An intro to ‘Lëtzebuergesch’ Discover Luxembourg's national language

Have you ever heard of Luxembourgish? It's a language with similarities to Dutch, French or German. It is mainly in use in Luxembourg and the neighbouring regions. For a long time, it was only a spoken language, to the extent that it was banned from being spoken in Parliament. Recently however, Luxembourgish has been experiencing a renaissance, mostly due to social media and mobile messaging.

What is Luxembourgish anyway?

Luxembourgish is  a Moselle-Franconian dialect, which was the mainly spoken language up to the 19th century and became  the national language in 1984.

Today, Luxembourgish is the mother tongue of most Luxembourgers. It sounds close to Dutch, being a mixture of German and French with regional and even locally varying dialects.

Popularity of Luxembourgish

Luxembourgish is still a  vulnerable language according to the Unesco. Through Luxembourg’s multilingual environment, it is mostly in competition with French, German and English in most work-related environments. However, Luxembourgish is progressively more popular in everyday life and, most of all, the way to get in touch with Luxembourgers.

A recent study asked Luxembourgers and foreign residents how they see Luxembourgish. According to said study, 70.5% of the population use Luxembourgish in their daily lives, be this at work, at school or at home. In the same census, 60% thought that Luxembourgish should be the main language of integration in the Grand Duchy, which shows the high regard Luxembourg’s residents have for the national language.

© SIP / Luc Deflorenne

Luxembourgish has  indeed been living through a renaissance, mostly due to its use as vehicular language in social media and mobile messaging. Another boost came in 2008 with the new law on obtaining Luxembourgish nationality. Interest in learning Luxembourgish has peaked in recent years, as  the number of Luxembourgish classes in Luxembourg’s National Languages  Institute tripled from  2008 to 2018.

Luxembourgish is also the national language of Luxembourg and, together with German and French, one of its administrative languages.

This parity is somewhat moderated by a provision in the law (Article 4), according to which the three languages are to be used 'as far as possible'. French nevertheless remains the language of legislation (Article 2), since the latter is based on the French Napoleonic Code.

Luxembourgish in other countries

As well as in the Grand  Duchy, Luxembourgish is also spoken in the eastern part of the province of Luxembourg (Belgium), the north-west of the Moselle département (France), and along the border between the Grand Duchy and Germany.

Because of large-scale emigration from the Grand Duchy to the United States (19th century) and to Romania (9th and 14th centuries), the use of Luxembourgish also spread in the  American Midwest and in Transylvania, where variants can still be found today.

Your (very first?) words in Luxembourgish:

Luxembourgish English

Moien

Hello
Äddi Goodbye
Wéi geet et? How are you?
Mir geet et gutt/schlecht I'm fine/not fine
Wou ass...? Where is ...?
... de Bäcker? ... the baker's shop?
... de Metzler? ... the butcher's shop?
... e gudde Restaurant? ... a good restaurant?
... d’Gare? ... the railway station?
... de Kino ? ... the cinema?
... de Flughafen? ... the airport?
Wéivill kascht dat? How much does that cost?
Kann ech de Menu kréien? May I see the menu?
Wann ech gelift Please
Merci Thank you
Jo Yes
Nee No
Wat gelift? I beg your pardon?
Gär geschitt! You're welcome!
Pardon Excuse me
Ech hunn en Zëmmer reservéiert. I've booked a room

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