Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Low Saxon language
Low Saxon (in Low Saxon, Nedersaksisch, Neddersassisch, "Plattdüütsch" or "Nedderdüütsch") is any of a variety of Low German dialects spoken in northern Germany and the Netherlands. Plattdüütsch 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, wæt3], later [lQ.t3, la.t3, læ.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 http://nds.wikipedia.org.
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:
- Northern (Standard) Low Saxon
- Northern Low Saxon (on frisian substrate)
- Southern Low Saxon (Eastphalian) (around Hannover)
- Heide Eastphalian
- Main Eastphalian
- Elbe Eastphalian
Dialects in the north eastern Netherlands:
- Kollumerlands (a Frisian/Low Saxon mixture dialect in Groningen and Fryslân)
- Gronings en Noord-Drents (on frisian substrate)
- Stellingwerfs/Steenwijkerlands/West-Drenths (in Ooststellingwerf and Weststellingwerf, in Fryslân and in parts of Drenthe)
- Veenkoloniaals (in eastern Groningen and Drenthe)
- Twents (in eastern Overijssel)
- Gelders-Overijssels (Achterhoeks ) en Urks
- 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' dääglich Brood giv uns vundaag.
- Un vergiv uns unse Schuld,
- as Wi de vergeven hebt,
- de an uns schüllig sünd.
- Un laat uns nich versöcht waren.
- Maak uns vrie vun dat Böse.
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 vóndaog.
- on vergif ons onze schuld,
- as wie di'j vergeven hebt,
- di'j an ons schullig sund.
- On laot ons nich verzöcht worden.
- Maok ons vrie vón dat beuse.
The Lord's Prayer in Old Saxon (Heliand, 9. century D.C.)
- Fadar ûsa firiho barno,
- thu bist an them hôhon himila rîkea,
- geuuîhid sî thîn namo uuordo gehuuilico.
- Cuma thîn craftag rîki.
- Uuerða thîn uuilleo obar thesa uuerold alla,
- sô sama an erðo, sô thar uppa ist
- an them hôhon himilo rîkea.
- Gef ûs dago gehuuilikes râd, drohtin the gôdo,
- thîna hêlaga helpa, endi alât ûs, hebenes uuard,
- managoro mênsculdio, al sô uue ôðrum mannum dôan.
- Ne lât ûs farlêdean lêða uuihti
- sô forð an iro uuilleon, sô uui uuirðige sind,
- ac help ûs uuiðar allun ubilon dâdiun.
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.
- What is Low Saxon? An introduction article to Low Saxon;
- Ethnologue report for Low Saxon (kind of unprecise, but Ethnologue are not planning an update any time soon)
- List of links, provided by the Lowlands List;
- Streektaal.net, information in and about various Low Saxon dialects;
- Nu is de Welt platt! All known resources in and about Low Saxon;
- Niederdeutsch/Plattdeutsch in Westfalen, by Olaf Bordasch;
- Mönsterlänner Plat, by Klaus-Werner Kahl.
- Van Deinse Instituut (Twente, the Netherlands)
- IJsselacademie (Overijssel and Veluwe, the Netherlands)
- Staring Instituut (Achterhoek, the Netherlands)
- Oostfreeske Taal (Ostfriesland, Germany)
- Drentse Taol (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
- Plautdietsch Freunde e.V. (Mennonite Low Saxon)
- Stichting Stellingwarver Schrieversronte (Friesland, the Netherlands)
- SONT (General, the Netherlands)
- Institut für niederdeutsche Sprache e.V. (General, Germany)
If your organisation isn't listed here, feel free to add it.
- Johan Veenstra (Stellingwarfs - Friesland, the Netherlands)
- Marlou Lessing (Northern Low Saxon - Hamburg, Germany)
- Gertrud Everding (Northern Low Saxon - Hamburg, Germany)
- Skik (Drents/Dutch - Drenthe, the Netherlands)
- Jan Cornelius (East frisian - Ostfriesland, Germany)
- Törf (Gronings - Groningen, the Netherlands)
- Eltje Doddema (Veenkoloniaals - Groningen, the Netherlands)
Not organized links:
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