Wiktionary:About Old Saxon

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Old Saxon is an extinct Germanic language, formerly spoken in Europe. This page has the aim of informing Wiktionary editors about how Old Saxon words are formatted.


For a term to qualify as an Old Saxon entry, it must be attested in a Saxon/Low German text between the 8th century and the emergence of Middle Low German. The Middle Low German period begins when all unstressed vowels have merged into one vowel ⟨e⟩ or ⟨i⟩.

Unfortunately, many etymology sections on Wiktionary show Dutch as though it were a descendant of Old Saxon. This is not correct and is a historical mistake by an earlier Wiktionary editor. Dutch did not descend from Old Saxon but rather from Old Dutch. These two languages existed at the same time, but in different parts of the West Germanic language continuum. On the other hand, it also lacks some changes that were present in Old Saxon, such as the loss of the -n- in Old Saxon mūth (mouth), ūs (us) versus Old Dutch munt, uns, or the merging of all three forms of the plural in verbs: Old Saxon has -ad for all three, while Old Dutch retains three distinct endings -on, -et, -ont like Old High German. Old Dutch differed from both languages in that it already intermittently showed word-final devoicing, which did not appear in the other two until the 'Middle' period.



Old Saxon texts, grammars and dictionaries, like in other old Germanic languages, often use normalised spelling. This means that variations in spelling and representation are 'evened out' to produce a common standard spelling. There is no single normalised spelling for Old Saxon, however; different sources may apply different rules and schemes, which mostly differ in how many normalisations they apply. The following scheme is suggested for Old Saxon terms on Wiktionary:

Original Normalised
c, k k
đ, ð, th th
i, j (when pronounced /j/ and word-initial) j
-on, -oian (class 2 weak verb ending) -on
qu, kw qu
u, v, ƀ (when pronounced /v/) v
u, uu, w (when pronounced /w/) w

Preferably, the lemma or 'main' entry should be at the normalised spelling. Any other attested spellings may be listed under an ===Alternative forms=== heading at the beginning of the entry. Such entries may be created if they are attested, but to avoid duplication of information, they should link back to the normalised spelling using the {{alternative spelling of}} template.

Vowel length[edit]

In common with many other old European languages whose early orthography was based on that of Latin, vowel length was not indicated in Old Saxon texts. As a result, it is not indicated in Wiktionary entry names either. However, whenever a vowel is known to be long, a macron sign is placed above that vowel, like in Latin and many other languages. This macron is to be used only for display, not in entry names, so the additional parameter that is available in many templates should be used to change the displayed form without affecting the link. For example:


All of these variations display mōdar, but in case of a link, they link to modar#Old Saxon without the macron.

See also[edit]