As a branch of the West Germanic group, 'Low German' includes all varieties derived from Old Low Frankish (e.g. Dutch and Afrikaans) and from Old Saxon. In Germany, the name (Niederdeutsch/Plattdeutsch) is used as a general label for Low Frankish and Low Saxon varieties that happen to be used on German soil. In a specific sense, the name refers to varieties that descended from Old Saxon. These are used in Northern Germany and in the eastern parts of the Netherlands. The native name Neddersassisch (Low Saxon), in the Netherlands Nedersaksisch and Neersaksisch, has begun to be applicable to all Old-Saxon-derived varieties.
There is no standard orthography or a standard written language for Low German. A German-based spelling system is usually used by speakers of Low German in Germany, and a Dutch-based one in the Netherlands.