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Low German

West Germanic language of northern Germany and the northeastern Netherlands / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Low German[lower-alpha 2] is a West Germanic language[12][13] spoken mainly in Northern Germany and the northeastern part of the Netherlands. The dialect of Plautdietsch is also spoken in the Russian Mennonite diaspora worldwide.

Quick facts: Low German, Native to, Ethnicity, Native...
Low German
Low Saxon
Plattdütsch, Plattdüütsch, Plattdütsk, Plattdüütsk, Plattduitsk (South-Westphalian), Plattduitsch (Eastphalian), Plattdietsch (Low Prussian); Neddersassisch; Nedderdüütsch
Native toNorthern and western Germany
Eastern Netherlands
Southern Denmark
East Frisians
Russian Mennonites
Historically Saxons
(both the ethnic group and modern regional subgroup of Germans)
Native speakers
Estimated 4.35–7.15 million[lower-alpha 1][1][2][3]
Up to 10 million second-language speakers (2001)[4]
Early forms
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-2nds
ISO 639-3nds (Dutch varieties and Westphalian have separate codes)
Glottologlowg1239  Low German
Present-day Low German language area in Europe
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Low German is most closely related to Frisian and English, with which it forms the North Sea Germanic group of the West Germanic languages. Like Dutch, it has historically been spoken north of the Benrath and Uerdingen isoglosses, while forms of the High German language (of which Standard German is a standardized example) have historically been spoken south of those lines. Like Frisian, English, Dutch and the North Germanic languages, Low German has not undergone the High German consonant shift, as opposed to Standard High German, which is based on High German dialects. Low German evolved from Old Saxon (Old Low German), which is most closely related to Old Frisian and Old English (Anglo-Saxon).

The Low German dialects spoken in the Netherlands are mostly referred to as Low Saxon, those spoken in northwestern Germany (Lower Saxony, Westphalia, Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Bremen, and Saxony-Anhalt west of the Elbe) as either Low German or Low Saxon, and those spoken in northeastern Germany (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Brandenburg, and Saxony-Anhalt east of the Elbe) mostly as Low German, not being part of Low Saxon. This is because northwestern Germany and the northeastern Netherlands were the area of settlement of the Saxons (Old Saxony), while Low German spread to northeastern Germany through eastward migration of Low German speakers into areas with a Slavic-speaking population (Germania Slavica).

It has been estimated that Low German has approximately 1.6 million speakers in Germany, primarily Northern Germany,[14] and 2.15 million in the Netherlands.[15]

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