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Alsatian (Alemannic German: Elsässerditsch "Alsatian German"; Frankish: Elsässerdeitsch; French: Alsacien; German: Elsässisch or Elsässerdeutsch) is a Low Alemannic German dialect spoken in most of Alsace, a formerly disputed region in eastern France that has passed between French and German control five times since 1681. A dialect of Alsatian German is spoken in the United States by the so-called 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"[Note 1] elsewhere.[3]

Alsatian
Native toFrance
RegionAlsace
Native speakers
900,000 (2013)[1]
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated byNo official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-2gsw
ISO 639-3gsw (with Swiss German)
Glottologswis1247  Central Alemannic[2]
IETFgsw-FR
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Contents

SpeakersEdit

 

Percentage of Alsatian speakers in Alsace.[4][5]

Language familyEdit

 
A bilingual (French and Alsatian) sign in Mulhouse.

Alsatian is closely related to other nearby Alemannic dialects, such as Swiss German, Swabian, 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, Switzerland, 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 and Mulhouse).

OrthographyEdit

Majuscule forms
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Ä À É Ö Ü Ù
Minuscule forms
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z ä à é ö ü ù
IPA
/a/, /ə/ /b̥/ /k/, /ɡ̊/ /d̥/ /e/, /eː/, /ə/ /f/ /ɡ̊/ /h/ /ɪ/ /j/ /k/ /l/ /m/ /n/, /ŋ/ /o/ /p/ /k/ /ʁ̞/ /s/ /t/ /ʊ/ f /ʋ/ /ks/ /ʏ/, /yː/, /ɪ/, /iː/ /z/ /ɛ/ /ɑ/, /ɑː/ /ɛ/ /œ/ /y/ /u/

C, Q, and X are only used in loanwords. Y is also used in native words such as Dytschi ("German"), but is more common in loanwords.

PhonologyEdit

ConsonantsEdit

Alsatian has a set of 19 consonants:

Labial Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Stop ɡ̊,
Affricate pf ts
Fricative f s ʃ ç (x) h
Sonorant ʋ l j ʁ̞

Three consonants are restricted in their distribution: /kʰ/ and /h/ only occur at the beginning of a word or morpheme, and then only if followed immediately by a vowel; /ŋ/ never occurs at the beginning of a word or morpheme.

Alsatian, like some German dialects, has lenited all obstruents but [k]. Its lenes are, however, voiceless as in all Southern German varieties. Therefore, they are here transcribed /b̥/, /d̥/, /ɡ̊/.

The phoneme /ç/ has a velar allophone [x] after back vowels (/u/, /o/, /ɔ/, and /a/ in those speakers who do not pronounce this as [æ]), and palatal [ç] elsewhere. In southern dialects, there is a tendency to pronounce it /x/ in all positions, and in Strasbourg the palatal allophone tends to conflate with the phoneme /ʃ/.

VowelsEdit

Short vowels: /ʊ/, /o/, /ɒ/, /a/ ([æ] in Strasbourg), /ɛ/, /ɪ/, /i/, /y/.

Long vowels: /ʊː/, /oː/, /ɒː/, /aː/, /ɛː/, /eː/, /iː/, /yː/

DiphthongsEdit

Comparative vocabulary listEdit

English Alsatian High Alemannic Standard German Swabian German Standard French
house Hüüs [hyˑs] Huus Haus Hous maison
loud lüüt [lyˑd̥] luut laut lout bruyant
people Lit [lɪd̥] Lüt Leute Leid gens/peuple
today hit [hɪd̥] hüt heute heid aujourd'hui
beautiful schen [ʃeːn] schö(n) schön sche beau
Earth Ard [aˑɾd̥] Ärd(e) Erde Erd terre
Fog Nabel [naːb̥l̩] Näbel Nebel Nebl brouillard
water Wàsser [ʋɑsəɾ] Wasser Wasser Wasser eau
man Mànn [mɑˑn] Maa Mann homme
to eat assa [asə] ässe essen essa manger
to drink trenka [d̥ɾəŋɡ̊ə] trinkche trinken trenka boire
little klai [ɡ̊laɪ̯] chl(e)i klein kloi petit, petite
child Kind [kɪnd̥] Chind Kind Kind enfant
day Däi Dag Tag Dàg jour
woman Frài Frou/Frau Frau Frau femme

Status of Alsatian in FranceEdit

Since 1992, the constitution of the Fifth Republic states that French is the official language of the Republic. However, Alsatian, along with other regional languages, 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."[citation needed] As a result, the Alsatian dialect of German 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.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Alsatian at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Central Alemannic". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Chad Thompson: The Languages of the Amish of Allen County, Indiana: Multilingualism and Convergence, in Anthropological Linguistics, Vol. 36, No. 1 (Spring, 1994), pp. 69-91
  4. ^ "Le dialecte en chiffres | www.OLCAlsace.org". www.olcalsace.org. Retrieved 2019-02-03.
  5. ^ Denis, Marie-Noële (2003). "Le dialecte alsacien : état des lieux". Cairn.info.
  • (in French) [1] François Héran, et al. (2002) "La Dynamique des langues en France au fil du XXe siècle". Population et sociétés 376, Ined.
  • (in French) [2] "L'Alsacien, deuxième langue régionale de France" Insee, Chiffres pour l'Alsace no. 12, December 2002
  • (in French) Brunner, Jean-Jacques. L'Alsacien sans peine. ASSiMiL, 2001. ISBN 2-7005-0222-1
  • (in French) Laugel-Erny, Elsa. Cours d'alsacien. Les Editions du Quai, 1999.
  • (in French) Matzen, Raymond, and Léon Daul. Wie Geht's ? Le Dialecte à la portée de tous La Nuée Bleue, 1999. ISBN 2-7165-0464-4
  • (in French)Matzen, Raymond, and Léon Daul. Wie Steht's ? Lexiques alsacien et français, Variantes dialectales, Grammaire La Nuée Bleue, 2000. ISBN 2-7165-0525-X

External linksEdit

  Media related to Alsatian language at Wikimedia Commons

NotesEdit

  1. ^ 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.[1][2]