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Middle High German (abbreviated MHG, German: Mittelhochdeutsch, abbr. Mhd.) 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.

Middle High German
Diutsch
Region Central and southern Germany (south of the Benrath line), Austria and parts of Switzerland
Era High Middle Ages
Early form
Language codes
ISO 639-2 gmh
ISO 639-3 gmh
ISO 639-6 mdgr
Glottolog midd1343[1]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

While there is no standard MHG, the prestige of the Hohenstaufen court gave rise in the late 12th century to a supra-regional literary language (mittelhochdeutsche Dichtersprache) based on Swabian, an Alemannic dialect.[not verified in body] This historical interpretation is complicated[according to whom?] by the tendency of modern editions of MHG texts 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.[not verified in body] Scholars[weasel words] are uncertain as to whether the literary language reflected a supra-regional spoken language of the courts.[according to whom?][not verified in body]

An important development in this period was the Ostsiedlung, the eastward expansion of German settlement beyond the ElbeSaale line which marked the limit of Old High German. This process started in the 11th century, and all the East Central German dialects are a result of this expansion.

"Judeo-German", the precursor of the Yiddish language, sees attestation in the 13th–14th centuries, as a variety of Middle High German written in Hebrew characters.

Contents

PeriodisationEdit

 
German territorial expansion in the Middle High German period (from Walter Kuhn)
  Germanic peoples before AD 700
  Ostsiedlung, 8th–11th centuries
  Expansion in the 12th century
  Expansion in the 13th century
  Expansion in the 14th century
  Territories unsettled by 1400

The Middle High German period is generally dated from 1050 to 1350.[2][3][4][5] An older view puts the boundary with New High German around 1500.[5] [6]

There are several phonological criteria which separate MHG from the preceding Old High German period:[7]

Culturally, the two periods are distinguished by the transition from a predominantly clerical written culture, in which the dominant language was Latin, to one centred on the courts of the great nobles with German gradually expanding its range of use.[3][11] The rise of the Hohenstaufen dynasty in Swabia makes the South West the dominant region in both political and cultural terms.[12]

Demographically, the MHG period is characterised by a massive rise in population,[13] terminated by the demographic catastrophe of the Black Death (1348).[14] Along with the rise in population goes a territorial expansion eastwards (Ostsiedlung), which saw German-speaking settlers colonise land previously under Slav control.[15][16]

Linguistically, the transition to Early New High German is marked by four vowel changes which together produce the phonemic system of modern German, though not all dialects participated equally in these changes:[17]

  • Diphthongisation of the long high vowels /iː yː uː/ > /aɪ̯ ɔʏ̯ aʊ̯/: MHG hût > NHG Haut ("skin")
  • Monophthongisation of the high centering diphthongs /iə yə uə/ > /iː yː uː/: MHG huot > NHG Hut ("hat")
  • 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.[18]

DialectsEdit

The dialect map of Germany by the end of the Middle High German period was much the same as that at the start of the 20th century, though the boundary with Low German was further south than it now is:[19][20]

With the exception of Thuringian, the East Central German dialects are new dialects resulting from the Ostsiedlung.[19][22]

AlphabetEdit

High Middle German texts are written in the Latin alphabet, in Blackletter, which evolved into the Fraktur typefaces of the Early Modern period.

Middle High German had no standardised spelling;[citation needed] modern editions, however, generally standardise according to a set of conventions established by Karl Lachmann in the 19th century.[23] There are several important features in this standardised orthography which are not characteristics of the original manuscripts:[citation needed]

  • the marking of vowel length is almost entirely absent from MHG manuscripts.
  • the marking of umlauted 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 /t/ in the High German consonant shift. This character has no counterpart in the original manuscripts which typically use ⟨s⟩ or ⟨z⟩ to indicate this sound
  • the original texts often use ⟨i⟩ and ⟨u⟩ for the semi-vowels /j/ and /w/.

A particular problem[according to whom?] is that many manuscripts are of much later date than the works they contain; as a result, they bear the signs of later scribes having modified the spellings, with greater or lesser consistency, in accord with conventions of their time.[citation needed]

In addition, there is considerable regional variation in the spellings that appear in the original texts, which modern editions largely conceal.[citation needed]

VowelsEdit

Middle High German vowels
Short Long
Front Central Back Front Back
Close i  y u   
Mid e/ɛ  ø ə o   øː
Open æ a æː aː
Middle High German diphthongs
Front Back
Opening   
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 diphthongs: ⟨ei ou⟩; and the umlauted diphthong ⟨öu eu oi⟩
  • Opening diphthongs: ⟨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 of short /a/. No such orthographic distinction is made in MHG manuscripts.

The etymological distinction made in German spelling between ⟨e⟩ and ⟨ä⟩, with ⟨ä⟩ representing a lower vowel /æ/ arising from the secondary umlaut of /a/, is valid for earlier MHG texts.

By the end of the MHG period, the vowels written ⟨a ä ë e⟩ merge in various ways, depending on the respective dialect. Modern Standard German keeps /a/ separate and has merged /æ ɛ e/ into /ɛ/ written ⟨e⟩ and ⟨ä⟩.

ConsonantsEdit

Middle High German consonants
Labial Alveolar Post-al.
/Palatal
Velar Glottal
Nasal m n (ŋ)
Stop p b t d k g
Affricate pf ts
Fricative plain f v s z ʃ x h
retracted
Approximant l j w
Trill r

The standardised orthography of MHG editions uses the following consonant spellings:

The consonant ⟨ȥ⟩ most likely was [s] or [s̪], sharing its place of articulation with /t/, and remains thus in modern dialects. The consonant ⟨s⟩ was most likely [s̺]. It has been voiced word-initially and intervocally in some dialects.

In the later MHG period or shortly after it, /s̺/ merges into /ʃ/ word-initially before consonants, and in the combination ⟨rs⟩, i.e. /rʃ/. In modern Standard German, the latter development has been partially undone, so that the combination spelled ⟨rst⟩, originally pronounced /rʃt/, is now /rst/, probably due to spelling pronunciation. On the other hand, ⟨st⟩ and ⟨sp⟩ are still pronounced as /ʃt/ and /ʃp/, respectively, word-initially. In some dialects, notably Alemannic German, MGH /s̺/ merges into /ʃ/ in other positions as well.

PhonologyEdit

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.

VowelsEdit

Short and Long VowelsEdit

  front central back
unrounded rounded
short long short long short long short long
close i y ⟨ü⟩ ⟨iu⟩   u
close-mid e        
mid ɛ ɛː ø ⟨ö⟩ øː ⟨œ⟩   o
open-mid æ ⟨ä⟩ æː ⟨æ⟩      
open   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 ⟨e⟩ found in unstressed syllables may indicate [ɛ] or schwa [ə].

DiphthongsEdit

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

ConsonantsEdit

  Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive p  b   t  d     k ⟨k, c⟩  ɡ  
Affricates p͡f   t͡s ⟨z⟩        
Nasal m   n     ŋ ⟨ng⟩  
Fricative   f v ⟨f, v⟩ s  z ⟨ȥ⟩ ⟨s⟩ ʃ ⟨sch⟩   x ⟨ch, h⟩ h
Approximant w       j    
Liquid     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 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.

GrammarEdit

PronounsEdit

Middle High German pronouns of the first person refer to the speaker; those of the second person refer to an addressed person; and those of the third person refer to person or thing of which one speaks. The pronouns of the third person may be used to replace nominal phrases. These have the same gender, number and case as the original nominal phrase.

Personal pronounsEdit

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

Possessive pronounsEdit

The possessive pronouns mîn, dîn, sîn, ir, unser, iuwer are used like adjectives and hence takes on adjective endings following the normal rules. This includes unser and iuwer, despite the fact that they already end in -er.


ArticlesEdit

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

Definite article (strong)

Case Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural
Nominative dër daȥ diu die / diu
Accusative dën daȥ die die / diu
Dative dëm dër dën
Genitive dës dër dër
Instrumental diu

The instrumental case, 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.

NounsEdit

Middle High German nouns were declined according to four cases (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative), two numbers (singular and plural) and three genders (masculine, feminine and neuter), much like Modern High German, though there are several important differences.

Strong nounsEdit

dër tac
day m.
diu zît
time f.
daȥ wort
word n.
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative dër tac die tage diu zît die zîte daȥ 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 zîte daȥ wort diu wort

Weak nounsEdit

dër veter
(male) cousin m.
diu zunge
tongue f.
daȥ herze
heart n.
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative dër veter die veteren diu zunge die zungen daȥ 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 daȥ herze diu herzen

Note that ⟨ë⟩ is a short, open /ɛ/, so MHG dër /dɛr/ as opposed to modern /deːr/.[citation needed]


VerbsEdit

Verbs were conjugated according to three moods (indicative, subjunctive (conjunctive) and imperative), three persons, two numbers (singular and plural) and two tenses (present tense and preterite) There was a present participle, a past participle and a verbal noun that somewhat resembles the Latin gerund, but that only existed in the genitive and dative cases.

An important distinction is made between strong verbs (that exhibited ablaut) and weak verbs (that didn't).

Furthermore, there were also some irregular verbs.

Strong verbsEdit

The present tense 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: nëmende
  • Infinitive: nëmen
  • Verbal noun: genitive: nëmen(n)es, dative: ze nëmen(n)e

The bold vowels demonstrate umlaut; the vowels in brackets were dropped in rapid speech.

The preterite 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 nâmen wir næmen
2. pl. ir nâmet ir næmet
3. pl. sie nâmen sie næmen
  • Past participle: genomen

Weak verbsEdit

The present tense 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: suochende
  • Infinitive: suochen
  • Verbal noun: genitive: suochennes, dative: ze suochenne

The vowels in brackets were dropped in rapid speech.

The preterite 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

VocabularyEdit

Sample textsEdit

IweinEdit

 
Manuscript B of Hartmann von Aue's Iwein (Gießen, UB, Hs. 97), folio 1r

The text is the opening of Hartmann von Aue's Iwein (c. 1200)

Middle High German[24] English translation

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.

[1]



[5]




[10]




[15]




[20]

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.

Commentary: 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.[25]

NibelungenliedEdit

 
Manuscript C of the Nibelungenlied, fol.1r

The text is the opening strophe of the Nibelungenlied ({circa|1204}}).

Middle High German[26]

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.

Modern German translation[27]

In alten Erzählungen wird uns viel Wunderbares berichtet
von ruhmreichen Helden, von hartem Streit,
von glücklichen Tagen und Festen, von Schmery und Klage:
vom Kampf tapferer Recken: Davon könnt auch Ihr nun Wunderbares berichten hören.

English translation[28]

In ancient tales many marvels are told us
of renowned heroes, of great hardship
of joys, festivities, of weepeing and lamenting
of bold warriors' battles — now you may hear such marvels told!

Commentary: All the MHG words are recognizable from Modern German, though mære ("tale") and recke ("warrior") are archaic and lobebære ("praiseworthy") has given way to lobenswert. Words which have changed in meaning include arebeit, which means "strife" or "hardship" in MHG, but now means "work", and hôchgezît ("festivity") which now, as Hochzeit, has the narrower meaning of "wedding".[25]

LiteratureEdit

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Middle High German". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  2. ^ Keller 1978, p. 236.
  3. ^ a b Lindgren 1980, p. 580.
  4. ^ Waterman 1976, p. 83.
  5. ^ a b Rautenberg 1985, p. 1120.
  6. ^ Roelcke 1998, pp. 804-811: tabulates the various periodisations.
  7. ^ Roelcke 1998, p. 812.
  8. ^ a b Waterman 1976, p. 85.
  9. ^ Keller 1978, p. 276.
  10. ^ Brockhaus 1995, p. 6.
  11. ^ Waterman 1976, pp. 87f..
  12. ^ Keller 1979, p. 337.
  13. ^ Keller 1979, pp. 237: "the population appears to have increased about fivefold."
  14. ^ Keller 1979, pp. 336.
  15. ^ Keller 1979, pp. 238-239.
  16. ^ Rautenberg 1985, p. 1121.
  17. ^ Waterman & 1976 103.
  18. ^ Eggers1985, p. 1300: "Zu Beginn der frnhd. Periode ist die Stadt längst zum Kultur-, Wirtschafts- und Sozialfaktor geworden."
  19. ^ a b Schmidt 2013, p. 278.
  20. ^ a b Keller 1978, p. 257.
  21. ^ Paul 1989, pp. 5-10.
  22. ^ Paul 1989, p. 10.
  23. ^ Paul 1989, pp. 26ff.
  24. ^ Edwards 2007, p. 2.
  25. ^ a b Lexer 1999.
  26. ^ Bartsch & De Boor 1998.
  27. ^ Brackert 1970.
  28. ^ Edwards 2010.

ReferencesEdit

  • Bartsch, Karl; De Boor, Helmut, eds. (1988). Das Nibelungenlied (22 ed.). Mannheim: F.A. Brockhaus. ISBN 3-7653-0373-9. 
  • Brackert, Helmut, ed. (1970). Das Nibelungenlied. Mittelhochdeutscher Text und Übertragung. Frankfurt-am-Main: Fischer. ISBN 3436013137. 
  • Brockhaus, Wiebke (1995). Final Devoicing in the Phonology of German. Tübingen: De Gruyter. ISBN 9783484303362. 
  • Edwards, Cyril, ed. (2007). Hartmann von Aue. Iwein or the Knight with the Lion. Arthurian Romances. III. Cambridge: D.S.Brewer. ISBN 978-0-19-923854-5. 
  • Edwards, Cyril, ed. (2010). The Nibelungenlied. Oxford World's Classics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-1-84384-084-8. 
  • Keller, R.E. (1979). The German Language. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-11159-9. 
  • Lexer, Matthias (1999). Mittelhochdeutsches Taschenwörterbuch (38 ed.). Stuttgart: S. Hirzel Verlag. ISBN 978-3777604930. Retrieved 5 May 2017. 
  • Lindgren KB (1980). "Mittelhochdeutsch". In Althaus HP, Henne H, Wiegand HE. Lexikon der Germanistischen Linguistik. III (2 ed.). Tübingen: Niemeyer. pp. 580–584. ISBN 3-484-10391-4. 
  • Paul (1989). Wiehl, Peter & Grosse, Sigfried, eds. Mittelhochdeutsche Grammatik (23rd ed.). Tübingen: Niemeyer. ISBN 3484102330.  Unknown parameter |First= ignored (|first= suggested) (help)
  • Rautenberg U (1985). "Soziokulturelle Voraussetzung und Sprachraum des Mittelhochdeutschen". In Besch W, Reichmann O, Sonderegger S. Sprachgeschichte. 2.2. Berlin, New York: Walter De Gruyter. pp. 1120–29. ISBN 3-11-009590-4. 
  • Roelcke T (1998). "Soziokulturelle Voraussetzung und Sprachraum des Mittelhochdeutschen". In Besch W, Betten A, Reichmann O, Sonderegger S. Sprachgeschichte. 2.1 (2nd ed.). Berlin, New York: Walter De Gruyter. pp. 798–815. ISBN 3-11-011257-4. 
  • Waterman, John T. (1976). A History of the German Language (Revised ed.). University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-295-73807-3. 
  • Wells, C. J. (1987). German: A Linguistic History to 1945. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-815809-2. 

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit