Many different variants of the regional language known as Low German, Low Saxon or Plattdeutsch are spoken in the northern half of Germany. A number of important medieval legal texts are written in Low German. “Platt” was once the most important commercial language of the North Sea and Baltic regions, being the lingua franca and business language of the Hanseatic League. It lost prestige for a time after being superseded as a written language in the 16th century, but Platt enjoyed a revival in the 19th century, initially in literature, and then in theatre and drama. Low German today is a fully developed language that is usable in all spheres of culture and society. It continues to be used mostly in speech, and it is often rooted in small, local communities. Platt is also a school subject today, and it receives various forms of support in eight of the German federal states.
“One word: Awareness”
Jan Graf is the Advisor for Low German and Frisian at the Schleswig-Holsteinischer Heimatbund e.V. (“Schleswig-Holstein Heritage Association”). In his interview, he appeals to speakers of Plattdeutsch consciously to nurture their language and to pass it on to their children. He also presents the initiative “Funkloch stoppen!” (“Plug the Radio Gap!”), which fights for a full-fledged programme of Plattdeutsch radio.
Improved media provision, not least from the public broadcast channels of ARD, has long since been a key political demand voiced in the context of support for minorities not only by Low German language group stakeholders, but also, for instance, by Frisians.
Learn more about the “Plug the Radio Gap!” initiative here: