Upper German Explained

Upper German
Region:Southern Germany, northern and central Switzerland, Austria, and Northern Italy
Familycolor:Indo-European
Fam2:Germanic
Fam3:West Germanic
Fam4:High German
Child1:Alemannic
Child2:Austro-Bavarian

Upper German is a family of High German dialects spoken primarily in southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Northern Italy.

Family tree

Upper German can be generally classified as Alemannic or Austro-Bavarian. However, there are several dialects in these two groups besides the more widespread versions of Alemannic and Austro-Bavarian.

High Franconian

Whether the East Franconian (including Erzgebirgisch, often overlooked and incorrectly classified as part of Upper Saxon) and South Franconian dialect groups, also collectively known as High Franconian, should be included as part of Upper German or instead classified as Central German is an open question, as they have traits of both Upper and Central German and are frequently described as a transitional zone. Hence, either scheme can be encountered.

Based on the fact that Langobardic has undergone the High German consonant shift completely, it is also often classified as Upper German. However, if the High German consonant shift occurred late (7th/8th century), which now seems to be the prevalent view, it would seem to be anachronistic to do so. On the other hand, if Langobardic was still essentially identical to Bavarian or Alemannic at the time, the anachronism would disappear, and in fact, what is attested in Langobardic cannot really be shown to be systematically different in any particular point from the earliest attested form of Bavarian in the 8th century, apart from a few divergent phonological developments, which, however, seem to postdate the sound shift.