Groningan Low Saxon

Groningan Low Saxon

Infobox Language
name=Grunnegs or Grönnegs
states=Netherlands: Groningen, parts in the north and east of Drenthe, the east of the Frisian municipality Kollumerland
speakers=320,000 (est.)
fam3=West Germanic
fam4=West Low German
nation=the Netherlands (as part of Low Saxon)

Groningan Low Saxon, in the language itself called Grunnegs or Grönnegs (Dutch: "Gronings"), is a collective noun for some Friso-Saxon dialects spoken in the province of Groningen and around the Groningan border in Drenthe and Friesland. Groningan Low Saxon and the strongly related varieties in East-Frisia have a strong Frisian influence and take a remarkable position within the Low Saxon Language. The language is characterized by a typical accent and vocabulary, which differ strongly from the other Low Saxon dialects.


The word "Groningan Low Saxon" can perfectly be geographically defined. The dialect in the north of the province of Drenthe (Noordenvelds) are so strongly related that most linguists see it as part of Groningan Low Saxon. The dialect of the southeast, called Veenkoloniaals is alike on both sides of the Groningan-Drentish border. In the Frisian municipality of Kollumerland, the western dialect called Westerkwartiers is also spoken, as well as a separate Groningan dialect called Kollumerpompsters. The latter is spoken in the Frisian village of Kollumerpomp and has more West Frisian influences, while most Groningan dialects have a strong East Frisian influence.


The Groningan language can be separated in 8 dialects:


Though there are several differences between the dialects, they form a perfect whole. Most words are written the same way, but the pronunciation can differ. The examples show the pronunciation.

*Hoogelaandsters: t Ainege dat wie nait dudden is slik oetdijln
*Veenkelonioals: t Ainege wat wie nait dudden is slikke uutduiln
*Westerkertiers: t Eenege dat wie niet doun is slik uutdeeln
*Stadsgrunnegs (city): t Oinege dat wie noit doun is baaltjes oetdailn
*Westerwoolds: t Einege dat wie nich dun is slikkerij uutdeiln
*East Frisian Low Saxon: Dat eenzige, dat wi neet doon is Slickeree utdelen.
*Northern Low Saxon of Germany: Dat eenzige, dat wi nich doot, (dat) is Snabbelkraam uutdeeln.
*Standard Dutch: Het enige dat we niet doen is snoep uitdelen.
*Standard German: Das einzige, dass wir nicht machen, ist Süßigkeiten austeilen.
*Scots: The anerly thing we dinnae dae is gie oot snashters.
*English: The only thing we do not do is hand out sweets.

Classification of the Groningan language

There are many uncertainties about the classification and categorization of the Groningan language. Some linguists see it as a variety of Low German, also called "Nedersaksisch" in the Netherlands. These words are actually more political than linguistic, because they unite a large group of very differing varieties. Categorizing the Groningan language as Low German or Low Saxon could be considered correct, but the questioning is about the existence of the linguisitic unity called "Low Saxon"/"Low German".

Others, especially German linguists, see Groningan-Eastfrisian as a separate group of German dialects. The Frisian influece, the sounds "ou", "ai" and "ui" and the typical accent are crucial here. Groningan-East Frisian would be categorized as Friso-Saxon instead of "Low Saxon". Other linguists categorize all Groningan-East Frisian dialects as North Low Saxon. In that case, all the other Low Saxon varieties in the Netherlands are catagorized as Westphalian.

Especially Dutch linguists classify the Groningan language as Dutch Low Saxon, in Germany also called "Westplatt". In this case the Dutch influence is crucial, while the dialects on the other side of the national border are strongly influenced by High German. These influences concern especially the vocabulary, like the Dutch word "voorbeeld" (example) which is "veurbeeld" in Groningan while the Eastfrisian dialects use "biespööl", which is related to the High German word "beispiel". In this case there is no separation between Groningan-East Frisian (or North Low Saxon) and Westphalian, but rather a difference between Groningan and East Frisian. The national border would equal the linguistic border.


The Groningan dialects are a kind of mix between two languages: Old Frisian (East Frisian) and het Middle Low German. Frisian was spoken in the "Ommelanden" (surrounding lands of the city of Groningen), while the city of Groningen, the surrounding rural area called Gorecht and the eastern lordship of Westerwolde were Low Saxon. When the city of Groningen developed a mighty position in the Ommelanden, a switch from Frisian to Saxon occured. Although it was not a complete switch because there are many Frisian influences in the "new" Groningan language. Many Frisian words and grammatic features are still in use today. In less than one century, the same process also started in East Frisia, from the city of Emden, which was influenced by the Hanseatic League. This declares the strong relation between both varieties.

In the second haf of the 16th century the Groningan language started to grow to Middle Dutch because of the strong influence of the new standard languge. But because of the political, geographical and cultural isolation of Groningen, a strong "provincialism" in the first half of the 19th century caused the Groningan language to develope itself in a significant way. The sounds that are used today were formed in this period.


Daily life

Today approximately 65% of the Groningans can speak and write their native language. If the larger cities and villages of Groningen, Hoogezand-Sappemeer, Veendam, Stadskanaal, Delfzijl and Winschoten are abandoned in this count, the percentage would rise to about 80%. Almost all of the older people use Groningan as their main language. Until the second half of the 20th century, the Groningan language was more important in Groningan than Dutch. Youths also speak the language frequently, although many pure Groningan words are lost.

Since the second half of the 20th century, the usage of the language is declining. Because of the globalization, other languages like Dutch and English are becoming more important. Many parents today chose to raise their children in the Dutch language.


In the media Groningan Low Saxon is used frequently. For example on the local radiostation "Radio Noord", Groningan is used by the presenters and listeners. On the local television Groningan is less used. Something that is always in Groningan is the weather forecast. The news is always in Dutch, because not everyone who watches can speak Groningan. In the second half of 2007, the local television broadcasted a series in the Groningan language called Boven Wotter. Another program that is in and about Gronings is "Grunnegers", which is actually some kind of education in the Groningan language.

Examples of Groningan magazines are Toal en Taiken (language and signs) and Krödde, which actually means weed.

There are many Groningan dictionaries as well. The first official dictionary was the "Nieuw Groninger Woordenboek" and was put together by Kornelis ter Laan. This dictionary and the writing system used in the book became the basics of each dictionairy and writing system ever since. More recent is "Zakwoordenboek Gronings - Nederlands / Nederlands - Gronings" by Siemon Reker, which is a little less specific. K. G. Pieterman wrote a dictionary of Groningan alliterations wich is titled "Gezondhaid en Groutnis" (sanity and greetings).

Education and culture

Because Groningan is not an official language, it is not a obligatory subject in schools, though many Groningan primary schools chose to give attention to the regional language. This attention varies from external storytellers to actual courses. On secondary schools the Groningan language does not receive many attention.

On the University of Groningen it is possible to study Groningan. In october of 2007 the Groningan language became an official study within the faculty of "letteren" (language and literature). The new professor, Siemon Reker, had already spent many studies to the language and is famous of his dictionary.

Another possiblity to learn Groningan Low Saxon is taking classes. In the last few years the trend of people doing courses has risen. More and more people, also people from outside who come to live in the area in which Groningan is spoken, are interested in the language and are willing to take courses. There are two types of courses. The first one is understanding and the second one is understanding and speaking.

Every year around march writing contest as held in every Groningan municipality. Everyone can participate and send in a poem or some prose. The winners of the different ages succeed to the provincial round.


Well known Groningan musical artists are Wia Buze, Alex Vissering, Eltje Doddema, Pé Daalemmer & Rooie Rinus, Burdy, Hail Gewoon and Ede Staal (†). Every year the supply of succesful artists in regional languages in the Netherlands is rising.

Frisian Substratum

Some linguists classify Groningan to North Low Saxon, to which also [East Frisian Low Saxon|East Frisian belongs. Both related dialects are characterized by a Frisian influence. Hence other linguists classify Groningan-East Frisian as a separate group of Northwest Low Saxon or Friso-Saxon dialects. The most important similarities are grammar features and the vocabulary. The most important differences are the writing system and the loanwords. The East Frisian writing system is based on High German while Groningan uses many Dutch features. For example the word for “ice skate” is in Groningan “scheuvel” and in East Frisian “Schöfel”, while the pronunciation is almost alike. Here are a few examples of words compared to West Frisian, East Frisian Low Saxon, German, Dutch and English.

External links

* [] Dideldom
* [] Groningana

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