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The "Sudetendeutsche Wörterbuch" (SdWb)

Dictionary of the German Dialects of Bohemia and Moravia-Silesia 

The Sudetendeutsche Wörterbuch (SdWb) is a scientific dictionary of dialects that presents the various German idioms of the geographic regions of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. By describing the German variants of language, the dictionary conserves the most original cultural asset of the German past in the Bohemian countries and prevents it from being forgotten.


It originated in the inter-war years as a collection for a dictionary of Sudeten-German dialects, compiled by Ernst Schwarz and Erich Gierach at the Charles-University in Prague. In their succession, Franz J. Beranek revived this project in 1957 at the university in Gießen. From the beginning, this project was conducted in cooperation with the Collegium Carolinum in Munich and was supported financially by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) for two decades. Currently, the project is funded by the Free State of Bavaria.


Beranek compiled a new collection of materials based on hundreds of questionnaires which were filled in by around 650 informants in the 1950s and 1960s. In addition, 20 supplementary questionnaires and specially designed lists designated for specific professions and topics based on local literature, scientific publications and on recommendations from the public were employed.
The collected information was transcribed by research assistants, translated to standard German and archived alphabetically, so that the material existing today consists of an alphabetical archive on paper with approx. 2.7 million entries, 182.000 references to synonyms and 16.500 work cards. It is possible to add new entries at any time which can then be allocated to a supplementary volume.


The SdWb follows the principle of the alphabetical arrangement of keywords and the "Lemma" approach based on the written German language. In accordance with its original concept, it covers 5 large dialect regions: Middle Bavaria, North Bavaria/Upper Palatinate, East Franconia, Silesia and Upper Saxony including assorted linguistic enclaves with their mixed dialects. Furthermore, all sociolects which have been archived (e.g. the language of beekeepers, hunters, soldiers etc.) are taken into account as well as the German-Slavic exchange of loan words.
The SdWb, the editorial staff of the dictionary and the associated collections in Gießen (archive of Sudeten German dialects, archive of ethnic studies, archive of names including special assets: the collection of field names by Peschel as well as the archive of Carpathian German dialects) do not only have linguistic information to offer, but also aspects related to ethnology, so that not only linguists, but ethnologists, historians and interested laymen likewise belong to the target audience. The reports on the Sudeten German dictionary continually provide information on the progress of the work.


In general, the dictionary is released in two annual deliveries consisting of 80 pages each; an overall amount of 8 volumes, each comprising 8 or 9 deliveries, is planned. More...

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