Digital Writing in Low German: Between Elite and Grassroot Literacies

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This article analyses digital writing in Low German, a regional language spoken mainly in Northern Germany and currently undergoing a process of language shift towards German. Since medieval times, a substantial body of Low German literature has been written; however, today, the language serves mainly as a vernacular. The aim of this study is to examine whether digital writing could become a new domain for Low German speakers, thus forming a buffer in the ongoing struggle against language loss. In order to analyse digital writing in Low German, we apply Jan Blommaert’s concept of elite versus grassroot literacies (Blommaert 2008) and examine two communities of practice: Wikipedia authors and experts working for Low German institutions using Low German online, and speakers communicating via Low German on social media. The results show two communities of practice among Low German speakers with distinctive writing practices and values: while elite writers aim to implement a standardised form of spelling, grassroot writers tend to reject prescriptivism and create ways to negotiate communication across variation.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 6 May 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.


  • Digital literacy
  • Minority languages
  • Low German


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