages 366-7, Cambridge University Press, 1981 ^ a b c Biddulph, Joseph (2003). Platt and Old Saxon: Plattdeutsch (Low German) in its Modern and Historical Forms. Wales: Cyhoeddwr JOSEPH BIDDULPH Publisher.  ^ a b Adams (1975:289) ^ R.E. Keller, German Dialects. Phonology and Morphology, Manchester 1960 ^ 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. ^ Marx, Harpo; Barber, Rowland (1961). Harpo Speaks. 


Adams, Douglas Q. (1975), "The Distribution of Retracted Sibilants in Medieval Europe", Language, Linguistic Society of America, 51 (2): 282–292, doi:10.2307/412855, JSTOR 412855 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Low German
Low German

Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Low German
Low German

Low German
Low German
(Germany) edition of, the free encyclopedia

Low Saxon (Netherlands) edition of, the free encyclopedia

test of at Wikimedia Incubator

has the text of the 1905 New International Encyclopedia article Plattdeutsch.

http://www.plattmaster.de/ http://www.platt-online.de/ http://www.zfn-ratzeburg.de/ http://www.deutsch-plattdeutsch.de/

Online dictionaries[edit]

Plattmakers dictionary with more than 10,000 word entries, with translations and interface available in several languages (English too) Dictionary of the Drents
dialect (Dutch) Mennonite
Low German-English Dictionary List of more than 100 published dictionaries


Low German
Low German
Podcasts, Audio and Videos (Oolland dialect) Streektaal.net, information in and about various Low German
Low German
dialects Nu is de Welt platt! International resources in and about Low German Niederdeutsch/Plattdeutsch in Westfalen, by Olaf Bordasch Mönsterlänner Plat, by Klaus-Werner Kahl Plattdeutsch heute Building Blocks of Low Saxon (Low German), an introductory grammar in English and German


TwentseWwelle (Twente, the Netherlands) IJsselacademie ( Overijssel
and Veluwe, the Netherlands) Staring Instituut (Achterhoek, the Netherlands) Oostfreeske Taal (Eastern Friesland, Germany) Drentse Taol (Drenthe, the Netherlands) Stichting Stellingwarver Schrieversronte (Friesland, the Netherlands) SONT (General, the Netherlands) Institut für niederdeutsche Sprache e.V. (General, Germany) Diesel - dat oostfreeske Bladdje (Eastern Friesland, Germany)

v t e

Languages of Germany

Official langage

Standard German

Regional/Minority languages


Danish Frisian

North Saterland

Low German Romani Sorbian

Upper Lower


Alemannic Bavarian German Sign Language Limburgish Low Rhenish Luxembourgish Ripuarian

v t e

Germanic languages
Germanic languages
and dialects

West Germanic

Anglo- Frisian



dialects Yola Fingallian



East Frisian

Saterland Frisian Wangerooge Frisian Wursten Frisian

North Frisian

Söl'ring Fering Öömrang Heligolandic Mooring Halligen Frisian Strand Frisian Eiderstedt Frisian

West Frisian

Clay Frisian Wood Frisian

Low German

East Low German

Mecklenburg-Western Pomeranian

Mecklenburgish West Pomeranian

Brandenburgisch East Pomeranian-West Prussian

Western East Pomeranian Eastern East Pomeranian Bublitzisch Pommerellisch

Central Pomeranian

West Central Pomeranian

Low Prussian

Low German

West Low German

Dutch Low Saxon

Stellingwarfs Tweants Gronings Drèents Gelders-Overijssels

Achterhooks Sallaans Urkers


Northern Low Saxon

East Frisian Low Saxon Schleswigsch Holsteinisch Hamburgisch Ollnborger North Hanoveranian Dithmarsch Emsländisch

Westphalian Eastphalian

Low Franconian

Standard variants

Dutch Afrikaans

West Low Franconian

Hollandic West Flemish

French Flemish

Zeelandic East Flemish Brabantian Surinamese Dutch Jersey Dutch Mohawk Dutch Stadsfries Bildts Yiddish

East Low Franconian



Southeast Limburgish

South Guelderish


Low Dietsch

High German



Namibian German Namibian Black German Brazilian German Unserdeutsch Barossa German Belgranodeutsch Parana Volga German


Eastern Western Litvish Poylish Ukrainish Galitzish Scots Yiddish Alsatian Yiddish Klezmer-loshn Ganovim Balagole Katsoves Lachoudisch

Yenish Rotwelsch


Central German

West Central German

Central Franconian



Moselle Franconian

Luxembourgish Transylvanian Saxon Hunsrückisch

Rhine Franconian

Lorraine Franconian Palatine

Volga German Pennsylvania German



East Central German

Thuringian Upper Saxon Lusatian-Neumarkish


Silesian High Prussian Wymysorys Pragerisch

High Franconian

South Franconian East Franconian

Main Franconian Vogtlandian

Upper German


Low Alemannic

Alsatian Coloniero

High Alemannic

Swiss German

Highest Alemannic

Walser German



Northern Bavarian Central Bavarian

Viennese German

Southern Bavarian

South Tyrolean Cimbrian Mòcheno Hutterite German


Standard German

German Standard German Austrian Standard German Swiss Standard German

North Germanic

West Scandinavian



Bergensk Kebabnorsk Sognamål Trøndersk Valdris Vestlandsk Vikværsk


Elfdalian Insular Scandinavian

Faroese Icelandic Gronlandsk Norn

East Scandinavian


Åland Estonian Finlandic Gotlandic Jamtlandic Kalix Kiruna Luleå Norrland Ostrobothnian Småländska South Swedish


Stockholm Rinkeby Uppländska Västgötska Westrobothnian


Bornholmsk Gøtudanskt Insular Danish Jutlandic South Jutlandic Perkerdansk


East Germanic


Crimean Gothic

Burgundian Vandalic

Italics indicate extinct languages Bold indicates languages with more than 3 million speakers Languages between parentheses are varieties of the language on their left.

Authority control

GND: 4042178-8 SUDOC: 02753748X BNF: cb119556749 (d