How Is Low German Best Classsified?

So, concerning Low German, is it a sub-classification of North Sea Germanic or Low Saxon-Low Franconian? Glottolog and Wikipedia say the former, Ethnologue says the latter.

I would say that it is Low Saxon – Low Franconian. Low Saxon in Germany anyway for all intents and purposes is Low German. This somewhat includes Dutch Low Saxon, but not so much anymore, as it seems to have merged a lot with Low Franconian. Low Franconian is just Dutch. Middle Franconian is more like Ripaurian and Moselle Franconian Middle German to the south and southeast of the Netherlands in the part of Germany near the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Northeastern France near the Lorraine.

I do not even kn ow what North Sea Germanic even is – is that Ingaevonic? That’s almost English – but Low German is nearly English itself – the Angles, Saxons and especially the Jutes spoke something like English, and South Jutnish, probably a separate language from Danish spoken in southeastern Denmark, is supposedly nearly intelligible with Scots!

At one time there was a “North Sea Fisherman’s Language” which was something like Ingaevonic, and they could all understand each other. Either their own speech was close enough to each other or they all adopted this sort of jargon based on their speech and that of the other North Sea fishermen, but at any rate, when they spoke this Sailor’s or Fisherman’s language, they could understand each other and sailors and fishermen could communicate with each other in all of the ports of the North Sea regardless of where they came from.


Filed under Belgium, Denmark, Dutch, English language, Europe, France, German, Germanic, Germany, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Language Families, Linguistics, Low German, Moselle Franconian, Netherlands, Regional, Riparian, Scots

8 responses to “How Is Low German Best Classsified?

  1. frostmarvel

    Thanks for the response. And yes, North Sea Germanic is Ingaevonic.

  2. Hey Robert, what happened with the Celts? I heard some theories that the Celtic language was influenced by the Phoenician merchants who spoke a language very close to Hebrew.

    • Oh I do not know. Celtic is odd. That is an odd branch of IE. There have been papers written showing Celtic having all sorts of odd connections, including I believe to Afroasiatic!

  3. I speak Irish Gaelic – look up an American man in Wales, UK called John T. Koch. Celtic from the West is his brave hypotheses. Kind of calls for some contact with Afro-Asiatic

  4. Anglo-Saxon Maverick

    “Low Franconian is just Dutch.”

    I would assume that low German, comes from the Northern regions of Germany close to the North Sea, where the elevation is lower?, as opposed to further South where the Alps rise? Holland is topographically lower than France, hence the name?

    • Yes, the Netherlands is very low in elevation, in fact, I believe it is even below sea level, hence the need for dikes to keep the sea out and polders or reclaimed land formerly flooded by the sea.

      Yes, this exactly where Low German comes from of course. And yes, Upper German comes from the region by the Alps, and Middle German is in between the two. These are actually at least three completely different languages but Germany will not officially recognize them as such and neither will many German speakers. Even Bavarian and Swiss German are completely separate languages – those are not the same languages as German at all.

      A German speaker cannot understand a Swiss German, Low German or even a pure Bavarian speaker at all. I heard a story about a White man who even learned Munich Bavarian who said he sat in a hot tub with two women who were speaking some Bavarian dialect to the south of Munich near the Austrian border. Over a 2-3 hour period, he said he did not understand one single word that they said, even though all three spoke Bavarian. Bavarian speakers to the south of Munich often cannot understand people even 15 miles away. In these cases, they all communicate via Hochdeutch or Standard German.

      In Austria, every region or county speaks its own version of Bavarian and it is said that none of them can understand each other. At least in the 1970’s, people from 3-4 counties in the west of Austria could sit at a table and talk and none of them could really understand each other. Even pure Viennese Bavarian which is very much dying out nowadays simply cannot be understood outside of the Vienna region and nowadays a lot of Viennese themselves cannot even understand it.

  5. S.D.

    Celts appear to be genetically similar to Basque people according to recent studies. Black hair and blue eyes if frequent from Ireland through Western France down to Catalan Spain.

    Phoenicians were from Lebanon and have nothing to do with Celts. They did reach Southeast England as traders but did not have much genetic impact.

    One forgotten component in the British gene pool is Italian from the Romans. This is especially prevalent in the Welsh.

    The Jutes, Angles and Saxons were a seafaring people so of course they were not from Alpine Germany or Bavaria. They were from the coastlines of Holland, Germany and Denmark. The sheer number of them that arrived in England was enormous. Danes continued to invade England in waves over the centuries from the East.

    Celts fled Britain because of this invasion and that is how they wound up in France ie Brittany.

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