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Spoken in

Netherlands , Belgium , Germany
speaker 1,300,000 (2001)

Indo-European languages

Official status
Recognized minority /
regional language in
Limburg Limburg
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2


ISO 639-3


Limburg language area including Noord-Limburg with Venlo and Ostbergisch , both of which, however, belong to Kleverländisch.

Limburgisch ( Dutch Limburgs , Limburgisch Limbörgsj , Lèmbörgs , Plat ) is the southern Lower Franconian dialect group and belongs to the continental West Germanic dialect continuum . In German studies it is also known as Southern Lower Franconian . It has language status under the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages.

Other language names

The Limburg language, Limburgish , has different names in its contiguous distribution area in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands:


In the Netherlands today the names Noord-Limburgs prevail (for the dialects of the northern part of the Dutch province of Limburg from Venlo ) and Zuid-Limburgs for the dialects of the southern parts of the province to Maastricht .


In Belgium, Limburg is divided into Wes-Limburgs (West Limburg ) for the Limburg dialects in Belgium , Centraal-Limburg (Central Limburg ) for the Belgian-Dutch transition areas and Oas-Limburg (East Limburg) for the language areas of the Netherlands (and northeast of Liège) .


In Germany the Limburg dialects were previously divided as follows: West Limburg included the areas of Belgium; Central Limburg was spoken in the neighboring Netherlands and East Limburg in neighboring Germany. The language name Westplatt was not widely used . Today's German linguistics refers to the Limburg language area as Südniederfränkisch , although this term is limited to Germany .


The subdialects of Limburg; it should be noted that Ostbergisch does not belong to this dialect group.

Today Limburg is used in the Netherlands ( Dutch Limburg ), Belgium ( Belgian Limburg and northeast of Liège ) and in neighboring Germany ( North Rhine-Westphalia around the cities of Heinsberg , Mönchengladbach , Düsseldorf , to Krefeld and Neuss and in the south of Duisburg ) spoken.

From the local administration all dialects of the Dutch province Limburg are now counted as Limburgish. The Limburg- Südgeldersche transition area from Venlo is counted as Noord-Limburgs (also Gelders-Limburgs ) to Limburg. In addition, there are some small Ripuarian dialects similar to the Aachener Platt (for example Kirchrather , Völser , Simpelvelder and Bocholtzer Platt). In the province of Limburg they are linguistically out of the ordinary. There they are sometimes called Zuidoost-Limburgs in the sense of 'Platt von Süd-Ost-Limburg', while German linguists attribute them to Middle Franconian , which does not otherwise occur in the Netherlands.

Limburg is a predominantly uniform form of language within the dialect continuum. The Limburg sub-dialects in northeast Belgium, southeast Netherlands and western Germany are also referred to as Belgian-Limburg, Dutch-Limburg and German-Limburg dialects in a state allocation . The linguistic proximity of the Limburg dialects to the standard high German language was ultimately the reason why the Duchy of Limburg was incorporated into the German Confederation in 1839 instead of the Welsch-Luxemburg ceded to Belgium (the predominantly Walloon-speaking part of Luxembourg ) .

Number of speakers

Limburgish in all its variants still has a number of speakers of around 1.6 million people. Today it is recognized as a separate regional language according to the charter of the Council of Europe in the province of Limburg in the Netherlands . However, some linguists are very critical of this decision, as they do not see the basis for classification as an independent language as given.


(NL-D: oe = u, ie = i, z = s, i = ì, uu = ü, eë = ae, ui = ~ ei, u = è, sj = sch)

  • (Doenraads, NL-Ost-Limburgisch :) "I Höb nog efkes (aaf) gewach, (of dat,) wat-se mich zègke wols."
    • (D) "I just waited a moment to see what you wanted to say to me."
    • (NL) "Ik heb nog even afgewacht wat U / je me zeggen wou."
  • (Doenraads) "In de wèntjer sjtuuve / vlege / wejje die druuëg blaar doeër de loech róntj-en-om / erom."
    • (D) "In winter the dry leaves fly around in the air."
    • (NL) "In the winter waaien de drug bladeren rond in de lucht."
  • (Doenraads) "'T zal zoeë oetsjejje / ophuuëre te / with sjnejje, then wèrt' t waer waer baeter."
    • (D) "It will stop snowing soon, then the weather will be better again."
    • (NL) "Het zal zo ophouden met sneeuwen, then wordt het weer weer beter."
  • (Doenraads) "Hae is (vuur) vaer of zös waeke (truuk) gesjtorve."
    • (D) "He died four or six weeks ago."
    • (NL) "Hij is four of zes weken geleden storven"
  • (Doenraads) "'T vuur waor te heet, de keuk zènt (jao) ónger / aan den óngerkantj gans zjwart versjruijt / aagebrent."
    • (D) "The fire was too hot, the cakes are burned all black below."
    • (NL) "Het vuur was te heet, de koeken zijn aan de onderkant helemaal zwart aangebrand."
  • (Doenraads) "Hae deet die eikes ömmer zónger zout en paeper aete / Hae èt die eikes ömmer zónger zout en paeper."
    • (D) "He always eats the eggs without salt and pepper."
    • (NL) "Hij eet de eitjes altijd zonder zout en peper./ Hij doet de eitjes altijd zonder zout en peper eten."


Today's Limburgish developed predominantly from the eastern dialects of Old Lower Franconian . In this had since the 8th century , the Old High German among the Merovingian and Carolingian a strong influence on this language variants. The cities of Aachen , Liège and Cologne in particular were the centers from which the influence emanated.

In the 12th century , this linguistic influence ended on the left of the Meuse (predominantly Limburg, which is now Belgian), as the region in question began to orient itself to the west. Cities like Ghent , Bruges and Ypres now took the position that Aachen, Liège and Cologne had previously.

In 1288 the Duchy of Limburg fell to the neighboring Duchy of Brabant after the Battle of Worringen . Like most of the other Lower Franconian variants, Limburg adopted many of the characteristics of the Brabant dialects. One speaks here of the so-called Brabant expansion . This interplay of linguistic influence between the Rhineland and Brabant should be repeated in Limburgish.

Lower or Middle Franconian dialect group?

The Limburg dialect group has language characteristics that it shares on the one hand with the Low German and on the other hand with the Central German language group . (The next section provides a more detailed overview of the language properties .)

Because of this, Limburg is classified differently:

  1. The proponents of the “Lower Franconian theory” place Limburgian among the Lower Franconian dialects, as it is - with the exception of the area around Kerkrade - north of the Benrath line . This means that the word make is also pronounced as maken in Limburgish .
  1. On the other hand, there are the representatives of the “Middle Franconian theory”, who state that Limburg is located south of the Uerdinger line . This means that even the Limburgisch the word I as iech or as high German I uttered. In some cases, the mich line was also taken as the border that the Venloer Platt adds to the Central German area.

The Uerdinger line is generally considered to be the dividing line between Limburg and Kleverland dialects. In contrast, the language area in Germany known today as South Lower Franconian has the I-minor form ech , while in the Ostberg transitional area, the area between the actual South Lower Franconian and Kleverland and Westphalian , it is already called ek (ik minor form); a quality that Ostberg shares with Kleverland.

Only the dialects of Kerkrade and its immediate surroundings were recognized by everyone as the "Ripuarian-German dialect" and clearly classified as a "Central German dialect".

In his studies, Theodor Frings put forward the theory that there was a special dialect continuum , which he referred to in his writings as the East Limburg-Ripuarian transition area. This theory was further developed by other Germanists, and they now refer to the Limburg dialect area as Südniederfränkisch , without an explicit classification in the Lower or Middle Franconian dialect area. For the Limburg-Kleverland language levels of the Middle Ages, the neutral term Rhine-Maasland is used today, so that these language levels do not have to be classified as "Dutch" or "German". This takes into account the fact that Limburg (and Kleverland) has many similarities with both neighboring languages ​​in this transition area. With the consolidation of the entire Lower Rhine-Maas area into "Rhine-Maasland", the dialect area of ​​Kleverland was also included.

The Rhine-Maasland dialect, which emerged in the 12th century in the Rhine-Maas triangle, had many elements of the regional dialects, but is not to be equated with these. The Lower Rhine Platt , spoken on the Rhine and Maas, was the language of the common people, who were often ignorant of writing; Rhine-Maasland, on the other hand, was the written language of the upper classes and law firms and had largely replaced Latin as the written language until it itself lost its importance in the 16th century; on the one hand in favor of the "High German" spreading northwards via Cologne, on the other hand in favor of a separate written language emerging in today's Netherlands. However, the "High German written language" could not spread equally quickly everywhere on the Lower Rhine. For a longer period of time, German and Dutch coexisted in some cities (including Geldern, Kleve, Wesel, Krefeld) and decrees were issued in both written languages.

From the 18th century, the linguistic separation between the (German) Lower Rhine and the (Dutch) Maas area was complete. Rhine-Maasland as a written language disappeared, the new high-level and written languages ​​went their separate ways. Kleverland and Limburg as spoken dialects, however, persisted across borders into modern times.

Speech characteristics

Like some other Indo-European languages ​​- Serbo-Croatian , Slovenian , Norwegian , Swedish and Luxembourgish - Limburgish uses a so-called tone accent , which gives it a very melodic sound. It has two tones, the so-called impact sound ( stoottoon ) and the Schleifton ( sleeptoon ). Both notes start high and then fall. The grinding tone ends with a renewed rise, while the jolt tone remains low. There are two zie written words; the meaning pronounced with a push tone is "page", with the grinding tone but "woman".

The following dialects belong to Limburg today:

This classification is mainly based on the occurrence of the Postalveolar "sch", a phoneme that is unknown in West Limburg, as in Standard Dutch , i.e. only appears in foreign words, in East Limburg, on the other hand, as in German, before the consonants l, m, n, p, t occurs and partially, in Eupen and Kerkrade in the east, also before “w”. The Limburg dialect thus stands linguistically as a transition between Kleverland and Ripuarian . In Germany , where it is spoken on the central and southern Lower Rhine , in Düsseldorf and in parts of the Bergisches Land , "Limburg" is often combined with Ostberg and Kleverland as the " Lower Rhine " or " Lower Franconian language ".

In the Netherlands and Belgium the border of the stress area is assumed to be the border of Limburg. Within this area there are two different ways in which a long syllable can be pronounced.

More recent publications refer to Limburgish as the “cultural cement” of the Euregio around Hasselt, Aachen , Venlo and Mönchengladbach. It developed in the Middle Dutch period , i.e. around 1350, when the division between German and Dutch did not exist in its current form centuries later . Their further education is attributed, among other things, to the influence of the Old Cologne language , which worked from Trier and Koblenz to Xanten .

See also


  • Katja Lochtman: Limburgish. In: Janet Duke (Ed.): EuroComGerm. Learn to read Germanic languages. Volume 2: Less commonly learned Germanic languages. Afrikaans, Faroese, Frisian, Yenish, Yiddish, Limburgish, Luxembourgish, Low German, Nynorsk. Shaker, Düren 2019, ISBN 978-3-8440-6412-4 , pp. 161-186.

References and comments

  1. a b Limburgish at Ethnologue
  2. a b Irmgard Hantsche: Atlas for the history of the Lower Rhine , p. 66; published in the series of the Niederrhein-Akademie , Volume 4 ( ISBN 3-89355-200-6 )
  3. ^ Georg Cornelissen: Little Lower Rhine Language History (1300-1900 ) , Verlag BOSS-Druck, Kleve, ISBN 90-807292-2-1 , pp. 62-94
  4. Dieter Heimböckel: Language and Literature on the Lower Rhine , Series of publications by the Niederrhein Academy Volume 3, ISBN 3-89355-185-9 , pp. 15–55
  5. Note 1: This originally Südgeldersche dialect area lies north of the Uerdinger line and uses the term ik for the word “I” . In addition, the corresponding word "mik" (which would be expected here) was moved to me . The Venloer Platt also shares this ik / me combination with the dialects of Straelen , Geldern and Moers . The Krefelder Platt once belonged to this group. But today this city is in the ech area, as the Wenker arches of the 19th century clearly demonstrate.
    Occasionally, in German studies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the scope of the dialect area known as “ Middle German ” was also extended to the mich quarter , so that Venlo, for example, then belonged to this dialect area. In the generally accepted assignment of the Venloer Platt to one of the large dialect areas of the continental West Germanic dialect continuum , this is assigned to the "Low German group".
  6. Note 2: This dialect area belongs in the narrower sense to the Ripuarian-Middle Franconian dialects and is the only Limburg dialect clearly belonging to the Central German-speaking area . In the period between the 19th century and 1935 in Kerkrade, in addition to Dutch, Standard German was also permitted as an administrative and school language.

Web links

Wiktionary: Limburgish  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations