Middle High German

Middle High German

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Encyclopedia
Middle High German abbreviated MHG (Mhd.), is the term used for the period in the history of the German language
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 between 1050 and 1350. It is preceded by Old High German
Old High German
The term Old High German refers to the earliest stage of the German language and it conventionally covers the period from around 500 to 1050. Coherent written texts do not appear until the second half of the 8th century, and some treat the period before 750 as 'prehistoric' and date the start of...

 and followed by Early New High German
Early New High German
Early New High German is a term for the period in the history of the German language, generally defined, following Wilhelm Scherer, as the period 1350 to 1650.Alternative periodisations take the period to begin later; e.g...

. In some uses, the term covers a longer period, going up to 1500.

Varieties


Middle High German is not a unified written language and the term covers two main dialect areas:
  • Upper German
    Upper German
    Upper German is a family of High German dialects spoken primarily in southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Northern Italy.-Family tree:Upper German can be generally classified as Alemannic or Austro-Bavarian...

     (Oberdeutsch)
    • Alemannic
      Alemannic German
      Alemannic is a group of dialects of the Upper German branch of the Germanic language family. It is spoken by approximately ten million people in six countries: Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, France and Italy...

       (Alemannisch = Westoberdeutsch)
    • Bavarian (Bairisch = Ostoberdeutsch)
    • East Franconian (Ostfränkisch = Nordoberdeutsch)
    • South Franconian (Südfränkisch = Nordoberdeutsch)
  • Central German
    Central German
    Central German is a group of High German dialects spoken from the Rhineland in the west to the former eastern territories of Germany.-History:...

     or Middle German (Mitteldeutsch)
    • Franconian
      West Central German
      West Central German belongs to the Central, High German dialect family in the German language. Its dialects are thoroughly Franconian including the following sub-families:* Central Franconian...

       (Westmitteldeutsch)
      • Rhine Franconian
        Rhine Franconian
        Rhine Franconian , or Rhenish Franconian, is a dialect family of West Central German. It comprises the German dialects spoken across the western regions of the states of Saarland, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Hesse in Germany...

         (Rheinfränkisch)
      • Middle Franconian (Mittelfränkisch)
      • Hessian (Hessisch)
    • East Central German
      East Central German
      East Central German is the non-Franconian sub-group of Central German dialects, themselves part of High German. It comprises:*Standard German*Thuringian*Upper Saxon German*Lausitzisch-Neumärkisch, whose best-known form is the Berlinerisch dialect...

       (Ostmitteldeutsch)
      • Thuringian (Thüringisch)
      • Upper Saxon (Obersächsisch)
      • Silesian
        Silesian German
        Silesian German language , is a German dialect/language spoken in Silesia. Today, the area is mainly in southwestern Poland, but as well as in northeastern Czech Republic and in eastern Germany...

         (Schlesisch)
      • High Prussian
        High Prussian
        High Prussian is a dialect of East Central German that developed in the region of East Prussia. The dialect developed from High German, brought in by Silesian German settlers in the 13th—15th centuries, and was influenced by the Baltic Old Prussian language...

         (Hochpreußisch)


The Middle Low German
Middle Low German
Middle Low German is a language that is the descendant of Old Saxon and is the ancestor of modern Low German. It served as the international lingua franca of the Hanseatic League...

 and Middle Dutch
Middle Dutch
Middle Dutch is a collective name for a number of closely related West Germanic dialects which were spoken and written between 1150 and 1500...

 areas in the North are not covered by MHG. While there is no standard MHG, the prestige of the Hohenstaufen
Hohenstaufen
The House of Hohenstaufen was a dynasty of German kings in the High Middle Ages, lasting from 1138 to 1254. Three of these kings were also crowned Holy Roman Emperor. In 1194 the Hohenstaufens also became Kings of Sicily...

 court gave rise in the late 12th century to a supra-regional literary language (mittelhochdeutsche Dichtersprache) based on Swabian, an Alemannic
Alemannic German
Alemannic is a group of dialects of the Upper German branch of the Germanic language family. It is spoken by approximately ten million people in six countries: Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, France and Italy...

 dialect. However, the picture is complicated by the fact that modern editions of MHG texts have a tendency to use normalised spellings based on this variety (usually called "Classical MHG"), which make the written language appear more consistent than is actually the case in the manuscripts. It is uncertain whether the literary language reflected a supra-regional spoken language of the courts.

An important development in this period was the eastward expansion of German settlement beyond the Elbe
Elbe
The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northwestern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia , then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg...

-Saale
Saale
The Saale, also known as the Saxon Saale and Thuringian Saale , is a river in Germany and a left-bank tributary of the Elbe. It is not to be confused with the smaller Franconian Saale, a right-bank tributary of the Main, or the Saale in Lower Saxony, a tributary of the Leine.-Course:The Saale...

 line which marked the limit of Old High German
Old High German
The term Old High German refers to the earliest stage of the German language and it conventionally covers the period from around 500 to 1050. Coherent written texts do not appear until the second half of the 8th century, and some treat the period before 750 as 'prehistoric' and date the start of...

. This process started in the 11th century, and all the East Central German
East Central German
East Central German is the non-Franconian sub-group of Central German dialects, themselves part of High German. It comprises:*Standard German*Thuringian*Upper Saxon German*Lausitzisch-Neumärkisch, whose best-known form is the Berlinerisch dialect...

 dialects are a result of this expansion.

"Judeo-German" is the precursor of the Yiddish language which is attested in the 13th-14th centuries as a variety of Middle High German written in Hebrew characters.

Writing system


Middle High German texts are written in the Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

, in Gothic minuscules that evolved into the Fraktur typefaces of the Early Modern period.

Middle High German had no standardised spelling. Modern edition
Edition
In printmaking, an edition is a number of prints struck from one plate, usually at the same time. This is the meaning covered by this article...

s, however, generally standardise according to a set of conventions established by Karl Lachmann
Karl Lachmann
Karl Konrad Friedrich Wilhelm Lachmann was a German philologist and critic.-Biography:He was born in Brunswick, in what is now Lower Saxony....

 in the 19th century. There are several important features in this standardised orthography which are not characteristics of the original manuscript
Manuscript
A manuscript or handwrite is written information that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way...

s:
  • the marking of vowel length is almost entirely absent from MHG manuscripts.
  • the marking of umlaut
    Umlaut (diacritic)
    The diaeresis and the umlaut are diacritics that consist of two dots placed over a letter, most commonly a vowel. When that letter is an i or a j, the diacritic replaces the tittle: ï....

    ed vowels is often absent or inconsistent in the manuscripts.
  • a curly-tailed z (<ȥ> or <ʒ>) is used in modern handbooks and grammars to indicate the /s/ or /s/-like sound which arose from Germanic
    Germanic languages
    The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

     /t/ in the High German consonant shift
    High German consonant shift
    In historical linguistics, the High German consonant shift or second Germanic consonant shift is a phonological development that took place in the southern parts of the West Germanic dialect continuum in several phases, probably beginning between the 3rd and 5th centuries AD, and was almost...

    . This character has no counterpart in the original manuscripts which typically use <s> or <sz> to indicate this sound
  • the original texts often use <i> and <u> for the semi-vowels /j/ and /w/.


A particular issue is that many manuscripts are of much later date than the works they contain, with signs of later scribes modifying the spellings, with greater or lesser consistency, in accordance with the conventions of their own time. There is also considerable regional variation in the spellings of the original texts, which modern editions largely conceal.

Vowels

Middle High German vowels
Short
Vowel length
In linguistics, vowel length is the perceived duration of a vowel sound. Often the chroneme, or the "longness", acts like a consonant, and may etymologically be one, such as in Australian English. While not distinctive in most dialects of English, vowel length is an important phonemic factor in...

Long
Front
Front vowel
A front vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a front vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far in front as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Front vowels are sometimes also...

Central
Central vowel
A central vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a central vowel is that the tongue is positioned halfway between a front vowel and a back vowel...

Back
Back vowel
A back vowel is a type of vowel sound used in spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a back vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far back as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Back vowels are sometimes also called dark...

Front Back
Close
Close vowel
A close vowel is a type of vowel sound used in many spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a close vowel is that the tongue is positioned as close as possible to the roof of the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant.This term is prescribed by the...

i  y u iː  yː
Mid
Mid vowel
A mid vowel is a vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a mid vowel is that the tongue is positioned mid-way between an open vowel and a close vowel...

e/ɛ  ø ə o eː  øː
Open
Open vowel
An open vowel is defined as a vowel sound in which the tongue is positioned as far as possible from the roof of the mouth. Open vowels are sometimes also called low vowels in reference to the low position of the tongue...

a

Middle High German diphthongs
Front
Front vowel
A front vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a front vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far in front as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Front vowels are sometimes also...

Back
Back vowel
A back vowel is a type of vowel sound used in spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a back vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far back as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Back vowels are sometimes also called dark...

Opening iə  yə
Closing ɛi  œy ɔu


The standardised orthography of MHG editions uses the following vowel spellings:
  • Short vowels: <a e i o u> and the umlauted vowels <ä ö ü>
  • Long vowels: <â ê î ô û> and the umlauted vowels <æ œ iu>
  • Closing diphthong
    Diphthong
    A diphthong , also known as a gliding vowel, refers to two adjacent vowel sounds occurring within the same syllable. Technically, a diphthong is a vowel with two different targets: That is, the tongue moves during the pronunciation of the vowel...

    s: <ei ou> and the umlauted diphthong <öu/eu/oi>
  • Opening diphthong
    Diphthong
    A diphthong , also known as a gliding vowel, refers to two adjacent vowel sounds occurring within the same syllable. Technically, a diphthong is a vowel with two different targets: That is, the tongue moves during the pronunciation of the vowel...

    s: <ie uo> and the umlauted diphthong <üe>


Grammars (as opposed to textual editions) often distinguish between <ë> and <e>, the former indicating the mid-open /ɛ/ which derived from Germanic /e/, the latter (often with a dot beneath it) indicating the mid-close /e/ which results from primary umlaut. No such orthographic distinction is made in MHG manuscripts.

The etymological distinction made in the standardised spelling between <e> and <ä>, with <ä> representing a lower vowel arising from the secondary umlaut of /a/, may well be valid for the earlier texts, but the distinction between these two front vowels was lost by the end of the period (as in Modern German).

Consonants

Middle High German consonants
  Labial
Labial consonant
Labial consonants are consonants in which one or both lips are the active articulator. This precludes linguolabials, in which the tip of the tongue reaches for the posterior side of the upper lip and which are considered coronals...

Alveolar
Alveolar consonant
Alveolar consonants are articulated with the tongue against or close to the superior alveolar ridge, which is called that because it contains the alveoli of the superior teeth...

Postalveolar
Postalveolar consonant
Postalveolar consonants are consonants articulated with the tongue near or touching the back of the alveolar ridge, further back in the mouth than the alveolar consonants, which are at the ridge itself, but not as far back as the hard palate...

Palatal
Palatal consonant
Palatal consonants are consonants articulated with the body of the tongue raised against the hard palate...

Velar
Velar consonant
Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum)....

Glottal
Glottal consonant
Glottal consonants, also called laryngeal consonants, are consonants articulated with the glottis. Many phoneticians consider them, or at least the so-called fricative, to be transitional states of the glottis without a point of articulation as other consonants have; in fact, some do not consider...

Plosive
Stop consonant
In phonetics, a plosive, also known as an occlusive or an oral stop, is a stop consonant in which the vocal tract is blocked so that all airflow ceases. The occlusion may be done with the tongue , lips , and &...

p  b t  d k  ɡ
Affricate
Affricate consonant
Affricates are consonants that begin as stops but release as a fricative rather than directly into the following vowel.- Samples :...

p͡f t͡s        
Fricative
Fricative consonant
Fricatives are consonants produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the back of the tongue against the soft palate, in the case of German , the final consonant of Bach; or...

f  v s  z ʃ x h
Nasal
Nasal consonant
A nasal consonant is a type of consonant produced with a lowered velum in the mouth, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. Examples of nasal consonants in English are and , in words such as nose and mouth.- Definition :...

m n (ŋ)
Trill
Trill consonant
In phonetics, a trill is a consonantal sound produced by vibrations between the articulator and the place of articulation. Standard Spanish <rr> as in perro is an alveolar trill, while in Parisian French it is almost always uvular....

r
Approximant
Approximant consonant
Approximants are speech sounds that involve the articulators approaching each other but not narrowly enough or with enough articulatory precision to create turbulent airflow. Therefore, approximants fall between fricatives, which do produce a turbulent airstream, and vowels, which produce no...

j w
Lateral
Lateral consonant
A lateral is an el-like consonant, in which airstream proceeds along the sides of the tongue, but is blocked by the tongue from going through the middle of the mouth....

l


The standardised orthography of MHG editions uses the following consonant spellings:
  • Stops
    Stop consonant
    In phonetics, a plosive, also known as an occlusive or an oral stop, is a stop consonant in which the vocal tract is blocked so that all airflow ceases. The occlusion may be done with the tongue , lips , and &...

    : <p t k/c b d g q>
  • Affricates: <pf/ph tz/z>
  • Fricatives: <v f s ȥ sch ch h>
  • Nasals
    Nasal consonant
    A nasal consonant is a type of consonant produced with a lowered velum in the mouth, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. Examples of nasal consonants in English are and , in words such as nose and mouth.- Definition :...

    : <m n>
  • Liquids: <l r>
  • Semivowels: <w j>

Pronouns


Middle High German pronouns of the first person refer to the speaker; those of the second person refer to an addressed person. The pronoun
Pronoun
In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun is a pro-form that substitutes for a noun , such as, in English, the words it and he...

s of the third person may be used to replace nominal phrases. These have the same gender
Gender
Gender is a range of characteristics used to distinguish between males and females, particularly in the cases of men and women and the masculine and feminine attributes assigned to them. Depending on the context, the discriminating characteristics vary from sex to social role to gender identity...

, number
Grammatical number
In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, and adjective and verb agreement that expresses count distinctions ....

 and case as the original nominal phrase. This goes for other pronouns, too.

Personal pronouns

Personal Pronouns
1st sg 2nd sg |3rd sg 1st pl 2nd pl 3rd pl
Nominative ich du ër sie ëz wir ir sie
Accusative mich dich in sie ëz uns iuch sie
Dative mir dir im ir im uns iu in
Genitive* mîn dîn sîn ir sîn unser iuwer ir
  • Note: the genitive form is used as an adjective and hence takes on adjective endings following the normal rules. This includes 'unser' and 'iuwer', despite the fact that they already end in -er.

Nouns


Middle High German nouns were declined according to four cases (Nominative, genitive, dative
Dative case
The dative case is a grammatical case generally used to indicate the noun to whom something is given, as in "George gave Jamie a drink"....

, accusative), two numbers (singular
Grammatical number
In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, and adjective and verb agreement that expresses count distinctions ....

 and plural
Plural
In linguistics, plurality or [a] plural is a concept of quantity representing a value of more-than-one. Typically applied to nouns, a plural word or marker is used to distinguish a value other than the default quantity of a noun, which is typically one...

) and three genders
Grammatical gender
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

 (masculine, feminine and neuter), much like Modern High German, though there are several important differences.

Strong nouns

dër tac
day m.
diu zît
time f.
daʒ wort
word n.
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative dër tac die tage diu zît die zîte daʒ wort diu wort
Genitive dës tages dër tage dër zît dër zîte dës wortes dër worte
Dative dëm tage dën tagen dër zît dën zîten dëm worte dën worten
Accusative dën tac die tage die zît die zîten daʒ wort diu wort

Weak nouns

dër veter
(male) cousin m.
diu zunge
tongue f.
daʒ herze
heart n.
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative dër veter die veteren diu zunge die zungen daʒ herze diu herzen
Genitive dës veteren dër veteren dër zungen dër zungen dës herzen dër herzen
Dative dëm veteren dën veteren dër zungen dën zungen dëm herzen dën herzen
Accusative dën veteren die veteren die zungen die zungen daʒ herze diu herzen


Note that ë is a short, open /ɛ/, so MHG dër /dɛr/ as opposed to modern /deːr/.

Articles


Middle High German articles have a feature called "strength", which influences the declension of the adjectives. There are strong articles, weak articles, and articles that have strong and weak cases. Sometimes this feature is not constant in literature.

The inflected forms depend on the number, the case and the gender of the corresponding noun. Articles have the same plural forms for all three genders.

Definite article (strong)
Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural
Nominative dër daʒ diu die/diu
Genitive dës dës dër dër
Dative dëm dëm dër dën
Accusative dën daʒ die die/diu
Instrumental diu


The instrumental case
Instrumental case
The instrumental case is a grammatical case used to indicate that a noun is the instrument or means by or with which the subject achieves or accomplishes an action...

, only existing in the neuter singular, is used only with prepositions: von diu, ze diu, etc. In all the other genders and in the plural it is substituted with the dative: von dëm, von dër, von dën.

Verbs



Verbs were conjugated according to three moods (indicative, subjunctive
Subjunctive mood
In grammar, the subjunctive mood is a verb mood typically used in subordinate clauses to express various states of irreality such as wish, emotion, possibility, judgment, opinion, necessity, or action that has not yet occurred....

 and imperative
Imperative mood
The imperative mood expresses commands or requests as a grammatical mood. These commands or requests urge the audience to act a certain way. It also may signal a prohibition, permission, or any other kind of exhortation.- Morphology :...

), three persons, two numbers (singular
Grammatical number
In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, and adjective and verb agreement that expresses count distinctions ....

 and plural
Plural
In linguistics, plurality or [a] plural is a concept of quantity representing a value of more-than-one. Typically applied to nouns, a plural word or marker is used to distinguish a value other than the default quantity of a noun, which is typically one...

) and two tenses (present tense
Present tense
The present tense is a grammatical tense that locates a situation or event in present time. This linguistic definition refers to a concept that indicates a feature of the meaning of a verb...

 and preterite
Preterite
The preterite is the grammatical tense expressing actions that took place or were completed in the past...

) There was a present participle, a past participle and a verbal noun that somewhat resembles the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 gerund
Gerund
In linguistics* As applied to English, it refers to the usage of a verb as a noun ....

, but that only existed in the genitive and dative
Dative case
The dative case is a grammatical case generally used to indicate the noun to whom something is given, as in "George gave Jamie a drink"....

 cases.

An important distinction was made between strong verb
Strong verb
*for the strong inflection in various languages, see strong inflection*for irregular verbs, see irregular verb*for the strong verbs in Germanic languages, see Germanic strong verb...

s (that exhibited ablaut
Indo-European ablaut
In linguistics, ablaut is a system of apophony in Proto-Indo-European and its far-reaching consequences in all of the modern Indo-European languages...

) and weak verb
Weak verb
Weak verb may refer to:*light verb, or "semantically weak verb", verb participating in complex predication that has little semantic content of its own, but provides through inflection some details on the event semantics, such as aspect, mood, or tense...

s (that didn't).

Furthermore, there were also some irregular verbs.

Strong verbs


The present tense
Present tense
The present tense is a grammatical tense that locates a situation or event in present time. This linguistic definition refers to a concept that indicates a feature of the meaning of a verb...

 conjugation went as follows:
nëmen
to take
Indicative Subjunctive
1. sg. ich nime ich nëme
2. sg. du nim(e)st du nëmest
3. sg. ër nim(e)t er nëme
1. pl. wir nëmen wir nëmen
2. pl. ir nëm(e)t ir nëmet
3. pl. sie nëment sie nëmen


Imperative: 2.sg: nim, 2.pl: nëmet
Present participle: nëmente
Infinitive: nëmen
Verbal noun: Genitive: nëmennes, dative: ze nëmenne

The bold vowels demonstrate umlaut
Germanic umlaut
In linguistics, umlaut is a process whereby a vowel is pronounced more like a following vowel or semivowel. The term umlaut was originally coined and is used principally in connection with the study of the Germanic languages...

; the vowels in brackets were dropped in rapid speech.

The preterite
Preterite
The preterite is the grammatical tense expressing actions that took place or were completed in the past...

 conjugation went as follows:
genomen haben
to have taken
Indicative Subjunctive
1. sg. ich nam ich næme
2. sg. du næme du næmest
3. sg. ër nam er næme
1. pl. wir namen wir næmen
2. pl. ir namet ir næmet
3. pl. sie namen sie næmen


Past participle: genomen

Weak verbs


The present tense
Present tense
The present tense is a grammatical tense that locates a situation or event in present time. This linguistic definition refers to a concept that indicates a feature of the meaning of a verb...

 conjugation went as follows:
suochen
to seek
Indicative Subjunctive
1. sg. ich suoche ich suoche
2. sg. du suoch(e)st du suochest
3. sg. ër suoch(e)t er suoche
1. pl. wir suochen wir suochen
2. pl. ir suoch(e)t ir suochet
3. pl. sie suochent sie suochen


Imperative: 2.sg: suoche, 2.pl: suochet
Present participle: suochente
Infinitive: suochen
Verbal noun: Genitive: suochennes, dative: ze suochenne

The vowels in brackets were dropped in rapid speech.

The preterite
Preterite
The preterite is the grammatical tense expressing actions that took place or were completed in the past...

 conjugation went as follows:
gesuocht haben
to have sought
Indicative Subjunctive
1. sg. ich suochete ich suochete
2. sg. du suochetest du suochetest
3. sg. ër suochete er suochete
1. pl. wir suocheten wir suocheten
2. pl. ir suochetet ir suochetet
3. pl. sie suochetent sie suocheten


Past participle: gesuochet

Periodisation


There are several criteria which separate MHG from the preceding Old High German
Old High German
The term Old High German refers to the earliest stage of the German language and it conventionally covers the period from around 500 to 1050. Coherent written texts do not appear until the second half of the 8th century, and some treat the period before 750 as 'prehistoric' and date the start of...

 period:
  • the weakening of unstressed vowels to <e> - OHG taga > MHG tage ("days")
  • the full development of Umlaut
    Germanic umlaut
    In linguistics, umlaut is a process whereby a vowel is pronounced more like a following vowel or semivowel. The term umlaut was originally coined and is used principally in connection with the study of the Germanic languages...

     and its use to mark a number of morphological categories
    Morphology (linguistics)
    In linguistics, morphology is the identification, analysis and description, in a language, of the structure of morphemes and other linguistic units, such as words, affixes, parts of speech, intonation/stress, or implied context...

  • the devoicing of final stops - OHG tag > MHG tac ("day")

Culturally, the two periods are distinguished by the transition from a predominantly clerical written culture to one centred on the courts of the great nobles. The rise of the Swabia
Swabia
Swabia is a cultural, historic and linguistic region in southwestern Germany.-Geography:Like many cultural regions of Europe, Swabia's borders are not clearly defined...

n Hohenstaufen
Hohenstaufen
The House of Hohenstaufen was a dynasty of German kings in the High Middle Ages, lasting from 1138 to 1254. Three of these kings were also crowned Holy Roman Emperor. In 1194 the Hohenstaufens also became Kings of Sicily...

 and then the Luxemburg, Wittelsbach and Habsburg dynasties make the South the dominant region in both political and cultural terms.

Linguistically, the transition to Early New High German
Early New High German
Early New High German is a term for the period in the history of the German language, generally defined, following Wilhelm Scherer, as the period 1350 to 1650.Alternative periodisations take the period to begin later; e.g...

 is marked by four vowel changes which together produce the phonemic system of modern German:
  • Monophthong
    Monophthong
    A monophthong is a pure vowel sound, one whose articulation at both beginning and end is relatively fixed, and which does not glide up or down towards a new position of articulation....

    isation of some of the MHG diphthong
    Diphthong
    A diphthong , also known as a gliding vowel, refers to two adjacent vowel sounds occurring within the same syllable. Technically, a diphthong is a vowel with two different targets: That is, the tongue moves during the pronunciation of the vowel...

    s: MHG huot> NHG Hut ("hat")
  • Diphthongisation of long vowels MHG hût > NHG Haut ("skin").
  • lengthening of stressed short vowels in open syllables MHG sagen /zaɡən/ > NHG sagen /zaːɡən/ ("say")
  • The loss of unstressed vowels in many circumstances - MHG vrouwe > NHG Frau ("lady")

The centres of culture in the ENHG period are no longer the courts but the towns.

Phonology


The charts show the vowel and consonant systems of classical MHG. The spellings indicated are the standard spellings used in modern editions - there is much more variation in the manuscripts.

Vowels

  front
Front vowel
A front vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a front vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far in front as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Front vowels are sometimes also...

central
Central vowel
A central vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a central vowel is that the tongue is positioned halfway between a front vowel and a back vowel...

back
Back vowel
A back vowel is a type of vowel sound used in spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a back vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far back as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Back vowels are sometimes also called dark...

unrounded rounded
short long short long short long short long
close
Close vowel
A close vowel is a type of vowel sound used in many spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a close vowel is that the tongue is positioned as close as possible to the roof of the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant.This term is prescribed by the...

i y <ü>   u
close-mid
Close-mid vowel
A close-mid vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a close-mid vowel is that the tongue is positioned two-thirds of the way from a close vowel to a mid vowel...

e        
mid
Mid vowel
A mid vowel is a vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a mid vowel is that the tongue is positioned mid-way between an open vowel and a close vowel...

ɛ ɛː ø <ö> øː <œ>   o
open-mid
Open-mid vowel
An open-mid vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of an open-mid vowel is that the tongue is positioned two-thirds of the way from an open vowel to a mid vowel...

æ <ä> æː <æ>      
open
Open vowel
An open vowel is defined as a vowel sound in which the tongue is positioned as far as possible from the roof of the mouth. Open vowels are sometimes also called low vowels in reference to the low position of the tongue...

  a  

Notes:
  1. Not all dialects distinguish the three unrounded mid front vowels.
  2. It is probable that the short high and mid vowels are lower than their long equivalents, as in Modern German, but this is impossible to establish from the written sources.
  3. The found in unstressed syllables may indicate [ɛ] or schwa
    Schwa
    In linguistics, specifically phonetics and phonology, schwa can mean the following:*An unstressed and toneless neutral vowel sound in some languages, often but not necessarily a mid-central vowel...

     [ə].

Diphthongs


MHG diphthongs are indicated by the spellings: , , , <öu> and , <üe>, , having the approximate values of /ei/, /iə/, /ou/, /øy/, /eu/, /yə/, and /uo/, respectively.

Consonants

  Bilabial
Bilabial consonant
In phonetics, a bilabial consonant is a consonant articulated with both lips. The bilabial consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet are:...

Labiodental
Labiodental consonant
In phonetics, labiodentals are consonants articulated with the lower lip and the upper teeth.-Labiodental consonant in IPA:The labiodental consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet are:...

Alveolar
Alveolar consonant
Alveolar consonants are articulated with the tongue against or close to the superior alveolar ridge, which is called that because it contains the alveoli of the superior teeth...

Postalveolar
Postalveolar consonant
Postalveolar consonants are consonants articulated with the tongue near or touching the back of the alveolar ridge, further back in the mouth than the alveolar consonants, which are at the ridge itself, but not as far back as the hard palate...

Palatal
Palatal consonant
Palatal consonants are consonants articulated with the body of the tongue raised against the hard palate...

Velar
Velar consonant
Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum)....

Glottal
Glottal consonant
Glottal consonants, also called laryngeal consonants, are consonants articulated with the glottis. Many phoneticians consider them, or at least the so-called fricative, to be transitional states of the glottis without a point of articulation as other consonants have; in fact, some do not consider...

Plosive p  b   t  d     k   ɡ  
Affricates
Affricate consonant
Affricates are consonants that begin as stops but release as a fricative rather than directly into the following vowel.- Samples :...

p͡f   t͡s        
Nasal
Nasal consonant
A nasal consonant is a type of consonant produced with a lowered velum in the mouth, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. Examples of nasal consonants in English are and , in words such as nose and mouth.- Definition :...

m   n     ŋ  
Fricative
Fricative consonant
Fricatives are consonants produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the back of the tongue against the soft palate, in the case of German , the final consonant of Bach; or...

  f v s  z <ȥ> ʃ   x h
Approximant w       j    
Liquid
Liquid consonant
In phonetics, liquids or liquid consonants are a class of consonants consisting of lateral consonants together with rhotics.-Description:...

    r  l        

  1. Precise information about the articulation of consonants is impossible to establish, and will have varied between dialects.
  2. In the plosive and fricative series, where there are two consonants in a cell, the first is fortis
    Fortis and lenis
    In linguistics, fortis and lenis are terms generally used to refer to groups of consonants that are produced with greater and lesser energy, respectively, such as in energy applied, articulation, etc....

     the second lenis. The voicing of lenis consonants varied between dialects.
  3. MHG has long consonants, and the following double consonant spellings indicate not vowel length as in Modern German orthography, but rather genuine double consonants: pp, bb, tt, dd, ck (for /kk/), gg, ff, ss, zz, mm, nn, ll, rr.
  4. It is reasonable to assume that /x/ had an allophone [χ] after back vowels, as in Modern German.

Sample text


From the prologue of Hartmann von Aue
Hartmann von Aue
Hartmann von Aue was a Middle High German poet. He introduced the courtly romance into German literature and, with Wolfram von Eschenbach and Gottfried von Strassburg, was one of the three great epic poets of Middle High German literature...

's Iwein (circa 1200; c.f. MS B (Giessen), mid 13th c.)







5

10

15

20

Swer an rehte güete

wendet sîn gemüete,

dem volget sælde und êre.

des gît gewisse lêre

künec Artûs der guote,

der mit rîters muote

nâch lobe kunde strîten.

er hât bî sînen zîten

gelebet alsô schône

daz er der êren krône

dô truoc und noch sîn name treit.

des habent die wârheit

sîne lantliute:

sî jehent er lebe noch hiute:

er hât den lop erworben,

ist im der lîp erstorben,

sô lebet doch iemer sîn name.

er ist lasterlîcher schame

iemer vil gar erwert,

der noch nâch sînem site vert.

Whoever to true goodness

Turns his mind

He will meet with fortune and honour.

We are taught this by the example of

Good King Arthur

who with knightly spirit

knew how to strive for praise.

In his day

He lived so well

That he wore the crown of honour

And his name still does so.

The truth of this is known

To his countrymen:

They affirm that he still lives today:

He won such fame that

Although his body died

His name lives on.

Of sinful shame

He will forever be free

Who follows his example.


This text shows many typical features of Middle High German poetic language. Most Middle High German words survive into modern German in some form or other: this passage contains only one word (jehen 'say' 14) which has since disappeared from the language. But many words have changed their meaning substantially. Muot (6) means 'state of mind', where modern German Mut means courage. Êre (3) can be translated with 'honour', but is quite a different concept of honour from modern German Ehre; the medieval term focusses on reputation and the respect accorded to status in society.

From the beginning of Das Nibelungenlied
Nibelungenlied
The Nibelungenlied, translated as The Song of the Nibelungs, is an epic poem in Middle High German. The story tells of dragon-slayer Siegfried at the court of the Burgundians, how he was murdered, and of his wife Kriemhild's revenge....

:
Middle High German original High (Modern) German translation Shumway translation

Uns ist in alten mæren wunders vil geseit

von helden lobebæren, von grôzer arebeit,

von freuden, hôchgezîten, von weinen und von klagen,

von küener recken strîten muget ir nu wunder hœren sagen

Uns wird in alten Erzählungen viel Wunderbares berichtet,

von rühmenswerten Helden, großer Kampfesmühe,

von Freuden, Festen, von Weinen und von Klagen;

von den Kämpfen kühner Helden könnt ihr nun Wunderbares erzählen hören.

Full many a wonder is told us in stories old,

of heroes worthy of praise, of hardships dire,

of joy and feasting, of weeping and of wailing;

of the fighting of bold warriors, now ye may hear wonders told.

Literature



  • Minnesang
    Minnesang
    Minnesang was the tradition of lyric and song writing in Germany which flourished in the 12th century and continued into the 14th century. People who wrote and performed Minnesang are known as Minnesingers . The name derives from the word minne, Middle High German for love which was their main...

    • Codex Manesse
      Codex Manesse
      The Codex Manesse, Manesse Codex, or Große Heidelberger Liederhandschrift is a Liederhandschrift , the single most comprehensive source of Middle High German Minnesang poetry, written and illustrated between ca. 1304 when the main part was completed, and ca...

    • Walther von der Vogelweide
      Walther von der Vogelweide
      Walther von der Vogelweide is the most celebrated of the Middle High German lyric poets.-Life history:For all his fame, Walther's name is not found in contemporary records, with the exception of a solitary mention in the travelling accounts of Bishop Wolfger of Erla of the Passau diocese:...

    • Heinrich Frauenlob
      Heinrich Frauenlob
      Heinrich Frauenlob , sometimes known as Henry of Meissen , was a Middle High German poet and minnesinger. The nickname Frauenlob means "praise of women" or "praise of Our Lady".-Biography:He was born in Meissen. He had great musical talents, and he held court positions in Prague...

    • Oswald von Wolkenstein
      Oswald von Wolkenstein
      Oswald von Wolkenstein was a poet, composer and diplomat. In the latter capacity, he traveled through much of Europe, even as far as Georgia , and was inducted into the Order of the Dragon...


  • Epics
    • Hartmann von Aue
      Hartmann von Aue
      Hartmann von Aue was a Middle High German poet. He introduced the courtly romance into German literature and, with Wolfram von Eschenbach and Gottfried von Strassburg, was one of the three great epic poets of Middle High German literature...

      's Erec and Iwein
      Iwein
      Iwein is a Middle High German verse romance by the poet Hartmann von Aue, written around 1203. An Arthurian tale freely adapted from Chrétien de Troyes' Old French Yvain, the Knight of the Lion, it tells the story of Iwein , a knight of King Arthur's Round Table...

    • Wolfram von Eschenbach
      Wolfram von Eschenbach
      Wolfram von Eschenbach was a German knight and poet, regarded as one of the greatest epic poets of his time. As a Minnesinger, he also wrote lyric poetry.-Life:...

      's Parzival
      Parzival
      Parzival is a major medieval German romance by the poet Wolfram von Eschenbach, in the Middle High German language. The poem, commonly dated to the first quarter of the 13th century, is itself largely based on Chrétien de Troyes’s Perceval, the Story of the Grail and mainly centers on the Arthurian...

    • Gottfried von Strassburg
      Gottfried von Strassburg
      Gottfried von Strassburg is the author of the Middle High German courtly romance Tristan and Isolt, an adaptation of the 12th-century Tristan and Iseult legend. Gottfried's work is regarded, alongside Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival and the Nibelungenlied, as one of the great narrative...

      's Tristan
      Tristan
      Tristan is one of the main characters of the Tristan and Iseult story, a Cornish hero and one of the Knights of the Round Table featuring in the Matter of Britain...

    • Nibelungenlied
      Nibelungenlied
      The Nibelungenlied, translated as The Song of the Nibelungs, is an epic poem in Middle High German. The story tells of dragon-slayer Siegfried at the court of the Burgundians, how he was murdered, and of his wife Kriemhild's revenge....

    • Kudrun
      Kudrun
      Kudrun , is a Middle High German epic, written probably in the early years of the 13th century, not long after the Nibelungenlied, the influence of which may be traced upon it....

    • Ulrich von Türheim
      Ulrich von Türheim
      Ulrich von Türheim was a German writer from the Augsburg area writing during the first half of the 13th century. Three of his works have survived: a conclusion to the version of the Tristan legend left unfinished by Gottfried von Strassburg; Rennewart, a continuation of Willehalm, left unfinished...

      's Rennewart and Willehalm
    • Rudolf von Ems
      Rudolf von Ems
      Rudolf von Ems was a mediaeval Austrian epic poet.-Life:Rudolf von Ems was born in the Vorarlberg in Austria. He took his name from the castle of Hohenems near Bregenz, and was a knight in the service of the Counts of Montfort. His works were written between 1220 and 1254...

      's works
    • Konrad von Würzburg
      Konrad von Würzburg
      Konrad von Würzburg was the chief German poet of the second half of the 13th century.As little is known of his life as that of any other epic poet of the age. By birth probably a native of Würzburg, he seems to have spent part of his life in Strassburg and his later years in Basel, where he died...

      's works
    • Eilhart von Oberge
      Eilhart von Oberge
      Eilhart von Oberge was a German poet of the late 12th century. He is known exclusively through his Middle High German romance Tristrant, the oldest surviving complete version of the Tristan and Iseult story in any language. Tristrant is part of the "common" or "primitive" branch of the legend, best...

      ' Tristrant

  • Chronicles
    • Annolied
      Annolied
      The Annolied was composed around 1100 in Early Middle High German rhyming couplets by a monk of Siegburg Abbey.-Dating:A principal point of reference for the dating is the mention of Mainz as a place of coronation...

       (Early Middle High German)
    • Jans der Enikel
      Jans der Enikel
      Jans der Enikel, i.e. "Jans the Grandson" was a Viennese poet and historian of the late 13th century. He wrote a Weltchronik and a Fürstenbuch , both in Middle High German verse....

      's Weltchronik and Fürstenbuch
    • Kaiserchronik
      Kaiserchronik
      The Kaiserchronik is a 12th century chronicle of emperors, written 17,283 lines of Middle High German verse. It runs from Julius Caesar to Conrad III, and seeks to give a complete account of the history of Roman and German emperors and kings, based on a historiographical view of the continuity of...


  • Law
    • Sachsenspiegel
      Sachsenspiegel
      The Sachsenspiegel is the most important law book and legal code of the German Middle Ages. Written ca...


External links


Sources

  • Hermann Paul
    Hermann Paul
    Hermann Otto Theodor Paul was a German linguist and lexicographer. He was professor for German language and literature in Freiburg in the Breisgau as well as Munich, and he was a prominent Neogrammarian....

    , Mittelhochdeutsche Grammatik, 23rd edn, edited by Peter Wiehl and Sigfried Grosse (Niemeyer, 1989) ISBN 3-484-10233-0
  • M.O'C. Walshe, A Middle High German Reader: With Grammar, Notes and Glossary (Oxford University Press, 1974) ISBN 0-19-872082-3
  • Joseph Wright
    Joseph Wright (linguist)
    Joseph Wright FBA was an English philologist who rose from humble origins to become Professor of Comparative Philology at Oxford University.-Early life:...

    , Middle High German Primer, 5th edn revised by M.O'C. Walshe (Oxford University Press, 1955)