Low Prussian dialect

Low Prussian (German: Niederpreußisch), sometimes known simply as Prussian (Preußisch), is a dialect of East Low German that developed in East Prussia. Low Prussian was spoken in East and West Prussia and Danzig up to 1945. It developed on a Baltic substrate through the influx of Dutch and Low German speaking immigrants. It overruled Old Prussian, which then became extinct in the 17th century.

Plautdietsch, a Low German variety, is included within Low Prussian by some observers. Excluding Plautdietsch, Low Prussian can be considered moribund due to the evacuation and forced expulsion of Germans from East Prussia after World War II. Plautdietsch, however, has several thousands of speakers throughout the world, most notably in South America, Canada and Germany.

Simon Dach'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[1] 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)


Low and Old Prussian

After the assimilation of the Old Prussians, 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

See also


  1. ^ Found in Riemann, Erhard (ed.): Preußisches Wörterbuch, Vol. 1, Issue 1. Neumünster (Wachholtz) 1974.
  • Bauer, G.: Baltismen im ostpreußischen Deutsch. In: Annaberger Annalen, Nr.13, 2005, p.5-82.
  • Mitzka, Walther. Grundzüge nordostdeutscher Sprachgeschichte. (= DDG 59) Marburg (Elwert) 1959
  • Riemann, Erhard. Die preußische Sprachlandschaft. In: Festschrift für Friedrich von Zahn Bd.2   Köln/Wien 1971, 1-34
  • Riemann, Erhard (Hrsg.). Preußisches Wörterbuch. Bd. 1, Lf. 1. Neumünster (Wachholtz) 1974
  • Ziesemer, Walther. Die ostpreußischen Mundarten. Proben und Darstellungen. Breslau 2005

External links

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