East Frisian Low German or East Frisian Low Saxon is one of the Northern Low Saxon dialects, a Northern 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 the language. 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 German|
|East Frisian Low Saxon|
mainly older adults
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, Gronings.
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 of East Frisia, as part of the Friso-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. Some Old Frisian vocabulary is still in active speech today.
East Frisian features frequent use of diminutives, as in the Dutch language, e.g. kluntje ‘lump of rock sugar’. In many cases, diminutives of names, especially female ones, have become names of their own. For example: Antje (from Anna), Trīntje (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 seems to be that of loanwords (from Dutch or German, resp.).
|East Frisian Low Saxon||Gronings||West Frisian||Northern Low Saxon||English|
|höör [høːr]||heur [høːr]||har||ehr [eə]||her|
|mōj [moːɪ]||mooi [moːɪ]||moai||scheun [ʃœːin]||beautiful, nice, fine|
|was [vas]||was [vas]||wie||wer [vɛ.iə]||was|
|geböören [ɡebøːnː]||gebeurn [ɣəbøːnː]||barre||passeern [passe.rn]||to happen|
|prōten [proːtnˑˈ]||proaten [proːtnˑˈ]||prate||snakken [snakɪn]||to talk|
The standard greeting is Moin (moi in Gronings), used 24 hours a day.
East Frisian Low Saxon has two orthographies which are well known. One is developed by the Ostfriesische Landschaft, which is based off the orthography by Johannes Sass. The Ostfriesische Landschaft uses this spelling for all of their projects, and to promote the dialect. It is considered to also be a cross di-dialect compromise writing, to provide materials in Low German for outside of the East Frisian Low Saxon dialect speaking area, and is recognized by the government of Lower Saxony.
However, a newer, more phonetic orthography was developed in 1975 by Holger Weigelt, since he expressed concerns that the grammatical structures and character of East Frisian Low Saxon would not be presented well under the Sass-based spelling. This orthography is used fully by the Jungfräiske Mäinskup, which promotes the dialect and provides learning materials in this spelling. The Incubator Wikipedia for East Frisian Low Saxon along with the examples of the dialect in this page are also in this spelling.
- "Ōstfräisk wōrdenbauk - Ostfriesisches Wörterbuch". oostfraeisk.org.
- East Frisian Low German at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022)
- "Marron C. Fort: Niederdeutsch und Friesisch zwischen Lauwerzee und Weser" (PDF).
- "Schreibregeln der ostfriesischen Landschaft" (PDF).