The Liechtenstein-German language
The official language of Liechtenstein is German, and all official documentation, newspapers, etc., are all written in German. However, like much of Germany, people speak dialects of the language, and in Liechtenstein, each village has its own dialect - amazing for a country as small as this.
Historically, the Liechtenstein dialect leant towards Austria, and therefore it shares much with it's Vorarlberger cousins. The 19th Century, however, has seen closer links to Switzerland, and a shift of the dialects to Swiss German. Whereas the Swiss dialect is very guttural, Liechtensteiner German is more melodic, and is often confused for a Scandinavian language.
The most marked difference between the village dialects is in the Triesenberger dialect which originated in Canton Wallis in Western Switzerland. Most of the valley-villages speak similar dialects, although words and phrases do differ. The Unterland dialects still have a link to the Austrian dialects from over the border.
There are language recordings available for anyone interested in the different dialects, available in Liechtenstein, which demonstrate the village dialects through a series of interviews and reminiscences. My father has always mocked the dialects as being a slang of High German, and even after 50 years, he still has some problems with the different village dialects.
The 'Mundart' (mouth art, or dialect) of Liechtenstein is broadly split into three distinct forms - the Unterland dialect, the Oberland dialect and the distinctive Treisenberger - Walser - dialect.
In their own tongue - the villages of the Unterland are:
- Eschen - Escha
- Gamprin - Gamprii
- Mauren - Mura
- Ruggell - Ruggäll
- Schellenberg - Schellabärg
For the Oberland:
- Planken - Planka
- Schaan - Schaa
- Vaduz - Vadoz
- Triesen - Tresa
- Balzers - Baltsers
And in the mountains:
- Triesenberg - Trisabäärg