Spread and Dominance of French in Alsace

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Natalia Revishvili


Schiffman and Spolski point to the relationship between language policy and language culture. Alsace is a clear example how the two can effect each other. In different periods of its history Alsace witnessed dominance and decline of French, German as well as the Alsatian dialect and the cultures linked to the three, As a result, nowadays the Alsatian culture is a mixture of the above-mentioned three. During the Prussian period, when French was not easily available, Alsace-Lorraine’s resistance to Germanization and the Alsatians’ growing devotion to their dialect suggest that the Alsatians were neither French nor German, but “a small nation who did not allow their identity to be violated in any way“. Thus, the culture of modern Alsatians should be perceived as a mixture of French, German and Alsatian elements.

As a result of the language policy of France and the influence of French culture,, French is considered a prestigious language in the 21st century Alsace. The Alsatian dialect has survived only in the speech of older generation, mainly in rural areas; instances of its transmission to the younger generation is poor.There has been a recent increase in the use of German due to the influx of tourists from Germany, which has led some young people to start learning German. A sample of the passive usage of German is evidenced in the media, as German television can easily be received in Alsace and certain part of the population finds it interesting. The fact that sometimes Alsatians can get better paid jobs in Germany and German-speaking Switzerland than in France is the third reason for learning German.

Published: Oct 25, 2022

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