Lower Saxon

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Lower Saxon (Nedersaksisch)

Spoken in

Germany , Netherlands

Lower Saxon forms part of the Low German dialect continuum , which continues under the name Nedersaksisch in the northeast of the Netherlands . Its speakers usually refer to it as " Platt " or " Plattdeutsch ".

Because it is geographically the western part of Low German, it is also known as West Low German ; the counterpart is then the East Low German .


Lower Saxony language area
Distribution area of ​​today's Low German and Dutch dialects. The Lower Saxon described in the article includes the dialect areas of North Low Saxon (3), Holstein (2), Schleswig (1), East Frisian (4), East Westphalian (7), Westphalian (6) and the Lower Saxony dialects in the Netherlands (5 ).

Lower Saxony is usually structured as follows:

These dialect associations are broken down into numerous smaller regional and local dialects, the allocation of which can vary depending on the criteria used. The Lower Saxon dialects in the Netherlands ( Nedersaksisch ) can be assigned to North Lower Saxony and Westphalian in terms of linguistic history. Today's linguistics treats both language variants (Lower Saxony in Germany and in the Netherlands) separately and evaluates them on the one hand as Dutch dialects and on the other hand as German .


Within the continental West Germanic dialect continuum there are no hard language boundaries, only smooth transitions between the varieties. This also applies to the transition areas between High German, Low German and Low Franconian (more precisely: Dutch) dialects. Linguistics distinguishes the three groups from one another by certain isoglosses , which are not always undisputed. Such isoglosses are also assumed to be limits for West Low German.

In the east , Lower Saxon is separated from East Low German by the isogloss between the western plural present on - (e) t and the eastern plural on -e (n) ( mak [e] t versus make [n] ) . This isogloss is also mostly seen as the border between the Saxon Altland and the areas that were linguistically "colonized" by the German East Settlement .

In the south , the Lower Saxony (West Low German) language area is separated from the High German varieties by the so-called Benrath line . B. the Westphalian reaches as far as North Hesse and the Ruhr area.

In the west , Lower Saxony borders on Dutch . From a diachronic point of view , the northeast of the Netherlands also belongs to the Lower Saxony-speaking area. The dialects are called Nedersaks there. Here, too, an isogloss is usually used as the language boundary, which limits the spread of the Lower Saxon unit plural to - (e) t . The dialects in the Netherlands are usually very similar to their counterparts on German territory. However, the influence of the two standard languages ​​on the dialects in the 20th century led to the state border developing into a dialect border. Some linguists have therefore started to understand the dialects called Nedersaksisch as a Dutch dialect group (East Dutch ) . With this synchronous view , the German-Dutch state border to the Lower Rhine language area is also the western border of Lower Saxony.

In the north , the Eckernförde - Treene - Eider line formed the historical border with Danish and North Frisian . Since the late Middle Ages, the northern border of Lower Saxony moved into Schleswig and spread across almost all of southern Schleswig, which is now part of Germany . Only in very few areas near the present-day border, and partly on Sylt, Föhr and Amrum, was Lower Saxon unable to establish itself alongside Frisian and Jutisch / Danish.

Terminology problems

The definition given in this article includes the most common definitions of the terms Lower Saxon and West Low German, which are used synonymously here, as the western language area of ​​the Low German language with or without East Dutch and without Lower Franconian. In the course of time, however, the terms Lower Saxon and West Low German have been filled with very different definitions, so that appropriate attention is required when dealing with the research literature.

In 1990 Hans Taubken summarized the definitions used in the history of research. The term Lower Saxon stands for in various works

  • the entire Low German language (East and West Low German),
  • for West Low German without East Dutch,
  • for West Low German including East Dutch,
  • for North Lower Saxony without East Frisian, Schleswigsch and Holstein and
  • for the Low German dialects in the federal states of Lower Saxony and Bremen.

The term West Low German therefore includes depending on the time and author

  • the "Altland" of the unshifted continental West Germanic dialects (Lower Saxon and Lower Franconian in contrast to East Low German),
  • Lower Saxon including East Dutch,
  • Lower Saxon without East Dutch,
  • the Lower Saxon dialects without East Dutch, but including Lower Rhine and
  • Lower Saxon with Altmark.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. E.g. Willy Sanders: Saxon language, Hanseatic language, Low German: linguistic history basics of Low German , Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1982. North Low Saxon referred to there as North Low German.
  2. Hans Taubken: "West Low German" and "North Lower Saxony" . In: Robert Damme (Ed.) U. a .: Franco-Saxonica: Münster studies on Dutch and Low German philology. Jan Goossens on his 60th birthday. Neumünster 1990, pp. 201-237.
  3. See u. a. O. Behagel: History of the German language . 5th improved and greatly expanded edition, Berlin / Leipzig 1928; L. Kremer: Dialects in Westmünsterland. Construction. Use. Literature. Borken 1983.
  4. See u. a. O. Behagel: The German language . 4. On. 1907; J. Schildt et al .: Small Encyclopedia. German language. Leipzig 1983.
  5. See u. a. VM Schirmunski: German dialectology. Comparative theory of sounds and forms in German dialects. Berlin 1962; Dieter Stellmacher: Lower Saxon. Düsseldorf 1981.
  6. HJ Gernetz: Low German - yesterday and today. 2nd edition, Rostock 1980.
  7. Lower Saxony dictionary. Neumünster 1953ff, Volume 3.
  8. See u. a. O. Weise: Our dialects - their becoming and their being. Leipzig / Berlin 1919; CJ Hutterer: The Germanic languages. Your story in outline. Budapest 1975.
  9. See u. a. E. Schwarz: The German dialects. Göttingen 1959; Hans Taubken: The dialects of the districts Emsland and Grafschaft Bentheim. Part I: On the geography of sounds and shapes. In: Th. Penners (ed.): Emsland / Bentheim. Contributions to recent history. Sögel 1985.
  10. See u. a. W. Foerste: History of the Low German dialects. In: W. Stammler (Ed.): Deutsche Philologie im Aufriß , Vol. 1. Berlin / Bielefeld / Munich 1954; L. Kremer: Dialects in Westmünsterland. Construction. Use. Literature. Borken 1983.
  11. See u. a. HP Althaus: Results of dialectology. Bibliography of the articles in German journals for dialect research 1884–1968. ZDL-Beihefte 7, Wiesbaden 1970; P. Teepe: On sound geography. In: Jan Gossens: Low German. Language and literature. An introduction. 2nd edition, Neumünster 1983.
  12. ^ Dieter Stellmacher: East Low German. In: HP Althaus et al. (Ed.): Lexicon of German Linguistics. 2nd edition, Tübingen 1980; Jan Gossens: Area Linguistics. In: HP Althaus et al. (Ed.): Lexicon of German Linguistics. 2nd edition, Tübingen 1980.

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