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Thread: Question About Low German

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    Question About Low German

    I originally asked this question below in the status of 13 German dialects thread but thought it would be a more appropriate question for here in the linguistic section. Hopefully there is somebody with knowledge of Low German and its relation to other German dialects.

    I have a question for Native German speakers or anybody, is it true there is some linguistic controversy over the status of Low German as whether it should be considered a separate language instead of a dialect of Standard German? Some German Linguists for example group Low Saxon and Low Franconian together as they are both unaffected by the High German consonant shift.

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    There are two ways to categorise the German dialect continuum:



    Everything north of the Benrath line (maken-machen isogloss) is Low German, including Low Franconian.



    The other way is using language families like Franconian, which develops along the Rheinischer Fächer ("Rhenish fan")



    and even transitions into East Franconian (High German).



    Combining both yields categories like "West Central German" (Franconian intersecting with High German)



    or Low Saxon and East Low German, which fade into East Central German. A semi-standardised variety used in the media is Northern Low Saxon, inspired by the dialects of the Hamburg-Holstein region.



    A more differentiated map of the whole mess.
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    Hauke Haien, I want to thank you for taking the time to find this information and answering my question. Finding good concise information in English for this subject can be tricky. My German is not quite good enough yet to read through and break down the different linguistic positions in the classification of Low German. I have studied the basics of Germanic Family Language Classification before but in my quest to relearn Standard German, I need to familiarize myself on the different German dialects in more depth.

    It appears that many German linguistic scholars in the North of the country argue that Low German should be classified as its own separate language and based on what I have studied so far they seem to have a point. Low German is certainly different from Standard German and its other dialects in various ways. I hope Germany is able to preserve the 13 dialects that are threaten as I said before, Low German in particular is important in its uniqueness and its ability to link English, Frisian and Dutch with High German.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vandal Lord View Post
    It appears that many German linguistic scholars in the North of the country argue that Low German should be classified as its own separate language
    It is part of a continuum and therefore hardly separate, but we may apply whatever categorisation we like.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vandal Lord View Post
    Low German is certainly different from Standard German and its other dialects in various ways.
    All dialects are gradually different from the next, that is why it is a continuum instead of a monolithic mass. Standard German on the other hand is just Meißen officialese, a Central German variety, serving as an umbrella language for all German dialects in Germany while Dutch does the same in the Netherlands. A Low Saxon or East Low German standard of similar potency does not currently exist, although Lübeckian Middle Low German used to be an umbrella language for all Low German dialects in both Germany and the Netherlands.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hauke Haien View Post
    It is part of a continuum and therefore hardly separate, but we may apply whatever categorisation we like.
    I wasn't suggesting that I entirely agree or disagree with these Northern German linguists and their position of recategorizing Low German as it's own language. Like you stated individuals can apply different categorizations. Their biggest primary arguments appear to be the lack of the High German consonant shift and that Low German has been recognized since 1999 by the Netherlands and Germany as a "regional language." According to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, "Within the official terminology defined in the charter, this status would not be available to a dialect of an official language (as per article 1 (a)), and hence not to Low German in Germany if it were considered a dialect of German." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_German

    Quote Originally Posted by Hauke Haien View Post
    All dialects are gradually different from the next, that is why it is a continuum instead of a monolithic mass. Standard German on the other hand is just Meißen officialese, a Central German variety, serving as an umbrella language for all German dialects in Germany while Dutch does the same in the Netherlands.
    Correct, I should not have used the term "Standard German" and instead only use "German" to avoid confusion, my mistake but that is why I am trying to refresh myself after so many years. I know of individuals who didn't know almost anything about the German language are surprised to learn that there is a "Central German" factor. They assumed that Standard German entirely developed in only in the southern portion of the country. Their mentality is that there is only Northern Low German and Southern High German, with no realization of a Central factor.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hauke Haien View Post
    A Low Saxon or East Low German standard of similar potency does not currently exist, although Lübeckian Middle Low German used to be an umbrella language for all Low German dialects in both Germany and the Netherlands.
    Thats very interesting about Lübeckian Middle Low German at one time being an umbrella language for all Low German dialects in the Netherlands and Germany, I need to look more into this.

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