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The language you've never heard of spoken by nearly five million people in Europe


Europe is home to 24 official languages, while as many as 200 are spoken across the continent. That might not seem like a big number when compared to Africa, where 1,500 and 2,000 languages are spoken by people.

However European languages contain many dialects, which at times can almost seem like a foreign language, incomprehensible to all but the initiated.

German is one of the most popular European languages, alongside French, Spanish and Italian – spoken by over 230 million people.

It is the official language of Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Luxemburg, Belgium, and Germany itself.

German is also a minority language in countries like Slovakia, Poland, Italy, Russia, Kazakhstan, Brazil, and Denmark.

Linguists say there are as many as 250 German dialects, with one spoken by almost five million people.

The northwest corner of Bavaria is the cultural region of Franconia, or “Franken auf Deutsch”.

It includes Nuremberg, Erlangen, Bamburg, Würth, Würzburg, and Bayreuth, but doesn’t extend as far south as Munich.

Although it’s not recognised as a Bundesland (federal state), it is definitely a cultural identity that everyone in Germany recognises and even has its own anthem – the Frankenlied.

The region is split into Unterfranken, Mittelfranken, and Oberfranken.

There are several dialects that are called Franconian, but generally it is the East Franconian ones that most people mean when they say Fränkisch.

The dialect itself is quite round and fluid sounding, not as sharp and nasal as northern dialects.

People say that it sounds like there are no hard consonants – think Ds and Bs instead of Ts and Ps.

Franconia is a paradise for beer and wine lovers, boasting 300 breweries and thriving vineyards around the river Main.

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