Hunsrückisch is a German dialect spoken in the Hunsrück region of Germany (Rhineland-Palatinate). This mountainous region of Germany has long been an 'exporter' of immigrants to Canada, the United States, Brazil, Australia and other parts of the world.

There are many theories about the exact origin of the term Hunsrück but no definitive proof has been established or satisfied the majority of the scholars specializing on the subject.

Hunsrückisch will be familiar to many non-German speakers through Edgar Reitz's acclaimed TV series Heimat.


Hunsrückisch is a member of the West Central German group of dialects. This means that it did not undergo all phases of the High German consonant shift. For example:

  • Wat (English what, Dutch wat, German was)
  • Mudder (English mother, Dutch moeder, German Mutter)

French influence

Due to its proximity to France, the Hunsrückisch dialect spoken in the Hunsrück region has experienced unique influences from the neighboring French language through the centuries. During Napoleonic times the Hunsrück region was incorporated into the country of France for a short period.

South Brazil dialects

There is a variation of this dialect in southern Brazil named Riograndenser Hunsrückisch by Dr. Cléo Vilson Altenhofen in 1996, as to differentiate it from the original European form of this dialect. The term "Riograndenser" refers to someone or something (in this case the dialect) that is from the state of Rio Grande do Sul, the southernmost state of Brazil.

There is such a thing as a Deutschbrasilianer or German-Brazilian identity in southern Brazil - the existence of the language is proof of that. However, especially since World War II, there has been great political, social and even police pressure to make this cultural regionalism disappear into the mainstream of society. These efforts have been mostly successful. In the state of Rio Grande do Sul, schools are encouraged to teach local, regional languages (like German, Polish, Italian or Talian, as it is best known in southern Brazil; and schools located on bordering regions, that is near Uruguay and Argentina, are encouraged to teach Spanish. English as a second language remains very popular with students not only in the south of Brazil but throughout the country.

Throughout its almost two hundred year history in Southern Brazil, Hunsrückish or Riograndenser Hunsrückisch has been greatly influenced by other Germanic dialects such as Pomeranian, Swabian, and Austro-Bavarian and also by other immigrant languages; and also, naturally, by Portuguese, the national language of Brazil). As a matter of fact, via Brazilian Portuguese, Riograndenser Hunsrückisch also incorporated Amerindian and Afro-Brazilian terminology.

Riograndenser Hunsrückisch is not only spoken in the state of Rio Grande do Sul but also in the neighboring state of Santa Catarina and in other parts of southern Brazil (and in a much smaller scale in other countries of the region, like Paraguay and Argentina).

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