Old Saxon

Old Saxon
Spoken in northwest Germany, northeast Netherlands
Era developed into Middle Low German in the 12th century
Language family
Writing system Latin
Language codes
ISO 639-3 osx

Old Saxon, also known as Old Low German, is the earliest recorded form of Low German,[1] documented from the 8th century until the 12th century, when it evolved into Middle Low German. It was spoken on the north-west coast of Germany and in the Netherlands by Saxon peoples. It is close enough to Old Anglo-Frisian (Old Frisian, Old English) that it partially participates in the Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law; it is also closely related to Old Low Franconian ("Old Dutch"). It was mutually intelligible with Old English.[2]



Old Saxon does not participate in the High German consonant shift, and thus preserves stop consonants p, t, k that have been shifted in Old High German to various fricatives and affricates. The Germanic diphthongs ai, au consistently develop into long vowels ē, ō, whereas in Old High German they appear either as ei, ou or ē, ō depending on the following consonant. Old Saxon, alone of the West Germanic languages, consistently preserves Germanic -j- after a consonant, e.g. hēliand "savior" (Old High German: heilant, Old English: hǣlend, Gothic: háiljands). Germanic umlaut, when it occurs with short a, is inconsistent, e.g. hebbean or habbian "to have" (Old English: hebban). This feature was carried over into the descendant-language of Old Saxon, Middle Low German, where e.g. the adjective krank (sick/ill) had the comparative forms krenker and kranker. Apart from the E, however, the Umlaut is not marked in scripture.


Only a few texts survive, predominantly in baptismal vows the Saxons were required to perform at the behest of Charlemagne. The only literary text preserved is Heliand.

  • Heliand
  • Genesis fragment[3]
  • Trierer Blutsegen
  • Wurmsegen
  • Spurihalz
  • Old Saxon baptismal vow
  • Psalms commentary
  • Penitentiary
  • Beda homily
  • Credo
  • Essener Heberegister


  1. ^ Old Saxon language at Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. ^ Fortson, Benjamin W. (2004). Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 315. ISBN 1405103167. http://books.google.de/books?id=5hOtPBF6XWwC&pg=PA315&dq=%22old+english%22+%22old+saxon%22+mutually+intelligible&cd=4#v=onepage&q=%22old%20english%22%20%22old%20saxon%22%20mutually%20intelligible&f=false. 
  3. ^ On the basis of the edition by Burkhard Taeger, Max Niemeyer Verlag, Tübingen 1996 (10. Auflage) prepared by Jost Gippert, Frankfurt, 11.11.2003; TITUS version by Jost Gippert, Frankfurt a/M, 11.11.2003


  • Galleé, Johan Hendrik (1910). Altsächsische Grammatik. Halle: Max Niemeyer. 

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Old Saxon — Saxon Sax on (s[a^]ks [u^]n or n), n. [L. Saxo, pl. Saxones, from the Saxon national name; cf. AS. pl. Seaxe, Seaxan, fr. seax a knife, a short sword, a dagger (akin to OHG. sahs, and perhaps to L. saxum rock, stone, knives being originally made… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Old Saxon — n. a West Germanic language, the oldest type of Low German, known chiefly from manuscripts of the 9th and 10th cent. A.D …   English World dictionary

  • Old Saxon — German Ger man, n.; pl. {Germans}[L. Germanus, prob. of Celtis origin.] 1. A native or one of the people of Germany. [1913 Webster] 2. The German language. [1913 Webster] 3. (a) A round dance, often with a waltz movement, abounding in capriciosly …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Old Saxon — Old′ Sax′on n. peo Low German before c1100, attested principally in a literary form used in two religious poems of the 9th century Abbr.: OS …   From formal English to slang

  • Old Saxon — noun A west Germanic language historically tied to Anglo Saxon and Old Low Franconian. Syn: Old Low German …   Wiktionary

  • Old Saxon — the Saxon dialect of Low German in use before c1100. Abbr.: OS * * * …   Universalium

  • Old Saxon — /oʊld ˈsæksən/ (say ohld saksuhn) noun the Saxon dialect of Low German as spoken before 1100 …   Australian English dictionary

  • Old Saxon — noun the dialect of Old Low German spoken in Saxony up to c.1200 …   English new terms dictionary

  • Old Saxon — noun Date: 1841 the language of the Saxons of northwest Germany until about the 12th century see Indo European languages table …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Old Saxon — ISO 639 3 Code : osx ISO 639 2/B Code : ISO 639 2/T Code : ISO 639 1 Code : Scope : Individual Language Type : Historical …   Names of Languages ISO 639-3

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