The Info List - High German

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The High German languages
High German languages
or High German dialects (German: Hochdeutsche Mundarten) comprise the varieties of German spoken south of the Benrath and Uerdingen isoglosses in central and southern Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and Luxembourg, as well as in neighboring portions of France
( Alsace
and northern Lorraine), Italy
(South Tyrol), the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
(Bohemia), and Poland
(Upper Silesia). They are also spoken in diaspora in Romania, Russia, the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, and Namibia. The High German languages
High German languages
are marked by the High German consonant shift, separating them from Low German
Low German
and Low Franconian (Dutch) within the continental West Germanic dialect continuum.


1 Classification 2 History 3 Family tree 4 References 5 Further reading


The present-day distribution of continental High German languages:    Central German
Central German
dialects    Upper German
Upper German

As a technical term, the "high" in High German is a geographical reference to the group of dialects that forms "High German" (i.e. "Highland" German), out of which developed Standard German, Yiddish and Luxembourgish. It refers to the Central Uplands (Mittelgebirge) and Alpine 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 in the lowlands and along the flat sea coasts of the North German Plain.[2] High German in this broader sense can be subdivided into Upper German (Oberdeutsch, this includes the Austrian and Swiss German
Swiss German
dialects), Central German
Central German
(Mitteldeutsch, this includes Luxembourgish, which itself is now a standard language), and High Franconian
High Franconian
which is a transitional dialect between the two.[3] 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 German
Low German
(Low Saxon) pan/Pann with Standard German
Standard German
Pfanne ([p] to [p͡f]), English/Low German two/twee with Standard German
Standard German
zwei ([t] to [t͡s]), English/Low German make/maken with Standard German
Standard German
machen ([k] to [x]).[4] In the southernmost High Alemannic dialects, there is a further shift; Sack (like English/ Low German
Low German
"sack/Sack") is pronounced [z̥ak͡x] ([k] to [k͡x]). History[edit] See also: Theodiscus Old High German
Old High German
evolved from about 500 AD. Around 1200 the Swabian and East Franconian varieties of Middle High German
Middle High German
became dominant as a court and poetry language (Minnesang) under the rule of the House of Hohenstaufen. The term "High German" as spoken in central and southern Germany (Upper Saxony, Franconia, Swabia, Bavaria) and Austria
was first documented in the 15th century. Gradually driving back Low German variants since the Early modern period, the Early New High German varieties, especially the East Central German
Central German
of the Luther Bible, formed an important basis for the development of Standard German.[5] Family tree[edit] Divisions between subfamilies within Germanic are rarely precisely defined, because 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
Central German
(German: Mitteldeutsch)

East Central German, including the Standard German
Standard German

Thuringian Upper Saxon, including Erzgebirgisch Lausitzisch-neumärkisch

South Markish Lusatian

Silesian (mostly spoken by the German minority in Upper Silesia) High Prussian, nearly extinct

West Central German

Central Franconian

Ripuarian Moselle Franconian, including the Luxembourgish

Rhine Franconian

Palatine, including Lorraine Franconian
Lorraine Franconian

Pennsylvania German
Pennsylvania German
(in the United States
United States
and Canada)


High Franconian, in the transitional area between Central and Upper German

East Franconian South Franconian

Upper German
Upper German
(German: Oberdeutsch)

Alemannic, including Swiss German
Swiss German

Swabian Low Alemannic, including Alsatian and Basel German High Alemannic Highest Alemannic

Bavarian, including Austrian German
Austrian German

Northern Bavarian Central Bavarian, including Viennese Southern Bavarian, including Mócheno in Trentino, Italy Cimbrian, nearly extinct Hutterite German (in Canada
and the United States)

Yiddish, evolved from Middle High German Lombardic, extinct, categorization disputed


^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "High German". Glottolog
3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.  ^ 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 ^ Robinson, Orrin. Old English and its Closest Relatives. Routledge, 1994. ^ Russ, Charles. The German Language Today: A Linguistic Introduction. Routledge, 1994. ^ "Ethnologue: East Middle German". Retrieved 2010-11-24. 

Further reading[edit]

Friedrich Maurer (1942), Nordgermanen und Alemannen: Studien zur germanischen und frühdeutschen Sprachgeschichte, Stammes- und Volkskunde, Strasbourg: Hünenburg, [designation of High German languages as Irminonic].

v t e

Germanic languages
Germanic languages
and dialects

West Germanic

Anglo- Frisian



dialects Yola Fingallian



East Frisian

Saterland Frisian Wangerooge Frisian Wursten Frisian

North Frisian

Söl'ring Fering Öömrang Heligolandic Mooring Halligen Frisian Strand Frisian Eiderstedt Frisian

West Frisian

Clay Frisian Wood Frisian

Low German

East Low German

Mecklenburg-Western Pomeranian

Mecklenburgish West Pomeranian

Brandenburgisch East Pomeranian-West Prussian

Western East Pomeranian Eastern East Pomeranian Bublitzisch Pommerellisch

Central Pomeranian

West Central Pomeranian

Low Prussian

Mennonite Low German

West Low German

Dutch Low Saxon

Stellingwarfs Tweants Gronings Drèents Gelders-Overijssels

Achterhooks Sallaans Urkers


Northern Low Saxon

East Frisian Low Saxon Schleswigsch Holsteinisch Hamburgisch Ollnborger North Hanoveranian Dithmarsch Emsländisch

Westphalian Eastphalian

Low Franconian

Standard variants

Dutch Afrikaans

West Low Franconian

Hollandic West Flemish

French Flemish

Zeelandic East Flemish Brabantian Surinamese Dutch Jersey Dutch Mohawk Dutch Stadsfries Bildts Yiddish

East Low Franconian



Southeast Limburgish

South Guelderish


Low Dietsch

High German



Namibian German Namibian Black German Brazilian German Unserdeutsch Barossa German Belgranodeutsch Parana Volga German


Eastern Western Litvish Poylish Ukrainish Galitzish Scots Yiddish Alsatian Yiddish Klezmer-loshn Ganovim Balagole Katsoves Lachoudisch

Yenish Rotwelsch


Central German

West Central German

Central Franconian



Moselle Franconian

Luxembourgish Transylvanian Saxon Hunsrückisch

Rhine Franconian

Lorraine Franconian Palatine

Volga German Pennsylvania German



East Central German

Thuringian Upper Saxon Lusatian-Neumarkish


Silesian High Prussian Wymysorys Pragerisch

High Franconian

South Franconian East Franconian

Main Franconian Vogtlandian

Upper German


Low Alemannic

Alsatian Coloniero

High Alemannic

Swiss German

Highest Alemannic

Walser German



Northern Bavarian Central Bavarian

Viennese German

Southern Bavarian

South Tyrolean Cimbrian Mòcheno Hutterite German


Standard German

German Standard German Austrian Standard German Swiss Standard German

North Germanic

West Scandinavian



Bergensk Kebabnorsk Sognamål Trøndersk Valdris Vestlandsk Vikværsk


Elfdalian Insular Scandinavian

Faroese Icelandic Gronlandsk Norn

East Scandinavian


Åland Estonian Finlandic Gotlandic Jamtlandic Kalix Kiruna Luleå Norrland Ostrobothnian Småländska South Swedish


Stockholm Rinkeby Uppländska Västgötska Westrobothnian


Bornholmsk Gøtudanskt Insular Danish Jutlandic South Jutlandic Perkerdansk


East Germanic


Crimean Gothic

Burgundian Vandalic

Italics indicate extinct languages Bold indicates languages with more than 3 million speakers Languages between parentheses are varieties of the langu