Luxembourgish language
Overview
 
Luxembourgish is a High German language
High German languages
The High German languages or the High German dialects are any of the varieties of standard German, Luxembourgish and Yiddish, as well as the local German dialects spoken in central and southern Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Luxembourg and in neighboring portions of Belgium and the...

 spoken mainly in Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

. About 320,000 people worldwide speak Luxembourgish.
Luxembourgish belongs to the West Central German
West Central German
West Central German belongs to the Central, High German dialect family in the German language. Its dialects are thoroughly Franconian including the following sub-families:* Central Franconian...

 group of High German languages
High German languages
The High German languages or the High German dialects are any of the varieties of standard German, Luxembourgish and Yiddish, as well as the local German dialects spoken in central and southern Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Luxembourg and in neighboring portions of Belgium and the...

 and is the primary example of a Moselle Franconian
Moselle Franconian
Moselle Franconian is a group of West Central German dialects, part of the Central Franconian language area.It is spoken in the southern Rhineland and along the course of the Moselle River, from the Siegerland in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia throughout western Rhineland-Palatinate and...

 language.
Luxembourgish is the national language
National language
A national language is a language which has some connection—de facto or de jure—with a people and perhaps by extension the territory they occupy. The term is used variously. A national language may for instance represent the national identity of a nation or country...

 of Luxembourg and one of three administrative languages (along with French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 and Standard German
Standard German
Standard German is the standard variety of the German language used as a written language, in formal contexts, and for communication between different dialect areas...

).

Luxembourgish is also spoken in the Arelerland
Arelerland
The Land of Arlon is the traditionally Luxembourgish-speaking part of Belgian Lorraine, but now predominantly French-speaking. Arlon is the main city of this region....

 of Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, in the (Province of Luxembourg
Luxembourg (Belgium)
Luxembourg is the southernmost province of Wallonia and of Belgium. It borders on the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, France, and the Belgian provinces of Namur and Liège. Its capital is Arlon, in the south-east of the province.It has an area of 4,443 km², making it the largest Belgian province...

), France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 (in small parts of Lorraine
Lorraine (région)
Lorraine is one of the 27 régions of France. The administrative region has two cities of equal importance, Metz and Nancy. Metz is considered to be the official capital since that is where the regional parliament is situated...

).

In the German
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...

 Eifel
Eifel
The Eifel is a low mountain range in western Germany and eastern Belgium. It occupies parts of southwestern North Rhine-Westphalia, northwestern Rhineland-Palatinate and the south of the German-speaking Community of Belgium....

 and Hunsrück regions and in Lorraine similar local Moselle Franconian
Moselle Franconian
Moselle Franconian is a group of West Central German dialects, part of the Central Franconian language area.It is spoken in the southern Rhineland and along the course of the Moselle River, from the Siegerland in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia throughout western Rhineland-Palatinate and...

 dialects of German are spoken.
Furthermore, the language is spoken by a few descendants of Luxembourg immigrants in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, and another similar Moselle Franconian dialect is spoken by ethnic Germans long settled in Transylvania
Transylvania
Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountains; however, the term sometimes encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also the historical...

, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 (Siebenbürgen).

Moselle Franconian dialects outside the Luxembourg state border tend to have far fewer French loan words, and these mostly remain from the French occupation under Napoléon Bonaparte.
There are several distinct dialect forms of Luxembourgish including Areler (from Arlon), Eechternoacher (Echternach
Echternach
Echternach is a commune with city status in the canton of Echternach, which is part of the district of Grevenmacher, in eastern Luxembourg. Echternach lies near the border with Germany, and is the oldest town in Luxembourg....

), Kliärrwer (Clervaux
Clervaux
Clervaux is a commune and town in northern Luxembourg, administrative capital of the canton of Clervaux.-History:The city was the site of heavy fighting during World War II, in the December 1944 .-Population:...

), Miseler (Moselle), Stater (Luxembourg
Luxembourg (city)
The city of Luxembourg , also known as Luxembourg City , is a commune with city status, and the capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. It is located at the confluence of the Alzette and Pétrusse Rivers in southern Luxembourg...

), Veiner (Vianden
Vianden
Vianden is a commune with city status in the Oesling, north-eastern Luxembourg, with over 1,500 inhabitants. It is the capital of the canton of Vianden, which is part of the district of Diekirch. Vianden lies on the Our river, near the border between Luxembourg and Germany., the town of Vianden,...

), Minetter (Southern Luxembourg) and Weelzer (Wiltz
Wiltz
Wiltz is a commune with city status in north-western Luxembourg, capital of the canton Wiltz. Wiltz is situated on the banks of the river Wiltz. It was also a battleground in the Battle of the Bulge, near the end of World War II...

).
Encyclopedia
Luxembourgish is a High German language
High German languages
The High German languages or the High German dialects are any of the varieties of standard German, Luxembourgish and Yiddish, as well as the local German dialects spoken in central and southern Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Luxembourg and in neighboring portions of Belgium and the...

 spoken mainly in Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

. About 320,000 people worldwide speak Luxembourgish.

Language family

Luxembourgish belongs to the West Central German
West Central German
West Central German belongs to the Central, High German dialect family in the German language. Its dialects are thoroughly Franconian including the following sub-families:* Central Franconian...

 group of High German languages
High German languages
The High German languages or the High German dialects are any of the varieties of standard German, Luxembourgish and Yiddish, as well as the local German dialects spoken in central and southern Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Luxembourg and in neighboring portions of Belgium and the...

 and is the primary example of a Moselle Franconian
Moselle Franconian
Moselle Franconian is a group of West Central German dialects, part of the Central Franconian language area.It is spoken in the southern Rhineland and along the course of the Moselle River, from the Siegerland in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia throughout western Rhineland-Palatinate and...

 language.

Usage

Luxembourgish is the national language
National language
A national language is a language which has some connection—de facto or de jure—with a people and perhaps by extension the territory they occupy. The term is used variously. A national language may for instance represent the national identity of a nation or country...

 of Luxembourg and one of three administrative languages (along with French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 and Standard German
Standard German
Standard German is the standard variety of the German language used as a written language, in formal contexts, and for communication between different dialect areas...

).

Luxembourgish is also spoken in the Arelerland
Arelerland
The Land of Arlon is the traditionally Luxembourgish-speaking part of Belgian Lorraine, but now predominantly French-speaking. Arlon is the main city of this region....

 of Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, in the (Province of Luxembourg
Luxembourg (Belgium)
Luxembourg is the southernmost province of Wallonia and of Belgium. It borders on the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, France, and the Belgian provinces of Namur and Liège. Its capital is Arlon, in the south-east of the province.It has an area of 4,443 km², making it the largest Belgian province...

), France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 (in small parts of Lorraine
Lorraine (région)
Lorraine is one of the 27 régions of France. The administrative region has two cities of equal importance, Metz and Nancy. Metz is considered to be the official capital since that is where the regional parliament is situated...

).

In the German
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...

 Eifel
Eifel
The Eifel is a low mountain range in western Germany and eastern Belgium. It occupies parts of southwestern North Rhine-Westphalia, northwestern Rhineland-Palatinate and the south of the German-speaking Community of Belgium....

 and Hunsrück regions and in Lorraine similar local Moselle Franconian
Moselle Franconian
Moselle Franconian is a group of West Central German dialects, part of the Central Franconian language area.It is spoken in the southern Rhineland and along the course of the Moselle River, from the Siegerland in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia throughout western Rhineland-Palatinate and...

 dialects of German are spoken.
Furthermore, the language is spoken by a few descendants of Luxembourg immigrants in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, and another similar Moselle Franconian dialect is spoken by ethnic Germans long settled in Transylvania
Transylvania
Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountains; however, the term sometimes encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also the historical...

, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 (Siebenbürgen).

Moselle Franconian dialects outside the Luxembourg state border tend to have far fewer French loan words, and these mostly remain from the French occupation under Napoléon Bonaparte.

Varieties

There are several distinct dialect forms of Luxembourgish including Areler (from Arlon), Eechternoacher (Echternach
Echternach
Echternach is a commune with city status in the canton of Echternach, which is part of the district of Grevenmacher, in eastern Luxembourg. Echternach lies near the border with Germany, and is the oldest town in Luxembourg....

), Kliärrwer (Clervaux
Clervaux
Clervaux is a commune and town in northern Luxembourg, administrative capital of the canton of Clervaux.-History:The city was the site of heavy fighting during World War II, in the December 1944 .-Population:...

), Miseler (Moselle), Stater (Luxembourg
Luxembourg (city)
The city of Luxembourg , also known as Luxembourg City , is a commune with city status, and the capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. It is located at the confluence of the Alzette and Pétrusse Rivers in southern Luxembourg...

), Veiner (Vianden
Vianden
Vianden is a commune with city status in the Oesling, north-eastern Luxembourg, with over 1,500 inhabitants. It is the capital of the canton of Vianden, which is part of the district of Diekirch. Vianden lies on the Our river, near the border between Luxembourg and Germany., the town of Vianden,...

), Minetter (Southern Luxembourg) and Weelzer (Wiltz
Wiltz
Wiltz is a commune with city status in north-western Luxembourg, capital of the canton Wiltz. Wiltz is situated on the banks of the river Wiltz. It was also a battleground in the Battle of the Bulge, near the end of World War II...

). Further small vocabulary differences may be seen even between small villages.

Increasing mobility of the population and the dissemination of the language through mass media such as radio and television are leading to a gradual standardisation towards a "Standard Luxembourgish" through the process of koineization
Koine language
In linguistics, a koiné language is a standard language or dialect that has arisen as a result of contact between two mutually intelligible varieties of the same language. Since the speakers have understood one another from before the advent of the koiné, the koineization process is not as rapid...

.

Surrounding languages

There is no distinct geographic boundary between the use of Luxembourgish and the use of other closely related High German dialects (for example Lorraine Franconian
Lorraine Franconian
Lorraine Franconian is a designation, in practice ambiguous, for dialects of West Central German , a group of High German dialects spoken in the Moselle département in the north-eastern French region of Lorraine.The term Lorraine Franconian has multiple denotations...

); it instead forms a dialect continuum
Dialect continuum
A dialect continuum, or dialect area, was defined by Leonard Bloomfield as a range of dialects spoken across some geographical area that differ only slightly between neighboring areas, but as one travels in any direction, these differences accumulate such that speakers from opposite ends of the...

 of gradual change.

Spoken Luxembourgish is relatively hard to understand for speakers of German who are generally not familiar with Moselle Franconian dialects, though they can usually read the language. For those Germans familiar with Moselle Franconian dialects, it is relatively easy to understand Luxembourgish, but more difficult to speak it properly because of the French influence. Even literary German, as it is written in Luxembourg, tends to include many French words and phrases.

There is limited intelligibility between Luxembourgish and French or any of the Romance dialects spoken in the adjacent parts of Belgium and France.

Erna Hennicot-Schoepges
Erna Hennicot-Schoepges
Erna Hennicot-Schoepges is a Luxembourgian politician for the Christian Social People's Party. She was until 2009 a Member of the European Parliament, sitting as a CSV member of the European People's Party....

, President of the Christian Social People's Party
Christian Social People's Party
The Christian Social People's Party , abbreviated to CSV or PCS, is the largest political party in Luxembourg. The party follows a Christian Democratic and conservative ideology and, like most parties in Luxembourg, it is strongly pro-European...

 of Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

 1995-2003, was active in promoting the language beyond Luxembourg's borders.

Standardisation

A number of proposals for standardising the orthography
Orthography
The orthography of a language specifies a standardized way of using a specific writing system to write the language. Where more than one writing system is used for a language, for example Kurdish, Uyghur, Serbian or Inuktitut, there can be more than one orthography...

 of Luxembourgish can be documented, going back to the middle of the 19th century. There was no officially recognised system, however, until the adoption of the "OLO" (ofizjel lezebuurjer ortografi) on 5 June 1946. This orthography provided a system for speakers of all varieties of Luxembourgish to transcribe words the way they pronounced them, rather than imposing a single, standard spelling for the words of the language. The rules explicitly rejected certain elements of German orthography (e.g., the use of "ä
Ä
"Ä" and "ä" are both characters that represent either a letter from several extended Latin alphabets, or the letter A with an umlaut mark or diaeresis.- Independent letter :...

" and "ö
Ö
"Ö", or "ö", is a character used in several extended Latin alphabets, or the letter O with umlaut to denote the front vowels or . In languages without umlaut, the character is also used as a "O with diaeresis" to denote a syllable break, wherein its pronunciation remains an unmodified .- O-Umlaut...

", the capitalisation of nouns). Similarly, new principles were adopted for the spelling of French loanwords.
  • fiireje, rééjelen, shwèzt, veinejer (cf. German vorigen, Regeln, schwätzt, weniger)
  • bültê, âprê, Shaarel, ssistém (cf. French bulletin, emprunt, Charles, système)

This proposed orthography, so different from existing "foreign" standards that people were already familiar with, did not enjoy widespread approval.

A more successful standard eventually emerged from the work of the committee of specialists charged with the task of creating the Luxemburger Wörterbuch, published in 5 volumes between 1950 and 1977. The orthographic conventions adopted in this decades-long project, set out in Bruch (1955), provided the basis of the standard orthography that became official on 10 October 1975. Modifications to this standard were proposed by the Conseil permanent de la langue luxembourgeoise and adopted officially in the spelling reform of 30 July 1999. A detailed explanation of current practice for Luxembourgish can be found in Schanen & Lulling (2003).

Alphabet

The Luxembourgish alphabet consists of the 26 Latin letters
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

 plus three modified letters: "é", "ä", and "ë". In loanwords from French and High German, other diacritics are usually preserved:
  • French: Boîte, Enquête, Piqûre, etc.
  • German: blöd, Bühn (but German Bühne), etc.

Eifeler Regel

A striking phonological process in Luxembourgish causes the deletion of final [n] in certain contexts. This phenomenon was originally documented in the late 19th century for the dialect of the Eifel region, hence the name Eifeler Regel
Eifeler Regel
The Eifeler Regel is a phenomenon which was originally documented in the linguistics of the late 19th century for the dialects of the Eifel region in the far west of Germany, hence the name,...

 (Eifel Rule).

Since Luxembourgish orthography strives for phonetic accuracy, this deletion of n is also reflected in writing. Nowadays the Eifeler Regel is presented as a spelling rule, but its correct application still depends on a knowledge of spoken Luxembourgish. The rule targets words ending in -n or -nn, and since this is an extremely common ending for verbs, plural nouns, and function words (e.g. articles, pronouns, prepositions) in Luxembourgish, its effects are widespread. The basic rule can be described as follows (see Schanen & Lulling 2003):
  • Final -n(n) is deleted before another consonant.
(between words) den + Ball → de Ball ("the ball"), wann + mer ginn → wa mer ginn ("when we go")
(in compound words) Dammen + Schong → Dammeschong ("women's shoes")
  • It is not deleted, however:
  • before the consonants n, d, t, z, or h.
den Tuerm ("the tower"), wann hien drénkt ("when he drinks")
Gromperenzalot ("potato salad"), fënnefandrësseg ("35")
  • before a vowel
den Apel ("the apple"), wann ech ginn ("when I go")
Ouerenentzündung ("ear infection")
  • at the end of a sentence or before a punctuation mark
Ech hunn (wéi gëschter) vill geschafft. ("I have (like yesterday) done a lot of work.")
  • Deletion is optional before the following function words beginning in s: säin, si/se/s, sech, seng, sou (and perhaps others).


It is important to know that many words ending in -n or -nn are
not affected by the Eifeler Regel:
  • proper nouns: Schuman, Johann, München
  • loanwords: Roman, Maschin(n), nouns ending in -ioun
  • the prefix on-: onvergiesslech ("unforgettable")
  • many nouns and adjectives (for historical reasons): Mann (man), dënn (thin), Kroun (crown), Loun (salary), blann (blind), Reen (rain), …

In fact, n as a stem consonant (as opposed to part of a grammatical ending) is generally stable in content words, with notable exceptions such as Wäi(n) (wine), Stee(n) (stone), geschwë(nn) (soon).

When final -n is dropped from a plural noun whose singular form also ends in -e, a diaeresis must be used to distinguish the plural:
  • Chance (singular), Chancen (plural, full form), Chancë (plural + Eifel Rule)

Vowels




Spelling IPA Example
a a Kapp
Kap
aa waarm
ä ɛ Käpp
e Decken
ə liesen
ë hëllefen
é e drécken
ee Been
i i Gitt
siwen
ii Kiischt
o ɔ Sonn
droleg
ɔː So
oo Sprooch
u u Hutt
Tut
uu Luucht



Spelling IPA Example
ai ai Gebai
ei deier
éi ei Schnéi
au au Mauer
ɛːu Maul
äi ɛːi räich
oi ɔi Moien
ou ou Kou



Spelling IPA Example
ae aːə Aen
ie iːə liesen
oe oːə Joer
ue uːə Buedem
äe ɛːə Päerd



Pronunciation for English-Speaking Learners by Alphabetical Reference

Letter(s) and context IPA and English language references
A father (long)
Ä ε = get (or longer)
ÄE/ÄER/ÄR εə = bear (with an unpronounced R)
AI aɪ = eye
ÄI ε:ɪ = pay (with a long A)
AU aʊ = cow
B (at beginning/middle of syllable) b = ball
B (at the end of a syllable) p = pay
C (not before E/I/Y) k = key
C (before E/I/Y) s = set
CH (before E/I) ç = (voiceless variant of j, similar to ship)
CH (after A/AU/O/U) x = (Scottish loch, Spanish hijo)
CH (at the beginning of a word, but not before E/I) k = key
CHS ks = fax
CK k = key
D (at beginning/middle of syllable) d = day
D (at the end of a syllable) t = tea
E ε = get (short) / ə = action (unstressed) / e = French été (long)
É/Ê ε = get (short)
EEË eə = (German Ehe)
ËEE əe = (German geebnet)
EI aɪ = eye
ÉI εɪ = pay
ER (at end of a word with more than 1 syllable) gangsta
F f = fair
G (in general) g = go
G (sometimes when preceding E or I) ʒ = vision
G (at end of word) ç/x =
G (when preceding EG/EN/ER/ESCH) j = yes
G (at the end of a syllable) k = key
H (not behind a vowel) h = house
H (behind a vowel) (silent)
I ɪ = hit (short) / i = meet (long)
IE/IER/IR iə = beer (with an unpronounced R)
IG (at end of word, but not in compounds) iç = (like Luxembourgish -ich)
IGT (at end of word) içt = (like Luxembourgish -icht)
J j/ʒ = yes / vision
K k = key
L l = love
M m = moon
N n = no
NG ŋ = sing
NK ŋk = bank
O ɔ = hot (short), law (long)
Ö ø = French euro (long, in German loan words)
OI ɔɪ = boy
OU oʊ = low
P p = pay
PH f = photo
QU kw = quick (Q never occurs alone)
R (in general) ʀ = rain (BUT—actually a uvular trill or voiced fricative)
R (behind a vowel and preceding a consonant) gangsta 
RH/RRH ʀ =
S (not at end of syllable) z = zoo
S (at the end of a syllable) s = see
SCH ʃ = ship
SP (at beginning of word) ʃp = fish-pond
ST (at beginning of word) ʃt = fish-tank
T t = tea
TH t = tea
TI (in words of Latin origin if the I is unstressed and it comes before a vowel) ʦj = suits-you
TZ ʦ = nuts
U ʊ = put (short) / u = fool (long) / y = French pure (long)
UE/UER/UR uə = sure (with an unpronounced R)
V (in general) f = fair
V (in foreign words) v = vet
W v = vet
X ks = fax
Y (in general) rounded variant of hit (short) / y = French pure (long)
Y (sometimes before a vowel) j = yes
Z ʦ = nuts


This pronunciation guide was derived largely from the pronunciation chart presented at the "Unilang"-Wiki site on Luxembourgish pronunciation, available at http://www.unilang.org/wiki/index.php/Luxembourgish_pronunciation

Nominal syntax

Luxembourgish has three genders
Grammatical gender
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

 (masculine, feminine, and neuter), and has three cases
Grammatical case
In grammar, the case of a noun or pronoun is an inflectional form that indicates its grammatical function in a phrase, clause, or sentence. For example, a pronoun may play the role of subject , of direct object , or of possessor...

 (nominative, accusative, and dative). These are marked morphologically on determiners and pronoun
Pronoun
In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun is a pro-form that substitutes for a noun , such as, in English, the words it and he...

s. As in German, there is no morphological gender distinction in the plural.
The forms of the articles and of some selected determiners are given below:


nominative/accusative
singular plural
masculine feminine neuter
definite den d' d' d'
def. emphatic deen déi dat déi
demonstrative dësen dës dëst dës
indefinite en eng en
negative keen keng keen keng
"his" säin seng säin seng
"her/their" hiren hir hiert hir

dative
singular plural
masculine feminine neuter
definite dem der dem den
def. emphatic deem där deem deenen
demonstrative dësem dëser dësem dësen
indefinite engem enger engem
negative kengem kenger kengem kengen
"his" sengem senger sengem sengen
"her/their" hirem hirer hirem hiren



Distinct nominative forms survive in a few nominal phrases such as der Däiwel ("the devil") and eiser Herrgott ("our Lord"). Rare examples of the genitive are also found: Enn des Mounts ("end of the month"), Ufanks der Woch ("at the beginning of the week"). The functions of the genitive are normally expressed using a combination of the dative and a possessive determiner: e.g. dem Mann säi Buch (lit. "to the man his book", i.e. "the man's book"). This is known as a periphrastic genitive, and is a phenomenon also commonly seen in dialectal and colloquial German, and in Dutch.

The forms of the personal pronouns are given in the following table (unstressed forms appear in parentheses):
nominative accusative dative
1sg ech mech mir (mer)
2sg du (de) dech dir (der)
3sgm hien (en) hien (en) him (em)
3sgf si (se) si (se) hir (er)
3sgn hatt (et) hatt (et) him (em)
1pl mir (mer) äis/eis äis/eis
2pl dir (der) iech iech
3pl si (se) si (se) hinnen (en)

The 2pl form is also used as a polite singular (like French vous, see T-V distinction
T-V distinction
In sociolinguistics, a T–V distinction is a contrast, within one language, between second-person pronouns that are specialized for varying levels of politeness, social distance, courtesy, familiarity, or insult toward the addressee....

); the forms are capitalised in writing. Women and girls can be referred to with forms of the neuter pronoun hatt:
Dat ass d'Nathalie. Hatt ass midd, well et vill a hirem Gaart geschafft huet. ("That's Nathalie. She is tired because she has worked a lot in her garden.")

Adjectives

Luxembourgish morphology distinguishes two types of adjective: attributive
Attributive
In grammar, an attributive is a word or phrase within a noun phrase that modifies the head noun. It may be an:* attributive adjective* attributive noun* attributive verbor other part of speech....

 and predicative
Predicative
Predicative may mean:* Predicative * Predicative * Lacking impredicativity...

. Predicative adjectives
Predicative (adjectival or nominal)
In grammar, a predicative is an element of the predicate of a sentence that supplements the subject or object by means of the verb. A predicative may be nominal or adjectival . If the complement after a linking verb is a noun or a pronoun, it is called a predicate nominative...

 appear with verbs like sinn ("to be"), and receive no extra ending:
  • De Mann ass grouss. (masculine, "The man is tall.")
  • D'Fra ass grouss. (feminine, "The woman is tall.")
  • D'Meedchen ass grouss. (neuter, "The girl is tall.")
  • D'Kanner si grouss. (plural, "The children are tall.")


Attributive adjectives are placed before the noun they describe, and change their ending according to the grammatical gender, number, and case:
  • de grousse Mann (masculine)
  • déi grouss Fra (feminine)
  • dat grousst Meedchen (neuter)
  • déi grouss Kanner (plural)


Interesting to note is how the definite article changes with the use of an attributive adjective: feminine d goes to déi (or di), neuter d' goes to dat, and plural d' changes to déi.

The comparative
Comparative
In grammar, the comparative is the form of an adjective or adverb which denotes the degree or grade by which a person, thing, or other entity has a property or quality greater or less in extent than that of another, and is used in this context with a subordinating conjunction, such as than,...

 in Luxembourgish is formed analytically, i.e. the adjective itself is not altered (compare the use of -er in German and English; tall → taller, klein → kleiner). Instead it is formed using the adverb méi: e.g. schéin → méi schéin
  • Lëtzebuerg ass méi schéi wéi Esch. ("Luxembourg is prettier than Esch.")


The superlative
Superlative
In grammar, the superlative is the form of an adjective that indicates that the person or thing modified has the quality of the adjective to a degree greater than that of anything it is being compared to in a given context. English superlatives are typically formed with the suffix -est In...

 involves a synthetic form consisting of the adjective and the suffix -st: e.g. schéin → schéinst (compare German schönst, English prettiest). Attributive modification requires the emphatic definite article and the inflected superlative adjective:
  • dee schéinste Mann ("the most handsome man")
  • déi schéinst Fra ("the prettiest woman")


Predicative modification uses either the same adjectival structure or the adverbial structure am+ -sten: e.g. schéin → am schéinsten:
  • Lëtzebuerg ass dee schéinsten / deen allerschéinsten / am schéinsten. ("Luxembourg is the most beautiful (of all).")


Some common adjectives have exceptional comparative and superlative forms:
  • gutt, besser, am beschten ("good, better, best")
  • vill, méi, am meeschten ("much, more, most")
  • wéineg, manner, am mannsten ("few, fewer, fewest")

Word-order

Luxembourgish exhibits "verb second" word order in clauses. More specifically, Luxembourgish is a V2-SOV language
V2 word order
In syntax, verb-second word order is the rule in some languages that the second constituent of declarative main clauses is always a verb, while this is not necessarily the case in other types of clauses.- V2 effect :...

, like German and Dutch. In other words, we find the following finite clausal structures:
  • the finite verb in second position in declarative clauses and wh-questions
Ech kafen en Hutt. Muer kafen ech en Hutt. (lit. "I buy a hat. Tomorrow buy I a hat.)
Wat kafen ech haut? (lit. "What buy I today?")
  • the finite verb in first position in yes/no questions and finite imperatives
Bass de midd? ("Are you tired?")
Gëff mer deng Hand! ("Give me your hand!")
  • the finite verb in final position in subordinate clauses
Du weess, datt ech midd sinn. (lit. "You know, that I tired am.")


Non-finite verbs (infinitives and participles) generally appear in final position:
  • compound past tenses
Ech hunn en Hutt kaaft. (lit. "I have a hat bought.")
  • infinitival complements
Du solls net esou vill Kaffi drénken. (lit. "You should not so much coffee drink.")
  • infinitival clauses (e.g., used as imperatives)
Nëmme Lëtzebuergesch schwätzen! (lit. "Only Luxembourgish speak!")


These rules interact so that in subordinate clauses, the finite verb and any non-finite verbs must all cluster at the end. Luxembourgish allows different word orders in these cases:
Hie freet, ob ech komme kann. (cf. German Er fragt, ob ich kommen kann.)
Hie freet, ob ech ka kommen. (cf. Dutch Hij vraagt of ik kan komen.)

This is also the case when two non-finite verb forms occur together:
Ech hunn net kënne kommen. (cf. Dutch Ik heb niet kunnen komen.)
Ech hunn net komme kënnen. (cf. German Ich habe nicht kommen können.)


Luxembourgish (like Dutch but unlike German) allows prepositional phrases to appear after the verb cluster in subordinate clauses:
alles, wat Der ëmmer wollt wëssen iwwer Lëtzebuerg
(lit. "everything what you always wanted know about Luxembourg")

Vocabulary

Luxembourgish has borrowed many French words. For example, the name for a bus driver is Buschauffeur (also 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...

), which would be Busfahrer in German and Chauffeur de bus in French.

Some words are different from High German but have equivalents in German dialects. An example is gromperen (potatoes - German: Kartoffeln). Other words are exclusive to Luxembourgish.

Selected common phrases

Note: Words spoken in sound clip do not reflect all words on this list.
  • Jo. Yes.
  • Neen. No.
  • Vläicht. Maybe.
  • Moien. Hello.
  • Gudde Moien. Good Morning.
  • Gudde Mëtteg. Good Afternoon.
  • Gudden Owend. Good Evening.
  • Äddi. Goodbye.
  • Merci. Thank you.
  • Firwat? Why
  • Ech weess net. I don't know.
  • Ech verstinn net. I don't understand.
  • Watgelift? or Entschëllegt? Excuse me?
  • Metzleschjong. Butcher's son.
  • Schwätzt dir Däitsch/Franséisch/Englesch? Do you speak German/French/English?
  • Wéi heeschs du? What is your name?
  • Wéi geet et? How are you?
  • Politeschen Anstand. Political Decency
  • Sou. So.
  • Fräi. Free.
  • Heem. Home.
  • Ech. I.
  • An. and/in.
  • Mäin. my.
  • Iesel. donkey.
  • Mat. With.
  • Kand. Kid/Child.
  • Wee. Way.
  • Gromper. Potato.
  • Brout. Bread.

Neologisms

Neologisms in Luxembourgish include both entirely new words, and the attachment of new meanings to old words in everyday speech. The most recent neologisms come from the English language in the fields of telecommunication
Telecommunication
Telecommunication is the transmission of information over significant distances to communicate. In earlier times, telecommunications involved the use of visual signals, such as beacons, smoke signals, semaphore telegraphs, signal flags, and optical heliographs, or audio messages via coded...

s, computer science
Computer science
Computer science or computing science is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and of practical techniques for their implementation and application in computer systems...

, and the Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

.

Recent neologisms in Luxembourgish include:
  • direct loans from English: Browser, Spam, CD, Fitness, Come-back, Terminal, hip, cool, tip-top
  • also found in German: Sichmaschinn (search engine, German: Suchmaschine), schwaarzt Lach (black hole, German: Schwarzes Loch), Handy (mobile phone), Websäit (webpage, German: Webseite)
  • native Luxembourgish
    • déck as an emphatic like ganz and vill, e.g. Dëse Kuch ass déck gutt! ("This cake is really good!")
    • recent expressions, used mainly by teenagers: oh mëllen! ("oh crazy"), "en décke gelénkt" ("you've been tricked") or "cassé" (French for "(you've been) owned")

Academic projects

Between 2000 and 2002, the Luxembourgish linguist, Jérôme Lulling
Jerome Lulling
Jérôme Lulling is a linguist from Luxembourg who has been a leading figure in preservation and educational efforts relating to the Luxembourgish language, a Germanic language that became one of Luxembourg’s three official languages in 1984 and spoken by 300,000 persons.Lulling’s initial...

, compiled a lexical database of 125,000 word forms as the basis for the very first Luxembourgish spellchecker (Projet C.ORT.IN.A).

The LaF (Lëtzebuergesch als Friemsprooch – Luxembourgish as a Foreign Language) is a set of four language proficiency certifications for Luxembourgish and follows the ALTE
Alte
In James A. Michener's novel The Drifters, Alte serves as the main setting of the chapter Algarve, being recommended to the protagonists by a customs officer who wants them "to know Portugal at its best."-External links:***...

 framework of language examination standards. The tests are administered by the Centre de Langues Luxembourg, which is a member of the ALTE.

The "Centre for Luxembourg Studies" at the University of Sheffield
University of Sheffield
The University of Sheffield is a research university based in the city of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, England. It is one of the original 'red brick' universities and is a member of the Russell Group of leading research intensive universities...

 was founded in 1995 on the initiative of Professor Gerald Newton. It is supported by the government of Luxembourg which funds an endowed chair in Luxembourg Studies at the university.

See also

  • Multilingualism in Luxembourg
    Multilingualism in Luxembourg
    Multilingualism is a part of everyday life for the population of Luxembourg.The use of languages for legal and administrative purposes is regulated by a law promulgated in 1984, including the following provisions:...

  • Literature of Luxembourg
  • Swadesh List of Luxembourgish Words
  • Erna Hennicot-Schoepges
    Erna Hennicot-Schoepges
    Erna Hennicot-Schoepges is a Luxembourgian politician for the Christian Social People's Party. She was until 2009 a Member of the European Parliament, sitting as a CSV member of the European People's Party....


In English

  • NEWTON, Gerald (ed.), Luxembourg and Lëtzebuergesch: Language and Communication at the Crossroads of Europe, Oxford, 1996, ISBN 0-19-824016-3.

In French

  • BRAUN, Josy, et al. (en coll. avec Projet Moien), Grammaire de la langue luxembourgeoise. Luxembourg, Ministère de l'Éducation nationale et de la Formation professionnelle 2005. ISBN 2-495-00025-8.
  • SCHANEN, François, Parlons Luxembourgeois, Langue et culture linguistique d'un petit pays au coeur de l'Europe. Paris, L'Harmattan 2004, ISBN 2-7475-6289-1.
  • SCHANEN, François / ZIMMER, Jacqui, 1,2,3 Lëtzebuergesch Grammaire. Band 1: Le groupe verbal. Band 2: Le groupe nominal. Band 3: L'orthographe. Esch-sur-Alzette, éditions Schortgen, 2005 et 2006.

In German

  • BRUCH, Robert, Grundlegung einer Geschichte des Luxemburgischen, Luxembourg, Publications scientifiques et littéraires du Ministère de l'Éducation nationale, 1953, vol. I; Das Luxemburgische im westfränkischen Kreis, Luxembourg, Publications scientifiques et littéraires du Ministère de l'Éducation nationale, 1954, vol. II.
  • MOULIN, Claudine and Nübling, Damaris (publisher): Perspektiven einer linguistischen Luxemburgistik. Studien zu Diachronie und Synchronie., Universitätsverlag Winter, Heidelberg, 2006. This book has been published with the support of the Fonds National de la Recherche
  • BERG, Guy, Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sin: Soziolinguistische und sprachtypologische Betrachtungen zur luxemburgischen Mehrsprachigkeit., Tübingen, 1993 (Reihe Germanistische Linguistik 140). ISBN 3-484-31140-1.
  • (phrasebook) REMUS, Joscha, Lëtzebuergesch Wort für Wort. Kauderwelsch Band 104. Bielefeld, Reise Know-How Verlag 1997. ISBN 3-89416-310-0.
  • WELSCHBILLIG Myriam, SCHANEN François, Jérôme Lulling
    Jerome Lulling
    Jérôme Lulling is a linguist from Luxembourg who has been a leading figure in preservation and educational efforts relating to the Luxembourgish language, a Germanic language that became one of Luxembourg’s three official languages in 1984 and spoken by 300,000 persons.Lulling’s initial...

    , Luxdico Deutsch: Luxemburgisch < > Deutsches Wörterbuch, Luxemburg (Éditions Schortgen) 2008, Luxdico Deutsch

External links


Spellcheckers and dictionaries

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