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.
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.
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
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
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
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.