|Total speakers||more than 700,000|
|Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.|
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.
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.
As in German, 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/.
Short vowels: /ʊ/, /o/, /ɒ/, /a/ ([æ] in Strasbourg), /ɛ/, /ɪ/, /i/, /y/.
Long vowels: /ʊː/, /oː/, /ɒː/, /aː/, /ɛː/, /eː/, /iː/, /yː/
|English||Alsatian||High Alemannic||Standard German||Swabian German dialect||Standard French|
|to drink||trenka [d̥ɾənɡ̊ə]||trinkche||trinken||trenka||boire|
|little||klai [ɡ̊laɪ̯]||chlei||klein||kloi||petit, petite|
The constitution of the Fifth Republic states that French alone 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. 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 on the decline. While 39% of the adult population of Alsace speaks Alsatian, only one child in four speaks it, and only one child in ten uses it regularly.