Main Content

The Hesse-Nassau Dialect Dictionary – background

The image depicts the area covered by the Hesse-Nassau Dialect Dictionary.
Dennis Beitel
Survey area of the Hesse-Nassau Dialect Dictionary

Survey area

The Hesse-Nassau Dialect Dictionary covers the dialect vocabulary of the former Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau, the Hesse-Darmstadt province of Upper Hesse, the Principality (later Free State) of Waldeck, the Rhenish district of Wetzlar and the Westphalian district of Wittgenstein. From a linguistic geographic point of view, the dialect regions of Lower, Central and Eastern Hessian as well as peripheral areas of Westphalian, Eastphalian, Thuringian, East Franconian, Rhenish Franconian and Moselle Franconian are covered. The dialect vocabulary of these areas was recorded as it was in use during the survey period from 1912 to 1934. Thus, the area of today’s federal state of Hesse north of the Main River is covered in full, as are the smaller areas of Rhineland-Palatinate (Western Nassau), North Rhine-Westphalia (Wittgenstein), and Thuringia (Schmalkalden).

History of the office

Head of the office

1911–1934 Ferdinand Wrede

1934–1971 Luise Berthold

1971–1994 Hans Friebertshäuser

1994–2016 Heinrich J. Dingeldein

2016-2021 Alexander Werth (provisional)

2021-2023 Bernd Vielsmeier

since 2024 Nathalie Mederake


The dictionary is arranged strictly alphabetically according to standard or “standardized” lemmas (with cross-references from dialect-related headwords), covering the dialect vocabulary in its entirety, i.e. not only the specific dialect words but also the words that dialect and standard language have in common.

The presented material can be considered as vouched for the period of the first third of the 20th century from about the turn of the century. Documentary and older material is used only if it can contribute to the elucidation of factual or grammatical issues; evidence obtained later is taken into account only if it can also be proved for the period of validity.

The publication is based on the handwritten collections in alphabetically arranged card indexes (around 350 000 paper slips). They originate from free surveys of recruited employees (mainly teachers), from a total of 69 questionnaire surveys (some of which related only to subareas) and from written (printed and unprinted) sources such as dialect literature and scientific papers. A considerable and methodologically especially valuable part comes from direct surveys.