The origin of Standard High German and Yiddish

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by DaveWen, Sep 21, 2013.

  1. DaveWen Member

    Chinese(Mandarin)
    Hi, I'm curious about where some High German dialects came from, namely standard High German and Yiddish. I read through the Wikipedia articles about these 2 dialects, but it seems that the articles are very vague about the what they are based on. What I want to know is, can we put Standard High German in a particular group of dialects, the same way we can put Standard spoken Chinese in the Mandarin group? What about Yiddish----which particular High German dialect is it based on? (i.e. when spoken, which dialect does it remind you of?) Thank you very much
     
  2. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    The broad dialect groups are Low, Central and Upper German dialect. High German is a generic term for Central and Upper German dialects. Standard High German is a bit of a mixture of High German dialects. It has Central German characteristics, like preserving rounded front vowels while Upper German lost them which e.g. cased a merger between können and kennen but Standard German horse is Pferd which is Upper German and not Perd as in Low and Central German.

    At the end of the Middle Ages (~1500) there were four standards, one for each of the three groups and Dutch. Dutch (and some dialects in modern Germany) belong to the group of Low Franconian dialects which is genetically related to the Central German dialects but shares important traits with Low German, namely the lack of the characteristic High German shifts (maken>machen, dat>das, Schipp>Schiff). All of these standards continued to influence each other. By the 17th century Low German ceased to exists as a standard language remaining as a vernacular but being replaced my the High German (in some areas also Dutch) as a standard language. The separate Upper German standard became extinct towards the end of the 18th century shortly after Empress Maria Theresia introduced the Central German standard as the language used in schools in the areas rules by the house of Habsburg.

    Yiddish is theoretically based on Rhine-Franconian dialects. But only some Yiddish dialect, those of the eastern Jews, survived and they were so heavily influenced by other languages and also by Austrian German that it is difficult to associate modern Yiddish dialects with any particular sub group in the High German dialect continuum.
     
  3. DaveWen Member

    Chinese(Mandarin)
    Ah, thanks. it's much clearer now.
     
  4. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    Mandarin group? I thought that Mandarin was the standardized official version of Beijing dialect, used originally by the imperial bureaucracy.
     
  5. DaveWen Member

    Chinese(Mandarin)
    When used in this context, it means the Northern varieties of Chinese languages, which are often called "Mandarin". But yeah, "Mandarin" is supposed to mean whichever Chinese dialect that is used as the standard language, since the word itself means something along the line of "official". At least that's my understanding.
     
  6. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Standard German originated from the chancellery language of Saxony (Sächsische Kanzleisprache), which in turn was a development of the older chancellery language of the Habsburg court in Vienna and Prague. Whereas the latter had its dialect basis in Upper German (Oberdeutsch), the mandarins (if I may call them thus) in Saxony mixed it with elements of the local Middle German (Saxon) dialect. This hybrid language was popularised by Luther’s translation of the Bible.
     
  7. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    The Upper German Maximilianische Kanzleisprache and the Central German Sächsische Kanzleisprache are roughly the same age. They were both introduced in the early 16th century and reflected the sound shifts associated with the transition from Middle to Modern High German.
     
  8. Dymn Senior Member

    Catalan, Catalonia
    I've always been amazed by how Standard German seems to come from no specific dialect at all, and has been kept as a written language since fairly recently (actually the latter is rather common e.g. Italian, I am more interested in the former). I wonder if that makes it intrinsically different from vernacular varieties. Maybe I would expect less consistency for sound change patterns when compared to early forms of German, as well as more conservativeness. Besides, could we consider it a koiné? Being a sort of compromise between various dialects?
     
  9. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    That is essentially what it is. There were competing standards in the past. The current standard is based on the Upper Saxon chancery standard (sächsische Kanzleisprache) on which Luther's Bible translation is based..
     
  10. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    So for example, Austrians don't pronounce ü and ö and merge them with u and o?
    What would have lead Maria Theresa to do this? Is it not strange for an Empress to abandon her own norm to accept that of another country?
     
  11. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    The result of unrounding ü and ö is i and e and not u and ö.
     
  12. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    Ok, that does make sense. They have made that same change in Caribbean French creoles.
     
  13. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    I think she just acknowledged reality. Central German was already the de facto literary standard.
     
  14. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    Or in Greek (the Ypsilon) or in English (hyll>hill).
     

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