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The Franconian Dictionary (WBF)


Since 2012 the Franconian Dictionary, a project of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, has been entrusted to the Friedrich-Alexander-University in Erlangen and Nuremberg (FAU). The project is supervised by Prof. Dr. Mechthild Habermann, Chair of the Faculty of German Linguistics at the FAU.

Dialect Dictionaries in German-Speaking Regions

In the second half of the 18th century scientists became interested in the lexical documentation of dialects. They became aware of a diglossia on the rise, a functional differentiation of dialect and standard language. While dialects were exclusively spoken, the trans-regional standard language was primarily written. Starting in the early 19th century this observation had philologists forecast the dialects’ imminent demise, pointing out their importance as living monuments of historical language stages as well as sources for the historical science.

Subsequently numerous projects were founded for compilation of extensive dictionaries, for an overview see the map „Bearbeitungsgebiete der großlandschaftlichen Wörterbücher der deutschen Dialekte“ by Werner König:

The Franconian Dictionary

The Franconian Dictionary was initiated by the Munich office of the Bavarian Dictionary project, sending questionnaires for a dialect survey in Franconia. In the wake of this survey an office in Erlangen was established in 1933 (see also History of the the Franconian Dictionary).

During the course of 90 years thousands of volunteers helped to compile a considerable collection of vernacular examples of usage, drawn from the Bavarian districts of Upper, Middle and Lower Frankonia. For the most part they represent the East Franconian dialect, to the lesser extent also Rhine-Franconian, Swabian and North-Bavarian vernaculars. Between 2007 and 2008 a small selection of the research results was published in three editions of one printed volume by Eberhard Wagner and Alfred Klepsch: “Handwörterbuch von Bayerisch-Franken”, edited by the Kommission für Mundartforschung der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (see also History: 2003 until today)

The Franconian Dictionary Going Digital

Between 2012 and 2013 all material was digitalised in the form of image files for backup reasons only. For the past few years the content of the usage examples has also been digitally documented and indexed. All example collections and card indexes so far only accessible in their original form are being recorded in one single database and will be made accessible to the public (WBF digital).


This project is funded by the the Free State of Bavaria as an initiative of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities.