Moselle Romance

Map showing in light blue the area where was spoken the "Mosella Romance", near the current border between Germany & Belgium

Moselle Romance (German: Moselromanisch) is an extinct Gallo-Romance (most probably Langue d'oïl) dialect that developed after the fall of the Roman Empire along the Moselle river in modern-day Germany, near the border with France. Despite heavy Germanic influence, it persisted in isolated pockets until the 11th century.[1]

Historical background

After Julius Caesar conquered Gaul in 50 BC, a Gallo-Roman culture gradually developed in what is today France, southern Belgium, Luxembourg, and the region between Trier and Koblenz. By contrast, the adjacent province of Germania Inferior and part of Germania Superior retained a Germanic character throughout the Imperial period.


The Angles and Saxons, en route to England from their ancestral lands in the western Netherlands and Germany, carved a path through Holland, Flanders, and Brabant and sent the local Franks fleeing southeast along the Ourthe and Sauer rivers to the region around Metz and the Upper Moselle. This drove a sixty-kilometer wedge between the Gallo-Romans in the Trier-Koblenz area and their linguistic brethren in the rest of Gaul.[citation needed]

Judging by the archeological evidence, these newly arrived Franks practiced farming and animal husbandry about Bitburg, Gutland, the Middle and Upper Saar, and the Moselle Valley – strongly preferring these last two over the others.[citation needed]

According to linguist Alberto Varvaro the linguistic frontier between German and Latin populations around the 13th century was similar to the present language frontier, but only a few years before there still was a "remaining area of neolatin speakers" in the valleys of the Mosella river (near old Roman Treviri).[2]


The local Gallo-Roman placenames suggest that the left bank of the Moselle was Germanized following the 8th century, but the right bank remained Romance-speaking into at least the 10th century. Said names include Maring-Noviand, Osann-Monzel, Longuich, Riol, Hatzenport, Longkamp, Karden, and Kröv or Alf. This being a wine-growing region, a number of viticultural terms from Moselle Romance have survived in the local German dialect.

Sample text

The following Late Latin inscription from the sixth century shows influence from Moselle Romance:

  • Hoc tetolo fecet Montana, coniux sua, Mauricio, qui visit con elo annus dodece; et portavit annus qarranta; trasit die VIII K(a)l(endas) Iunias.
  • "For Mauricius his wife Montana who lived with him for twelve years made this gravestone; he was forty years old and died on the 25th of May."[3]

See also


  1. ^ Post, Rudolf (2004). "Zur Geschichte und Erforschung des Moselromanischen". Rheinische Vierteljahrsblätter. 68: 1–35. ISSN 0035-4473.
  2. ^ Alberto Varvaro."Federiciana". Treccani Enciclopedia ([1])
  3. ^ Johannes Kramer: Zwischen Latein und Moselromanisch. Die Gondorfer Grabinschrift für Mauricius. In: Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, Bd. 118 (1997) S. 281–286, ISSN 0084-5388 (PDF; 292 kB)
  • Wolfgang Jungandreas: Zur Geschichte des Moselromanischen. Studien zur Lautchronologie und zur Winzerlexik (Mainzer Studien zur Sprach- und Volksforschung; 3). Steiner Verlag, Wiesbaden 1979, ISBN 3-515-03137-5.

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