Corpus of Historical Low German

Middle Low German Grammar

Introduction

This is a concise, English-language summary version of Lasch's (1914) Mittelniederdeutsche Grammatik, now out of copyright. This version was produced by Jamie Douglas as part of the CHLG project, and was made possible by a generous grant from the British Academy.

The CHLG team hope to write a new grammar of Middle Low German, once the corpus is complete. This version is intended to aid in the construction of the corpus. You can navigate through it using the links in the contents, below.

NB: Long umlauted characters are rendered as umlauted characters plus ^ in this HTML version.

Contents

Declensions

Nominal declensions

a) Strong (vocalic) declension
I. Masculine

1. Without ending in nom. sg.

Sg. NA. dach gast
G. dages gastes
D. dage gaste
Pl. NA. dage geste
G. dage geste
D. dagen gesten

(§363, pp 193)

Endings may contain an <e> especially in gen. and dat. and after a consonant.

2. Nom. sg. with <e>

ja-stems

Sg. NA. herde börger(e)
G. herdes börger(e)s
D. herde börger(e)
Pl. NA. herde (herdes) börger(e), börger(e)s
G. herde börger(e)
D. herden börger(e)n

(§366, pp 195)

Sometimes the old endings, e.g. hirdios for herdes, are retained. Profession-based names, e.g. herde, may also often be weakly declined.

Short i- and short u-stems

Sg. NA. bröke sone
G. brökes sones
D. bröke sone
Pl. NA. broke söne
G. bröke söne
D. broken sönen

(§368, pp 196)

Like other nominals with person-referents, sone could also have an -s plural.

II. Neuter

1. Without ending in nom. sg.

Sg. NA. wort lam
G. wordes lammes
D. worde lamme
Pl. NA. wort (worde) lammer(e), lemmer
G. worde lammer(e)
D. worden lammer(e)n

(§371, pp 197)

NA. pl. is usually endingless. Occasionally nom. sg. has an <e> ending.

2. Nom. sg. with <e>

ja- and wa-stems

Sg. NA. bedde mele
G. beddes meles
D. bedde mele
Pl. NA. bedde  
G. bedde  
D. bedden  

(§374, pp 198-9)

Sometimes weak plurals are attested, e.g. bedden.

III. Feminine

1. Predominantly with <e> ending in nom. sg.

ô-stems

Sg. NA. wîse woninge
GD. wîse, wîsen woninge
Pl. NA. wîse, wîsen woninge, -en
G. wîsen woninge, -en
D. wîsen woningen

(§377, pp 199)

The old nom. sg. ending without <e> is still found in certain cases. In adverbial contexts, the ending without <e> may also be found with acc., gen., and dat.

2. Predominantly without <e> ending in nom.

i-stems

Sg. NA. hût
G. hût
D. hût, (hûde)
Pl. NA. hü^de
G. hü̂de
D. hü̂den

(§380, pp 200)

Nom., acc., and dat. sg. occassionally appear with <e>. Occassionally the gen. sg. may have <es> especially when followed by a related nominal or when in an adverbial context.

b) Weak (n-)declension
  Masc. Neut. Fem.
Sg. N. vörste herte tunge
A. vörsten herte tunge (tungen)
GD. vörsten herten tungen
Pl. vörsten herten tungen

(§382, pp 201)

Some n-stems later formed a new genitive with <s>.

c) Others

The plural of man could be man, manne, mans, mannen, men, menne, and menner.

(§386, pp 202)

Adjectival declensions

a) Strong declension
  Masc. Neut. Fem.
Sg. N. blint (blinder) blint blint (blinde)
A. blinden blint blinde
G. blindes blindes blinder(e)
D. blindem(e) (blinden) blindem(e) (blinden) blinder(e)
Pl. N. blinde blinde blinde
A. blinde blinde blinde
G. blinder(e) blinder(e) blinder(e)
D. blinden blinden blinden

(§389, pp 204)

b) Weak declension
  Masc. Neut. Fem.
Sg. N. blinde blinde blinde
A. blinden blinde blinden
G. blinden blinden blinden
D. blinden blinden blinden
Pl. blinden blinden blinden

(§391, pp 205)

c) Declension of participles

Participles have forms for both the strong and weak declensions - present participles behave like ja-stems and past participles behave like a-stems. Infinitives only follow the strong declension.

d) Comparative forms of adjectives
(gôt) beter best
(vele) mêr (mêrer) mêst
(lüttik) minner (min) minnest

Some comparative and superlative forms are derived from adverbs and prepositions.

  êrst
achter, echter achterst, echterst
vorder vörderst
hinder hinderst
nedder nedderst
över överst
under underst
ûter ûterst

(§393, pp 206-7)

Short comparative forms also exist.

lang(e) lenc (lanc) lengest
(vele) mêr mêst
(lüttik) min minnest
(övel) wers werst
(wol) bet, bat best
  êr êrst
  sint (seder)  

(§395, pp 208)

Numerals

a) Cardinal numbers
  Masc. Neut. Fem.
N. ên (êner) ên êne, ên
A. ênen ên êne
G. ênes ênes êner(e)
D. ênem(e) ênem(e) êner(e)

The cardinal numerals one, two and three decline according to gender and case. Older forms of êner include êre, erre, and er. In Old Eastphalian texts, enne appears for ênen.

  Masc. Neut. Fem.
NA. twêne twey (twê) twô, twu
G. twîger twîger twîger
D. twên twên twên

Seldom twêner, tweyer in the gen. Later forms of NA. masc. and fem. are the same as NA. neut. In compounds, twî for twê. Also a feminine form twâ.

  Masc. Neut. Fem.
NA. drê, dri(e) drû, drê, dri(e) drê, dri(e)
G. drîger drîger drîger
D. drên, drîn drên, drîn drên, drîn

(§396, pp 208-9)

The other cardinal numbers often had other forms.

vêr vir
vîf  
ses sees, seis, sesse, seisse, sös
seven söven, suwen
achte achten
negen  
tein teyen, teng, -tign, ting, ti(e)n > tehan, tyen
elven elve, elvene
twelf twolf, twulf, twelf > twölf, twalef, twalf

(§397, pp 209)

As nominals, these cardinal numbers could be inflected even in attributive position, e.g. N. (masc., neut., fem.) vêre, vive, sesse, twelve; G. vêrer; D. vêren, etc.

b) Ordinal numbers

1-19, -de/-te suffixed to the cardinal number (except erst and ander). 20+, -(e)ste is suffixed.

Pronominals

a) Ungendered pronouns
  1st person 2nd person Reflexive
Sg. N. ik, ek  
G. mîn, mîner dîn, dîner sîn, sîner
AD. mî (mê), mik, mek dî (dê), dik, dek sik, sek
Pl. N. wê, wî (wie) gî, je, î  
G. unser, ûser jûwer, ûwer  
AD. uns, ûs, ös, ûsik jû, jûwe, û, jük, gik, jüch, ûch sik, sek

(§403, pp 213)

First and second person pronouns do not have their own reflexive forms; they use the acc., gen., and dat. forms.

b) Gendered pronouns
  Masc. Neut. Fem.
Sg. N. hê, hî (hie) it (et) sê, si(e), sû
A. en(e), on(e) it (et) sê, si(e), sû
G. is (es), sîn, sîner is (es) ere, er, erer, örer
D. eme, ome, en em(e), om(e), en ere, er, erer, örer
Pl. N. sê, si(e) sê, si(e) sê, si(e)
A. sê, si(e) sê, si(e) sê, si(e)
G. ere, er, erer, örer ere, er, erer, örer ere, er, erer, örer
D. em, en, öm, jüm em, en, öm, jüm em, en, öm, jüm

(§404, pp 216)

Where her ('he') occurs, it is not native. may also appear as e. The <e> of various forms sometimes appears as <i>. Erer sometimes appears as erre. Pronouns, due to their weak pronunciation, often appear merged to prepositions.

c) Possessives
Sg. 1 mîn
2 dîn
3m sîn
3f er
Pl. 1 unse
2 iûwe
3 er

(§405, pp 217)

They inflected like strong adjectives but were uninflected when used in the nom. Originally, the strong inflection was used after the article in nom. and acc., but this later changed to the weak inflection. As a nominal, forms such as de mînte are found.

d) Demonstratives
1. Simple demonstratives
  Masc. Neut. Fem.
Sg. N. dê, di(e) dat dû, dê, di(e)
A. den(e) dat dû, dê, di(e)
G. des des der(e)
D. dem(e), den dem(e), den der(e)
Pl. N. dê, di(e) dê, di(e) dê, di(e)
A. dê, di(e) dê, di(e) dê, di(e)
G. der der der
D. den den den

(§406, pp 218)

Dat may appear in weakened form as det, -et, -id, -t. Et and it are rarely used as proclitics. The short forms are used more frequently as enclitics.

2. Complex demonstratives
  Masc. Neut. Fem.
Sg. N. desse, düsse, dese, disse dit, düt desse, düsse, dese, disse
A. dessen dit desse
G. desses desses desser
D. dessem(e) dessem(e) desser
Pl. N. desse desse desse
A. desse desse desse
G. desser desser desser
D. dessen dessen dessen

(§407, pp 218)

Occasionally forms have single <-s->. Seldom dösse (= düsse). Also sometimes diesse and diese (= disse). Seldom dütte, ditte, deset, desset. Gen. pl. dirre may occur sporadically. Dit is regularly used as a nominal.

Demonstratives also serve as relative pronouns, often with dar, de following (sometimes with only dar, de).

e) Interrogatives
1. , wat
  Masc. Fem. Neut.
N. wê. wi(e) wat
A. wen(e) wat
G. wes wes
N. wem(e) wem(e)

Seldom wems for the gen. Wat can be used as an adjective but is rarely inflected. An interrogative and relative particle have demonstrative meaning. An interrogative and have indefinite meaning.

f) Indefinites

Conjugations

Strong and weak verbs

Present
  Strong Weak
Ind. Sg. 1 geve make
2 gifst (gevest) makest
3 gift (geft, gevet) maket
Pl.   gevet, geven maket, maken
Subj. Sg. 1 geve make
2 gevest makest
3 geve make
Pl.   geven maken
Imp. Sg.   gif (gef) make
Pl.   gevet maket
Inf.     geven maken
NA. geven (gevent) maken (makent)
G. gevenes, gevendes makenes, makendes
D. gevene, gevende, gevent makene, makende, makent
Part.   gevende (gevent, gevene, geven) makende (makent, makene, maken)

(§416, pp 224)

<-n> sometimes appears in 1st pers. sg. forms (especially in Western-coloured texts). Westphalian 2nd pers. sg. forms lack <-t>. Sometimes the 2nd pers. sg. simplifies to <-t>.

Pl. forms in the ind. may have <-et>, <-en> or a combination of both. The <e> of these endings is often lost through syncope. The final consonants are often lost before a following pronoun (sometimes the <e> is lost here too). Old Westphalian texts have a pl. ending <-nt>.

Occasionally the imp. pl. forms have <-en> ending, especially before (rarely <-ent>). The imp. of some strong verbs may have <ê> or <û>.

Past
  Strong Weak
Ind. Sg. 1 gaf makede
2 gêvest makedest
3 gaf makede
Pl.   gêven makeden
Subj. Sg. 1 gêve makede
2 gêvest makedest
3 gêve makede
Pl.   gêven makeden
Part.   (ge)geven (ge)maket

(§416, pp 224)

Occasionally the strong verb forms for 1st and 3rd pers. ind. have <e> endings. Sporadically <-et> is found for 2nd pers. pl.

The part. prefix may be <ge->, <e-> or null.

Tense roots

Strong verbs
Ablaut verbs
Class I   î - ê - ē - ē  
Class II 1 ê (û, ü) - ô - ō - ō  
2 û(w), û(w), ou(w) - ou - ou(w), û(w)  
3 û - ô - ō - ō (a)  
Class III   i - a - u - u (for verbs with nasal + C)
  e - a - u - u (o) (for verbs with /l/ + C)
  e - a - o - o (for verbs with /r/ + C)
Class IV   ē (i) - a - ê - ō (a)  

In Class IV, the verb komen retains <qu> before <a> and <e>, e.g. quam, quemen.

Class V ē (i) - a - ê - ō
Class VI ā - ô - ô - ā

(§425-430, pp 230-6)

Special weak verbs
1. hebben

Present

Ind. Sg. 1 hebbe
2 hevest, hefst, heft, hest
3 hevet, heft, het
Pl.   hebben, hebbet, hebt
Subj. Sg. 1 hebbe
2 hebbest
3 hebbe
Pl.   hebben (occasionally heffen)
Inf.   hebben

Past

Ind. hadde
Subj. hadde, hedde
Part. (ge)hat

Westphalian also showed haven; present (heft) haft, havet, haven; past havede.

2. seggen, leggen

Present

Ind. Sg. 1 segge
2 segest, sechst, secht
3 seget, secht, sêt (seit)
Pl.   seggen, segget
Subj.   segge
Imp.   segge, sege, segget
Inf.   seggen

Past

Ind. segede (seyede), sechte, sêde, sachte
Part. (ge)secht, (ge)sêt, (ge)sacht

Single <g> is also found for double <gg>.

Irregular verbs

Preterit-present verbs
1. weten

Present

Ind. Sg. 1 wêt, wît
2 wêst, wîst (also wetest, wettest, wêtest)
3 wêt, wît
Pl.   weten
Subj.   wete
Imp. Sg.   wete, wête
Pl.   wetet
Inf.   weten (wetten)

Past

Ind. wiste, wuste (woste)
Subj. wiste, wüste (wöste)
Part. (ge)weten, (ge)wist, (ge)wust
2. künnen

Present

Ind. Sg. 1 kan
2 kanst
3 kan
Pl.   künnen, könen, können, künnet, künt
Subj.   künne, köne
Inf.   künnen, könen

Past

Ind. kunde, konde
Subj. künde, könde
Part. (ge)kunt, (ge)kont
3. günnen

Present

Ind. Sg. 1 gan, günne
Pl.   günnen, günnet
Subj.   günne
Inf.   günnen

Past

Ind. gunde, gonde
Part. (ge)gunt, (ge)gant
4. dörven

Present

Ind. Sg. 1 darf, draf, derf, dorf
2 darft, draft, droft, drovest, drofst
3 darf, draf, derf, dorf
Pl.   dörven, dörvet, drövet, derven
Subj.   dörve
Inf.   dörven, derven

Past

Ind. dorfte, dorte, drofte, drochte, dofte (even dochte, dechte)
Part. (ge)dorft
5. dörren

Present

Ind. Sg. 1 dar, darn, der(re), dörn(e), dör
2 dörst, dörnst, darst
3 dar, darn, der(re), dörn(e), dör
Pl.   dörren, dörret, derren
Subj.   dörre, dörne
Inf.   dörren, dören, derren, dörsten

Past

Ind. dorste
Part. (ge)dorst

<u> sometimes found in place of <o>.

6. schölen

Present

Ind. Sg. 1 schal, schol
2 schalt, schalst, scholt, schast
3 schal, schol
Pl.   schölen, schölet, schöllen, schüln, schüllen
Subj.   schöle
Inf.   schölen, schöllen, schüln, schüllen

Past

Ind. scholde, schulde
Subj. schölde

<sch> may appear as <sc> or just <s> as well.

7. mögen

Present

Ind. Sg. 1 mach
2 macht, machst
3 mach
Pl.   mögen, möget (möcht)
Subj.   möge
Inf.   mögen

Past

Ind. mochte, muchte
Subj. möchte, müchte

In the sg., forms with <o> are also found.

8. môten

Present

Ind. Sg. 1 môt
2 môst, most, môtest
3 môt
Pl.   môten, môtet, môt
Subj.   môte
Inf.   môten

Past

Ind. môste, moste, muste
Subj. mö^ste, möste, müste
Miscellaneous verbs
1. willen, wellen

Present

Ind. Sg. 1 wil, wel, wille
2 wilt, wult, wolt (wist, wust)
3 wil, wel, wille
Pl.   willen, wellen, willet, wilt, wellet, welt, wolt
Subj.   wille, welle
Inf.   willen, wellen

Past

Ind. wilde, welde, wolde, wulde
Part. (ge)wilt, (ge)wolt
2. dôn

Present

Ind. Sg. 1 dô (also dôe)
2 deist (dö^st, dôst)
3 deit (dö^t, dôt)
Pl.   dôn, dôt, dö^t, dôen, dôet
Subj. Sg. 1
2 dôst
3
Pl.   dôen, dôn
Imp.   dô, dôt
Inf.   dôn (dôen)

Past

Ind. Sg. 1 dede
2 dêdest
3 dede
Pl.   dêden (dâden)
Part.   (ge)dân
3. gâm

Present

Ind. Sg. 1
2 geist (gâst)
3 geit (gât) (also gêt)
Pl.   gât, gân
Subj.  
Imp.   gâ, gane; gât
Inf.   gân

Past

Ind. gene, gine
Part. (ge)gân ((ge)gangen, sporadically (ge)gât)
4. stân

Present

Ind. Sg. 1 stâ
2 steist (stâst)
3 steit (stât) (also stêt, steet, stâet)
Pl.   stât, stân
Subj.   stâ
Imp.   stâ, stant; stât
Inf.   stân

Past

Ind. stôt, stont, stunt
Part. (ge)stân, (ge)standen
5. wesen, sîn

Present

Ind. Sg. 1 bin (also ben, even bün)
2 bist (also büst, binst)
3 is (es, ist)
Pl.   sîn, sin, sint (also sün, sünt, even binnen, bint, bünt)
Subj. Sg. 1 sî, wese
2 sîst
3 sî, wese
Pl.   sîn, sît
Imp.   wes, sî; weset, sît
Inf.   wesen, sîn

Past

Ind. Sg. 1 was
2 wêrest
3 was
Pl.   wêren
Subj.   were, wö^re
Part.   (ge)weset, (ge)west, (ge)wesen