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Low Saxon - language or dialect?

hochdeutsch - plattdeutsch - english

A contribution of Plattmaster on the status of the lower german language (plattdüütsch).

Plattdüütsch - up and down.

It was a long discussion, whether Low Saxon (Plattdüütsch, Platt, Nedersassisch or Nedersaksisch, in German Plattdeutsch or Niedersächsisch) is a language for its own or only a local dialect. The reason might be, that there are a lot of books, but no Low Saxon Duden to indicate correct spelling and to gain and preserve uniformity. There have been some proposals, but none has gotten an official status. (Might have been better so, since we have no discussion like the Hochdeutsch spelling reform).
The medevial times were the age of the Hanse. Plattdüütsch (Low Saxon) was the lingua franca of the Hanse. People trading in Norway, Sweden, the Baltic, even Russia and England used Plattdüütsch as a language of commerce. Also, documents of politics and other parts of the public life were written in Platt (see medevial Low Saxon)
But then the downfall came. Lower saxon was used more and more only by the normal folk, and no longer by authorities. Lower saxon was used as language of the simple people. The authorities spoke and wrote upper german (Hochdeutsch). If the normal people tried to do so, they spoke "Missingsch", a kind of language with High German words but Low Saxon grammar. It sounded primitive in the ears of the upper class. People thought, to speak Low Saxon leads to a wrong Hochdeutsch. Platt was a dialect hardly to understand for upper german people. Parents tried to speak only Hochdeutsch at home. Platt had been thought as poisonous for the children. The children were supposed to become "someone better", and Platt wouldn't fit for that purpose.

Contradictionary trends

During the twentieth century there were two contradictionary trends.

At the end of the 20th century Plattdüütsch has been taken into the european charta of regional and minority language. Low Saxon has been recognized a language for its own, now officially.

Why is lower saxon a separate language for its own?

On the other hand there are partly fluent transitions in the west and south to the middle German dialects and Dutch, concerning grammar and vocabulary. Some transitional effects are in the north to Danish and Swedish..

But one is prooven. Though many by number, the Low Saxon dialects are so similar, that people fo Mecklenburg, Holstein, East Frisia and Groningen - a distance of far more than 500 km - can easily speak their dialect and understand each other. But that experiment would not work with a Low Saxon speaker and speakers of Switzeland, Bavaria or Baden. The upper german people would hardly understand any sentence. Even a Low Saxon and a Dutch speaker speaking their own language would understand each other more easily. That is a practical proof of the thesis of Low Saxon as a language for its own.

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