Early New High German language

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The early New High German language , or Early New High German for short (abbr. Fnhd. Or Frnhd. ), Is the oldest level of New High German , which is located between medieval and modern German . The period of the early New High German language is set from around 1350 to 1650. Examples of text documents of this language level are the writings of Paracelsus from 1529 and Luther's translation of the Bible from 1545.

The vocabulary of Early New High German is recorded and described in the Early New High German Dictionary , specifically for a Southwest German variety in the Swiss Idioticon .


Early New High German is characterized by a series of sound conversion processes that separate Middle High German from New High German and which had already started in Early New High German but were not yet completed. (These include, for example, the so-called “stretching in open tone syllable”, “New High German monophthonging ” and “New High German diphthonging ”.) For example, at this time one begins to use the “ei”, which in Middle High German still [ɛɪ ] was pronounced (similar to “ay” [eɪ] in English “to say”), to be pronounced as [aɪ], and “sl” becomes “schl” (e.g. “slafen” to “sleep”).

How far the respective sound change had already progressed and how reliably it was already reflected in the spelling (which was not yet orthographically regulated at the time), however, differed greatly from region to region. The fact that a phonologically ambiguous and inconsistent state of language is nevertheless categorized as an independent language level is mainly due to the fact that the early New High German period was an important cultural epoch that had a major impact on German language history . For example, the German vocabulary has been enormously expanded through Luther's translation of the Bible, his song poems and the extensive Reformation literature. Due to the influence of humanism , a number of Latin loanwords were added to the German language and the grammar was partially restructured based on the model of the Latin language. In particular, the grammaticalization of the analytical verb forms followed the example of Latin (e.g. the future tense I with auxiliary verb werden + infinitive, whereas for the expression of future in Middle High German as a rule - as then again in contemporary German - the simple present tense has been used).

The early New High German is distinguished from the Middle High German that preceded it and the New High German that followed it by a special variety and tolerance of variants with the occurrence of individual phenomena. In the 15th century in particular, the normative ideal of a uniform German language was not tangible; It was not until the 16th century, for example with Fabian Frangk , that tendencies became recognizable again for the first time after the fall of the Middle High German language ideal , a certain variety , now e.g. B. the linguistic usage of the imperial chancellery, the Augsburg printing works Johann Schönsperger or Martin Luther, to set as leading variety.

Spatial structure

While handwritten and location-related texts show great regional differences, several more or less uniform printer languages have emerged during this time , which modern German studies are usually divided into six writing regions. According to the most important centers of early book printing, these regions are:

  • Upper German printer languages
    • the Bavarian-Austrian with Ingolstadt and Vienna (as well as South Bohemia)
    • the Swabian with Augsburg, Ulm and Tübingen
    • the Alemannic with Basel, Zurich and Strasbourg
    • the East Franconian with Nuremberg, Bamberg and Würzburg
  • Central German printer languages
    • the West Central German with Frankfurt, Mainz, Worms and Cologne
    • the East Central German with Wittenberg, Erfurt and Leipzig

However, this is based on a teleological perspective directed towards the later emergence of the New High German written language. For example, contemporary linguists understood the word “German” to mean all continental West Germanic idioms, including Low German and Dutch , although Ripuarian around Cologne as a printer was often not counted among the High German varieties, for example in the case of Sebastian Helber (1530–1598), who was still in his Teutsches Syllabierbüchlein (1593) meets this classification.

The printing language in the Netherlands, however, went very independent ways as early as the 15th century and no longer took part in the linguistic standardization process, which resulted in an independent written language there, today's Dutch. The subsequent Low German language area, however, was so linguistically influenced by the translation of the Bible by Martin Luther that at the end of the 16th century the Low German language was abandoned as the written language and East Central German Luther German was adopted, first in printed writings and a few decades later in handwritten texts. while she lived on in the spoken language.

In southern Germany, on the other hand, the language of the Luther Bible initially had less influence and an older Upper German writing style that still had similarities to Middle High German was continued. This language was used by the imperial chancelleries until the 17th century and is therefore also known as the Maximilian chancellery language or the southern German imperial language . In literature and the non-Latin texts of science and theology, the Upper German writing language was formed in the south in the course of the 17th century , which was the binding leading variety in Bavaria, Swabia and Austria until around 1750 due to the denominational contrast between the Protestant north and the Catholic south of printed works. Only then did New High German, which is mainly based in East Central German and East Franconian, also prevail in the south .

During this time, German-speaking Switzerland played a special role , where until the 16th century a law firm language based in Alemannic late Middle High German was written, the federal country language . In the 16th century, the language of the Luther Bible had less influence on Switzerland than on other regions, among other things because the Confederation with the independent Reformation of Ulrich Zwingli and Heinrich Bullinger and - admittedly only in eastern German-speaking Switzerland - the Zurich Bible was included in another Situation. The penetration of German-speaking Switzerland with New High German language forms in the course of the 16th and 17th centuries, on the other hand, was closely linked to the efforts of book printing to also have a market outside of Switzerland - the Frankfurt Book Fair was also a central economic factor for Switzerland. In the everyday language of Switzerland, however, the early New High German phonetic shift never caught on: Modern Swiss German - to put it simply - has the Middle High German phonetic level .

See also


Introductions and grammars
  • Frédéric Hartweg, Klaus-Peter Wegera: Early New High German. An introduction to the German language of the late Middle Ages and early modern times. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1989 (= Germanistic workbooks. Volume 33); 2nd edition ibid 2005, ISBN 3-484-25133-6 .
  • Hugo Moser , Hugo Stopp, Werner Besch (Hrsg.): Grammar of early New High German. 7 volumes. Winter, Heidelberg 1970–1988.
  • Virgil Moser: Early New High German Grammar, I , 1 and 3. Heidelberg 1929–1951 (= Germanic Library, I .: Collection of Germanic elementary and handbooks, I, XVII, I , 1 and 3).
  • Virgil Moser: Historical-grammatical introduction to the early New High German written dialects. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1971 (unchanged reprographic reprint of the Halle an der Saale edition 1909).
  • Oskar Reichmann , Klaus-Peter Wegera (Eds.): Early New High German Grammar, by Robert Peter Ebert, Oskar Reichmann, Hans-Joachim Solms and Klaus-Peter Wegera. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1993 (=  collection of short grammars of Germanic dialects, A. 12), ISBN 3-484-10676-X .
  • Early New High German Dictionary . Edited by Robert R. Anderson [for vol. 1] / Ulrich Goebel / Anja Lobenstein-Reichmann [for volumes 5, 6, 11-13] and Oskar Reichmann. Berlin / New York 1989 ff.
  • Christa Baufeld : Small early New High German dictionary. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1996, ISBN 3-484-10268-3 .
  • Alfred Götze : Early New High German Glossary. 2nd edition Bonn 1920 (= small texts for lectures and exercises, 101); 5th edition Berlin 1956; Reprints 1960 a. ö. The second edition from 1920 is online: archive.org .
  • Werner Besch, Anne Betten, Oskar Reichmann, Stefan Sonderegger (eds.): Language history. A handbook on the history of the German language and its research. 2nd, completely new and expanded edition. 2nd half volume. Berlin / New York (= handbooks on linguistics and communication studies, 2), where in the second half volume in section XII, pp. 1513–1745, several articles about early New High German.
  • Walter Hoffmann, Friedrich Wetter: Bibliography of Early New High German Sources. An annotated directory of texts from the 14th to 17th centuries Century (Bonn corpus). 2nd, revised edition. Lang, Frankfurt am Main a. a. 1987, ISBN 3-8204-8671-2 .
  • Hans Moser , Norbert Richard Wolf (ed.): On the word formation of early New High German. A workshop report. Innsbruck 1989 (= Innsbruck contributions to cultural studies, German series, 38).
  • Oskar Reichmann: On the edition of early New High German texts: Linguistic perspectives. In: Journal for German Philology 97, 1978, pp. 337–361.
  • Oskar Reichmann: Possibilities of the lexicographical development of the texts of Paracelsus. In: Peter Dilg , Hartmut Rudolph (Hrsg.): Results and Desiderata of Paracelsus Research. Steiner, Stuttgart 1993 (= Sudhoffs Archiv, supplement 31), ISBN 3-515-06096-0 , pp. 183-197.

Web links

Wikisource: Early New High German Texts  - Sources and Full Texts
Wiktionary: Early New High German  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: early New High German  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Hugo stop: Been - Gesin - gewest. For the treatment of individual phenomena in an early New High German flexion morphology. In: Journal for German Philology 86, 1977, special issue language, pp. 1–34.
  2. ^ Wilhelm Schmidt: History of the German language. A textbook for German studies, 10th edition, Stuttgart: S. Hirzel Verlag, 2007, ISBN 978-3-7776-1432-8 , Chapter 4.1.2 Early New High German - spatial structure
  3. Rainer Rudolf: Studies on the early New High German written language in South Bohemia. Vienna 1973 (= Austrian Academy of Sciences: Studies on Austrian-Bavarian Dialect Studies , 8).
  4. See for example Frédérich Hartweg: The role of book printing for the early New High German language history. In: Werner Besch , Anne Betten, Oskar Reichmann, Stefan Sonderegger (eds.): History of language. A handbook on the history of the German language and its research. 2nd, completely new and expanded edition. 2nd half volume. Berlin / New York (Handbooks on Linguistics and Communication Studies; 2), pp. 1682–1705, according to which, depending on the target audience, there was a switch back and forth between non-diphthong and diphthong versions in Swiss publications (p. 1689). Cf. also Adolf Bach: History of the German Language. 8th edition Heidelberg 1965, according to which Strasbourg and Basel the printers used the new diphthongs from the 1520s, "not only in opposition to the local dialect, but also in contradiction to the handwritten templates provided by the authors" (p. 255) . The role of the Zurich Bible both in the area of ​​preserving the federal language as well as in the area of ​​the adoption of the community German in Zurich was seen in the older research partly too one-sided and strongly overweighted; Werner Besch wrote a more differentiated presentation: Convergence-promoting and convergence-hindering factors. 2.6 .: Switzerland. In: Raphael Berthele, Helen Christen, Sibylle Germann, Ingrid Hove: The German written language and the regions. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2003, ISBN 9783110174977 , pp. 15-20.