Low Prussian dialect

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Low Prussian
(Prussian and Saxon subgroups)
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Low Prussian (German: Niederpreußisch), sometimes known simply as Prussian (Preußisch), is a moribund dialect of East Low German that developed in East Prussia. Low Prussian was spoken in East and West Prussia and Danzig up to 1945. In Danzig it formed the particular city dialect of Danzig German. It developed on a Baltic substrate through the influx of Dutch- and Low German-speaking immigrants. It supplanted Old Prussian, which became extinct in the 18th 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 thousand speakers throughout the world, most notably in South America, Canada and Germany.

Simon Dach's poem Anke van Tharaw 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". Further diphthong digressions include such examples as "eu" (pronounced as ei as in Heiser ('Häuser', houses)), as well as "ei" (pronounced as ee as in Beene ('Beine', legs)). Betcke also notes the tendency to transform the long "u" with an umlaut as in ('du', you), ('nun', now) and Ühr ('Uhr', watch).[1]

The dialect is also marked by 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 East 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[2] 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[edit]

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[edit]

In addition to the words of Old Prussian origin, another source of Baltic loan [ru; Baltizmas; Baltisms] was Lithuanian. After the migration of Lithuanians in the 15th century, many Lithuanian loanwords appeared in the Low Prussian dialect.

Low Prussian Lithuanian Standard German English
Alus alus Bier beer, ale
Burteninker burtininkas Wahrsager, Zauberer, Besprecher magician, soothsayer, sorcerer
kalbeken kalbėti sprechen to talk, to speak
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 matchmaker
Wabel, Wabbel vabalas Käfer bug

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Betcke Bruno Sammlung Ostpreussisch Koenigsbergische3r Ausdruecke Durchsuchbar | PDF". Scribd. Retrieved 2021-12-12.
  2. ^ Found in Riemann, Erhard (ed.): Preußisches Wörterbuch, Vol. 1, Issue 1. Neumünster (Wachholtz) 1974.


External links[edit]