|Native speakers||more than 96,000 (date missing)|
|ISO 639-3||gsw (with Swiss German)|
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.
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 far north-east of Alsace and in neighboring Lorraine.
Many speakers of Alsatian could, if pressed, write in reasonable standard German. For most this would be rare and confined to those who have learned German at school or through work. They would, however, tend to resort to writing in French, the language in which they would have been educated due to national policies denying recognition (in place until a constitutional amendment, Article 75-1, in 2008) or support for indigenous regional languages. 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, the Alsatian dialect of German has gone from being the prevalent language of the region to one largely reserved for close family and friends. People switch from one to the other, mid-conversation or even mid-sentence, as required. Many unwritten rules determine when, where and to whom to 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; 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).
|Majuscule Forms (also called uppercase or capital letters)|
|Minuscule Forms (also called lowercase or small letters)|
Letters colored red are only used in loanwords.
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/
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Comparative vocabulary list
|English||Alsatian||High Alemannic||Standard German||Swabian German dialect||Standard French||Standard Dutch (closest approximation)|
|to drink||trenka [d̥ʁəŋɡ̊ə]||trinkche||trinken||trenka||boire||drinken|
|little||klai [ɡ̊laɪ̯]||chlei||klein||kloi||petit, petite||klein|
Status of Alsatian in France
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.
- (French)  François Héran, et al. (2002) "La dynamique des langues en France au fil du XXe siècle". Population et sociétés 376, Ined.
- (French)  "L'alsacien, deuxième langue régionale de France" Insee, Chiffres pour l'Alsace no. 12, December 2002
- (French) Brunner, Jean-Jacques. L'alsacien sans peine. ASSiMiL, 2001. ISBN 2-7005-0222-1
- (French) Laugel-Erny, Elsa. Cours d'alsacien. Les Editions du Quai, 1999.
- (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
- (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
Media related to Alsatian language at Wikimedia Commons