Building Blocks of Low Saxon : An Introductory Grammar
Building Blocks of Low Saxon (“Low German”) - ©2008, Reinhard F. Hahn
The Mission
The Language
The People
Sounds & Spelling
Vowels & Diphthongs
Sound Rules
Dialect Variation
Font Display
Deutsche Fassung
Building Blocks of Low Saxon : The Mission

The Mission


There is an increasing number of study aids for Low Saxon of Germany, but so far most of it is at least partly for “fun” (entertainment purposes) and all of it is in German.

Saxon (“Low German”) descended primarily from Old Saxon, which is also one of the primary ancestors of English and Scots. Its closest related geographical neighbors Dutch and Limburgish, Frisian, and German descended from Old Low Franconian, Old Frisian and Old German (“Old High German”) respectively.

  [Please click here to learn more about the language.]

These days, many people wish to learn Low Saxon or to improve their proficiency. Interest has been growing internationally, but there is a scarcity of even basic teaching and reference resources, especially resources other than those using Dutch or German.

As the number of genuine Low Saxon speakers dwindles and at the same time interest in the language increases, many German speakers use Low Saxon as a non-native language … or they try to. They do so with varying degrees of German language interference. We may look at this as what in German is called Sprachverfall (“language decay”), especially where a whole dialect becomes rapidly more influenced by the overshadowing power language (in this case German) and more proficient speakers eventually go along with the deficient standards of the more vocal and more prolific “whippersnappers”.
     In this introductory grammar you will find relevant cases of commonly encountered German interference mentioned in this sort of blue box. These are cases in which, technically speaking, inherent Low Saxon rules are being violated. I strongly suggest you do not follow such examples, even if some people consider them acceptable. You’ll be on safe ground if you stick to what you learn here in the way of rule consistency. Be aware of faking and decay, but don’t challenge people that you suspect are “guilty” of it! That would be confrontational and unbecoming a learner. Besides, they would insist that their ways are correct in their dialects, thus hiding behind the fact that Low Saxon is highly diverse and has no standard, its speaker community is highly fragmented and general education about dialect diversity is practically non-existent.
     There is no such thing as a “pure” language (that’s right not even Icelandic is “pure”), and language change is inevitable, especially in contact situations. But this is not to say that we must accept whatever clearly breaks the basic rules of a language.

With this presentation I hope to help alleviate this scarcity. At the planning stage are chapters on phonology and orthography as well as language lessons, most probably accompanied by sound files.

Low Saxon has numerous dialects but has no standard dialect and no general standard orthography.

The focus of this grammar sketch is on somewhat generalized Northern Low Saxon with references to the closely-related dialects of Mecklenburg as well. Two writing systems will be used: (1) the dominant German-based Sass Orthography, and (2) the General Orthography (Algemeyne Schryvwys’), a proposed alternative, possibly auxiliary orthography based on Middle Saxon principles.

The currently dominant orthography for the dialects of Mecklenburg will be ignored, since it is German-dependent to such an extent that it is devoid of consistent vowel length distinction.

Since this presentation is a work in progress, you are advised to return to it periodically.

Please use the menu on the left to navigate through this grammar. Unless you know your way around language information, I suggest you visit the pages in the order they are listed on the menu.

Some pages contain information in the International Phonetic Alphabet. For this reason, they are set up for Unicode (UTF-8) encoding with specification of Unicode fonts with standard IPA subsets (Arial Unicode MS, Lucida Sans Unicode, Lucida Sans, Code2000, DejaVu Sans). [Please click here to read more about this.]

Kiek maal wedder rin!
[kʰiːk mɒːɫ ˌvɛɾɝˈɾɪˑn]
(Stop by again sometime!)


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