Weten: Where is Low German spoken?

In the section ›Weten we present to you information about the Low German language and associated culture.

The home area of Low German is the north of Germany and the north-east of the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, however, the language is rarely referred to as Low German, but rather as Nedersaksisch or Low Saxon.

In Germany the federal states Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Schleswig-Holstein, Bremen, Hamburg and Lower Saxony belong entirely or to a large extent to the Low German-speaking area and the federal states Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia belong to the Low German-speaking area in parts. Along the German-Danish border on the territory of Denmark there is also a small German minority, in which Low German is traditionally used.

In the Netherlands, the provinces of Groningen, Drenthe and Overijssel belong entirely to the Nedersaksisch language area, while the provinces of Gelderland and Friesland partially belong to it. The former island Urk in the province of Flevoland and parts of the provinces Gelderland and Utrecht are in a transition area to the Dutch dialects. They have characteristics of both language variants. Its classification as either Nedersaksisch or Dutch is therefore a question of opinion. Plattmakers captures these dialects and leaves it to the reader to judge.

If northern Germany was mentioned above, it should also be mentioned that this area stretched much further to the east before 1945. Large parts of today's northern Poland, today's Kaliningrad Oblast (Russia) and southwestern Lithuania were German and spoke Low German. As a result of flight and displacement at the end of the Second World War, this language area became extinct. Plattmakers records the historical status of these dialects before 1945.

In addition, Low German has spread throughout the world through emigration. The two most important groups that still speak Low German today are the speakers of Plautdietsch and Pomerano.

Plautdietsch is the language of the Mennonites who came to Russia (today's Ukraine) at the invitation of the tsars and later migrated from there and established settlements in other regions of Russia and in various countries in North and South America (and they establish new settlements up until today).

Pomerano is the language of a group of 19th century Pomeranian immigrants to Brazil who have preserved their cultural characteristics and language to this day.

There were also Low German emigrants to various countries (including USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Namibia), some of whom retained the old language for generations, but did not form closed colonies and therefore largely have dropped their old language.

Overview