The Alsatian dialect on the web


Alsatian, Elsässerditsch or "les dialectes Alémaniques" is a dialectal variant of German which is spoken in Alsace. In the eastern half of Mosel, a separate region in the département of Lorraine, another Germanic variety is used called Franconian, Lothringer Platt or "le francique". This dialect closely resembles Luxemburgisch. The standard written form of these dialects is "hochdeutsch", standard German. According to recent surveys, the number of speakers of these dialects i rapidly decreasing. Some 60% of the 1.6m inhabitants of Alsace speak the Alsatian dialect while only 36% of primary school pupils can speak it. Again, in Lorraine, some 50% of the 300,000-400,000 population of Lorraine is said to know and use the Franconian dialect, compared to only 20% of those under 15 years of age. The dialects do not have any official legal recognition. This region has been transferred several times over the centuries from France to Germany and back with varying degrees of political autonomy for the region and linguistic rights for the dialects, German and French.


L'Alsace and Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace are daily newspapers published in Alsace, both of which publish two daily versions, one version entirely in French and the other being a bilingual duplicate with certain sections translated into German. The bilingual editions account for an ever decreasing percentage of each paper's total circulation. German language newspapers, imported from Germany and Switzerland, are also read in Alsace. Less frequent publication which use some German or dialect include Land un Sproch*, a quarterly publication concerned especially with bilingualism, and, D'Heimet Zwische Rhin un Vogese which appears eleven times a year and is published by the association Heimetsproch un Tradition*. Bei uns Daheim* is another cultural organisation which publishes a quarterly bulletin. Le Messager Evangelique* is a religious bilingual (French/German) journal. The association René Schickele Gesellschaft publishes "Land un Sproch" also has a publishing house, Salde producing books in French, German and Alsatian dialect. It has a bookshop and provides a mail order service. La Nuée Bleue*, under the direction of Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace*, occasionally publishes books appear in German or dialect. Librairie Oberlin is one of the main bookshops which supply books on and about Alsace in both French, German and occasionally in dialect. Bibliothèque Nationale Universitaire* is the main university library in Strasbourg which has an information archive on the regional language of Alsace in its "Section des Alsatiques". Radio France Alsace broadcasts its programmes in the Alsatian dialect on Medium Wave rather than on FM, which reduces the potential audience significantly from 100 000 to the 10 000. In Lorraine/Mosel, the regional radio Radio France Nancy does not broadcast any programmes in dialect. Several private radio stations offer a few hours of programmes in German or dialect each day, such as Radio Télévision Alsace* and Radio Dreieckland*. The official regional television channel France 3 Alsace provides a limited service in Alsatian dialect and German.

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Verdammi - April 2000