Low German or Low Saxon (German: Plattdeutsch, pronounced [ˈplatdɔʏtʃ] (listen), or Platt, pronounced [plat] (listen)) is a West Germanic language variety spoken mainly in Northern Germany and the northeastern part of the Netherlands. It is also spoken to a lesser extent in the German diaspora worldwide (e.g. Plautdietsch).
|Plattdütsch, Plattdüütsch, Plattdütsk, Plattdüütsk, Plattduitsk (South-Westphalian), Plattduitsch (Eastphalian), Plattdietsch (Low Prussian); Neddersassisch; Nedderdüütsch|
German: Plattdeutsch, Niedersächsisch, Niederdeutsch (in a stricter sense)
Dutch: Nedersaksisch, Plat
Danish: Plattysk, Nedertysk, Nedersaksisk, Lavtysk (rarely)
|Native to||Northern and western Germany|
Germans (including East Frisians);
(both the ethnic group and modern regional subgroup of Germans)
|Estimated 4.35-7.15 million |
Up to 10 million second-language speakers (2001)
Official language in
Approximate area in which Low German/Low Saxon dialects are spoken in Europe (after the expulsion of Germans)
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 is spoken north of the Benrath and Uerdingen isoglosses, while (Standard/High) German is 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 German, which is based upon 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. 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).