Alsatian ( gsw-als|Elsässisch or "Alsatian German"; Lorraine Franconian
: ''Elsässerdeitsch''; french: Alsacien; german: Elsässisch or ) refers to the Alemannic German
dialects spoken in most of Alsace
, a formerly disputed region in eastern France that has passed between French and German control five times since 1681.
Alsatian is closely related to other nearby Alemannic dialects
, such as Swiss German
, and Markgräflerisch
as well as Kaiserstühlerisch
. It is often confused with Lorraine Franconian
, a more distantly related Franconian
dialect spoken in the northwest corner of Alsace and in neighbouring Lorraine
. Like other dialects and languages, Alsatian has also been influenced by outside sources. Words of Yiddish
origin can be found in Alsatian, and modern conversational Alsatian includes adaptations of French words and English words, especially concerning new technologies.
Many speakers of Alsatian could, if necessary, write in reasonable standard German
. For most this would be rare and confined to those who have learned German at school or through work. As with other dialects, various factors determine when, where, and with whom one might converse in Alsatian. Some dialect speakers are unwilling to speak standard German, at times, to certain outsiders and prefer to use French. In contrast, many people living near the border with Basel
, will speak their dialect with a Swiss person from that area, as they are mutually intelligible for the most part; similar habits may apply to conversations with people of the nearby German Markgräflerland
. Some street names in Alsace may use Alsatian spellings (they were formerly displayed only in French but are now bilingual in some places, especially Strasbourg
Status of Alsatian in France
Since 1992, the constitution of the Fifth Republic
states that French
is the official language of the Republic. However, Alsatian, along with other regional language
s, is recognized by the French government
in the official list of languages of France
. France is a signatory to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
but has never ratified the law and has not given regional languages the support that would be required by the charter. The policies of the Paris government have had the deliberate effect of greatly weakening the prevalence of native languages in France that are not "French". As a result, Alsatian has gone from being the prevalent language of the region to one in decline. A 1999 INSEE survey
counted 548,000 adult speakers of Alsatian in France
, making it the second most-spoken regional language in the country (after Occitan
). Like all regional languages in France, however, the transmission of Alsatian is declining. While 43% of the adult population of Alsace speaks Alsatian, its use has been largely declining amongst the youngest generations.
A dialect of Alsatian German is spoken in the United States by a group known as the Swiss Amish
, whose ancestors emigrated there in the middle of the 19th century. The approximately 7,000 speakers are located mainly in Allen County, Indiana
, with "daughter settlements" elsewhere.
''C'', ''Q'', and ''X'' are only used in loanwords. Y is also used in native words, but is more common in loanwords.
Orthal (Orthographe alsacienne) is a revised Orthography meant for use by all dialects of Alsatian promoted by the Office pour la langue et le cultures d'alsace et de moselle.
The latest version (2016) of Orthal is described below. Not all dialects are expected to use all letters & diacritics.
For example - Owerlandisch from Southern Alsace primarily uses the additional vowel letters- Ä À Ì Ü.
Dialects from the north (Strasbourg region) make use of more letters including Ë, Ö, Ù and the diphthong ÈI.
In general the principles of Orthal are to -
# Follow standard German orthography for the regular vowels A, E, I, O, U and their Umlauted Standard German forms Ä, Ö, Ü
# For Diphthongs & Triphthong that do not exist in Standard German Orthal combines standard German letters to create anew E.g. - ia, üe (or üa), öi, àui, äi (or èi)
# For vowel sounds not represented in the Standard German orthography, it uses the French acute
accent marks to create new graphemes that can represent sounds unique to the Alsatian dialects
# It also follows standard German orthography for consonants as well.
The vowels are pronounced short or long based on their position in the syllable besides the letter type.
A vowel at the end of a syllable, without a subsequent consonant, is a long vowel "V" = Long Vowel (LV). E.g. hà, sì
A vowel followed by a single consonant in a syllable is pronounced as a long vowel "V + C" = Long Vowel (LV). E.g. Ros
''Note'' - A vowel followed by several consonants ("V + C + C") in a syllable is pronounced as a Short Vowel. E.g. Ross
Monophthong - Short vowels
Monophthong - Long vowels
Alsatian has a set of 19 consonants:
Three consonants are restricted in their distribution: and only occur at the beginning of a word or morpheme, and then only if followed immediately by a vowel; never occurs at the beginning of a word or morpheme.
Alsatian, like some German dialects, has lenited
s but . Its lenes
are, however, voiceless
as in all Southern German varieties. Therefore, they are here transcribed , , . Speakers of French tend to hear them as their , which also are voiceless and unaspirated.
The phoneme has a velar allophone after back vowels (, , , and in those speakers who do not pronounce this as ), and palatal elsewhere. In southern dialects, there is a tendency to pronounce it in all positions, and in Strasbourg the palatal allophone tends to conflate with the phoneme . A labiodental voiced fricative sound is also present as well as an approximant sound. // may have phonetic realizations as , , and .
Short vowels: ( in Strasbourg), .
File:Alsatian definite articles.svg|Declension of definite articles in Alsatian (all equivalent to English "the").
File:Alsatian indefinite articles.svg|Declension of indefinite articles in Alsatian (all equivalent to English "a/an").
Alsatian nouns inflect by case, gender and number:
* Three cases
. Unlike Standard German
, Alsatian does not have a genitive
case, and, instead, utilises dative to fulfill that roles in certain cases.
* three genders
: masculine, feminine and neuter.
* two numbers: singular and plural.
Comparative vocabulary list
# When Amish communities become too big, a number of families move away and form a new settlement, which is referred to as a ''daughter settlement''. The settlement from which they leave is the ''mother settlement''.
* Marthe Philipp and Arlette Bothorel-Witz. 1990. Low Alemannic. In Charles V. J. Russ (ed.), The Dialects of modern German: a linguistic survey, 313–336. Routledge.
François Héran, et al. (2002) "La Dynamique des langues en France au fil du XXe
siècle". ''Population et sociétés'' 376, Ined.
* Le système ORTHAL 2016 – Orthographe alsacienne - Quelques règles de base pour faciliter l’écriture et la lecture de l’alsacien dans toutes ses variantes », Jérôme Do Bentzinger, 2016
* Brunner, Jean-Jacques. ''L'Alsacien sans peine''. ASSiMiL, 2001.
* Jung, Edmond. Grammaire de L'Alsacien. Dialecte de Strasbourg avec indications historiques. 1983. Straßburg: Ed. Oberlin.
* Laugel-Erny, Elsa. ''Cours d'alsacien''. Les Editions du Quai, 1999.
* Matzen, Raymond, and Léon Daul. ''Wie Geht's ? Le Dialecte à la portée de tous'' La Nuée Bleue, 1999.
* Matzen, Raymond, and Léon Daul. ''Wie Steht's ? Lexiques alsacien et français, Variantes dialectales, Grammaire'' La Nuée Bleue, 2000.
* Steible, Lucie. ''Le contrôle temporel des consonnes occlusives de l’alsacien et du français parlé en Alsace''. Linguistique. Université de Strasbourg, 2014.
'Hover & Hear' Alsatian pronunciations
and compare with equivalents in English and other Germanic languages.
The status of Germanic languages in France (on website of Universitat Oberta de Catalunya).
Wörterbuch der elsässischen Mundarten
article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on new versions of Microsoft programs in Alsatian
Office pour la langue et les cultures d'Alsace et de Moselle
Category:Alemannic German language
Category:Languages of France