Low Prussian
Low Prussian sometimes known simply as Prussian (Preußisch), is a dialect
The term dialect is used in two distinct ways, even by linguists. One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors,...

 of East Low German
East Low German
East Low German is a group of Low German dialects, including various varieties known as Pomeranian and Prussian, spoken in Northeast Germany as well as by minorities in present northern Poland. Together with West Low German, it constitutes Low German...

 that developed in East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

. Low Prussian was spoken in East
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

 and West Prussia
West Prussia
West Prussia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773–1824 and 1878–1919/20 which was created out of the earlier Polish province of Royal Prussia...

 and Danzig up to 1945. It developed on a Baltic
Baltic languages
The Baltic languages are a group of related languages belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European language family and spoken mainly in areas extending east and southeast of the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe...

In linguistics, a stratum or strate is a language that influences, or is influenced by another through contact. A substratum is a language which has lower power or prestige than another, while a superstratum is the language that has higher power or prestige. Both substratum and superstratum...

 through the influx of Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 and Low German
Low German
Low German or Low Saxon is an Ingvaeonic West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands...

 speaking immigrants. It overruled Old Prussian, which then became extinct in the 17th century.

Plautdietsch, or Mennonite Low German, was originally a Low Prussian variety of East Low German, with Dutch influence, that developed in the 16th and 17th centuries in the Vistula delta area of Royal Prussia, today Polish territory. The word is another pronunciation of Plattdeutsch, or Low German...

, a Low German
Low German
Low German or Low Saxon is an Ingvaeonic West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands...

 variety, is included within Low Prussian by some observers. Excluding Plautdietsch, Low Prussian can be considered moribund
Language death
In linguistics, language death is a process that affects speech communities where the level of linguistic competence that speakers possess of a given language variety is decreased, eventually resulting in no native and/or fluent speakers of the variety...

 due to the evacuation
Evacuation of East Prussia
The evacuation of East Prussia refers to the evacuation of the German civilian population and military personnel in East Prussia and the Klaipėda region between 20 January, and March 1945, as part of the evacuation of German civilians towards the end of World War II...

 and forced expulsion
Expulsion of Germans after World War II
The later stages of World War II, and the period after the end of that war, saw the forced migration of millions of German nationals and ethnic Germans from various European states and territories, mostly into the areas which would become post-war Germany and post-war Austria...

 of Germans from East Prussia after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Plautdietsch, however, has several thousands of speakers throughout the world, most notably in South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...


Simon Dach
Simon Dach
Simon Dach was a Prussian German lyrical poet and writer of hymns, born in Memel in the Duchy of Prussia.-Early life:...

's poem Anke van Tharaw, the best known East Prussian poem, was written in Low Prussian.


According to one summary of Low German dialects, words very characteristic of Low Prussian are doa ('dor', there), joa ('jo', yes), goah ('goh', go) and noa ('nober', neighbor), which feature the diphthong "oa" instead of the usual "o" or "a". The dialect is also marked by a substitution of "k" for "ch", such as in mannke ('minsch', person), and a loan of High German-like words, such as zwei ('twee', two). Words are often shortened, in a manner similar to that of the neighboring Pomeranian dialect, giving beet (beten, little bit) and baakove ('bakåben', bake oven).

Some observers argue that it resembles Dutch and Flemish because of these features . Low Prussian also has a number of words in common with Plautdietsch, such as Klemp (cow), Klopps (lump, ball of earth), and Tsoagel (tail).

Some other words are:
  • Boffke - boy, lad
  • dätsch - dumb
  • Dubs - bum
  • Gnaschel - little child
  • jankere - yearn
  • Kobbel - mare
  • Pungel - pouch
  • schabbere - talk
  • Schischke - pine-cone
  • Schucke - potato(es)


  • 1. Übergangsmundart zum Ostpommerschen, transitional dialect with East Pomeranian
    East Pomeranian
    East Pomeranian is an East Low German dialect that is or used to be spoken in Northern Poland . It is part of the Pommersch dialect group....

  • 2. Mundart des Weichselmündungsgebietes
    Mundart des Weichselmündungsgebietes
    The Mundart des Weichselmündungsgebietes is a subdialect of Low Prussian, which belongs to East Low German. The dialect was spoken in the region at the mouth of the Vistula River, around the city of Danzig , Poland....

    , around Danzig (Gdańsk)
    Gdańsk is a Polish city on the Baltic coast, at the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.The city lies on the southern edge of Gdańsk Bay , in a conurbation with the city of Gdynia, spa town of Sopot, and suburban communities, which together form a metropolitan area called the...

  • 3. Mundart der Frischen Nehrung und der Danziger Nehrung, around the Vistula Lagoon
    Vistula Lagoon
    The Vistula Lagoon is a fresh water lagoon on the Baltic Sea separated from Gdańsk Bay by the Vistula Spit. It is sometimes known as the Vistula Bay or Vistula Gulf. The modern German name, Frisches Haff, is derived from an earlier form, Friesisches Haff. Both this term and the earlier Polish...

  • 4. Mundart der Elbinger Höhe, around Elbing (Elbląg)
    Elbląg is a city in northern Poland with 127,892 inhabitants . It is the capital of Elbląg County and has been assigned to the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship since 1999. Before then it was the capital of Elbląg Voivodeship and a county seat in Gdańsk Voivodeship...

  • 5. Mundart des Kürzungsgebietes
    Mundart des Kürzungsgebietes
    The Mundart des Kürzungsgebietes is a subdialect of Low Prussian. The Mundart des Kürzungsgebietes was spoken in the area around Braunsberg ....

    , around Braunsberg (Braniewo)
    Braniewo is a town in northeastern Poland, in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, with a population of 18,068 . It is the capital of Braniewo County...

  • 6. Westkäslausch, around Mehlsack (Pieniężno)
    Pieniężno is a town on the Wałsza River in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship of Poland. It is located in Braniewo County and had a population of 2,975 in 2004.- History :...

  • 7. Ostkäslausch, around Rößel (Reszel)
    Reszel is a town in Poland in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship. The population is about 5,700.Reszel was originally a settlement built by the Bartian tribe of Old Prussians and conquered by the Teutonic Knights in 1241. The native Prussians later recaptured the settlement and held it for five...

  • 8. Natangisch-Bartisch, around Bartenstein (Bartoszyce)
    Bartoszyce is a town on the Łyna River in northeastern Poland with 25,621 inhabitants . It is the capital of Bartoszyce County within the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship.-History:...

  • 9. Westsamländische Mundart, around Pillau (Baltiysk)
    Baltiysk , prior to 1945 known by its German name Pillau , is a seaport town and the administrative center of Baltiysky District of Kaliningrad Oblast, located on the northern part of the Vistula Spit, on the shore of the Strait of Baltiysk separating the Vistula Bay from the Gdańsk Bay. Baltiysk...

  • 10. Ostsamländische Mundart, around Königsberg
    Königsberg was the capital of East Prussia from the Late Middle Ages until 1945 as well as the northernmost and easternmost German city with 286,666 inhabitants . Due to the multicultural society in and around the city, there are several local names for it...

    Kaliningrad is a seaport and the administrative center of Kaliningrad Oblast, the Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea...

    ), Labiau (Polessk)
    Polessk , prior to 1945 known by its German name Labiau is a town and the administrative center of Polessky District of Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia. Population: 4,744 ....

     and Znamensk (Wehlau)
    Znamensk, Kaliningrad Oblast
    Znamensk is a settlement in Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia. It is located on the right bank of the Pregolya River at its confluence with the Lava River some 50 km east of Kaliningrad...

  • 11. Mundart des Ostgebietes
    Mundart des Ostgebietes
    The Mundart des Ostgebiets is a subdialect of Low Prussian, a dialect of Low German. It was spoken around Insterburg , the Memel , and Tilsit . Many speakers of this subdialect were Prussian Lithuanians....

    , around Insterburg (Chernyakhovsk)
    Chernyakhovsk is a town and the administrative center of Chernyakhovsky District of Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia, located at the confluence of the Instruch and the Angrapa Rivers, forming the Pregolya...

    , Memel (Klaipėda)
    Klaipėda is a city in Lithuania situated at the mouth of the Nemunas River where it flows into the Baltic Sea. It is the third largest city in Lithuania and the capital of Klaipėda County....

     and Sovetsk (Tilsit)
    Sovetsk, Kaliningrad Oblast
    Sovetsk , known by its historical German name of Tilsit in East Prussia before 1946, is a town in Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia, located on the south bank of the Neman River. Population: -History of Tilsit:...

Low and Old Prussian

After the assimilation
Cultural assimilation
Cultural assimilation is a socio-political response to demographic multi-ethnicity that supports or promotes the assimilation of ethnic minorities into the dominant culture. The term assimilation is often used with regard to immigrants and various ethnic groups who have settled in a new land. New...

 of the Old Prussians
Old Prussians
The Old Prussians or Baltic Prussians were an ethnic group, autochthonous Baltic tribes that inhabited Prussia, the lands of the southeastern Baltic Sea in the area around the Vistula and Curonian Lagoons...

, many Old Prussian words were preserved within the Low Prussian dialect.
Low Prussian Old Prussian Latvian Lithuanian Standard German English
Flins plīnksni plācenis blynas Pfannkuchen pancake, scone, biscuit
Kaddig kaddegs kadiķis kadagys Wacholder juniper
Kurp kurpi kurpe kurpė Schuh shoe
Kujel kūilis cūka, mežacūka, kuilis kuilys, šernas Wildschwein boar
Margell, Marjell mērgā meitene, meiča merga, mergelė, mergaitė Magd, Mädchen, Mädel maiden, girl
Paparz papartis paparde papartis Farn fern
Pawirpen (from pawīrps) algādzis, strādnieks padienis Losmann freelancer
Zuris sūris siers sūris Käse cheese

Low Prussian and Lithuanian

In addition to the words of Old Prussian origin, another source of Balticisms was Lithuanian. After the migration of Lithuanians in the 15th century, many Lithuanian loanwoards appeared in the Low Prussian dialect.
Low Prussian Lithuanian Standard German English
Alus alus Bier beer
Burteninker burtininkas Wahrsager, Zauberer, Besprecher magician
kalbeken kalbėti sprechen to talk
Kausche, Kauszel kaušas Schöpfkelle, Trinknapf dipper
Krepsch, Krepsche, Krepsze krepšys, krepšas Sack, Handsack, Ranzen basket
Lorbas liurbis Tölpel, Tolpatsch, Waschlappen loser, fumbler 
Packrant krantas, pakrantė, pakraštys Rand, Küste edge, coast
Pirschlis piršlys Brautwerber
Wabel, Wabbel vabalas Käfer bug

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.