Northern Low Saxon
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Northern Low Saxon
Northern Low Saxon
Native toGermany
RegionLower Saxony, Bremen, Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg
Native speakers
1000 (1996)[1]
Language codes
nds (partial)
Glottologostf1234  [2]
nort2628  [3]

Northern Low Saxon (in High German: Nordniedersächsisch) is a West Low German language. As such, it covers a great part of the West Low-German-speaking areas of northern Germany, with the exception of the border regions where Eastphalian and Westphalian are spoken, and Gronings dialect in the Netherlands.


Northern Low Saxon can be divided into Holsteinisch, Schleswigsch, East Frisian Low Saxon, Dithmarsch, North Hanoveranian, Emsländisch, and Oldenburgisch in Germany,[4] with additional dialects in the Netherlands such as Gronings.[2]

Holsteinisch is spoken in Holstein, the southern part of Schleswig-Holstein in Germany, in Dithmarschen, around Neumünster, Rendsburg, Kiel and Lübeck. The Lübeck dialect ("Lübsch") was a lingua franca for the Hanseatic league in the Middle Ages.

Schleswigsch (German pronunciation: ['?le:sv?k?]) is spoken in Schleswig, which is divided between Germany and Denmark. It is mainly based on a South Jutlandic substrate. Therefore, it has some notable differences in pronunciation and grammar with its southern neighbour dialects. The dialects on the west coast of Schleswig (Nordfriesland district) and some islands show some North Frisian influences.

Oldenburg dialect (Low Saxon: Ollnborger Platt, German: Oldenburger Platt) is spoken around the city of Oldenburg. It is limited to Germany. The main difference between it and East Frisian Low Saxon, which is spoken in the Frisian parts of Low Saxony, is the lack of an East Frisian substrate. Ollnborger Platt is spoken in the city of Bremen as Breemsch ("Bremian"), which is the only capital where Ollnborger Platt is spoken. Minden in Westphalia, where Ollnborger Platt is traditionally spoken, possibly belongs partially to the area.

Gronings dialect, Netherlands.


The most obvious common character in grammar is the forming of the perfect participle. It is formed without a prefix, as in English, Danish, Swedish, Norse and Frisian, but unlike standard German, Dutch and some dialects of Westphalian and Eastphalian Low Saxon:

  • gahn [:n] (to go): Ik bün gahn [kb':n] (I have gone/I went)
  • seilen [zaln] (to sail): He hett seilt [hh?t'zalt] (He (has) sailed)
  • kopen ['k?o?pm] (to buy): Wi harrn köfft [viha:?'k?ft] (We had bought)
  • kamen [k?:m?] (to come): Ji sünd kamen [?iz'k?:m?] (You (all) have come/You came)
  • eten ['?e:tn] (to eat): Se hebbt eten [zh?pt'?e:tn] (They have eaten/They ate)

The diminutive (-je) (Dutch and Eastern Frisian -tje, Eastphalian -ke, High German -chen, Alemannic -le, li) is hardly used. Some examples are Buscherumpje, a fisherman's shirt, or lüttje, a diminutive of lütt, little. Instead the adjective lütt is used, e.g. dat lütte Huus, de lütte Deern, de lütte Jung.

There are a lot of special characteristics in the vocabulary, too, but they are shared partly with other languages and dialects, e.g.:

  • Personal pronouns: ik [k] (like Dutch ik), du [du] (like German Du), he [h] (like English he), se [z], dat [dat] (Dutch dat), wi [vi], ji [?i] (similar to English ye, Dutch jij), se [z].
  • Interrogatives (English/High German): wo [vo?], woans [vo?'?a?ns] (how/wie), wo laat [vo?'l?:t] (how late/wie spät), wokeen [vo?'k?n] (who/wer), [vo?'ne:m] woneem (where/wo), wokeen sien [vo?'k?nzi:n] / wen sien [vnzi:n] (whose/wessen)
  • Adverbs (English/High German): laat [l?:t] (late/spät), gau [?a] (fast/schnell), suutje ['zut?e] (slowly, carefully/langsam, vorsichtig, from Dutch zoetjes ['zuts] 'nice and easy', adverbial diminutive of zoet ['zut] 'sweet'), vigeliensch [fi?e'li:n?] (difficult, tricky/schwierig)
  • Prepositions (English/High German): bi [bi:] (by, at/bei), achter ['?axt?] (behind/hinter), vör [f] (before, in front of/vor), blangen [bla] (beside, next to, alongside/neben), twüschen ['tvn] (betwixt, between/zwischen), mang, mank [mak] (among/unter)

See also

External links


  1. ^ Northern Low Saxon at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ a b Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Northern Low Saxon". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "German Northern Low Saxon". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ Noble, Cecil A. M. (1983). Modern German dialects New York [et al.], Lang, p. 103-104

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