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|Old High German|
|Era||Early Middle Ages|
Old High German (OHG, German : Althochdeutsch, German abbr. 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.
German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.
Sound change includes any processes of language change that affect pronunciation or sound system structures. Sound change can consist of the replacement of one speech sound by another, the complete loss of the affected sound, or even the introduction of a new sound in a place where there had been none. Sound changes can be environmentally conditioned, meaning that the change only occurs in a defined sound environment, whereas in other environments the same speech sound is not affected by the change. The term "sound change" refers to diachronic changes—that is, irreversible changes in a language's sound system over time; "alternation", on the other hand, refers to changes that happen synchronically and which do not change the language's underlying system. However, since "sound change" can refer to the historical introduction of an alternation —the label is inherently imprecise and often must be clarified as referring to phonemic change or restructuring.
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 ninth century. 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.
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 French and German.
Charlemagne or Charles the Great, numbered Charles I, was king of the Franks from 768, king of the Lombards from 774, and emperor of the Romans from 800. He united much of western and central Europe during the Early Middle Ages. He was the first recognised emperor to rule from western Europe since the fall of the Western Roman Empire three centuries earlier. The expanded Frankish state that Charlemagne founded is called the Carolingian Empire. He was later canonized by Antipope Paschal III.
French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and 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.
Scriptorium, literally "a place for writing", is commonly used to refer to a room in medieval European monasteries devoted to the writing, copying and illuminating of manuscripts by monastic scribes.
Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.
Christianity is an Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the New Testament. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament.
OHG largely preserves the synthetic inflectional system inherited from Germanic, 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.
A synthetic language uses inflection or agglutination to express syntactic relationships within a sentence. Inflection is the addition of morphemes to a root word that assigns grammatical property to that word, while agglutination is the combination of two or more morphemes into one word. The information added by morphemes can include indications of a word's grammatical category, such as whether a word is the subject or object in the sentence. Morphology can be either relational or derivational.
In morphology, inflection is a process of word formation, in which a word is modified to express different grammatical categories such as tense, case, voice, aspect, person, number, gender, and mood. The inflection of verbs is called conjugation, and one can refer to the inflection of nouns, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, determiners, participles, prepositions and postpositions, numerals, articles etc., as declension.
In linguistic typology, an analytic language is a language that primarily conveys relationships between words in sentences by way of helper words and word order, as opposed to utilizing inflections. For example, the English-language phrase "The cat chases the ball" conveys the fact that the cat is acting on the ball analytically via word order. This can be contrasted to synthetic languages, which rely heavily on inflections to convey word relationships. Most languages are not purely analytic, but many rely primarily on analytic syntax.
Old High German is generally dated, following Willhelm Scherer, from around 750 to around 1050.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. 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. Alternatively, terms such as Voralthochdeutsch ("pre-OHG") or vorliterarisches Althochdeutsch ("pre-literary OHG") are sometimes used for the period before 750. Regardless of teminology, 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.
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.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, others exclude Langobardic from discussion of OHG. As Heidermanns observes, this exclusion is based solely on the external circumstances of preservation and not on the internal features of the language.
Elbe Germanic, also called Irminonic, is a term introduced by the German linguist Friedrich Maurer (1898–1984) in his book, Nordgermanen und Alemanen, to describe the unattested proto-language, or dialectal grouping, ancestral to the later Alemannic, Lombardic, Thuringian and Bavarian dialects. During Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, its supposed descendants had a profound influence on the neighboring West Central German dialects and, later, in the form of Standard German, on the German language as a whole.
Upper German is a family of High German languages spoken primarily in the southern German-speaking area.
The end of the period is less controversial. The sound changes reflected in spelling during the 11th century lead to the remodelling of the entire system of noun and adjective declensions.There is also a hundred-year "dearth of continuous texts" after the death of Notker Labeo in 1022. The mid-11th century is widely accepted as marking the transition to Middle High German.
During the Migration Period, the High German-speaking tribes settled in what became Alamannia, the Duchy of Bavaria and the Kingdom of the Lombards. At the same time the Franconian-speaking tribes settled the area between those two rivers[ clarification needed ] before crossing the Rhine to conquer Northern Gaul, where, under the Merovingians, they created the Frankish kingdom, Francia, which eventually stretched down to the Loire.
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 Flemish.North of this line, the Franks retained their language, but it was not affected by the Second Sound Shift, which thus separated their Low Franconian variety (the ancestor of Dutch) from the more easterly Franconian dialects which formed part of Old High German.
The Saxons and the Frisians along the shores of North Sea were likewise not affected by the Second Sound Shift and a bundle of isoglosses in a similar location to the modern Benrath linemarked the Northern limit of the sound shift and separated the dialect of the Franks from Old Saxon.
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.
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 again until the German eastward expansion ("Ostkolonisation") of the early 12th century, though there was some attempt at conquest and missionary work under the Ottonians.
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.
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).
The main dialects, with their bishoprics and monasteries:
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.
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.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.
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.
While there are a few runic inscriptions from the pre-OHG period,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 invidual scribes and scriptoria had to develop their own solutions to these problems. 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.") The careful orthographies of the OHG Isidor or Notker show a similar awareness.
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.
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.
By the mid 11th century the many different vowels found in unstressed syllables had almost all been reduced to ⟨e⟩/ə/.
|Old High German||Middle High German||English|
|machôn||machen||to make, do|
(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.
|Plosive||p b||t d||c, k /k/ g /g/|
|Affricate||pf /p͡f/||z /t͡s/|
|Fricative||f, v /f//v/||th /θ/||s, ȥ /s̠/, /s/||h, ch /x/||h|
|Approximant||w, uu /w/||j, i /j/|
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.For example:
After thie thö argangana warun ahtu taga (Tatian, 7,1)
"When eight days had passed", literally "After that then passed (away) were eight days"
Latin: Et postquam consummati sunt dies octo (Luke 2:21)
phīgboum habeta sum giflanzotan (Tatian 102,2)
"someone had planted a fig tree", literally "fig-tree had certain (or someone) planted"
Latin: arborem fici habebat quidam plantatam (Luke 3:6)
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 generally taken to be the result of a need to translate Latin forms,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.
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 will 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)
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".
|2nd sg||nimis (-ist)||nëmēs (-ēst)||nim|
|1st pl||nëmemēs (-ēn)||nëmemēs (-ēn)||nëmamēs, -emēs (-ēn)|
|2nd sg||nāmi||nāmīs (-īst)||—|
|1st pl||nāmumēs (-un)||nāmīmēs (-īn)||—|
|3.||Masculine||(h)er||(sīn)||imu, imo||inan, in|
|Feminine||siu; sī, si||ira, iru||iro||sia|
|Neuter||iz||es, is||imu, imo||iz|
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,while the verse works may show patterns that are determined by the needs of rhyme and metre, or that represent literary archaisms. Nonetheless, the basic word order rules are broadly those of Modern Standard German.
Two differences from the modern language are the possbility 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:kilaubu in got vater almahticun (Modern German, Ich glaube an Gott den almächtigen Vater; English "I believe in God the almighty father").
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)and the numeral ein ("one") has come into use as an indefinite article. 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).
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 .
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.
The St Gall Paternoster
|South Rhine Franconian, |
|East Franconian, c. 830|
Old High German Tatian
early 9th century
Pater noster, qui in caelis es,
Fater unseer, thu pist in himile,
Fater unsēr, thu in himilom bist,
Fater unser, thū thār bist in himile,
Fater unser, du pist in himilum.
|Look up old high german in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Old High German test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
|For a list of words relating to Old High German, see the Old High German category of words in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family spoken natively by a population of about 515 million people mainly in Europe, North America, Oceania, and Southern Africa.
The Germanic umlaut is a type of linguistic umlaut in which a back vowel changes to the associated front vowel (fronting) or a front vowel becomes closer to (raising) when the following syllable contains, , or. It took place separately in various Germanic languages starting around AD 450 or 500 and affected all of the early languages except Gothic. An example of the resulting vowel alternation is the English plural foot ~ feet.
The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three branches of the Germanic family of languages.
Proto-Germanic is the reconstructed proto-language of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European languages.
Middle High German is the term for the form of German spoken in the High Middle Ages. It is conventionally dated between 1050 and 1350, developing from Old High German and into Early New High German. High German is defined as those varieties of German which were affected by the Second Sound Shift; the Middle Low German and Middle Dutch languages spoken to the North and North West, which did not participate in this sound change, are not part of MHG.
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 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.
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 who 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.
Rhotacism or rhotacization is a sound change that converts one consonant to a rhotic consonant in a certain environment. The most common may be of to. When a dialect or member of a language family resists the change and keeps a /z/ sound, this is sometimes known as zetacism.
Frankish, also known as Old Franconian or Old Frankish, was the West Germanic language spoken by the Franks between the 4th and 8th century. The language itself is poorly attested, but it gave rise to numerous loanwords in Old French. After the 8th century Frankish developed into Franconian dialects in what today is the Netherlands, parts of Belgium and parts of Western Germany. Franconian dialects later developed into the Dutch language and took part in the forming of the German language. Franconian dialects are still spoken in larger parts of Germany. Old Dutch is the term for different Old Franconian dialects that were spoken in the Low Countries until about the 12th century when it evolved into Middle Dutch dialects.
Old English phonology is necessarily somewhat speculative since Old English is preserved only as a written language. Nevertheless, there is a very large corpus of the language, and the orthography apparently indicates phonological alternations quite faithfully, so it is not difficult to draw certain conclusions about the nature of Old English phonology.
The phonological history of English describes the changing phonology of the English language over time, starting from its roots in proto-Germanic to diverse changes in different dialects of modern English.
The Ludwigslied is an Old High German (OHG) poem of 59 rhyming couplets, celebrating the victory of the Frankish army, led by Louis III of France, over Danish (Viking) raiders at the Battle of Saucourt-en-Vimeu on 3 August 881.
French is a Romance language that evolved out of the Gallo-Romance spoken in northern France.
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.
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 sizable 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.
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.