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Low German language

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Low German (in Low German, Nedderdüütsch) is any of a variety of West Germanic languages spoken in northern Germany and the Netherlands. It also includes Afrikaans, which is spoken in South Africa, and Plautdietsch[?], which is spoken by Mennonite communities in North America.

The term "Low German" is often restricted to Low Saxon, one of its two main branches, or extended to all of West Germanic except for High German. We cut a middle path in this article. The other branch of Low German (besides Low Saxon) is Low Franconian. The other branches of West Germanic (besides Low German and High German) are Frisian and English. The northern dialects of Low German (Low Saxon and Dutch) can also be classified together with English and Frisian as the North Sea Germanic[?] or Ingvaeonic languages.

Low German is distinguished from High German principally in that the latter underwent a consonant shift in the 700s and 800s. In High German, /k/, /p/, /t/ became /h/, /pf/, /ts/ in initial positions and /x/, /f/, /s/ in medial and final positions. In Low German (as well as English and Frisian), the old /k/, /p/, /t/ are still there, as in English "better", Dutch "beter", German "besser".

Family tree

Note that divisions between subfamilies of Germanic are rarely precisely defined; most form continuous clines[?], with adjacent dialects being mutually intelligible and more separated ones not. In particular, there is not thought to have been any single "Proto-Low German".

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