German dialects, German dialects, local and regional ways of speaking that are genetically closely related to the standard German language on all language levels (phonetics / phonology, morphology, lexicons, syntax). The actually coherent scope of the German dialects roughly encompasses the national territories of Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Austria as well as parts of a.o. Belgium, France, Italy and Romania. There are also German language islands inside and outside Europe. The development of today’s dialect areas can be traced back to the era of the Great Migration (2nd – 6th centuries). Spatially, the areas of the West Germanic tribes (e.g. Alemanni, Franconia, Saxony, Thuringia, Bavaria) are to be assessed. Geographical shifts have arisen particularly due to historical and political developments, e. B. due to the German colonization in the east (12th-14th centuries) or the resettlement and expulsion of the Germans from the former eastern regions after 1945 B. Mountains, wetlands). The layout and course of traffic routes (e.g. streets, rivers) and the mental orientation of the dialect speakers at certain cultural and economic centers are also beneficial for the spread of dialects.
Linguistically, German can be subdivided into various individual dialects, which in turn are based on historical conditions, v. a. the sound and form level, and are closely related to the extra-linguistic conditions mentioned. The High German phonetic shift that began around the middle of the 1st millennium (Germanic p, t, k became pf, ts, ch in the wording, in the doubling and after consonants) resulted in a separation of Old High German from Old Low German. Those German dialects are generally referred to as Low German dialects that have not carried out this sound shift, while Middle German dialects are those that have partially implemented them as Upper German dialects those who have essentially fully completed it; Middle German and Upper German are used as high German dialects summarized. In addition to the High German phonetic shift, the New High German diphthongization (the Middle High German long vowels ī, ū and iu [y:] become ei, au and eu) contributed to the structure of the German-speaking area; it recorded the high German dialects in certain gradations (but without the Alemannic). Furthermore, v. a. the inland High German consonant weakening (p, t, k become b, d, g) in German dialects; it was carried out in the Central German dialects as well as in Northern and Central Bavarian. With regard to the level of form, there are differences in the tense system; The past tense is usually the narrative tense of the past in Low German, whereas the perfect tense has prevailed in High German.
The differentiation of the individual German dialects from one another is fundamentally difficult, since the geographical area largely represents a linguistic continuum, which the scientist only resolves and defines secondarily by adding up individual phenomena. As far as the relationship between dialect and standard language is concerned, there are differences in the individual dialect areas. Since the standard language historically v. a. evolved from the Central German dialects, these varieties of German are particularly close to one another. The far-reaching implementation of the High German phonetic shift in Upper German leads to clearer differences there compared to the standard language. The distance is even higher in the Low German area, where the sound change phenomena of High German were not carried out and, moreover, own Low German change phenomena took place. The linguistic peculiarities of the German dialects are recorded in extensive German language atlases. Like the standard language, the dialects are also constantly changing; they take over vocabulary from neighboring dialects or from specialist and special languages (Sociolect). The contact between the population of rural areas and the urban population sometimes necessitates an adaptation to the urban vernacular or the supraregional colloquial language, often based on individual phenomena. In the meantime, this colloquial language has surpassed dialects in terms of its functional significance in large parts of the German-speaking area. The dialect can currently still be documented almost everywhere, but the number of speakers and situations in which they are used (e.g. in bringing up children) is v. a. dropped dramatically in the second half of the 20th century. This applies to the Lower German area to a far greater extent than to the Upper German area. With regard to their cultural significance, the German dialects are reflected among other things.