Imstian Dialects

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The Imstian Dialects build, together with Bavarian, Alemannic, South and East Franconian, the Upper German dialect group. The two Imstian main dialects are spoken in Germany, Austria and Italy by approximately 250.000 people. They do not have any official status in any state nor are they written officially.

The Upper german dialects


The linguistic term Imstian (German Imstlerisch) derives from the small city of Imst and the surrounding district with the same name, which is the region with the most Imstian speakers in the Imstian Sprachraum after Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The speakers themselves do not call their dialects so, in fact the term Schwäbisch is used in the north west, Alemannisch in the west and Bairisch in the east, so always according to the surrounding dialects (as many south Franconian speakers call themselves "Swabians" although they actually don't speak an Allemannic language).

Current Situation

Due to the widely not existing notice of a common language, the number of Imstian speakers decreases more and more. Especially in Austria, in the district Innsbruck-Land, speakers intend more and more to speak a South Bavarian idiom. The city of Telfs, for example, which is located in traditional Imstian Sprachraum, is now Bavarian-speaking due to massive immigration of workers from eastern Tyrol comming there to work in the still growing tourism branch.


As a High German dialect group, Imstian was affected by the High German Consonant Shift:

High German haben halb Schlafen Schwein es essen machen Apfel Herz
Upper Imstian choo choub schloifo Schwii is esso mocho Opfo Cherz
English Have half sleep Swine it eat make apple heart

In distinction to Standart High German, it shares lots of features though with the surrounding dialects, especially that, as for nouns, the genitive and accusative cases are no longer productive as well as the disappearance of the synthetic preterite, which was replaced by the periphrasticly-built perfect:

Disappearance of the preterite form Building of the pluperfect form Genitive construction Accusative construction Conjunctive construction in indirect speech
High German Ich gab es der Frau. Ich hatte es gekauft. Das Haus des Freundes ist schön. Ich sehe den Löwen an. Sie sagen, du seiest blöd.
(southern) South Franconian E håb s dr Fråå gewə. E håbs khååft khet. əm fraend sae hous əsch schee. E gug də Leef åå. Di såågəd, do däädsch bleed sae.
Upper Imstian I choi's iro froowo gebo. I choi's krrooft krroit. Imo fruuti siis chuus isch schoo. I luo dir lef. Di sogit, do toitisch tuufor soo.
English I gave it to the woman. I had bought it. The friend's house is nice. I am watching the lion. They say you were dumb.

Nevertheless Imstian has many differences that distinguish it from the other Upper German Dialects:

Common plural form for verbs Old High German ending -mês for 1st Person Plural remaining Productive case endings
Swabian mr hend, ər hend, di hend
mr send
dr Leef, əm Leef
Upper Imstian mir chois, ir choi, di choi
mir biros (-os < -umês)
dir Lef, imo Lefi
Central Bavarian mia håm/håmma, eß håbts, se håm(t)
mia sàn/hàn
da Lef, am Lefn
Standart German wir haben, ihr habt, sie haben
wir sind
der Löwe, dem Löwen
English we have, you have, they have we are the lion, to the lion


Upper Imstian Phonology