Low Franconian languages

Low Franconian/Low Frankish are a group of several West Germanic languages spoken in the Netherlands, northern Belgium, in the Nord department of France, in western Germany, as well as in Suriname, South Africa and Namibia that descended from the Frankish language. The Frankish language "Old Frankish", was the language of the Franks, it was spoken in Merovingian times, preceding the 7th century. Austrasia formed the northeastern portion of the Kingdom of the Merovingian Franks, comprising parts of the territory of present-day western Germany and northern France, Luxembourg 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 Dutch in the north and it was replaced step by step by the langues d'oïl in the south. Old Frankish is not directly attested except in small phrases, it has been reconstructed using the comparative method from loanwords in Old French and from Old Dutch.

One known phrase in Old Frankish is found in the Salic law of the early sixth century, is used to free a serf: Old Low Franconian was a group of dialects spoken in the Low countries. It was a daughter language of the Old Frankish language. Old Low Franconian is sometimes divided in Old Dutch and Old East Low Franconian; because the two groups were so similar it is very hard to determine whether a text is Old Dutch or Old East Low Franconian, most linguists will use Old Dutch synonymously with Old Low Franconian and most of the time do not differentiate. Regardless of this difference in interpretation, East Low Franconian was "absorbed" into Dutch as it became the dominant form of Low Franconian, although it remains a noticeable substrate within the Limburgish language. Dutch, like other Germanic languages, is conventionally divided into three phases. In the development of Dutch these phases were: 425/450–1150: Old Dutch 1150–1500: Middle Dutch 1500–present: Modern Dutch Low-Franconian varieties are spoken in the German area along the Rhine between Cologne and the border between Germany and the Netherlands.

During the 19th and 20th centuries these dialects have and been replaced by today's Standard German. Sometimes, Low Franconian is grouped together with Low German. However, since this grouping is not based on common linguistic innovations, but rather on the absence of the High German consonant shift and Anglo-Frisian features, modern linguistic reference books do not group them together; the contemporary continental Low Franconian language area is decreasing in size. French Flanders has become more francophone during the last century. Brussels Capital Region is bilingual, but francophone. In Germany, Low Franconian only exists as Meuse-Rhenish dialects; the main dialects are: Brabantian East Flemish Hollandic Limburgian Zeelandic West Flemish South Guelderish It is common to consider the Limburgish varieties as belonging to the Low Franconian languages. This difference is caused by a difference in definition: the latter stance defines a High German variety as one that has taken part in any of the first three phases of the High German consonant shift.

Limburgish is spoken in a considerable part of the German Lower Rhine area, in what could be called German-administered Limburg: from the border regions of Kleve, Viersen, Heinsberg stretching out to the Rhine river. At the Rhine near Duisburg, it adjoins a smaller strip of other Low Franconian varieties called Bergisch. Together these distinct varieties, now combined with the Kleve dialects as Meuse-Rhenish, belong to the greater Low Franconian area between the rivers Meuse and Rhine. Limburgish straddles the borderline between'Low Franconian' and'Middle Franconian' varieties, they are more-or-less mutually intelligible with the Ripuarian dialects, but show fewer'High German shifts'. In a number of towns and villages in the north-east of the Belgian province of Liege, such as Hombourg and Eupen, a transitional Limburgish-Ripuarian dialect is spoken, called Low Dietsch. Afrikaans is an Indo-European language, derived from Dutch and classified as Low Franconian Germanic spoken in South Africa and Namibia, with smaller numbers of speakers in Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Afrikaans originated from the Dutch language. The dialect became known as "Cape Dutch". Afrikaans was sometimes referred to as "African Dutch" or "Kitchen Dutch", although these terms were pejorative. Afrikaans was considered a Dutch dialect until the late 19th century, when it began to be recognised as a distinct language, it gained equal status with Dutch and English as an official language in South Africa in 1925. Dutch remained an official language until the new 1961 constitution stipulated the two official languages in South Africa to be Afrikaans and English, it is the only Indo-European l

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