Old High German

Last updated

Old High German
Region Central Europe
Era Early Middle Ages
Runic, Latin
Language codes
ISO 639-2 goh
ISO 639-3 goh
Glottolog oldh1241
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Old High German (OHG; German : Althochdeutsch (Ahd.)) is the earliest stage of the German language, conventionally covering the period from around 750 to 1050. There is no standardised or supra-regional form of German at this period, and Old High German is an umbrella term for the group of continental West Germanic dialects which underwent the set of consonantal changes called the Second Sound Shift.


At the start of this period, the main dialect areas belonged to largely independent tribal kingdoms, but by 788 the conquests of Charlemagne had brought all OHG dialect areas into a single polity. The period also saw the development of a stable linguistic border between German and Gallo-Romance, later French.

The surviving OHG texts were all written in monastic scriptoria and, as a result, the overwhelming majority of them are religious in nature or, when secular, belong to the Latinate literary culture of Christianity. The earliest written texts in Old High German, glosses and interlinear translations for Latin texts, appear in the latter half of the 8th century. The importance of the church in the production of texts and the extensive missionary activity of the period have left their mark on the OHG vocabulary, with many new loans and new coinages to represent the Latin vocabulary of the church.

OHG largely preserves the synthetic inflectional system inherited from its ancestral Germanic forms, but the end of the period is marked by sound changes which disrupt these patterns of inflection, leading to the more analytic grammar of Middle High German. In syntax, the most important change was the development of new periphrastic tenses to express the future and passive.

First page of the St. Gall Codex Abrogans (Stiftsbibliothek, cod. 911), the earliest text in Old High German/ Erste Seite des Abrogans (Codex Sangallensis 911).jpg
First page of the St. Gall Codex Abrogans (Stiftsbibliothek, cod. 911), the earliest text in Old High German/


Old High German is generally dated, following Willhelm Scherer, from around 750 to around 1050. [1] [2] The start of this period sees the beginning of the OHG written tradition, at first with only glosses, but with substantial translations and original compositions by the 9th century. [2] However the fact that the defining feature of Old High German, the Second Sound Shift, may have started as early as the 6th century and is complete by 750, means that some take the 6th century to be the start of the period. [lower-alpha 1] Alternatively, terms such as Voralthochdeutsch ("pre-OHG") [3] or vorliterarisches Althochdeutsch ("pre-literary OHG") [4] are sometimes used for the period before 750. [lower-alpha 2] Regardless of terminology, all recognize a distinction between a pre-literary period and the start of a continuous tradition of written texts around the middle of the 8th century. [5]

Differing approaches are taken, too, to the position of Langobardic. Langobardic is an Elbe Germanic and thus Upper German dialect, and it shows early evidence for the Second Sound Shift. For this reason, some scholars treat Langobardic as part of Old High German, [6] but with no surviving texts — just individual words and names in Latin texts — and the speakers starting to abandon the language by the 8th century, [7] others exclude Langobardic from discussion of OHG. [8] As Heidermanns observes, this exclusion is based solely on the external circumstances of preservation and not on the internal features of the language. [8]

The end of the period is less controversial. The sound changes reflected in spelling during the 11th century led to the remodelling of the entire system of noun and adjective declensions. [9] There is also a hundred-year "dearth of continuous texts" after the death of Notker Labeo in 1022. [5] The mid-11th century is widely accepted as marking the transition to Middle High German. [10]


The Old High German speaking area around 950. OldHighGermanlanguagearea962.png
The Old High German speaking area around 950.

Old High German comprises the dialects of these groups which underwent the Second Sound Shift during the 6th Century, namely all of Elbe Germanic and most of the Weser-Rhine Germanic dialects.

The Franks in the western part of Francia (Neustria and western Austrasia) gradually adopted Gallo-Romance by the beginning of the OHG period, with the linguistic boundary later stabilised approximately along the course of the Meuse and Moselle in the east, and the northern boundary probably a little further south than the current boundary between French and Dutch. [11] North of this line, the Franks retained their language, but it was not affected by the Second Sound Shift, which thus separated the Old Dutch varieties from the more easterly Franconian dialects which formed part of Old High German. [12]

In the south, the Lombards, who had settled in Northern Italy, maintained their dialect until their conquest by Charlemagne in 774. After this the Germanic-speaking population, who were by then almost certainly bilingual, gradually switched to the Romance language of the native population, so that Langobardic had died out by the end of the OHG period. [7]

At the beginning of the period, no Germanic language was spoken east of a line from Kieler Förde to the rivers Elbe and Saale, earlier Germanic speakers in the Northern part of the area having been displaced by the Slavs. This area did not become German-speaking until the German eastward expansion ("Ostkolonisation") of the early 12th century, though there was some attempt at conquest and missionary work under the Ottonians. [13]

The Alemannic polity was conquered by Clovis I in 496, and in the last twenty years of the 8th century Charlemagne subdued the Saxons, the Frisians, the Bavarians, and the Lombards, bringing all continental Germanic-speaking peoples under Frankish rule. While this led to some degree of Frankish linguistic influence, the language of both the administration and the Church was Latin, and this unification did not therefore lead to any development of a supra-regional variety of Frankish nor a standardized Old High German; the individual dialects retained their identity.


Map showing the main Old High German scriptoria and the areas of the Old High German "monastery dialects". The Old High German monastery dialects and their main scriptoria.jpg
Map showing the main Old High German scriptoria and the areas of the Old High German "monastery dialects".

There was no standard or supra-regional variety of Old High German—every text is written in a particular dialect, or in some cases a mixture of dialects. Broadly speaking, the main dialect divisions of Old High German seem to have been similar to those of later periods—they are based on established territorial groupings and the effects of the Second Sound Shift, which have remained influential until the present day. But because the direct evidence for Old High German consists solely of manuscripts produced in a few major ecclesiastical centres, there is no isogloss information of the sort on which modern dialect maps are based. For this reason the dialects may be termed "monastery dialects" (German Klosterdialekte). [14]

The main dialects, with their bishoprics and monasteries: [15]

In addition, there are two poorly attested dialects:

The continued existence of a West Frankish dialect in the Western, Romanized part of Francia is uncertain. Claims that this might have been the language of the Carolingian court or that it is attested in the Ludwigslied, whose presence in a French manuscript suggests bilingualism, are controversial. [15] [16]


Old High German literacy is a product of the monasteries, notably at St. Gallen, Reichenau Island and Fulda. Its origins lie in the establishment of the German church by Saint Boniface in the mid-8th century, and it was further encouraged during the Carolingian Renaissance in the 9th. The dedication to the preservation of Old High German epic poetry among the scholars of the Carolingian Renaissance was significantly greater than could be suspected from the meagre survivals we have today (less than 200 lines in total between the Hildebrandslied and the Muspilli ). Einhard tells how Charlemagne himself ordered that the epic lays should be collected for posterity. [18] It was the neglect or religious zeal of later generations that led to the loss of these records. Thus, it was Charlemagne's weak successor, Louis the Pious, who destroyed his father's collection of epic poetry on account of its pagan content. [19]

Rabanus Maurus, a student of Alcuin's and abbot at Fulda from 822, was an important advocate of the cultivation of German literacy. Among his students were Walafrid Strabo and Otfrid of Weissenburg.

Towards the end of the Old High German period, Notker Labeo (d. 1022) was among the greatest stylists in the language, and developed a systematic orthography. [20]

Writing system

While there are a few runic inscriptions from the pre-OHG period, [21] all other OHG texts are written with the Latin alphabet, which, however, was ill-suited for representing some of the sounds of OHG. This led to considerable variations in spelling conventions, as individual scribes and scriptoria had to develop their own solutions to these problems. [22] Otfrid von Weissenburg, in one of the prefaces to his Evangelienbuch, offers comments on and examples of some of the issues which arise in adapting the Latin alphabet for German: "...sic etiam in multis dictis scriptio est propter litterarum aut congeriem aut incognitam sonoritatem difficilis." ("...so also, in many expressions, spelling is difficult because of the piling up of letters or their unfamiliar sound.") [23] The careful orthographies of the OHG Isidor or Notker show a similar awareness. [22]


The charts show the vowel and consonant systems of the East Franconian dialect in the 9th century. This is the dialect of the monastery of Fulda, and specifically of the Old High German Tatian . Dictionaries and grammars of OHG often use the spellings of the Tatian as a substitute for genuine standardised spellings, and these have the advantage of being recognizably close to the Middle High German forms of words, particularly with respect to the consonants. [24]


Old High German had six phonemic short vowels and five phonemic long vowels. Both occurred in stressed and unstressed syllables. In addition, there were six diphthongs. [25]

  front central back
short long shortlongshortlong
close i u
mid e, ɛ o
open  a 
ie uo
iu io
ei ou


  1. Vowel length was indicated in the manuscripts inconsistently (though modern handbooks are consistent). Vowel letter doubling, a circumflex, or an acute accent was generally used to indicate a long vowel. [26]
  2. The short high and mid vowels may have been articulated lower than their long counterparts as in Modern German. This cannot be established from written sources.
  3. All back vowels likely had front-vowel allophones as a result of umlaut. [27] The front-vowel allophones likely became full phonemes in Middle High German. In the Old High German period, there existed [e] (possibly a mid-close vowel) from the umlaut of /a/ and /e/[ clarification needed ] but it probably wasn't phonemicized until the end of the period. Manuscripts occasionally distinguish two /e/ sounds. Generally, modern grammars and dictionaries use ë for the mid vowel and e for the mid-close vowel.

Reduction of unstressed vowels

By the mid 11th century the many different vowels found in unstressed syllables had almost all been reduced to e/ə/. [28]


Old High GermanMiddle High GermanEnglish
mahhônmachento make, do
demudem(e)to the

(The Modern German forms of these words are broadly the same as in Middle High German.)


The main difference between Old High German and the West Germanic dialects from which it developed is that it underwent the Second Sound Shift. The result of this sound change is that the consonantal system of German remains different from all other West Germanic languages, including English and Low German.

  Bilabial Labiodental Dental Alveolar Palatal/Velar Glottal
Plosive p b  t dc, k /k/ g /ɡ/ 
Affricate pf /p͡f/  z /t͡s/ 
Nasal m  nng /ŋ/ 
Fricative  f, v /f//v/th /θ/s, ȥ //, /s/h, ch /x/h
Approximant w, uu /w/   j, i /j/
Liquid    r, l 
  1. There is wide variation in the consonant systems of the Old High German dialects arising mainly from the differing extent to which they are affected by the High German Sound Shift. Precise information about the articulation of consonants is impossible to establish.
  2. In the plosive and fricative series, where there are two consonants in a cell, the first is fortis the second lenis. The voicing of lenis consonants varied between dialects.
  3. Old High German distinguished long and short consonants. Double-consonant spellings don't indicate a preceding short vowel as in Modern German but true consonant gemination. Double consonants found in Old High German include pp, bb, tt, dd, ck (for /k:/), gg, ff, ss, hh, zz, mm, nn, ll, rr.
  4. /θ/ changes to /d/ in all dialects during the 9th century. The status in the Old High German Tatian (c. 830), reflected in modern Old High German dictionaries and glossaries, is that th is found in initial position, d in other positions.
  5. It is not clear whether Old High German /x/ had already acquired a palatalized allophone [ç] following front vowels as in Modern German.
  6. A curly-tailed z ( ȥ ) is sometimes used in modern grammars and dictionaries to indicate the alveolar fricative which arose from Common Germanic t in the High German consonant shift, to distinguish it from the alveolar affricate, represented as z. This distinction has no counterpart in the original manuscripts, except in the OHG Isidor, which uses tz for the affricate.
  7. The original Germanic fricative s was in writing usually clearly distinguished from the younger fricative z that evolved from the High German consonant shift - the sounds of these two graphs seem not to have merged before the 13th century. Now seeing that s later came to be pronounced /ʃ/ before other consonants (as in Stein/ʃtaɪn/, Speer/ʃpeːɐ/, Schmerz/ʃmɛrts/ (original smerz) or the southwestern pronunciation of words like Ast/aʃt/), it seems safe to assume that the actual pronunciation of Germanic s was somewhere between [s] and [ʃ], most likely about [ ], in all Old High German up to late Middle High German. A word like swaz, "whatever", would thus never have been [swas] but rather [s̠was], later (13th century) [ʃwas], [ʃvas].

Phonological developments

Here are enumerated the sound changes that transformed Common West Germanic into Old High German, not including the Late OHG changes which affected Middle High German





Germanic had a simple two-tense system, with forms for a present and preterite. These were inherited by Old High German, but in addition OHG developed three periphrastic tenses: the perfect, pluperfect and future.

The periphrastic past tenses were formed by combining the present or preterite of an auxiliary verb (wësan, habēn) with the past participle. Initially the past participle retained its original function as an adjective and showed case and gender endings - for intransitive verbs the nominative, for transitive verbs the accusative. [29] For example:

After thie thö argangana warun ahtu taga (Tatian, 7,1)
"When eight days had passed", literally "After that then gone-by were eight days"
Latin: Et postquam consummati sunt dies octo (Luke 2:21) [30]

phīgboum habeta sum giflanzotan (Tatian 102,2)
"There was a fig tree that some man had planted", literally "Fig-tree had certain (or someone) planted"

Latin: arborem fici habebat quidam plantatam (Luke 13:6) [31] [32]

In time, however, these endings fell out of use and the participle came to be seen no longer as an adjective but as part of the verb, as in Modern German. This development is taken to be arising from a need to render Medieval Latin forms, [33] but parallels in other Germanic languages (particularly Gothic, where the Biblical texts were translated from Greek, not Latin) raise the possibility that it was an independent development. [34] [35]

Germanic also had no future tense, but again OHG created periphrastic forms, using an auxiliary verb skulan (Modern German sollen) and the infinitive, or werden and the present participle:

Thu scalt beran einan alawaltenden (Otfrid's Evangelienbuch I, 5,23)
"You shall bear an almighty one"
Inti nu uuirdist thu suigenti' (Tatian 2,9)
"And now you will start to fall silent"
Latin: Et ecce eris tacens (Luke 1:20) [36]

The present tense continued to be used alongside these new forms to indicate future time (as it still is in Modern German).


The following is a sample conjugation of a strong verb, nëman "to take".

Present1st sgnimunëme
2nd sgnimis (-ist)nëmēs (-ēst)nim
3rd sgnimitnëme
1st plnëmemēs (-ēn)nëmemēs (-ēn)nëmamēs, -emēs (-ēn)
2nd plnëmetnëmētnëmet
3rd plnëmantnëmēn
Past1st sgnamnāmi
2nd sgnāmināmīs (-īst)
3rd sgnamnāmi
1st plnāmumēs (-un)nāmīmēs (-īn)
2nd plnāmutnāmīt
3rd plnāmunnāmīn
ParticiplePresentnëmanti (-enti)

Personal pronouns [37]

Number Person Gender Nominative Genitive Dative Accusative
Singular 1. ihmīnmirmih
2. dīndirdih
3.Masculine(h)er(sīn)imu, imoinan, in
Femininesiu; sī, siira, iruirosia
Neuterizes, isimu, imoiz
Plural 1. wirunsērunsunsih
2. iriuwēriuiuwih
3.Masculinesieiroim, insie
Femininesioiroim, insio
Neutersiuiroim, insiu


Any description of OHG syntax faces a fundamental problem: texts translated from or based on a Latin original will be syntactically influenced by their source, [38] while the verse works may show patterns that are determined by the needs of rhyme and metre, or that represent literary archaisms. [39] Nonetheless, the basic word order rules are broadly those of Modern Standard German. [40]

Two differences from the modern language are the possibility of omitting a subject pronoun and lack of definite and indefinite articles. Both features are exemplified in the start of the 8th century Alemannic creed from St Gall: [41] kilaubu in got vater almahticun (Modern German, Ich glaube an Gott den allmächtigen Vater; English "I believe in God the almighty father"). [42]

By the end of the OHG period, however, use of a subject pronoun has become obligatory, while the definite article has developed from the original demonstrative pronoun (der, diu, daz) [43] and the numeral ein ("one") has come into use as an indefinite article. [44] These developments are generally seen as mechanisms to compensate for the loss of morphological distinctions which resulted from the weakening of unstressed vowels in the endings of nouns and verbs (see above). [lower-alpha 3] [lower-alpha 4]


The early part of the period saw considerable missionary activity, and by 800 the whole of the Frankish Empire had, in principle, been Christianized. All the manuscripts which contain Old High German texts were written in ecclesiastical scriptoria by scribes whose main task was writing in Latin rather than German. Consequently, the majority of Old High German texts are religious in nature and show strong influence of ecclesiastical Latin on the vocabulary. In fact, most surviving prose texts are translations of Latin originals. Even secular works such as the Hildebrandslied are often preserved only because they were written on spare sheets in religious codices.

The earliest Old High German text is generally taken to be the Abrogans, a Latin–Old High German glossary variously dated between 750 and 780, probably from Reichenau. The 8th century Merseburg Incantations are the only remnant of pre-Christian German literature. The earliest texts not dependent on Latin originals would seem to be the Hildebrandslied and the Wessobrunn Prayer, both recorded in manuscripts of the early 9th century, though the texts are assumed to derive from earlier copies.

The Bavarian Muspilli is the sole survivor of what must have been a vast oral tradition. Other important works are the Evangelienbuch (Gospel harmony) of Otfrid von Weissenburg, the short but splendid Ludwigslied and the 9th century Georgslied . The boundary to Early Middle High German (from c.1050) is not clear-cut.

An example of Early Middle High German literature is the Annolied .

Example texts

The Lord's Prayer is given in four Old High German dialects below. Because these are translations of a liturgical text, they are best not regarded as examples of idiomatic language, but they do show dialect variation very clearly.

Lord's Prayer
Latin version
(From Tatian) [45]
8th century
The St Gall Paternoster [46]
South Rhine Franconian,
9th century
Weissenburg Catechism [47]
East Franconian, c.830
Old High German Tatian [45]
early 9th century
Freisinger Paternoster [47]

Pater noster, qui in caelis es,
sanctificetur nomen tuum,
adveniat regnum tuum,
fiat voluntas tua,
sicut in caelo, et in terra,
panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie,
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris,
et ne inducas nos in temptationem,
sed libera nos a malo.

Fater unseer, thu pist in himile,
uuihi namun dinan,
qhueme rihhi diin,
uuerde uuillo diin,
so in himile sosa in erdu.
prooth unseer emezzihic kip uns hiutu,
oblaz uns sculdi unsero,
so uuir oblazem uns skuldikem,
enti ni unsih firleiti in khorunka,
uzzer losi unsih fona ubile.

Fater unsēr, thu in himilom bist,
giuuīhit sī namo thīn.
quaeme rīchi thīn.
uuerdhe uuilleo thīn,
sama sō in himile endi in erthu.
Brooth unseraz emezzīgaz gib uns hiutu.
endi farlāz uns sculdhi unsero,
sama sō uuir farlāzzēm scolōm unserēm.
endi ni gileidi unsih in costunga.
auh arlōsi unsih fona ubile.

Fater unser, thū thār bist in himile,
sī geheilagōt thīn namo,
queme thīn rīhhi,
sī thīn uuillo,
sō her in himile ist, sō sī her in erdu,
unsar brōt tagalīhhaz gib uns hiutu,
inti furlāz uns unsara sculdi
sō uuir furlāzemēs unsarēn sculdīgōn,
inti ni gileitēst unsih in costunga,
ūzouh arlōsi unsih fon ubile.

Fater unser, du pist in himilum.
Kauuihit si namo din.
Piqhueme rihhi din,
Uuesa din uuillo,
sama so in himile est, sama in erdu.
Pilipi unsraz emizzigaz kip uns eogauuanna.
Enti flaz uns unsro sculdi,
sama so uuir flazzames unsrem scolom.
Enti ni princ unsih in chorunka.
Uzzan kaneri unsih fona allem sunton.

See also


  1. for example (Hutterer 1999, p. 307)
  2. with tables showing the position taken in most of the standard works before 2000. (Roelcke 1998)
  3. who discusses the problems with this view. (Salmons 2012, p. 162)
  4. "but more indirectly that previously assumed." (Fleischer & Schallert 2011, pp. 206–211)


  1. Scherer 1878, p. 12.
  2. 1 2 Penzl 1986, p. 15.
  3. Penzl 1986, pp. 15–16.
  4. Schmidt 2013, pp. 65–66.
  5. 1 2 Wells 1987, p. 33.
  6. Penzl 1986, p. 19.
  7. 1 2 Hutterer 1999, p. 338.
  8. 1 2 Braune & Heidermanns 2018, p. 7.
  9. Wells 1987, pp. 34–35.
  10. Roelcke 1998, pp. 804–811.
  11. Wells 1987, p. 49.
  12. Wells 1987, p. 43. Fn. 26
  13. Peters 1985, p. 1211.
  14. Wells 1987, pp. 44, 50–53.
  15. 1 2 Sonderegger 1980, p. 571.
  16. 1 2 Wells 1987, p. 432.
  17. Hutterer 1999, pp. 336–341.
  18. Vita Karoli Magni , 29: "He also had the old rude songs that celebrate the deeds and wars of the ancient kings written out for transmission to posterity."
  19. Parra Membrives 2002, p. 43.
  20. von Raumer 1851, pp. 194–272.
  21. Sonderegger 2003, p. 245.
  22. 1 2 Braune & Heidermanns 2018, p. 23.
  23. Marchand 1992.
  24. Braune, Helm & Ebbinghaus 1994, p. 179.
  25. Braune & Heidermanns 2018, p. 41.
  26. Wright 1906, p. 2.
  27. But see Fausto Cercignani (2022). The development of the Old High German umlauted vowels and the reflex of New High German /ɛ:/ in Present Standard German. Linguistik Online. 113/1: 45–57. Online
  28. Braune & Heidermanns 2018, pp. 87–93.
  29. Schrodt 2004, pp. 9–18.
  30. Kuroda 1999, p. 90.
  31. Kuroda 1999, p. 52.
  32. Wright 1888.
  33. Sonderegger 1979, p. 269.
  34. Moser, Wellmann & Wolf 1981, pp. 82–84.
  35. Morris 1991, pp. 161–167.
  36. Sonderegger 1979, p. 271.
  37. Braune & Heidermanns 2018, pp. 331–336.
  38. Fleischer & Schallert 2011, p. 35.
  39. Fleischer & Schallert 2011, pp. 49–50.
  40. Schmidt 2013, p. 276.
  41. Braune, Helm & Ebbinghaus 1994, p. 12.
  42. Salmons 2012, p. 161.
  43. Braune & Heidermanns 2018, pp. 338–339.
  44. Braune & Heidermanns 2018, p. 322.
  45. 1 2 Braune, Helm & Ebbinghaus 1994, p. 56.
  46. Braune, Helm & Ebbinghaus 1994, p. 11.
  47. 1 2 Braune, Helm & Ebbinghaus 1994, p. 34.



  • Braune, Wilhelm; Heidermanns, Frank (2018). Althochdeutsche Grammatik I: Laut- und Formenlehre. Sammlung kurzer Grammatiken germanischer Dialekte. A: Hauptreihe 5/1 (in German) (16th ed.). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. ISBN   978-3-11-051510-7.
  • Schrodt, Richard (2004). Althochdeutsche Grammatik II: Syntax (in German) (15th ed.). Tübingen: Niemeyer. ISBN   978-3-484-10862-2.
  • Wright, Joseph (1906). An Old High German Primer (2nd ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. Online version


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Early New High German (ENHG) is a term for the period in the history of the German language generally defined, following Wilhelm Scherer, as the period 1350 to 1650.

Middle Low German Developmental stage of Low German

Middle Low German or Middle Saxon is a developmental stage of Low German. It developed from the Old Saxon language in the Middle Ages and has been documented in writing since about 1225/34 (Sachsenspiegel). During the Hanseatic period, Middle Low German was the leading written language in the north of Central Europe and served as a lingua franca in the northern half of Europe. It was used parallel to medieval Latin also for purposes of diplomacy and for deeds.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Old Saxon</span> Germanic language spoken from the 8th to 12th centuries

Old Saxon, also known as Old Low German, was a Germanic language and the earliest recorded form of Low German. It is a West Germanic language, closely related to the Anglo-Frisian languages. It is documented from the 8th century until the 12th century, when it gradually evolved into Middle Low German. It was spoken throughout modern northwestern Germany, primarily in the coastal regions and in the eastern Netherlands by Saxons, a Germanic tribe that inhabited the region of Saxony. It partially shares Anglo-Frisian's Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law which sets it apart from Low Franconian and Irminonic languages, such as Dutch, Luxembourgish and German.

In English, the digraph ⟨th⟩ represents in most cases one of two different phonemes: the voiced dental fricative and the voiceless dental fricative (thing). More rarely, it can stand for or the cluster (eighth). In compound words, ⟨th⟩ may be a consonant sequence rather than a digraph, as in the of lighthouse.

High German consonant shift Series of sound changes affecting some West Germanic languages

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. It probably began between the third and fifth centuries and was almost complete before the earliest written records in High German were produced in the eighth century. From Proto-Germanic, the resulting language, Old High German, can be neatly contrasted with the other continental West Germanic languages, which for the most part did not experience the shift, and with Old English, which remained completely unaffected.

Like many other languages, English has wide variation in pronunciation, both historically and from dialect to dialect. In general, however, the regional dialects of English share a largely similar phonological system. Among other things, most dialects have vowel reduction in unstressed syllables and a complex set of phonological features that distinguish fortis and lenis consonants.

Old Dutch Set of Franconian dialects

In linguistics, Old Dutch or Old Low Franconian is the set of Franconian dialects spoken in the Low Countries during the Early Middle Ages, from around the 5th to the 12th century. Old Dutch is mostly recorded on fragmentary relics, and words have been reconstructed from Middle Dutch and Old Dutch loanwords in French.

Holtzmann's law is a Proto-Germanic sound law originally noted by Adolf Holtzmann in 1838. It is also known by its traditional German name Verschärfung.

Kluge's law is a controversial Proto-Germanic sound law formulated by Friedrich Kluge. It purports to explain the origin of the Proto-Germanic long consonants *kk, *tt, and *pp as originating in the assimilation of *n to a preceding voiced plosive consonant, under the condition that the *n was part of a suffix which was stressed in the ancestral Proto-Indo-European (PIE). The name "Kluge's law" was coined by Kauffmann (1887) and revived by Frederik Kortlandt (1991). As of 2006, this law has not been generally accepted by historical linguists.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gothic language</span> Extinct East Germanic language

Gothic is an extinct East Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizeable text corpus. All others, including Burgundian and Vandalic, are known, if at all, only from proper names that survived in historical accounts, and from loanwords in other languages such as Portuguese, Spanish, and French.

Lombardic language Extinct Germanic language

Lombardic or Langobardic is an extinct West Germanic language that was spoken by the Lombards (Langobardi), the Germanic people who settled in Italy in the sixth century. It was already declining by the seventh century because the invaders quickly adopted the Latin vernacular spoken by the local population. Lombardic may have been in use in scattered areas until as late as c. 1000 AD. Many toponyms in modern Lombardy and Greater Lombardy and items of Lombard and broader Gallo-Italic vocabulary derive from Lombardic.

Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law Sound change law in the familys language evolution

In historical linguistics, the Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law is a description of a phonological development that occurred in the Ingvaeonic dialects of the West Germanic languages. This includes Old English, Old Frisian, and Old Saxon, and to a lesser degree Old Dutch.

Old High German literature refers to literature written in Old High German, from the earliest texts in the 8th century to the middle of the 11th century.