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East Frisian Low Saxon: Wikis


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East Frisian Low Saxon
Spoken in Germany
Region East Frisia
Total speakers 230,000 in Germany
Language family Indo-European
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 frs
ISO 639-3 frs

East Frisian Low Saxon is a West Low German dialect spoken in the East Frisian peninsula of northwestern Lower Saxony. It is used quite frequently in everyday speech there. About half of the East Frisian population in the coastal region uses Platdüütsk. A number of individuals, despite not being active speakers of Low Saxon, are able to understand it to some extent. However, both active and passive language skills are in a state of decrease.

East Frisian Low Saxon is not to be confused with the Eastern Frisian language; the latter, spoken by about 2000 individuals in the Saterland region, is a Frisian language, not Low German.

There are several dialects in East Frisian Low Saxon. There are two main groups of dialects. The dialects in the east, called Harlinger Platt, are strongly influenced by Northern Low Saxon of Oldenburg. The western dialects are closer to the Low Saxon Language spoken in the Dutch province of Groningen, Groningan Low Saxon.[1]

East Frisian Low Saxon differs from Northern Low Saxon in several aspects, which are often linked to Frisian heritage. The language originally spoken in East Frisia and Groningen was Frisian, so the current Low Saxon dialects build on a Frisian substrate, which has led to a large amount of unique lexical, syntactic, and phonological items which differ from other Low Saxon variants.

East Frisian features frequent use of diminutives, as in the Dutch language, e.g. Footjes = little feet, Kluntje = piece of sugar. In many cases, diminutives of names, especially female ones, have become names of their own. For example: Antje (from Anna), Trientje (from Trina = Katharina) etc.

The dialects spoken in East Frisia are closely related to those spoken in the Dutch province of Groningen (Grunnegs, Grünnigs) and in Northern Drenthe (Noordenvelds). The biggest difference seem to be that of loanwords (from Dutch or German, resp.) and the vowel shift in Gronings: [ɛi] → [ɑi, ɔi], [ɑi] → [ai], [ou] → [ɑu] and so forth.

East Frisian Low Saxon Gronings Northern Low Saxon English
[høːə] [høːə] [eə] her
[moːi] [moːi] [ʃœːin] beautiful, nice, fine
[vas] [vas] [vɛ.iə] was
[gebø:rɪn] [ɣəbø:rɪn] [passe.rn] to happen
[prɔ.tɪn, proːtɪn] [pro.tɪn] [snakɪn] to talk

The standard greeting is Moin (moi in Gronings), used 24 hours a day. Its use has spread from East Frisia to the whole of northern Germany, and it is heard more and more in the rest of Germany as well.

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