Alsatian language

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Alsatian (Alsatian and Alemannic German: Elsässerditsch (literally Alsatian-German); French: Alsacien; German: Elsässisch or Elsässerdeutsch) is a Low Alemannic German dialect spoken in most of Alsace, a region in eastern France which has passed between French and German control many times.


Linguistic family

Not readily intelligible to speakers of standard German, Alsatian is closely related to other nearby Alemannic dialects, such as Swiss German, Swabian, and Badisch. It is often confused with Lorraine Franconian, a more distantly related Franconian dialect spoken in the far north-east of Alsace and in neighboring Lorraine.

Many speakers of Alsatian would, if pressed, write in reasonable standard German. For most this would be rare and confined to those who have learnt German at school or through work. They would, however, tend to resort always to writing in French, the language in which they have been educated. Dialect is very much reserved for close family and friends. People switch from one to the other, mid conversation or even mid sentence, as required. There are many unwritten rules as to when and where and to whom you should speak dialect. 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 understandable for the most part. Some dialect 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).



Alsatian has a rather simple set of 14 consonants:

Two consonants are restricted in their distribution: /kʰ/ only occurs 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.

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