Middle Low German

The Middle Low German language ( abbreviation according to ISO 639-3 gml by English German Middle Low) is a development stage of the Low German and has evolved from the altniederdeutschen ( Old Saxon ) language in the Middle Ages and since about the year 1225/34 writing occupied ( Sachsenspiegel ).

Term " Middle Low German "

The term Middle Low German is ambiguous:

  • The Middle Low German in the broader sense includes North Germany and the entire Middle Dutch language area.
  • The Middle Low German in the narrow sense includes North Germany and (only ) to the northeast of the present-day Netherlands, east of the IJssel.

The larger representations of the Middle Low German (about Lubben and tab ) deal with the Middle Low German only in the narrow sense.


The Middle Low German language was in the Hanseatic period from about 1300 to about 1600 AD, the leading literary language in the north of Central Europe and served as a lingua franca in the northern half of Europe. It was used in parallel with the Latin for purposes of diplomacy and for documents. So most of the correspondence of the Hanseatic League in Central and Northern Europe were carried out on Middle Low German. Middle Low German documents are available from London in the west to Novgorod in the east and mountains in the north to the south Westphalia. Also in Visby on Gotland, Riga, Reval and Dorpat was communicated Middle Low German. So still there is a handwritten dictionary Middle Low German -Russian of Tönnies Fonne 1607 in the Danish Royal Library in Copenhagen. Especially from this period resulted in a significant influence of Low German in the Scandinavian languages, Norwegian, Danish and Swedish, which is characterized by numerous loanwords. Some Skandinavisten think about half or more of the Swedish vocabulary go back in Low German. It should be noted, however, that this is less about the most frequent words ( pronouns, conjunctions, prepositions, etc.) but rather to partially rarer nouns are ( job titles, etc.).

Regional characteristics of the written language

The early Middle Low German texts were clearly influenced by the spoken language. There were shortened, oral forms before as Semme (instead sineme, "his" ), sir ( instead siner, "his" ), EYR ( instead of one, " a "). These texts were marked scenic, but gave no dialect again. In the later written language the writers tried to avoid these truncated forms and etymologically more correct to use forms.

In the 15th and early 16th century, practiced by the Modern Devotion eastern Middle Dutch influence on the Münster region written Middle Low German.

In the Westphalian and Ostfälischen there were medium German influences, especially in Elbostfälischen. The High German must have been familiar with the local writers.

Some linguists assume that went out from the southern Eastphalian from read- linguistic influence on the rest of Ostfalen. The southern Ostfalen is considered the most powerful spiritual center of the early Middle Low German.

From the second half of the 14th century the written Middle Low German is increasingly uniform. This Middle Low German written language has emerged from the former Ostniederdeutschen and was particularly influenced by Lübeck. This supra-regional literary language is a national oral lingua ahead, which is not preserved, but must be assumed.

Language monuments

In addition to the Middle Low German certificates particular the following important works language monuments of Middle Low German language is:

  • The Saxon Mirror, a collection of Saxon laws in 1225, the case law in Europe a major influence until the 19th century,
  • Saxon World Chronicle, a prose chronicle of the 13th century,
  • The Berlinische City book, which was compiled mainly in the late 14th century,
  • The Chronica novella of Hermann Korner, Lübeck, from 1416 (also in Latin),
  • Redentiner the Easter play, a mystery play of 1464,
  • The Lübeck Bible ( 1494), incunabula printed by Steffen Arndes in Lübeck, 1494
  • Reynke de vos, printed in the poppy head - Offizin by Hans van Ghetelen in Lübeck, in 1498, an animal epic, which has been translated into many languages ​​and, for example, as Reineke Fuchs by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe processed,
  • The Lübeck Bible ( 1533/34 ) or Bugenhagen Bible
  • De düdesche Schlömer, a spiritual drama of Everyman theme by Johannes Stricker ( 1584),
  • Tönnies Fonnes Manual of the Russian Language ( 1607),
  • Nathan Chytraeus The Old Todt Dantz Saxon (1597 ), the oldest philological edition of a Low German text.

Later languages

From Middle Low German modern Low German has emerged.


The vocabulary of Middle Low German is described in Middle Low German pocket dictionary.