is the language of the Gottschee Germans. It is a German dialect with some influx
from the Slovene language or dialects of Carniola. Linguists identify its origin to be in a group
of Bavarian dialects, most notably those of the Carinthian/Tyrolian border region, where many of the original colonists of
Gottschee had come from. It is closely related to the nearly extinct dialects
of the former German enclaves Zarz (Slov.: Sorica) and Deutschrut (Slov.: Nemski Rovt) in Slovenia, and Zahre (Ital.: Sauris)
and Pladen (Ital.: Sappada) in Northern Italy (Hornung). It has retained many features of the medieval languages of the Alpine region; in fact, Gottscheerisch is
thought to be older than any of the related dialects existing in the German and Austrian Alps.
At this time there may be a few
thousand people scattered throughout the world for whom Gottscheerisch was the first and native tongue. Many of them no longer practice it. In the Gottscheer community
of Ridgewood, New York, which
constitutes one of the largest remaining groups of Gottscheers in the world, the language is still alive, justifying the distinction
given it by linguists to be “one of the oldest German dialects alive.” But
its days are clearly numbered.