Sign up ×
German Language Stack Exchange is a bilingual question and answer site for speakers of all levels who want to share and increase their knowledge of the German language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

“Plattdeutsch” is closer to Dutch language dialects than to “Hochdeutsch”.
Then why is it called “German”?

Here’s an example of “Plattdeutsch” on Youtube.

share|improve this question
Be aware that the terminology regarding this is very confusing. Hochdeutsch can refer to (1) the main variety of the current German language, (2) one of the two main historical/linguistic branches of the Germanic languages spoken in Germany (the other being Niederdeutsch). Platt can be just another word for local dialect, but can also be the same as Plattdeutsch, i.e., another word for Niederdeutsch. – Wrzlprmft Jun 8 '14 at 10:31
For a language to be closely related to dutch is hardly an argument against being called deutsch. – Carsten S Jun 8 '14 at 11:35

2 Answers 2

We are talking here on the geographic development of German dialects over time. This did not match political development of Central Europe countries.

From a linguist's view the German language is divided into Low German (Niederdeutsch, syn. Plattdüütsch) and High German (Hochdeutsch) along the Uerdingen Line, or the Benrath Line respectively:

enter image description here
Wikimedia:Uerdinen Line

We can see that Dutch is entriely included in the Low German language area. We can therefore say that Dutch is a dialect of Low German.

Interestingly the contemporary standard German ("Hochdeutsch") was not developed from Low German but from High German dialects. Today the standard German is spoken more often in the northern half of Germany, where Low German coexists as a second language in the regional dialects.

share|improve this answer
Entirely? There is that pointy thing called Limburg down there where they definitely say "ich". – Marco van de Voort May 7 at 14:43

"Dutch" is a fairly similar language to "German" (Hochdeutsch) and Plattdeutsch is somewhere between the two.

Plattdeutsch therefore is similar enough to Hochdeutsch as to be part of the same language, given that they are part of the same political entity. It is NOT like the difference between English and French in Canada.

The reason no one calls "Dutch" a "German" language is because the Netherlands and Germany are different political entities.

share|improve this answer
"Het Nederlands is een West-Germaanse taal". Furthermore it is no conicidence that the English name is Dutch (closest English language term to Deutsch). – Takkat Jun 8 '14 at 14:00
@Takkat: That's my (American) view. But it would be considered "nationalistic" by some in America. – Tom Au Jun 8 '14 at 14:01
Everybody will agree on that. Dutch people say they speak "Nederlands", German people say they speak "Niederländisch" or more often "Holländisch". It's the language roots which are so close. Dutch is much closer to Low German than e.g. Swiss German is. It is more or less coincidental that we all do not speak Low German today. – Takkat Jun 8 '14 at 14:05
Tom Au: Afaik "Dutch" in English was used to refer to the language of both NL and Germany till the 16th century. The unity by Burgundian rule (pragmatic sanction) and later the Dutch Republic made the political situation different enough to set the two apart. Political entities before the emergence of nation states were generally weak, specially in the NL and Germany with the only weakly coherent Holy Roman Empire. – Marco van de Voort Nov 4 at 15:24

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.