View Full Version : Classification of High German Languages

Friday, November 9th, 2007, 03:49 PM
The High German languages (in German, Hochdeutsch) are any of the varieties of standard German, Luxembourgish and Yiddish as well as the local German dialects spoken in central and southern Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Luxembourg and in neighbouring portions of Belgium, France (Alsace and northern Lorraine), Italy and Poland. The language is also spoken diaspora in Romania (Transylvania), Russia, the United States, Argentina and Namibia.

"High" refers to the mountainous areas of central and southern Germany and the Alps, as opposed to Low German spoken along the flat sea coasts of the north. High German can be subdivided into Upper German and Central German (Oberdeutsch, Mitteldeutsch).

The German term Hochdeutsch is also used loosely, but not by linguists, to mean standard written German as opposed to dialect, because the standard language developed out of High rather than Low German. This is based on a misunderstanding, and the attempt to rationalise it by suggesting that "high" means "official" doesn't solve the problem. In English, "High German" has never been used to mean "Standard German".

High German as used in Southern Germany, Bavaria and Austria was an important basis for the development of standard German.

The historical forms of the language are Old High German and Middle High German.

High German are distinguished from other West Germanic varieties in that they took part in the High German consonant shift (c. AD 500). To see this, compare German Pfanne with English pan ([pf] to [p]), German zwei with English two ([ts] to [t]), German machen with English make ([x] to [k]). In the High Alemannic dialects, there is a further shift; Sack (like English "sack") is pronounced [z̥akx] ([k] to [kx]).

Note that divisions between subfamilies of Germanic are rarely precisely defined; most form continuous clines, with adjacent dialects being mutually intelligible and more separated ones not. In particular, there never has been an original "Proto-High German". For this and other reasons, the idea of representing the relationships between West Germanic language forms in a tree diagram at all is controversial among linguists; what follows should be used with care in the light of this caveat.

Central German (German: Mitteldeutsch)
East Central German
Berlin Brandenburgish (mostly in Berlin and Brandenburg)
Thuringian Upper Saxon (mostly in Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony)
German Lusatian (in Saxony and Brandenburg)
Lower Silesian language (mostly in Lower Silesia, in Poland)
Transylvanian Saxon (in Transylvania)
West Central German
Middle Franconian
Moselle Franconian, including the Luxembourgish language
Rhine Franconian
Lorraine Franconian (France)
Pfälzisch language
Hessian dialect
Transitional areas between Central German and Upper German
East Franconian German
South Franconian German
Pennsylvania German (in the United States and Canada)
Upper German (German: Oberdeutsch)
Low Alemannic (including one Swiss German dialect: Basel German)
Alsatian language (but often also classified as within Low Alemannic)
High Alemannic (including many Swiss German dialects)
Highest Alemannic (including Swiss German dialects)
Austro-Bavarian (On the use of dialects and Standard German in Austria, see Austrian language)
Northern Austro-Bavarian (spoken in Upper Palatinate)
Central Austro-Bavarian (includes the dialects of Upper Bavaria, Lower Bavaria, Upper Austria, Lower Austria and Vienna — see Viennese language)
Southern Austro-Bavarian (includes the dialects of Tyrol, Carinthia and Styria)
Cimbrian (northeastern Italy)
Mócheno (Trentino, in Italy)
Hutterite German (in Canada and the United States)
Western Yiddish (Germany, France)
Eastern Yiddish
Northeastern Yiddish (Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, Russia, northeastern Poland)
Central Yiddish (Poland, Galicia)
Southeastern Yiddish (Ukraine, Bessarabia, Romania)
Click here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_German_languages) for the original and to see some maps.

Friday, November 9th, 2007, 03:53 PM
They should update their Article because of "Hessian". There is Upper-Hessien, Lower-Hessian, Franconian Hessian and Rhönsch Hessian. Which are all very different.

Unless they don't count them to "hochdeutsch".

Besides that i wouldn't call "Yiddish" a Germanic Language. It's probably the same as nowadays if immigrants come somewhere and mix their language with ours, Yiddish is a mix of hebrew and local german dialects and language.


Friday, November 9th, 2007, 05:17 PM
As far as I know, there is only one official High German language (the current official German language) but dozens of different High German dialects. I think we should more clearly distinguish between different languages and different dialects.

Anyway, I'm glad to find out that Upper German is not the same as High German. I used to think it was :o