Low Franconian languages

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Low Franconian, or Low Frankish, is a group of several West Germanic languages spoken in the Netherlands, northern Belgium (Flanders), in the northern department of France, in western Germany (Lower Rhine), as well as in Suriname, South Africa and Namibia that originally descended from Old Frankish.

Contents

The Frankish language

The Frankish language, also Old Frankish, was the language of the Franks. Classified as a West Germanic language, it was spoken in Merovingian times, preceding the 7th century. Austrasia formed the north-eastern portion of the Kingdom of the Merovingian Franks, comprising parts of the territory of present-day western Germany, eastern and northern France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The Franks first established themselves in the Netherlands and Flanders before they started to fight their way down south and east. The language had a significant impact on Old French. It evolved into Old Low Franconian in the north and it was replaced step by step by Langue d'oïl in the south.

Old Frankish is not directly attested. It has been reconstructed from loanwords in Old French and from Old Dutch (see also Comparative method).

Old Low Franconian (also Old Low Frankish) was a group of dialects spoken in the Low countries. It was a daughter language of the Old Frankish language.

Development

Old Low Franconian was divided in two groups, Old Dutch (also Old West Low Franconian) and Old East Low Franconian. East Low Franconian was eventually "absorbed" by Dutch as it became the dominant form of Low Franconian, although it remains a noticeable substrate within Limburgish.[1] Because the two groups were so similar it is often very hard to determine whether a text is Old Dutch or Old East Low Franconian, hence most linguists will generally use Old Dutch synonymously with Old Low Franconian and most of the time do not differentiate.

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