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Upper Saxon
Spoken in Germany[1]
Region Saxony
Total speakers
Language family Indo-European
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2
ISO 639-3 sxu

Upper Saxon (German: Obersächsisch or colloquially (but incorrectly), Sächsisch) is a Central German dialect spoken in much of the modern German States of Saxony and Thuringia. The degree of accent varies from place to place within the states, with it being anywhere from a relatively mild accent in the larger cities such as Dresden or Chemnitz, to a stronger form in rural areas. Erzgebirgisch, a distinct dialect, is spoken in the villages of the Ore Mountains.

The most notable distinguishing feature of the dialect is that the letters "o" and "u" are pronounced as centralized vowels ([ɵ] and [ʉ], which are also used in Swedish, for instance). Speakers of other German dialects that do not have these sounds tend to perceive these sounds as being "ö" [ø] and "ü" [y] respectively. For example, they hear [ʔæʉs] ‘out’ as if written "aüs" (Standard aus [ʔaʊs]) and [ˈʔɵːma] ‘grandma’ as if written "Öma" (Standard Oma [ˈʔoːma]). Front rounded vowels are pronounced as non-rounded ("ö" = [eː], "ü" = [iː]). Final -er is pronounced [ɝ], which speakers of other German dialects tend to hear as [oː]; e.g. [ˈheː(h)ɝ] ‘higher’ (Standard [ˈhøː(h)ɚ] höher) is misheard as if written "he(h)o."

The Upper Saxon dialects outside the Ore Mountains can be easily recognized by the supposed “softening” of the voiceless stop consonants /p/, /t/ and /k/. Speakers of other dialects hear these as if they were "b," "d" and "g" respectively. In reality, these are merely non-aspirated versions of the same /p/, /t/ and /k/, a widespread feature among Central German dialects, as opposed to strongly aspirated [pʰ], [tʰ] and [kʰ] in dominant German dialects.

See also




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