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East Franconian (German: Ostfränkisch) or Mainfränkisch, usually referred to as Franconian (Fränkisch) in German, is a dialect which is spoken in Franconia, the northern part of the federal state of Bavaria and other areas in Germany around Nuremberg, Bamberg, Coburg, Würzburg, Hof, Bayreuth, Meiningen, Bad Mergentheim, and Crailsheim. The major subgroups are Unterostfränkisch (spoken in Lower Franconia and southern Thuringia), Oberostfränkisch (spoken in Upper and Middle Franconia) and Südostfränkisch (spoken in some parts of Middle Franconia and Hohenlohe).
In the transitional area between Rhine Franconian in the northwest and the Austro-Bavarian dialects in the southeast, East Franconian has elements of Central German and Upper German. The same goes only for South Franconian German in adjacent Baden-Württemberg. East Franconian is one of the German dialects with the highest number of speakers.
The scope of East Franconian is disputed, because it overlaps with neighbouring dialects like Bavarian and Swabian in the south, Rhine Franconian in the west and Upper Saxon in the north.
East Franconian is researched by the "Fränkisches Wörterbuch" project in Fürth, which is run by Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften and Erlangen-Nuremberg University.
East Franconian is subdivided in multiple different ways.
One view differentiates three major sub-dialects:
- Ostfränkisch (East Franconian)
- Oberostfränkisch (Upper East Franconian): in the Würzburger Übergangsstreifen, Regnitz-Raum Obermain-Raum, Bayreuther-Raum, Obermain-Raum, Bayreuther-Raum, Nailaer-Raum, Plauener-Raum
- Unterostfränkisch (Lower East Franconian): in the Würzburger-Raum, subdivided in a Northern and Southern part, Coburger-Raum, Henneberger-Raum, Reußischer-Raum
- Südostfränkisch (South East Franconian)
Another view differentiates two major sub-dialects:
- Ostfränkisch (East Franconian): in Franken and a part of Baden-Württemberg with Wertheim and Tauberbischofsheim and also in the Vogtland
- Unterostfränkisch (Lower East Franconian): in Unterfranken and in the Coburger and Henneberger Raum
- Oberostfränkisch (Upper East Franconian): in Ober- and Mittelfranken
A third view has:
- Ostfränkisch (East Franconian)
- Unterostfränkisch (Lower East Franconian)
- Hennebergisch: around Meiningen – Suhl – Schmalkalden
- engeres Unterostfränkisch (Lower East Franconian in a stricter sense): hohenlohischer Raum, Würzburger Raum
- Würzburgisch: in the Würzburg area (Würzburger Raum)
- area between Unterostfränkisch and Oberostfränkisch: Ansbacher-, Neustädter- und Coburger Raum
- Oberostfränkisch (Upper East Franconian): Regnitz-, Hof-Bayreuther-, Obermain-, Nailaer- und vogtländischer Raum
- Vogtländisch (= Ostfränkisch-Vogtländisch): vogtländischer Raum
Older sources give the following grouping:
- Oberfränkisch (Upper Franconian) [in a broad sense]
- Südfränkisch (South Franconian): in the area of Karlsruhe, Rastatt, Heilbronn, Hall
- Ostfränkisch (East Franconian) = Mainfränkisch (lit. Main Franconian): from the Saxon Vogtland and the Thüringerwald to the eastern Spessart, to the Rhön and near to the Neckar (in Oberfranken, Mittelfranken without Nürnberg, Unterfranken, Vogtland)
- Itzgründisch = Coburgisch: Itzgrund and around Coburg/Koburg
- Hennebergisch: Henneberg, around Meiningen
- Rhön-Mundart or Rhönisch [sometimes]: Rhön
- Oberfränkisch (Upper Franconian) [in a middle sense]: in Upper Franconia (Oberfranken) and the Vogtland
- Oberfränkisch-Vogtländisch: in parts of Upper Franconia, namely around Bayreuth, Kulmbach and Hof, and in the Vogtland
- Vogtländisch (Voigtländisch): in the Vogtland, around Plauen
- Oberfränkisch (Upper Franconian) [in a strict sense]: around Hof and Bayreuth
- Ansbachisch [sometimes, in some older sources classified with Nürnbergisch as Bavarian]
- Unterfränkisch (Lower Franconian)
- Schweinfurtisch: around Schweinfurt
- Würzburgisch: around Würzburg
- Ochsenfurter Mundart (the dialect of Ochsenfurt) = Gäuisch im Ochsenfurter Gäu: around Ochsenfurt
- Taubergründisch: around Tauberbischofsheim