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Low Saxon language

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Language classification
Indo-European languages
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Low German languages
Low Saxon language

Low Saxon (in Low Saxon, Nedersaksisch, Neddersassisch, "Plattdtsch" or "Nedderdtsch") is any of a variety of Low German dialects spoken in northern Germany and the Netherlands. Plattdtsch is the name for both the Low Saxon and the East Low German language.

Since 1994 Low Saxon has been recognised by the European Union as an independent regional language. Since 1999 Low Saxon is under protection of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. The ISO 639-2 language code is nds since May 2000. The Northern Low Saxon language serves as a common intelligible language in TV and Wireless programmes.

Although often considered a variation of German, in many aspects it is more like Dutch, which is based on closely related Low Franconian dialects. Low Saxon, East Low German and Low Franconian are classified together as Low German. The distinction between Low Saxon, East Low German and Low Franconian (on one side) or High German (on the other side) is not precisely defined; there are several clines that vary smoothly from one dialect to another.

The Low Saxon language has commonality with the English language, the Scandinavian languages and Frisian in that it has not been influenced by the High German sound shift. Therefore a lot of Low Saxon words sound similar to their English counterparts.

For instance: water [wQt3, wat3, wt3], later [lQ.t3, la.t3, l.t3], bit [bIt], dish [dis, diS], ship [SIp, skIp, sxIp], pull [pUl], good [gout, GAut, Gu.t], clock [klOk], sail [sAil], he [hEi, hAi, hi(j)], storm [sto:rm].

The grammar also shows similarities to the English language. Low Saxon declination has only three cases. In the northern dialects the participle is formed without the prefix ge-, like the Scandinavian languages and English, but unlike Dutch and German. The syntax on the other hand is more like German syntax, though there are some differences.

It should be noted that e- is used instead of ge- in most Southern (below Groningen in the Netherlands + Westphalia) dialects, though often not when the participle ends with -en or in a few often used words like 'west' (been).

Low Saxon was once much more widespread than today, being used as a lingua franca throughout the Baltic Sea region, under the influence of the Hanseatic League. It served as a standard language in many regions of northern Germany until it was replaced for that purpose by Standard German (a High German dialect) during the unification of Germany under Otto von Bismarck in 1871.

A Low Saxon Wikipedia has recently been started at

The Low Saxon greeting formula Moin and its duplication MoinMoin gave the name for the WikiWiki MoinMoin Project

There are plans to create a computer vocabulary for lower German in order to translate Desktop environments such as KDE and GNOME. [1]


List of dialects

Note that divisions between subfamilies of Germanic are rarely precisely defined; most form continuous clines, with adjacent dialects being mutually intelligible and more distantly separated ones being less so. However, most Low Saxon dialects are thought to be descended from, or to have been strongly influenced by Old Saxon.

Dialects of Lower German in northern Germany:

Dialects in the north eastern Netherlands:

  • Kollumerlands (a Frisian/Low Saxon mixture dialect in Groningen and Frysln)
  • Gronings en Noord-Drents (on frisian substrate)
    • Noord-Gronings (in Groningen)
    • Westerwolds (in eastern Groningen)
    • Stad-Gronings/Noordenvelds (in Groningen and Northern Drenthe)
  • Stellingwerfs/Steenwijkerlands/West-Drenths (in Ooststellingwerf and Weststellingwerf, in Frysln and in parts of Drenthe)
    • Veenkoloniaals (in eastern Groningen and Drenthe)
  • Midden-Drents
  • Zuid-Drents
  • Twents (in eastern Overijssel)
  • Twents-Graafschaps
  • Gelders-Overijssels (Achterhoeks ) en Urks
    • Achterhoeks (in Gelderland)
    • Sallands/North Veluws/Zuidoost-Drenths (in central Overijssel, in Gelderland and in Drenthe, resp.)
    • Urks (in Flevoland)
  • Veluws (a Dutch/Low Saxon mixture dialect spoken in Gelderland)

This list is not complete.

See also: Common phrases in different languages.

The Lord's Prayer in Northern Low Saxon (German based spelling)

Unse Vadder in d'n Himmel!
Laat hilligt waren dienen Namen.
Laat kamen dien Riek.
Laat waren dienen Willen so as in d'n Himmel,
so ook op de Eerd.
Uns' dglich Brood giv uns vundaag.
Un vergiv uns unse Schuld,
as Wi de vergeven hebt,
de an uns schllig snd.
Un laat uns nich verscht waren.
Maak uns vrie vun dat Bse.

The Lord's Prayer in Northern Low Saxon (Dutch based spelling)

(Same dialect and text used as above)
Onze vadder in den himmel
Laot hilligt worden dienen naomen
Laot komen dien riek
Laot worden dienen willen zoas in den himmel,
zo ook op di'j eerd'
Ons deeglig brood gif ons vndaog.
on vergif ons onze schuld,
as wie di'j vergeven hebt,
di'j an ons schullig sund.
On laot ons nich verzcht worden.
Maok ons vrie vn dat beuse.

The Lord's Prayer in Old Saxon (Heliand, 9. century D.C.)

Fadar sa firiho barno,
thu bist an them hhon himila rkea,
geuuhid s thn namo uuordo gehuuilico.
Cuma thn craftag rki.
Uuera thn uuilleo obar thesa uuerold alla,
s sama an ero, s thar uppa ist
an them hhon himilo rkea.
Gef s dago gehuuilikes rd, drohtin the gdo,
thna hlaga helpa, endi alt s, hebenes uuard,
managoro mnsculdio, al s uue rum mannum dan.
Ne lt s farldean la uuihti
s for an iro uuilleon, s uui uuirige sind,
ac help s uuiar allun ubilon ddiun.


There is a lot of information about the Low Saxon language to be found online. A selection of these links can be found on this page, which will provide a good frame work to understand the history, current situation and features of the language.



If your organisation isn't listed here, feel free to add it.



  • Skik (Drents/Dutch - Drenthe, the Netherlands)
  • Jan Cornelius (East frisian - Ostfriesland, Germany)
  • Trf (Gronings - Groningen, the Netherlands)
  • Eltje Doddema (Veenkoloniaals - Groningen, the Netherlands)

Not organized links:


Last updated: 08-29-2005 19:58:54
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