High German languages
- "Hochdeutsch" or "High German" is also used in the sense of Standard German.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2006)|
|predominantly central and southern Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, northern and central Switzerland, Austria, Poland, Alsace and South Tyrol|
|Proto-language:||Old High German|
The High German languages (in German, Hochdeutsche Sprachen) or the High German dialects (Hochdeutsche Mundarten/Dialekte) are any of the varieties of standard German, Luxembourgish and Yiddish, as well as the local German dialects spoken in central and southern Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Luxembourg and in neighboring portions of Belgium and the Netherlands (Ripuarian dialects in southeast Limburg), France (Alsace and northern Lorraine), Italy, Denmark, and Poland. The language is also spoken in diaspora in Romania, Russia, the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Namibia.
As a technical term, the "high" in High German is a geographical reference to the group of dialects that forms "High German" (in the broader sense), out of which developed standard High German (in the narrower sense), Yiddish and Luxembourgish. It refers to the upland and mountainous areas of central and southern Germany, it also includes Luxembourg, Austria, Liechtenstein and most of Switzerland. This is opposed to Low German, which is spoken on the lowlands and along the flat sea coasts of the north. High German in this broader sense can be subdivided into Upper German (Oberdeutsch, this includes the Austrian and Swiss German dialects), Central German (Mitteldeutsch, this includes Luxembourgish, which is now a standardized language), and High Franconian which is a transitional dialect between the two.
The High German dialects as used in central and southern Germany (Saxony, Bavaria) and Austria were an important basis for the development of standard German.
High German (in the broader sense) is distinguished from other West Germanic varieties in that it took part in the High German consonant shift (c. AD 500). To see this, compare English/Low Saxon pan/Pann with German Pfanne ([p] to [p͡f]), English/Low Saxon two/twee with German zwei ([t] to [t͡s]), English/Low Saxon make/maken with German machen ([k] to [x]). In the High Alemannic dialects, there is a further shift; Sack (like English/Low Saxon "sack/Sack") is pronounced [z̥ak͡x] ([k] to [k͡x]).
Note that divisions between subfamilies within Germanic are rarely precisely defined, as most form continuous clines, with adjacent dialects being mutually intelligible and more separated ones not. In particular, there has never been an original "Proto-High German". For this and other reasons, the idea of representing the relationships between West Germanic language forms in a tree diagram at all is controversial among linguists. What follows should be used with care in the light of this caveat.
- Central German (German: Mitteldeutsch)
- East Central German
- Transylvanian Saxon (in Transylvania)
- West Central German
- Transitional areas between Central German and Upper German
- Pennsylvania German (in the United States and Canada)
- Upper German (German: Oberdeutsch)
- Austro-Bavarian (On the use of dialects and Standard German in Austria, see Austrian language)
- Northern Austro-Bavarian (spoken in Upper Palatinate)
- Central Austro-Bavarian (includes the dialects of Upper Bavaria, Lower Bavaria, Upper Austria, Lower Austria and Vienna — see Viennese language)
- Southern Austro-Bavarian (includes the dialects of Tirol, Carinthia and Styria)
- Cimbrian (northeastern Italy)
- Mócheno (Trentino, in Italy)
- Hutterite German (in Canada and the United States)
- Texas German, a dialect spoken by descendants of immigrants who settled in the Texas Hill Country region in the mid-19th century.
- See the definition of "high" in the Oxford English Dictionary (Concise Edition): "... situated far above ground, sealevel, etc; upper, inland, as ... High German".
- Russ, Charles. The Dialects of Modern German: A Linguistic Survey. Routledge, 1989
- Russ, Charles. The German Language Today: A Linguistic Introduction. Routledge, 1994.
- Robinson, Orrin. Old English and its Closest Relatives. Routledge, 1994.
- "Ethnologue: East Middle German". Retrieved 2010-11-24.
- Friedrich Maurer (1942), Nordgermanen und Alemannen: Studien zur germanische und frühdeutschen Sprachgeschichte, Stammes- und Volkskunde, Strasbourg: Hünenburg, [designation of High German languages as Irminonic].