Westfalish (less common), Westphalien
Native toGermany,[1] Netherlands
RegionWestphalia,[1] southwest Lower Saxony, eastern Netherlands
Language codes
ISO 639-3wep
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Westphalian or Westfalish (Standard High German: Westfälisch, Standard Dutch: Westfaals) is one of the major dialect groups of Low German. Its most salient feature is its diphthongization (rising diphthongs). For example, speakers say iäten ([ɪɛtn̩]) instead of etten or äten for "to eat". (There is also a difference in the use of consonants within the Westphalian dialects: North of the Wiehengebirge, people tend to use unvoiced consonants, whereas south of the Wiehengebirge they tend to use the voiced equivalents, e.g. Foite > Foide.)

The Westphalian dialect region includes the north-eastern part of North Rhine-Westphalia, i.e. the former Prussian province of Westphalia, without Siegerland and Wittgenstein, but including the southern part of former government district Weser-Ems (e.g. the region around Osnabrück and the landscape of Emsland in modern Lower Saxony).

Traditionally, all Dutch Low Saxon dialects are considered Westphalian, with the notable exception of Gronings, which is grouped with the Northern Low Saxon and Friso-Saxon dialects.[citation needed] The rising diphthongisation is still noticeable in the dialects of Rijssen, Enter and Vriezenveen.


Among the Westphalian language there are different subgroups of dialects:[2]

Westphalian dialects in the Netherlands:[citation needed]

Westphalian has many lexical similarities and other proximities to Eastphalian, extending to the East and slightly to the North of the area where Westphalian is spoken.


Personal pronouns

The personal pronouns in Störmede are as follows:[3]

1st person 2nd person 3rd person
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Singular Nominative ik diu hoi soi iät
(Genitive) (van meune) (van deune) (van seune) (van iähre) (van seune)
Dative meu deu iähne iähr iähne
Accusative soi iät
Plural Nominative weu jeu soi
(Genitive) (van use) (van jiue) (van iähre)
Dative us jiu iähnen
Accusative soi


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German Westphalian is currently spoken mostly by elderly people. The majority of the inhabitants of Westphalia proper speak (regionally coloured) standard German. This accent, however, does not stand out as much as for example Bavarian, because Westphalia is closer to the Hanover region, whose speech variety is generally considered to be standard modern German.

The Low Saxon dialects in the bordering Twente and Achterhoek regions in the east of the Netherlands are traditionally classified as Westphalian dialects, albeit with some notable traits from Standard Dutch. A 2005 study showed 62% of the population of Twente spoke the language daily, and efforts are made to insert the language into the local school curriculum.

One of the reasons for the diminishing use of Westphalian in Germany is the rigorous enforcement of German-only policies in traditionally Low German-speaking areas during the 18th century. Westphalian, and Low German in general, unlike many of the High German dialects, were too distant from standard German to be considered dialects and were therefore not tolerated and efforts were made to ban them. In an extreme case, Hannover and its hinterland were forced to adopt rather unnaturally a form of German based on the written standard.

Westphalian was spoken in Kruppwerke up to the 19th century.

Nevertheless, the Westphalian regiolect of Standard High German includes some words that originate from the dying Westphalian dialects, which are otherwise unintelligible for other German speakers from outside Westphalia. Examples include Pölter [ˈpœltɐ] "pyjamas/pajamas", Plörre [ˈplœʁə] "dirty liquid", and Mötke [ˈmœtkə] "mud, dirt".


Westphalian authors include:


East Westphalian:

South Westphalian:


  1. ^ a b c Westphalian language at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe (LWL) (ed.). "Online-Angebote". Retrieved 11 September 2023.Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe (LWL) (ed.). "Mundartregionen Westfalens" (PDF). Retrieved 11 September 2023. [a map; PDF]
  3. ^ Franz Kemper: Stürmeder Platt: Wi et lutt düt un dat. 1998, p. 18

Further reading