Low Saxon is an officially recognized language in the Netherlands

The official national languages in the Netherlands are General Dutch (AN) and Frisian (Frysk). In addition to the national languages, various regional languages or dialects are spoken in the Netherlands. The Limburgish language and Low Saxon are recognized as official regional languages. In 2018, the central government placed extra emphasis on the regional language Low Saxon in the Low Saxon Agreement. It means that the government will protect the Low Saxon language and promote it as a full-fledged and independent part of the language in the Netherlands. Low Saxon is spoken in the provinces of Groningen, Drenthe, Overijssel, the Northeast Veluwe, the Achterhoek and in the Stellingwerfs (an area in eastern Friesland).

  • Origin of the Low Saxon language
  • German language
  • West Germanic languages
  • Low German
  • Origin of the Dutch language
  • Dialect
  • The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
  • The Low Saxon and Limburgish dialect
  • Lower Saxon Covenant
  • More protection Lower Saxony
  • The Low Saxon language in the Achterhoek


Origin of the Low Saxon language

Around the year 800 AD. B.C. Low Saxon evolved from Germanic, a subgroup of the Indo-European languages, a language family of more than 400 related languages that developed from a common ancestral language. A language family is a classification within which the world languages are classified such as:

  • Indo-European (or Indo-Germanic) languages, languages of Europe and Southern Asia;
  • Afro-Asiatic languages, languages of the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa;
  • Altaic languages, including Turkic languages, Mongolian languages, Japanese and Korean.


German language

The Indo-European languages form a language family that includes the Germanic languages. Germanic languages which are further subdivided into:

  • East Germanic languages (Czech Republic, Poland and parts of Germany);
  • West Germanic languages (Dutch with a branch to Afrikaans, English, German and Frisian);
  • North Germanic languages (Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Icelandic).


West Germanic languages

West Germanic is then subdivided into subgroups, including some important groups such as:

  • Anglo-Frisian;
  • High German:
  • Low Franconian;
  • Low German.


Low German

Low German is the collective name for a number of West Germanic dialects in the north and east of the Netherlands and in the north of Germany. West Germanic dialects are divided into;

  • Low Saxon. Low Saxon is spoken in the northern part of Germany (the states of Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia) and in the northern and eastern parts of the Netherlands (the provinces of Groningen, Drenthe, Overijssel, Achterhoek, Veluwe and Stellingwerf). Low Saxon developed from the Low German spoken in Westphalia and Lower Saxony;
  • East Low German. Eastern Low German is mainly spoken in the eastern part of Germany (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Berlin and Brandenburg).


In the Achterhoek, potatoes.

In the Achterhoek, vacuum cleaner.

In the Achterhoek, blackbird.


Origin of the Dutch language

Around 1500, a standard language emerged from various dialects and with German influences (Low Saxon), Standard Dutch or General Civilized Dutch (ABN). The dialects are the direct descendants of the Indo-European language, a proto-language of Germanic. After 1970 it was called Algemeen Beschaafd Nederlands, Algemeen Nederlands (AN).


Dialect, regional language or regional language is the name for a language that is not considered a national language and is only spoken in a specific place or region. Dialect did not arise from General Dutch (AN) but General Dutch from the dialect. A dialect is a fully-fledged communication system, largely from the past and can provide recognition of a local sense of belonging. The dialect is therefore part of our national heritage.

Dutch dialects In the Netherlands, dialects or regional languages are subdivided into regions where a province is often the core. Dialects such as:

  • Zeeland/West Flemish;
  • Dutch;
  • Lower Saxon (Plattdeutsch);
  • Limburgish;
  • Utrechts-Alblasserwaards;
  • Brabant.

The regional languages do not all have the same status in the Netherlands. The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages has officially recognized the Frisian dialect as a national language and the Limburgish and Low Saxon dialects as regional languages.

The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages

The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages protects and promotes regional and minority languages (Yiddish and Romani), languages that are important for Europe’s cultural heritage. Speakers of regional or minority languages are also encouraged to continue using the language in personal and public life. The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages drawn up by the Council of Europe entered into force in 1998. The European Charter consists of three parts:

  • Part I describes regional and minority languages;
  • Part II provides for the recognition of a regional or regional language. This also means that the language is protected as a full and independent part of another language;
  • Part III, which includes the national languages AN and Frisian in the Netherlands. Officially designated languages of the Netherlands receive appropriate resources from the government for education, judicial, administrative and cultural activities.


The Low Saxon and Limburgish dialect

Low Saxon originated from the Low German spoken in Westphalia and Lower Saxony. Like Limburgish (in 1997), Low Saxon (in 1996) has been recognized as a regional language under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. The dialects are recognized under Part II of the European Charter. With this fact, the government recognizes Low Saxon and Limburgish as an added value for Dutch cultural heritage. Provinces and municipalities where the dialects are spoken can pursue their own policy to promote cultural heritage, for example by providing subsidies for theater associations or local broadcasters that use Low Saxon or Limburgish.

Lower Saxon Covenant

The Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, the provinces of Drenthe, Friesland, Overijssel, Groningen, Gelderland and the Frisian area of Stellingwerf signed the Low Saxon Covenant on October 10, 2018, making Low Saxon an officially recognized Dutch language. This means that the dying language will receive more protection.

More protection Lower Saxony

With the Lower Saxon covenant, the participating parties consider it important to:

  • to preserve the existence of the Low Saxon dialect, both spoken and written;
  • to use current Low Saxon as a lively means of communication, to be able to use a language with its own identity in administrative communications and cultural expressions;
  • to continue Low Saxon as a living, age-old tradition in a modern way;
  • to stimulate and strengthen the image of Low Saxon and its uses and thus pass on the language to young people;
  • to endorse Low Saxon in trade with the German states;
  • to teach this regional language in primary education;
  • to offer Low Saxon in secondary education;
  • possibly obtain a classification of Low Saxon as part III of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. This is the third national language of the Netherlands, next to General Dutch and Frisian.


In the Achterhoek, turkey.

In the Achterhoek, caravan

In the Achterhoek, dishcloth.


The Low Saxon language in the Achterhoek

Low Saxon is spoken in Groningen, Drenthe, Overijssel, the Northeast Veluwe, the Achterhoek and Oost- en Weststellingwerf. Achterhooks (Achterhoeks) is a Low Saxon regional language and is spoken in the Achterhoek. Achterhooks with sub-varieties in:

  • Wenterswiek (Winterswijk);
  • Grolle (Groenlo);
  • Lechtenvoorde (Lichtenvoorde);
  • Reurle (Ruurlo);
  • Vraogender (Questioner);
  • Söwent (Zieuwent);
  • Dinxper (Dinxperlo);
  • Toldiek (Toldijk).

The regional languages in the Achterhoek are not entirely the same, but they are closely related to each other and are not separated by municipal boundaries and national borders (Plattdeutsch). The dialect has many variations with minor differences in pronunciation, spelling and pitches. While in the north and east the Achterhoek dialect is very similar to Twents or Sallands, in the west of the Achterhoek it resembles Oost-Veluws.

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