Low Saxon dialect

Northern Low Saxon

Northern Low Saxon (in Low German, Noordneddersassisch) is a West Low German dialect.

It is considered to be "Standard Low German" within Germany because it is spoken and understood in a huge central area including most of Lower Saxony, Bremen, Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, areas north of the Benrath line.

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. However, Northern Low Saxon is easily understood by speakers of these dialects.

Hamburgisch, Holsteinisch and Schleswigsch belong to Northern Low Saxon. The other subdialects are Gronings-East Frisian Low Saxon, Emslänner Platt, Heidjerisch, a subdialect spoken East of Bremen and a subdialect in Bremen and West of Bremen.

Characteristics

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 [gɒːn] (to go): Ik bün gahn [ʔɪkbʏnˈgɒːn] (I have gone/I went)
  • seilen [zaˑɪln] (to sail): He hett seilt [hɛɪhɛtˈzaˑɪlt] (He (has) sailed)
  • kopen [ˈkʰoʊpm] (to buy): Wi harrn köfft [vihaːŋˈkɶft] (We had bought)
  • kamen [kɒːmˑ] (to come): Ji sünd kamen [ɟizʏŋˈkɒːmˑ] (You (all) have come/You came)
  • eten [ˈʔeːtn] (to eat): Se hebbt eten [zɛɪhɛptˈʔeːtn] (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 [ʔɪk] (like Dutch), du [du] (like German), he [hɛɪ] (like English), se [zɛɪ], dat [dat], wi [vi], ji [ɟi], se [zɛɪ].
  • Interrogatives (English/High German): wo [voʊ], woans [voʊˈʔaˑns] (how/wie), wo laat [voʊˈlɒːt] (how late/wie spät), wokeen [voʊˈkʰɛˑɪn] (who/wer), [voʊˈneːm] woneem (where/wo), wokeen sien [voʊˈkʰɛˑɪnziːn] / wen sien [vɛˑnziːn] (whose/wessen)
  • Adverbs (English/High German): laat [lɒːt] (late/spät), gau [gaˑʊ] (fast/schnell), suutje [ˈzutɕe] (slowly, carefully/langsam, vorsichtig, from Dutch zoetjes [ˈzutɕəs] ‘nice and easy’, adverbial diminutive of zoet [ˈzut] ‘sweet’), vigeliensch [figeˈliːnʃ] (difficult, tricky/schwierig)
  • Prepositions (English/High German): bi [biː] (by, at/bei), achter [ˈʔaxtɝ] (behind/hinter), vör [fɶɝ] (before, in front of/vor), blangen [blaˑŋˑ] (beside, next to, alongside/neben), twüschen [ˈtvʏʃn] (betwixt, between/zwischen), mang, mank [maˑŋk] (among/unter)

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