Franconian languagesLegend: Low Franconian dialects in the Netherlands. Low Franconian dialects in Germany. West Central German dialects. Transitional Upper German dialects.
Franconian is a linguistic marker for a number of West Germanic languages and dialects spoken in the former core of the Frankish Empire: the Low Countries (The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg) and western Germany (around Aachen, Cologne and Trier) . Within this groups there are a number of well known languages and dialects, such as Dutch and Afrikaans but also the Pennsylvania German language spoken in North America.
- 1 Controversy
- 2 Three groups
- 3 References
- 4 Bibliography
- 5 See also
Linguists doubt whether there really is a Franconian linguistic family as no proof exists that the present Franconian languages and dialects historically developed from a common ancestor language.
Low Frankish dialects and languages (via Old Dutch), for instance, are commonly accepted to be a descendant of Old Frankish, the proposed common ancestor and language of the Franks, together with West Central German that might have been partially influenced by High German dialects.
Low Frankish, also called Low Franconian, consists of Dutch, Afrikaans and their dialects. They are spoken in the Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, Namibia, the western tip of Germany, Suriname, the Caribbean as well as in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.Modern Low Frankish dialects
With a total of over 40 million speakers this is the most numerous of the 3 groups, as well as most spread globally and the only group that has members which are official, national and standard languages.
Sometimes, Low Franconian is grouped together with Low German. However, since this grouping is not based on common linguistic innovations, but rather on the absence of the High German consonant shift and Anglo-Frisian features, there are linguistic reference books that do not group them together. A transitional zone between Low Frankish and Middle Franconian is formed by the Meuse-Rhenish Franconian varieties, which are to be found in Belgium, the Netherlands, and in German Lower Rhineland. 
West Central German dialects
The West Central German dialects (also known as "Middle Franconian dialects") are spoken in the German states of South-Western North Rhine-Westphalia, Western Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, in the bordering French département Moselle, in Luxembourg, by the Transylvanian Saxons in Romania, and by the Amish in North America. It is estimated that these dialects have about 1,700,000 native speakers 
- Moselle Franconian
- Transylvanian Saxon
- Rhine Franconian
- Ripuarian Franconian
- Pennsylvania German (locally known as Pennsylfaanisch (Deitsch) and more commonly known as Pennsylvania Dutch)
Moselle Franconian, Luxembourgish, Transylvanian Saxon, Ripuarian Franconian are also known as "Middle Franconian dialects" - Palatinate German, Pennsylvania German, Hessian, and the Rhinehessian dialect (in Rhenish Hesse around Mainz, Bingen, Bad Kreuznach and in Hessen in the Rheingau area and in Wiesbaden) are also known as "Rhine Franconian dialects".
Transitional High German dialects
High German dialects are spoken in the transition area between Central and Upper German dialects. An estimated 700,000 people speak these dialects, most of them are located in Eastern France (in northern Alsace, in the region of Strasbourg) and South-West Germany. 
- ^ The tribal settlement of the Franks between 260 and 537 saw them expand slowly from the border of the Rhine to the south and west. By 480 they occupied lands almost totally unrelated to their original holdings, although by 537 there was again some overlap with the original boundaries of their lands. The driving forces for their migrations have not been recorded, however if we apply the principle of uniformitarianism it seems probable that it had something to do with the weather. Accompanying image
- ^ "Old Dutch came forth from Old Frankish" (Dutch)
- ^ The total of speakers of all Low Franconian dialects and languages, based on ethnologue gives a number of over 40 million speakers: 22 million Dutch speakers, 16 million Afrikaans speakers and the various dialects of these 2 languages (Flemish for example, has 1 million speakers) creates a number around, and probably over 40 million speakers.
- ^ Glück, H. (ed.): Metzler Lexikon Sprache, pages 472, 473. Stuttgart, Weimar: Metzler, 2000 (entries Niederdeutsch and Niederfränkisch)
- ^ Welschen, Ad : Course Dutch Society and Culture, International School for Humanities and Social Studies ISHSS, Universiteit van Amsterdam 2000-2005.
- ^ When taking all West Central German dialects as listed by ethnologue the number 1,535,000 appears, 2 dialects have no speaker data, however considering the area in which they are spoken and the demographics of the area as well as comparable dialects an estimate of about 400,000 can be made.
- ^ Very little data is available about these speakers but considering the population of the area (about 1,500,000) a general assumption (as with many German dialects in heavily industrialised post World War II areas) can be made that about half of the population speaks the dialect.
- Feulner, Hans-Jürgen et al. (1997). Wie såchd denn Ihr dezu?: Ein fränkisches Mundart-Wörterbuch für den Landkreis Kronach. Schirmer Druck, Mitwitz. ISBN 3-9803467-3-0.
- Munske, Horst Haider and Hinderling, Robert (1996). Bavarian Linguistic Atlas (Linguistic Atlas of Bavaria-Swabia, Linguistic Atlas of Middle Franconia, Linguistic Atlas of Lower Franconia, Linguistic Atlas of North East Bavaria, Linguistic Atlas of Lower and Upper Bavaria). University Press, Heidelberg. ISBN 3-8260-1865-6.
- Munske, Horst Haider and Klepsch, Alfred (2003, updated in 2004). Linguistic Atlas of Middle Franconia. University Press, Heidelberg.
- van der Horst, J. M. (2002). Introduction to Old Dutch. University Press, Leuven.
- Wells, Chris (1985). German. A Linguistic History to 1945. Clarendon Press, Oxford.