Language island

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Schönhengstgau was a German-speaking island in the former Czechoslovakia.

A language island is understood to mean a relatively small, closed language and settlement community that is located in a larger foreign language area.

Formation of language islands

  • Immigration of small language groups to foreign language areas (example: Catalans in Sardinia )
  • Immigration of a dominant language group and the subsequent almost complete assimilation - with the exception of a few language communities - of the original population (example: the Sorbs in East Germany)
  • Extinction of the language in the intermediate region to the distribution area (example: Viöler Danish )

The decisive factor for the name language island is that the language is still spoken in the country of origin. Many linguistic islands are now threatened or have already perished. The survivability of a language island is crucially dependent on its isolation. The external threat posed by the host country in political, cultural, religious and / or linguistic terms is just as crucial a motor for the preservation of the language island as its possible geographical isolation, e.g. B. in a remote mountain valley or on an island. The elimination of such threats as we experienced after the dissolution of the Soviet Union led to the almost complete dissolution of the linguistic islands in a short time. Religious tendencies in particular can be a decisive motor for isolating the language island from its environment and for preserving its language and cultural identity.

German language islands

German language islands in Central Europe 1901

Due to various settlement movements that began in the Middle Ages (see Deutsche Ostsiedlung ) and did not come to an end until the middle of the 19th century, there were German linguistic islands until the end of the Second World War, and in a few cases until today, that spanned large parts of eastern and East Central Europe were or are scattered. The smallest of these linguistic islands are just a few small villages, while the largest are almost closed German-speaking areas (e.g. Transylvania) in the middle of foreign-language areas. These linguistic islands were found in large parts of Poland , the Baltic States , Belarus , the Ukraine , the Czech Republic , Slovakia , Hungary , Romania , Slovenia and Croatia . Some linguistic islands were also located in what is now Serbia .

In addition, there were German language islands in the Caucasus region , near Saint Petersburg and in some places in the Urals and Siberia .

When colonizing the New World, too, German emigrant communities often came together, each of which came from a specific area of ​​origin and who settled relatively closed in the destination area. Especially in the Midwest of the United States , in western Canada , in southern Brazil and in southern Chile, there are still German-language islands in various well-preserved areas.

As a result of the First World War and finally again in the course of the Second World War, the need arose in the German settlement areas of North America to demonstrate loyalty to the newly-found homeland. a. also to show that one no longer used the standard German language or the various German dialects. This led to the fact that the overwhelming majority of German-speaking islands in North America are now only relicts, with German being pushed out of the public and most families since the 1940s at the latest.

Language islands in the German-speaking area





(see also minority languages ​​in Austria ):

A larger number of Burgenland Hungarians also live in the provincial capital Eisenstadt / Kismarton, or the 2001 census shows a Hungarian-speaking population of 5% to 10% of the total population for Frauenkirchen / Boldogasszony, Lutzmannsburg / Locsmánd and Schachendorf / Csajta.

Outside the closed German-speaking area

Languages ​​in Austria-Hungary from: Distribution of Races in Austria-Hungary Historical Atlas, William R. Shepherd , 1911

The closed German-speaking area now extends over Germany, Austria, German-speaking Switzerland, Liechtenstein, South Tyrol, Luxembourg and the German-speaking areas in Belgium, Denmark and France.


The inhabitants of the German colonies of Swabian radical Pietists in Azerbaijan , which had existed since 1818, were deported in 1941.


In Jutland to 1759/61 settled Palatine families that maintained until 1870 German church and school:

The so-called “ potato Germans(potato tyskers) settled there .

In Southeast Jutland, a Moravian congregation was founded in 1772


The inhabitants of the German colonies of Swabian radical Pietists in Georgia , which had existed since 1818, were deported in 1941.



German language islands in Northern Italy:
* 1 Gressoney * 2 Issime * 3 Rimella * 4 Kampell * 5 Formazza * 6 Thirteen municipalities * 7 Seven municipalities * 8 Lusern * 9 Fersental * 10 Pladen * 11 Zahre * 12 Tischelwang * 13 Kanaltal

The ethnic minorities in Italy are protected by Law No. 482 “For the Protection of Historical Linguistic Minorities” of December 15, 1999.

Walser language islands
in the autonomous region of Aosta Valley
  • Gressoney : Gressoney-La Trinité, Walser German Greschune top , Gressoney-Saint-Jean, Walser Greschunei Ondteil òn Méttelteil . (Actually language peninsulas, as it borders on the German-speaking part of the Valais. German is still widespread in the older and middle generations, but not in the younger generation.)
  • Niel (language island extinguished).
  • Issime , Walser Eischeme . (German is still widespread in the older and middle generation, but no longer in the younger generation.)
in the province of Vercelli
  • Alagna Valsesia , Walser German Im Land or Lanja (actually language peninsula, see under Gressoney; German is still partly widespread in the older generation).
  • Rima , Walser German In d Arimmu (language island extinct).
  • Rimella , Walser German Remmalju (German still widely used, but generally strong population decline).
  • Riva Valdobbia , Walser German Rifu (language island long extinct).
in the province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola

(actually except for Campello Monti and Ornavasso language peninsulas, see under Gressoney)

  • Agàro , Walser German Ager (language island extinct).
  • Ausone , Walser German Opsu (language island extinct).
  • Campello Monti , Walser German Ggampel (language island extinct).
  • Formazza , Walser Pomatt (German is still widespread in the older and middle generation, but not in the younger generation).
  • Macugnaga , Walser German Maggana (German still in use by a few old people).
  • Salecchio , Walser German Salei (language island extinct).
  • Ornavasso , Walser German Urnafasch (language island long extinct).
Cimbrian Language Islands (Italy)

Plateau east of Rovereto ( Province of Trento , Region Trentino-South Tyrol ):

  • 1 Luserna, German Lusern : the best preserved and most active linguistic island; 90% of the population speak Cimbrian on a daily basis.
  • 2 Folgaria , Cimbrian Folgrait, German Vielgereuth: language island no longer active today, most recently in the hamlets of Carbonare (Kohligen) and San Sebastiano (Sankt Sebastian)
  • 3 Lavarone , Cimbrian Lavròu, German Lafraun (language island no longer active since the 20th century)

Adjacent valleys in which German / Cimbrian was spoken until the 19th century:

Fersental (Valle dei Mòcheni) ( Province of Trento , Region Trentino-South Tyrol ):

  • 1 Palù del Fersina , Mocheno Palai / Palae en Bersntol, dt. Palù del fersina
  • 2 Fierozzo , Vlarötz in heels, German Florutz
  • 3 Frassilongo , Garait in heels, German Gereut
  • 4 Roveda (municipality of Frassilongo), Oachlait in heel throat, German Eichleit

Municipalities in which (partially) heels was spoken in the past:

Seven municipalities , Cimbrian Siben Komoin , Italian Sette Comuni ( province of Vicenza , region of Veneto ):

  • 1 Asiago , Cimbrian Sleghe, German Schlege
  • 2 Gallio , Cimbrian Gelle / Ghel, German Gelle
  • 3 Roana , Cimbrian Robàan, German Rovan
  • 4 Fozza , Cimbrian Vüsche / Vütsche
  • 5 Enego , Cimbrian Ghenebe, German Jeneve
  • 6 Rotzo , cimbrian snot
  • 7 Lusiana , Cimbrian Lusaan, German Lusian

The Cimbrian in the seven parishes only leads a niche existence in Roana and its district Mezzaselva (Mittewald) .

Thirteen municipalities , in Italian Tredici Comuni ( Province of Verona , Region of Veneto ):

Cimbrian in the Thirteen Congregations is only spoken in Giazza / Ljetzan.

Cansiglio ( Belluno Province , Veneto Region ):

  • In the hamlets of Farra d'Alpago and Tambre (language island no longer active)
German language islands in Veneto and Friuli


Most of the Kazakh Germans have now emigrated to Germany .


Most of the Kyrgyzstan Germans have now emigrated to Germany .


At the time of the affiliation of West Prussia to the German Empire there was

  • Swabian colonies of families from Württemberg in Culm , Culmsee , Gniewkowo , Spital, Wonorze , Slawsk , Olsza u. a., 1782–1786 settled by Frederick II of Prussia in German or Polish-speaking surroundings, expired



By 1918 there were around 3,300 closed, largely denominational and ethnically uniform German settlements in Russia. After the German attack on the Soviet Union in 1941, Stalin had most of the Russian Germans deported to the Asian part of the Soviet Union .

Minorities of German origin still live in the following regions:

The majority of Germans living in Russia have emigrated to Germany in recent years.



  • Pressburg
  • Hauerland
  • Spiš : language island only preserved in the villages of Hopgarten ( Chmeľnica ) and Metzenseifen ( Medzev - here only as a language minority).



Czech Republic

Iglauer language island

Until the majority of the German-speaking population was expelled from Czechoslovakia, there were several German-speaking islands in the Czech-speaking area:




  • Namibia with currently around 30,000 speakers. The language island is very well preserved.
  • South Africa with rural language islands in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal , Mpumalanga and North-West (approx. 4,000–5,000 speakers). There are also German-speaking communities in some cities, e.g. B. in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town.

Other languages

Albanian language islands



Arabic language islands





Aramaic islands





Azerbaijani language islands



  • Numerous Azerbaijani communities outside the Iranian region of Azerbaijan


Baltic language islands



Berber language islands

Finnish language islands

Franco-Provencal linguistic islands

French language islands

Federal Republic of Germany

In the area of ​​what is now the Federal Republic of Germany, French or Old French dialects were spoken in Wallonia , Huguenot and Waldensian communities until after the Second World War. For a long time, services were preached in French at least once a month. In Louisendorf near Marburg , French is z. B. only died out around 1990.

The Walloons, Huguenots and Waldensians settled in the territories in particular



In the 13th and 14th centuries there were settlements of old French- speaking Waldensians in the southern Danube region from the Salzkammergut to the Vienna Woods , who were persecuted by the Inquisition in the 14th and 15th centuries . Century disappeared again.


  • From 1948 on, Polish mining families from Lorraine who had been expelled from France were settled in Wilcze Gardło . At times a French language island "Maly Paryz" (Little Paris) was created .

South Africa

  • Franschhoek , settled around 1690, already extinct again around 1730, but preserved in numerous family names

United States

Frisian language islands

Greek language islands





Yiddish language islands

As a result of the National Socialist extermination policy, the former large closed Yiddish language islands of the " shtetl " in East Central and Eastern Europe (Poland and Ukraine ( Galicia ), Belarus, Lithuania ( Vilnius ), Moldova, Romania, Hungary ( Pest Elisabethstadt ), the Czech Republic ( Prague Josefstadt ) ), Germany ( Berlin Scheunenviertel in the Spandauer Vorstadt , Grindelviertel in Hamburg) and Austria ( Viennese Leopoldstadt ) largely extinct.

Since the Second World War, the Yiddish language has been spoken by secular, predominantly old Jews in Argentina ( Balvanera district in Buenos Aires), Australia, Brazil, Israel, Canada, Mexico and the United States (focus on New York region ), for example others used today predominantly by Hasidic communities in the USA ( Williamsburg in Brooklyn ), Canada (Montreal, Toronto), Israel ( Me'a She'arim [Jerusalem], Bnei Berak ), Great Britain ( London ) and Belgium ( Antwerp ) . At the end of the 1970s, Kiryas Joel, a settlement of Hasidic Jews in New York State, was established that today has around 20,000 inhabitants, around 90% of whom are Yiddish-speaking.

A small Yiddish-language island has survived in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast in the Far East Federal District on the border with the People's Republic of China . The newspaper Birobidschaner Schtern appears twice a week .

Catalan language islands

Creole language islands

  • Palenquero ; Spanish-based Creole language in Colombia

Croatian language islands

Dutch language islands

Swedish language islands

Spanish language islands

Plautdietsche language islands

See the article on the Plautdietsch language

Polish and Masurian language islands

Romanian language islands

Occitan language islands

Slavic islands

Turkish language islands

Czech language islands

  • Pirna , founded by Bohemian Protestant exiles at the beginning of the Thirty Years War, later moved to Dresden , from 1650 to 1999 there was an Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Bohemian Exiles in Dresden (today a foundation), 1748 printing of a Czech hymnal in Dresden, Church of the Redeemer in Striesen , language island in the middle of the Extinct in the 19th century
  • Zittau in der Oberlausitz, from 1623 admission of Bohemian and Moravian exiles, such as Lauban ( Lubań ) in today's Polish Upper Lusatia, the place where numerous Czech books were printed, language island disappeared in the middle of the 19th century
  • Berlin-Friedrichstadt , from 1732 settlement of Bohemian Protestant exiles, for whom the Bethlehem Church was built in 1737 (destroyed in 1943), language island extinguished at the beginning of the 19th century, until 1937 the Bohemian Reformed Bethlehem Community existed
  • Berlin- Böhmisch-Rixdorf in today's district of Berlin-Neukölln , from 1737 after a temporary stay in Lower Silesia (Gerlachsheim (Grabiszyce) with Mark Lissa ( Leśna )) and Upper Lusatia ( Herrnhut , Großhennersdorf - Schönbrunn , Cottbus ) settlement of Bohemian Protestant exiles who Most of them originally from Bömisch-Rothwasser ( Horní Čermná ), until around 1820/30, Czech was a colloquial language in Rixdorf, a language island at the beginning of the 20th century, until 2005 the Evangelical-Bohemian-Lutheran Bethlehem Congregation existed
  • Nowawes (Czech Nová Ves , German Neuendorf bei Potsdam ) in today's district of Potsdam - Babelsberg , from 1751 settlement of Protestant weavers and spinners from Bohemia in the so-called Weberviertel , 1752/1753 construction of the Friedrichskirche (Babelsberg) for church services in Czech and German, language island at the beginning extinct in the 19th century
  • Münsterberg ( Ziębice ) in Lower Silesia, from 1742 Protestant Bohemians settled under the leadership of Johann Liberda (1700–1742)
  • Niesky in Upper Lusatia, founded in 1742 by Bohemian emigrants as a colony of the Moravian Brethren , Czech nízký means “low” in German, German became the language of negotiation as early as 1748, church services (meetings) were held alternately in German and Czech
  • Hussinetz, named after Jan Hus , (today Gęsiniec ) near Strehlen ( Strzelin ) in Lower Silesia, extinct from 1749, language island 1945/46
  • Friedrichs-Tabor in Balin near Wartenberg ( Syców ) in Lower Silesia, from 1744 or 1749, language island extinct at the beginning of the 20th century
  • Banat Czechs
  • Czechs in Vienna

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Language island  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. The "Palatinate", which the Great Elector settled in Prussia, were partly Reformed religious refugees who had fled to the Palatinate from France or the Spanish Netherlands ("Young Palatinate"), partly Central or Rhine-Franconian-speaking refugees from the Palatinate War of Succession .
  2. ^ Werner Metzger: Albvereinsblätter - Speech 125 years of the Albverein . Ed .: Schwäbischer Albverein Stuttgart. S. 3 .
  3. On Pleißne Burladingen see Werner Metzger: Speech 125 Years of the Swabian Alb Association . In: Leaves of the Swabian Alb Association 2013 , Stuttgart, May 4, 2013.
  4. Legge 15 December 1999, n. 482 Norme in materia di tutela delle minoranze linguistiche storiche. Retrieved February 1, 2017 (Italian).
  5. a b c d e f g h i j k l m The historical German language islands. (PDF; 1.39 MB) Unity Committee of the Historic German-Language Islands in Italy, November 12, 2012, accessed on July 7, 2013 (Italian, German, English).
  6. Pontic, a language of Greece ( press Expand all ), on
  7. Against all odds: archaic Greek in a modern world , The Romeyka dialect and the connection to ancient Greek, on (University of Cambridge)
  8. George Petermann : Hospodina Srdcem y Rty Chwáleni, aneb písně Duchownj . Johann Wilhelm Harpeter, Dresden 1748 ( digitized version from the University and State Library of Saxony-Anhalt).