Published online by Cambridge University Press: 31 March 2020
The continental West Germanic dialect continuum roughly encompasses the territory of modern-day Germany, Austria, the German-speaking part of Switzerland, the Netherlands, the northern half of Belgium (Flanders), Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and South Tyrol, in northern Italy. The dialectal varieties in this region differ and are classified on the basis of phonological, morphological, and lexical distinctions. The varieties of Netherlandish and Frisian represent the northernmost part of the continuum. The remaining area, in which Standard German can be viewed as the high variety, is traditionally divided into subdialects utilizing consonantal and vocalic innovations, e.g., the High German consonant shift. The German dialects also differ in terms of noun case distinctions, plural verb morphology, and lexical variation.