Low German: a language as stable as an oak tree | NDR.de – Culture – North German

Status: 04/02/2022 4:30 PM

The Low German language has its origins around 2,000 years ago. How language has evolved is also the subject of a lecture by Heiko Gouer at the Plattdüütsch Dag in Hamburg.

by Lina Jang

A poem by Fritz Reuter that Heiko Gauert likes to quote as an introduction:

I had an eekboom by the sea,
De Norstrom, de Proust in Seine Prisons…
By de Ekbom, Fritz Reuter

Because Reuter writes here about an oak that is constantly being stormed, but it actually means Low German. Because it originated about 2,000 years ago – and it still exists.

Originally the language of the Saxons

“What Minch can’t say anymore is that Plattdütsche de oole Spraak vun de Sachsen weer,” says Heiko Gauert — Plattdeutsch was the old language of the Saxons. The former teacher has been a political linguist for decades and is now a true expert when it comes to Low German history. If the Saxons still lived north of the Elbe around the year 0, in the following centuries they had settled south with the Angles throughout northern Germany, and later as far as England. And they took their language with them.

During the Hanseatic period, you can not do without Platt

Over the centuries, regional differences have developed, which is why a different Low German is spoken in East Friesland than in Hamburg. “That’s what they developed, and that’s based on the Hanseatic League,” explains Heiko Gauert. A universal language in the Middle Ages: “Dat is de Spraak wesen, de Hansekooplüd bruukt hebt, um honor Hannel to draeven.” In the Hanseatic cities from Norway to Belgium and from Russia to England: Standard Low German was spoken everywhere.

Navigation and the port had a great influence

With the decline of the Hanseatic League, the Reformation and the precedent of High German as an official language, Low German increasingly lost its importance. Nevertheless, the language persisted in Hamburg, thanks to the port, says Heiko Gewert: “Of course, De Havenlüd has all the chatter.” Originally Low German terms from seafaring were incorporated into High German usage, such as “Schapp” for a small locker. And “Foffteihn maken” is still a common expression for “take a break.” Presumably it came from the dockers who first sat down after 15 – even the sacks loaded -.

Negative trend and reversal

However, by the 20th century at the latest, Standard German had replaced the global language Low German. There are many reasons for this, says Heiko Gauert, “but we seggt is fine. That is where it was once a universal language. But not without pride, Heiko Gauert also says that the permanent decline of the language has stopped. Surveys would have shown Opinion reads: “It is believed that Anners Ophir honor Sprak and brands, that this is not just a dialect, this is the only regional language we have heard in Düütschland!”

From the world’s former language to the only regional German – Low German has survived for more than 2,000 years. Who is better than Fritz Reuter for closure?

No noble art will spoil us,
Frey knew, for the royal Höchden ahn.
By de Ekbom, Fritz Reuter

additional information


1 minute

The sponsor this time is once again Senator for Science Katharina Wegbiank. 1 minute

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3 minutes

The president of Plattdütschroot för Hamburg in an interview with the Hamburg newspaper. 3 minutes

This topic is in the program:

NDR 90.3 | 04/23/2022 | 10:00 am

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