Alemannic German

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Native toSwitzerland: entire German-speaking part, except for the town of Samnaun.
Germany: most of Baden-Württemberg and Bavarian Swabia.
Austria: Vorarlberg and some parts of Tyrol.
Liechtenstein: entire country.
France: most of Alsace.
Italy: some parts of Aosta Valley and northern Piedmont
United States: Amish in Allen, Switzerland and Daviess Counties in Indiana.
Venezuela: Alemán Coloniero
Native speakers
7,162,000 (2004–2012)[1]
Latin, Historically Elder Futhark
Language codes
ISO 639-2gsw
ISO 639-3Variously:
gct – Colonia Tovar
gsw – Swiss German and Alsatian
swg – Swabian
wae – Walser
Blue indicates the traditional distribution area of Western Upper German (=Alemannic) dialects.
Alemannic is classified as Vulnerable by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Alemannic, or rarely Alemannish (Alemannisch, [alɛˈman(ː)ɪʃ] ), is a group of High German dialects. The name derives from the ancient Germanic tribal confederation known as the Alemanni ("all men").[3][better source needed]


Alemannic dialects are spoken by approximately ten million people in several countries:


Alemannic comprises a dialect continuum from the Highest Alemannic spoken in the mountainous south to Swabian in the relatively flat north and more of the characteristics of Standard German the farther north one goes.

In Germany and other European countries, the abstand and ausbau language framework is used to decide what is a language and what is a dialect.[citation needed] According to this framework, Alemannic varieties of German form a dialect continuum and are clearly dialects.[citation needed] Some linguists and organisations that differentiate between languages and dialects primarily on the grounds of mutual intelligibility, such as SIL International and UNESCO, describe Alemannic as one of several independent languages.[citation needed] ISO 639-3 distinguishes four languages: gsw (Alemannic, Alsatian, Swiss German), swg (Swabian), wae (Walser German) and gct (Colonia Tovar German, spoken since 1843 in Venezuela).

Standard German is used in writing and in Germany orally in formal contexts throughout the Alemannic-speaking regions (with the exception of Alsace, where French or the Alsatian dialect of Alemannic is used instead).


Alemannic in the broad sense comprises the following variants:

The Alemannic dialects of Switzerland are often called Swiss German or Schwiizerdütsch.

Written Alemannic[edit]

The oldest known texts in Alemannic are brief Elder Futhark inscriptions dating to the sixth century (Bülach fibula, Pforzen buckle, Nordendorf fibula). In the Old High German period, the first coherent texts are recorded in the St. Gall Abbey, among them the eighth-century Paternoster:[4]

Fater unser, thu bist in himile
uuihi namu dinan
qhueme rihhi diin
uuerde uuillo diin,
so in himile, sosa in erdu
prooth unseer emezzihic kip uns hiutu
oblaz uns sculdi unsero
so uuir oblazem uns skuldikem
enti ni unsih firleit in khorunka
uzzer losi unsih fona ubile

Due to the importance of the Carolingian abbeys of St. Gall and Reichenau Island, a considerable part of the Old High German corpus has Alemannic traits. Alemannic Middle High German is less prominent, in spite of the Codex Manesse compiled by Johannes Hadlaub of Zürich. The rise of the Old Swiss Confederacy from the fourteenth century led to the creation of Alemannic Swiss chronicles. Huldrych Zwingli's Bible translation of the 1520s (the 1531 Froschauer Bible) was in an Alemannic variant of Early Modern High German. From the seventeenth century, written Alemannic was displaced by Standard German, which emerged from sixteenth century Early Modern High German, in particular in the wake of Martin Luther's Bible translation of the 1520s. The 1665 revision of the Froschauer Bible removed the Alemannic elements, approaching the language used by Luther. For this reason, no binding orthographical standard for writing modern Alemannic emerged, and orthographies in use usually compromise between a precise phonological notation, and proximity to the familiar Standard German orthography (in particular for loanwords).[citation needed]

Johann Peter Hebel published his Allemannische Gedichte in 1803. Swiss authors often consciously employ Helvetisms within Standard German, notably Jeremias Gotthelf in his novels set in the Emmental, Friedrich Glauser in his crime stories, and more recently Tim Krohn in his Quatemberkinder.[citation needed]

The poet Ida Ospelt-Amann wrote and published exclusively in the dialect of Vaduz.[5][6]


  • The diminutive is used frequently in all Alemannic dialects. Northern and eastern dialects use the suffix -le; western varieties (e.g. northern Alsace) uses the suffix -el /l̩/; southern dialects use the suffix -li (Standard German suffix -lein or -chen). As in standard German, these suffixes cause umlaut. Depending on dialect, 'little house' may be Heisle, Hiisel, Hüüsle, Hüüsli or Hiisli (Standard German Häuslein or Häuschen). Some varieties have plural diminutives in -ler, -la or -lich.
  • Northern variants of Alemannic (Swabian and Low Alemannic), like standard German, pronounce ch as a uvular or velar [χ] or [x] (Ach-Laut) after back vowels (a, o, u) and as a palatal [ç] consonant (Ich-Laut) elsewhere. High Alemannic, Lake Constance Alemannic and Highest Alemannic dialects exclusively use the Ach-Laut.
  • In most Alemannic dialects, the past participle of the verb meaning to be (sein in standard German, with past participle gewesen) derives from a form akin to gesein (gsi, gsìnn, gsei etc.).
Some conjugated forms of the verb to be in Alemannic dialects
(standard German)
Low Swabian Alsatian
Lower High Alsace
Allgäuerisch Lower
Upper Swabian Eastern Swiss German Western Swiss German Sensler
I am
(ich bin)
I ben Ìch bì I bi Ich bi I bee I bi I(g) bi [ɪɡ̊ b̥ɪ] I bü/bi
you (sg.) are
(du bist)
du bisch dü bìsch du bisch du bisch d(o)u bisch du bisch du bisch [d̥ʊ b̥ɪʒ̊] du büsch/bisch
he is
(er ist)
er isch är ìsch är isch är isch är isch är isch är isch [æɾ ɪʒ̊] är isch
she is
(sie ist)
sia isch sa ìsch sia isch sie isch si isch si isch si isch [sɪ ɪʒ̊] sia isch
it is
(es ist)
es isch äs ìsch as isch as isch äs isch äs isch äs isch [æz̊ (əʒ̊) ɪʒ̊] as isch
we are
(wir sind)
mr sen(d) mìr sìn mir send/sönd mir sin mr send m(i)r send/sön/sinn mir sy [mɪɾ si] wier sy
you (pl.) are
(ihr seid)
ihr sen(d) ìhr sìn ihr send ihr sin ihr send i(i)r sönd/sind dir syt [d̥ɪɾ sit] ier syt
they are
(sie sind)
se sen(d) sa sìn dia send si sin dia send si sind/sönd si sy [sɪ si] si sy
I have been
(ich bin ... gewesen)
i ben gwäa ìch bì gsìì i bi gsi ich bi gsi i bee gsei i bi gsi i bi gsy [ɪ(ɡ̊) b̥ɪ ksiː] i bü/bi gsy

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Colonia Tovar at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Swiss German and Alsatian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Swabian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Walser at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ "Swiss German / Alemannic / Alsatian". IANA language subtag registry. 8 March 2006. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  3. ^ Jordioechsler (5 November 2013). "Alemannic German and other features of language". WordPress. Archived from the original on 10 June 2017.
  4. ^ Jacobs, Stefan. "Althochdeutsch (700–1050)". Archived from the original on 18 October 2017. Retrieved 17 Oct 2017.
  5. ^ Phaf-Rheinberger, Ineke (2021-01-12). Ricardo Porros Architektur in Vaduz und Havanna (in German). Books on Demand. p. 76. ISBN 978-3-7526-8278-6.
  6. ^ Allmende (in German). J. Thorbecke. 1998. p. 7.

External links[edit]