Could understand old standard German old English

The development of the German language


The German language today



The German language is one of the most widely used languages ​​in Europe. Along with Russian, it is the second most widely spoken language on the continent. More than 100 million people speak German. Especially in the core countries Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. But German is also spoken in parts of Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg and Italy (South Tyrol). Even in France (Alsace) there is still a declining, but still German-speaking community. In 2014, 43% of Alsatians still admitted to having German as their mother tongue.

There are German enclaves in the USA, Canada, Romania and Argentina.

With the economic strengthening of Germany in the years 2010 to 2019, an increase in German learners abroad has also been recorded.




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No one would have understood you 1,700 years ago

West Germanic, which emerged in the 5th century alongside East and North Germanic, is considered to be the origin of the German language. What we call German today only emerged slowly over the centuries, with the most important step being the second (High German) sound shift. If you had met someone in a settlement in what is now Thuringia or Odenwald in the 5th century, you would not be able to communicate with them. The Germanic language of that time was so different from today's standard German. The second sound shift did not begin until the early 6th century AD and ended in the 8th century. From then on, Germanic sounded a little more similar to today's German.

The emergence of the German language



The tree of the German language shows three main areas in South or West Germanic, divided from east to west:


  • Elbe Germans (Ermionen: Suebi): Elbe region to the Baltic Sea
  • Rhine-Wesergermanen (Istwäonen: Franconia): Rhine to the Weser (Bremen), in the north about to the North Sea and the Netherlands
  • North Sea Germans (Ingwäonen: Anglo-Saxons, Friesians, Chauken): a strip from the south of Denmark, the North Sea coast and North Sea islands to Friesland


As a strip from east to west lies North Germanic in the north: Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland. According to Elisabeth Fraser, English (Anglo-Saxon) is the link between Low German (Platt) and English. This is where today's seamless, blatant separation between Low German (Schleswig-Holstein) and Danish comes from. The Germanic tribes originally came from the Urals. In Caesar's time, the Suebi settled around the Baltic Sea (mare suebicum = the Swabian Sea) and the Elbe region, including Denmark, Norway and Sweden, while the Alamanni settled around 100 AD. about at the level of the Main (to be precise: Fulda) and from there began to advance to the south. They crossed the Limes, but were driven out by the Romans. However, they crossed the Limes a second time and displaced the Romans (AD). Already in 280 AD they penetrated as far as the Rhine. The first evidence of the Alamanni is found in the Roman annals in AD 213. You can find more detailed information on this in the chapter on the history of the Alemanni and Swabians - From the history of the southwest German language area. Since Alemannic had a great influence on the development of the German language - as will be seen below - special attention is paid to this people here (in addition, the author Alemanne is by the way, better: Allemane). As can be seen from the tree of the German language, Upper German developed from the Ermions (Elbgermanen / Suebi), mainly through the Alemanni and Baiern. The Alemanni crossed the Limes, they are in the Roman annals for the first time in the year 213 AD. mentioned. They had invaded the Roman-ruled areas of southern Germany via the Limes, which ran roughly along the eastern edge of the Black Forest via Donaueschingen to the Danube (for more details, see section From the history of the southwest German language area). In the period up to the year 750 AD. For centuries only Latin texts were written or copied. The Teutons spoke their original Germanic, presumably in very different ways.


There is a runic inscription that was on a golden horn from Gallehus (around AD 400) found in 1734:

"Ek hlewagastir holtijar horna tawido"

It could be deciphered and is called:

"I Hlewagastir from Holt, who made the horn" '

This language is the forerunner of Old Norse (and thus also Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Faroese and Icelandic.)

There are almost no documents and texts about this first phase of development, but linguistics helps us a little. To put it simply, German arose from Germanic words and syllables (syllables) to which Latin endings were added, Latin grammar was used for this, Latin words (loanwords) were adopted for everything for which there were no Germanic words (window, cellar, Kaiser etc.). This shows a nice example, our father from the time up to Charlemagne: Ata unsa es in himinam ... The Germanic kernels are: Ata, us and Himi, the rest are Latin additions. The time before 750 AD linguistically one cannot yet describe it as somehow German, it was Germanic, but German was created in a more or less fragmentary way (by the way: Old French in Gaul arose from soldiers' Latin).

It is striking that Caesar became Cesare (phon: Dschesare) in Italian, César (phon: Ssesaar) in French and Tsar in Russian, whereas in German it was not Tsaisar but Kaisar. Linguistically, however, it can be deduced from this that the Romance countries that were settled by Roman troops were linguistically shaped more by soldiers' Latin or Vulgar Latin, which for Ce ... just Jsche ... and not Ke ... said. In Germania, on the other hand, the lingua romana was not spoken, but the authorities spoke Latin, and the documents and edicts of Charlemagne were also written in Latin, so the Germanic peoples had to follow the pronunciation of official Latin. In Rome it was fashionable to say Käsar and Kikero (kiker = smile, giggle, Kikero = the smiling one), so the pronunciation in official Latin was Kaesar. So it was not Zaisar but Kaisar that came about. It seems downright funny how cellar (Latin for cellar, cell) found its way into the German language twice: first as cellar (the authority refers to the place where bad soldiers are locked up, as kellar) and secondly as cell (the soldier sits in the basement, but says Zellar and suffers a lot).


The periods of German language history

In order to be able to correctly classify the successive changes, we divide the history of the German language into 3 periods: Old High German (around 750 to 1100) Middle High German (around 1100 to 1500) with Early New High German (from around 1350 to 1650) New High German (since around 1650)

Basically, this classification goes back to Jacob Grimm (1785-1863), the older of the two brothers, to whom we owe the collection of children and house fairy tales. He was an important scholar and the founder of German linguistics. However, he considered Martin Luther (1483-1546) to be the real creator of New High German. That is why he put the border between Middle and New High German around the year 1500. It was not until much later that it was recognized that Luther was leading a development that had started much earlier. That is why today the period "Early New High German" is often inserted as a separate, independent language period into the initially only three-part scheme.


Standard German does not come from Hanover

The word "High-German "does not come from the fact that it represents a" high, docile "language, but it is a geographical assignment. ...:" High "-deutsch is the language that is used in thehighLanden (southern Black Forest, northern Switzerland, Lake Constance is 600 m above sea level) is spoken, "Nieder" - German from the lower regions (Hamburg, Hanover, etc. up to 100 m above sea level).

Especially with "North German" representatives, the misconception persists that High German comes from Hanover (in the "far north"). That is wrong: firstly because Hanover belongs to the "lower lands" and the first and second phonetic conversions never took place, secondly because in Hanover in 1500 only flat was spoken, thirdly because in the 20th century, for inexplicable reasons, the Hanoverians suddenly became theirs The beautiful Low German were ashamed and that later New High German ("Goethe German") adopted, fourthly because all Germans except the Hanoverians hear their linguistic melody I Melos (Singsang) (for details see "Today's German").

New High German comes from Middle High German (Walter von der Vogelweide and Meister Eckhardt and Wolfram von Eschenbach and "Das Nibelungenlied", all of them at home in Donaueschingen or the southern Black Forest) and the further development of Meissner Official German ", Luther's language. New High German could not be used in Hanover in 1500 spoken because written German (and the Luther Bible) had not yet reached Hanover, and there is evidence that Luther did not adopt Hanoverian German at that time, but instead the Saxon Meißner official German. That is scientifically proven, everything else is stupid talk.


To the language epochs:


Old High German (750-1100)

For centuries before about AD 750, only Latin texts were written or copied. Then scholars began to write text in the language of their own people. There have been written records in German for around twelve centuries and, since the 15th century (Gutenberg), also printed records. That means about twelve centuries of German language history.


But was it really already written in German around 750, and did Charlemagne "greet" his army in German when he was crowned King of the Franks in 768?

Karl was born on one of the rich estates of his family in the upper Moselle valley, in the area around Metz, and he himself called his mother tongue "Franconian". He ruled a huge empire, almost all of France, which his ancestors had won from the Romans, Upper Italy and the Germanic land as far as the Elbe and the Saale. The Germanic Franconian tribe had subjugated the other Germanic tribes, the Alemanni and Bavaria, and Karl himself also the Saxons. They have belonged to the Franconian Empire since then, but their striving for independence was unbroken, and They called their languages ​​"Franconian", Alemannic ", Bavarian" and Saxon ", but more precisely:" Thuringian · (these are also the core roots of the German language - see graphic). The Franconian influences were added as a second branch (Istwäonen: Rhein -Weser area, the Franconian Empire also included today's northern France), the other side influences are graphically well recognizable, from which there nn Old High German was created:

In the west and south of the empire (present-day France) the locals still spoke the "Lingua Romana", the language of Rome (but more precisely in the pronunciation of the soldiers, i.e. "Soldier Latin" / Vulgar Latin "), as they did before the Frankish conquest.


The West Germans could not understand this foreign language. But the Germanic peoples understood each other despite their different dialects. That is why Karlin called his documents (written in Latin) and records these languages ​​the lingua theu-disca. That was an artificially formed word, derived from the Germanic "the-uda" = the tribe "or the people. ("Theu-disca", the some Tribes), means "the language of their own people" in contrast to the language of the Romans. This explains the difference that the Italian designation for German is tedesco ·, but in the other Romance languages ​​(Spanish, Portuguese and French) "aleman", because the Alemanni were the closest neighbors in the German lands. "the-u-disca" became "diutiscun", "theutsch" from it, "theutsch" from it "deutsch", "diuts" or "duits" · (Dutch) or "tuisk" (Swedish).


Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (Brothers Grimm) were convinced that one could divide the speech periods according to the external characteristics of the sound development. As we know today, that is by far not enough. But there are opportunities to classify an unknown text temporally and often also spatially, at least for the time being.

Above all, the three High German tribal dialects can be distinguished from the Low German (the "Old Saxon") due to the sound composition.


A German prayer around 840 AD

The prayer lines are e.g. in the old Saxon "Heliand", which originated around 840, as follows: "Gewihid si thin namo. Cuma thin craftag riki. Werda thin willeo so sama an erdo, so thar uppe is an them hohon himilrikea."


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In comparison with the Old High German text, one perceives various differences, also in the choice of words (giheilagot: gewihid = consecrated) and in the endings (queme, willo, erdu: cuma, willeo, erdo). But more important are the sound differences, which are easier to recognize in comparison with the text of 1200. Instead of rich and uf, the Heliand has riki, oops. And opposite the zuchome (today's Alemannic: zuechome) is an old English text tobecume. From the Germanic sounds p, t, k, which have retained Old English and Old Saxon, others have emerged in Franconian, Alemannic and Bavarian according to certain rules: f (ship> ship) or pf (pipe> pipe), s (out > originated from) or z (tongue>: tongue), and vowels have also changed. This process is called the Old High German sound shift (or the second sound shift originating from the Alemanni compared to the non-datable first or Germanic, which distinguishes the Germanic languages ​​from all other Indo-European languages) and the three dialects in which these changes occur are called High German Dialects. The fact that today we say water, sleep, kitchen in High German, where the Low German means water, slapen, Köke, is a consequence of the second sound shift (around the 7th century). Low German has tenaciously retained the old p, t, k until today. Therefore, although it has its share in the German traffic community, it never became High German, and the High German language periods cannot be applied to Low German either. Contrary to the widespread false assumption that High German also comes from the far north, it comes from the highlands, i.e. the more southern languages, while Low German, on the other hand, comes from the north, i.e. the lowlands (the lower lands), the low-lying countries in the north. The name appeared for the first time around the year 1000 in diutiscun, i.e. in German. The learned Alemanni, who writes in this way, has understood that Franconian, Bavarian, Alemannic and Saxon are only special forms of a common language. At the same time it can be seen that the Alemannic became decisive - actually better: all-manic, because the Manen are people (English men = all people) of their own people. Manen can also be women (the Dutch alman translates as anyone). In Allemanic there is still a nursery rhyme that I learned as a child in Meßkirch: All Mane are Pu-eschde ... (Pueschde = hero, winner). Back to the development of language: The word diutiscum clearly shows the effect of the traffic community in a large political area. Because after the wide Franconian empire was divided up several times by the successors of Charlemagne, arose in its eastern part (right


9 nisch) the great political unity from which the German Empire would later emerge. The political solidarity leads to a feeling of unity. The individual tribes recognize that they represent something of their own, but that they all belong to one culture, one empire and therefore have to protect common interests towards the outside world. The emergence of the common language within the political metropolitan area is primarily due to the cultural and political will of Charlemagne. Again and again he urged the high clergy to take care of the expansion and deepening of Christianity and to proclaim Christian doctrine in the national languages. That wasn't too difficult in the western empire, where the language of Rome still lived on, albeit in a changed form. In the Germanic East (on the right bank of the Rhine), however, a thorough redesign of the language was necessary. For the recently pagan tribes hardly knew the Christian beliefs and doctrine. Thousands of new words had to be found in order to translate the Latin texts of the Bible and the Doctors of the Church into the vernacular, and this extremely difficult task had to be solved by the four tribes together. The four tribal languages, which were still pagan, gave rise to the Christian German cultural language and, at the same time, the awareness of the community that is expressed with the word German.If we wanted to be very precise, we should not yet speak of a German language for the first three centuries of our linguistic history. But Charlemagne created the political space that became the linguistic space, and he set the great cultural task that the four tribes mastered together. So we are already counting on a German language for this time, because it is the time of the emerging German. Twelve centuries is a long time in which all kinds of changes are going on in the language. Just a few lines from the Our Father can show that. Around 825 a monk in the Fulda monastery wrote: si giheilagot thin namo, queme thin rihhi, si thin willo, so her in himile, so her in earth.


Middle High German (1100 to 1500)

In the Milstatt Monastery in Carinthia, the same text reads around 1200: hallowed be din name. zuchom us din rich. din will be here on earth as there heaven. While Old High German was predominantly shaped by Alemannic, Franconian, Bavarian and Thuringian, Middle High German was previously shaped solely by Alemannic.

Walter von der Vogelweide (1170 - 1230) wrote:

I sat on a stone and thought leg with legs.
I put my elbow on it
I hetes in min hand sucked
the chin and a min cheek.
I thought for a long time
how to sullte life.
I can give you your advice
how to buy a thing
of which none does not perish ...

When I heard this poem for the first time in school it was fatally recited in the Low German pronunciation with a pointed sstain. Totally wrong! You have to present this text in an Alemannic way (that means in the north: Schwizerdüütsch: that is the southern Black Forest and northern Switzerland) in order to generate an approximation. There you can still find the words in this phonetics: min (with a long i) for my, eime (phon: ë-ime with ë - not aime pronounced with a) for one, Schtë-in (and not Stain with an s-pointed Sst. ..) for stone, dehë-inen for none other than, drü for three, Hus for house etc., the K and CH as hard CH (kch) as in the word Chaibe (the Swabians are often insulted by us as Chaibe, Chaibe means naughty, cheeky fellows), the a very dark and spoken more than open o. And suddenly it becomes audible that this is almost identical to today's Alemannic, here an attempt at a phonetic spelling: Ikch sass ëi-me Schtë-ine and wick - Bë-in with Bë-ine. (waischt scho: dos miint d Fies überenondergschlogge) doruff ikch sucks the elbow (not -bow) - ikch would have it (not heetes but had it, namely the chin) in my hand (d Schwobe sawed nuggets) the kitchen and ë -in my cheek. Do wicked me a lot of longevity as one sullte läbben (not life). De-hëinen ... (des chascht id suffixes uffs düütsche, sell miint: kchëin other than ...) Dehë-inen red kchunnt ikch given like mon drüü Dingkch acquire (waischt scho: eis, two drüü ...) des kchëines doesn’t perish ...


11 And suddenly the primary influence of Alemannic on the Middle High German language is also audible. Incidentally, it becomes clear that Alemannic and Swabian are two completely different languages. In the Alemannic countries (Black Forest / Baden, Alsace and Switzerland) the other Germans are also disparagingly called Swabians, which is due to the fact that the Suebi settled around the Baltic Sea (the Mare Suebicum), i.e. in the north. The Swabian Sea would not be Lake Constance at all, but the Baltic Sea. The Alemanni like to joke that the Swabians only populate 7 km of the coast (around Lindau), while the Alemanni (in Baden, Switzerland and Austria) populate 260 km: And if d 'ebs gstohle hasch then chic glei hoim .. Incidentally, the Poles also use the swear word Schwobe for the Germans. It always makes Alemanni laugh when the Swabians like to adorn themselves with Alemannic culture today, just because Baden and Württemberg are now a federal state, but they actually embody the other, i.e. not Alemannic. The mix-up of Alemanni and Swabians has a long history. There is a historical rivalry in the different development of cultures, but today's rivalry between the two should not be considered malicious but rather humorous, because at the core are the two siblings (more detailed in the chapter Alemanni and Swabia). In the northern German states, the term Alemannic is hardly known or even confused with Swabian (for a real Alemannic downright offensive), in the north nowadays "Alemannic is simply recognized as Swiss German, but this is not only recognized in Switzerland but also in the southern Black Forest (especially south of the Kinzig) and spoken in the Vosges (Alsace), Alemannic goes from Burgundy to the east along the Alps and Prealps: Black Forest, Baden and western southern Württemberg (with the exception of the northern Franconian part), German-speaking Switzerland, Austrian Vorarlberg, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the western part of the federal state of Bavaria (Augsburg) to around the Lech and even to Tyrol, so north along the Alps (partly also south), recognizable by the hard "CH" instead of "K" and the ë. I myself grew up in the Black Forest and love the Alemannic language, the family comes from the southern Black Forest / Breisgau n Uncle Erwin and my cousin Ursula taught me to cultivate the Alemannic language. In the meantime I have almost forgotten how to speak Alemannic, because anyone who speaks stage German has to completely get used to the dialect (and especially a dialect that is so completely different in pronunciation and linguistic melody): because you can speak stage German not just a few hours a day, but the rest of the day Dialect, no: man 11


12 has to dream stage German herself and talk to herself in stage German, otherwise the dialect will not go away completely. In Freiburg / Brsg. a mother-tongue society (pronounced not mothers ... but mothers ..., and the Alsatians, Swiss and Black Forests come together regularly to maintain the Alemannic. There are many wonderful Alemannic poetry: Johann Peter Hebel, the painter from Baden Hans Thoma (he translated the Bible into Alemannic), the poet Karl Kurrus. There are very well-known folk songs (such as Chume chume Geselle min etc.), art songs and poems in large numbers, not least Walter von der Vogelweide. Many words in the Alemannic language does not exist in North German at all. Some examples: - Gamba (Maidle gamble id esso, Hollaladio, Holladio, s Gamble is dr scho vergoh ... an Alemannic yodel) - Gamba (Italian) is the knee violin (held with the knees , today's successor is the cello), gambeln means dangling with your legs, esso for so (stress on the first syllable as in Spanish): ... esso isch s Leaba (= this is life) - abichaie means: her unterfallen (abi = downward), chaie (from Latin cadere, span caer) = to fall - the anken (comes from the Hunnic / Mongolian, the Huns settled in the area from Lörrach to Burgundy) for the butter (also therefore one says in Alemannic to butter, more often the butter) - seller (selle, selles) means: the one, the one, that - cf.French celui, cela, celles - sell that means - jazze (jazz means: tweak, frolic): dr Schuh jazzt mi means: the shoe pinches me - or: muescht id so rumjazze means: you don't have to frolic so wildly). Northern Germans only know jazz from later American jazz (wild music). There are countless other examples. The words coming from Latin probably do not come from official Latin but rather from soldiers 'Latin, because the Alemanni in the south had more contact with Roman culture, where probably more soldiers' Latin was spoken, the closer proximity to Italian, Spanish and French indicates this (The Romance languages ​​are based more on soldiers' Latin). Another interesting linguistic research makes the priority of Alemannic clear: in all of Europe one says house or house, etc. An s is spoken. English is originally Anglo-Saxon and a Low German dialect. In English, however, the Old High German sound shift from t to s or z and from p to pf or f etc. did not take place at all. So the English should really have 12


13 say hout, they also say tongue and not zongue. Where does it come from? It comes from the architectural style of the early Gothic (Hohenstaufen style) and the late Gothic in German architecture and a growing urban society. The houses were built very stable (e.g. as half-timbered houses) and became a model for all of Europe. The house was called Hus in Alemannic. This word was simply adopted as a foreign word throughout Europe (not France). This resulted in house (dt.), House (engl.), Huise (holl.), Etc. (on the other hand, the mouse, for example, is a Latin foreign word or loan word: mus, muris). So it was not just the language but the entire culture of that time that had a defining charisma. By the way, in French the house is called maison, but that also means apartment. There is no such thing as a house without reference to an apartment. There is certainly a lot more to say about this, but I leave that to the linguists at this point.


New High German (around 1500/1600)

In Luther's Bible print from 1544 it says: Your name will be hallowed. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as in heaven, and so it is still today, with a different spelling, in the editions of the Luther Bible. One recognizes immediately that the development of language takes place in stages. The full end vowels of the text from 825 (namo, willo, erdu, rihhi, giheilagot) became e or disappeared around 1200 (name, will, earth, rich, sanctified). The umlaut ei with e was now spoken as ai with a (phon: e-in becomes ain, stone becomes stain, etc.) But the long i of the stressed syllable (din, rihhi) only shows up in Luther as ei (your, Reich) as we still speak it today. The wording and word order of the three texts are also different; but we don't want to go into that here. On the other hand, we come to a term that only the German language knows: written German. There is neither written English nor written French nor written Spanish. The reason for this is that these languages ​​were mostly determined by the dialect of the capital cities (in England by cultural centers such as Oxford / Cambridge) (not least because of this the language dispute between the Spanish Catalans, because standard Spanish is nothing other than Castilian, and that is the dialect Madrid / Castile). This is because the first New German publication was Luther's Bible, and this was not only the first work written in New High German and the first bestseller, but it was only distributed in writing, not orally. So everyone pronounced this new German differently. The rest of us Germans are very happy about that today, because if the language had been spread orally, Standard German would be the Saxon dialect today. 13th


14 14 Luther resorted to the official Meißner German. For the second time we encounter the official language, which became decisive for German. We Germans (and already the Germans) have it with the authorities ... Luther already found spelling forms in the language of the Meißen chancellery that were widely known. His and his partisans' writings were read everywhere. Meissnian German was soon understood throughout the language area, but not accepted everywhere. In the Catholic South, the imperial language of the Viennese chancellery was opposed to it for a long time, and Cologne stayed with its Middle Franconian dialect. The Thirty Years' War () also marked a deep turning point culturally. After that - in the age of absolutism - the royal glory revived again. But the language of the courts is French. Meissnian German is mainly cultivated by Protestant clergy, scholars and poets. When the foundation of a German art of language by Professor Gottsched from Leipzig was also recognized in Austria as a textbook for the German language, the way to a uniform German written language was paved. The poets and thinkers from Lessing to Goethe then contribute most to their full training. They and their contemporaries laid the foundation for the general written language of the 19th century. Industrialization began in Germany around the middle of the 19th century. With the masses of workers that industry attracted from the then overpopulated rural areas, the new large cities emerged with unimaginable speed. In 1870 there were only eight cities with more than 1,000 inhabitants in the Reich, by 1910 their number had grown to 48. The new citizens, who immigrated penniless, had to struggle for a living in dire need. The social tensions that arose from this need only be hinted at here. Step by step they fought for their rights in industrial society, fought for their share in public life and in general educational opportunities. The rapidly growing participation of women in professional life and their intrusion into the working world of men is a late consequence of the social upheaval. Until the end of the Empire in 1918, bourgeois traditions prevailed in political and cultural life and also in the use of the written language. Since then, after the collapse of the monarchy and the revolution of 1918, a newly structured society has emerged in which the old class differences no longer played a role. After a few decades of transition, since the new beginning in 1945 we have been living in an overall society that can no longer be called bourgeois in the traditional sense. This new society still has


15 not found its own final form. The search for it shows, however, in the often blatant turning away from the traditional, in the place of which they are now experimenting with new possibilities (today e.g. Denglish). As at any other time, our language responds to this development. Schiller and Goethe, language patterns for school education in the bourgeois era, are no longer role models for our language design today. The language of our present has become more direct and coarse. The writers call things by their names, they do not cover anything, and the written language of today is approaching the language of everyday life, from which it was far removed in the bourgeois 19th century. The language of our day reminds the specialist of the beginnings of the early New High German period. At that time, in the face of social upheaval, the young urban class demanded their rights. Even she did not immediately find the way of life that was appropriate for her, and in her simple, initially often coarse and foul language, one could feel the protest against the over-refined German of the aristocratic society. Crude ridicule and biting satire, with which the traditional forms of life are scourged, show that even then the ideal world of the old society was heavily criticized. Many of the linguistic innovations do not stop at the cultural border between the old federal states and the new federal states. What differs from each other here and there are, however, slight differences, as they also exist in relation to the German language in Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg and even between northern and southern Germany. This does not detract from the supranational unity of the German language. However: we would do well to take the language of today's writers, satirists and cabaret artists seriously and to upgrade them, because they scourge, but they want to deal with language and shape it, after all, they mainly only have language as a means of expression. But you feel responsible for the considerable consequences of the use of language. Language grows and cannot be prescribed from above. Therefore, the destructive consequences of the so-called. Spelling reform (better: misspellings reform) adoring, as it is de facto a language reform in which the regulations (regularities and grammar) are overridden by mostly incorrect use in the lower educational levels: Instead of waving, waving, waving - now wave, waved waved. If strong, then it should be: wave, wave, wave. To distinguish between language and pronunciation, please read the following section.


Today's German

The German language, like all other languages, is constantly changing. New words are added every day. The advancement of technology and science requires this. Especially from English, new words are integrated or Germanized such as Z.b. "download".

Today's High German pronunciation is also changing. Only since the mass media (radio and television) have existed have we had standardized audio samples of pronunciation. We find particularly good pronunciation of Standard German in dubbing. Great actors like Manfred Lehmann, Peer Schmid, Thomas Braut, Christian Brückner, Matthias Habicht, Peter Schiff, Arnold Marquis and others, whose names the audience hardly registers, speak exemplary stage German, or better: microphone German / synchronized German, from which the youngsters should learn. We all learn to speak through hearing role models. In the absence of a German Academy, we have been using the pronunciation on the German-speaking stages since Lessing, Herder, Schiller, Goethe, hence the term stage German in speech technology.Only through radio and television do we suddenly have hearing role models, less with the moderators and reporters than with the news anchors (ARD and ZDF), but nowadays we find the best pronunciation as sound role models with the voice actors. The assertion, especially by Hanoverians and other Low German contemporaries, that the best pronunciation comes from Hanover is absolutely wrong, we speak stage German. Hanover is not one of the most famous theaters, rather Bochum, Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart etc. There is evidence that there are no Hanoverian news anchors. There is a good reason for this: the speech melody. All Germans hear the peculiar Hanoverian singsong except the Hanoverians themselves. However, the speech melody in particular is decisive for the pronunciation. Especially those who speak the worst dialects (Switzerland, Swabia, Saxony, Palatinate, Rhineland, Saarland, etc.) are the best speakers. There is no German authority that monitors this pronunciation, such as the Académie française. The Association of the German Language, however, advocates a German Academy in this sense. We hear good standard German from the news anchors, unfortunately terrible German is often spoken on the private broadcasters, there is nagging and artificially emphasized and sung (FilmFilm - in Saddaaaaains), not to mention Berlin TV (Mr. Gaffron). Unfortunately, the advertising also has a predominantly singing and nasal character and often uses a chimpanzee German, which teaches horror to a listener who tries to speak German. Unfortunately, this advertising also has a role model function, which it is not worth. All the more, a German Academy (comparable to the Académie française) would be necessary, as e.g. Rolf Hochhut also demands.


From the history of the southwest German language area: Alemanni and Swabians

The south-west German language area or the south-western part of the entire German-speaking area is not identical to south-west Germany, which is only part of this language area. The German language together with its dialects goes well beyond the German national borders, in the area of ​​the southwest German language area into Alsace, into all of German-speaking Switzerland and into the land in front of the Arlberg, the Austrian state of Vorarlberg, Tyrol and the Principality Liechtenstein. The - often forgotten - fact that German, measured by the number of its speakers, is the largest language in Europe, followed by Russian, Italian, English, French and the other European languages, is due to this size and distribution of the language area. The spelling Alemanni is essentially wrong, but it comes from the Latin Alamanni. However, it should be written: Alle Manen (with a long a). As a child I learned a song on the street: All Mane are Pueschte (Pueschte are heroes), Manen are simply people (see man and everyone). Manes are men and women. Where in this German-speaking area the Alemanni and where the Swabians can be located does not seem to be a particularly difficult question in this country: The Alemanni are here - e.g. in Bad Krozingen - and the Swabians are over behind the Black Forest. At least that is the answer that is often given when asked about the area of ​​Alemannic. By and large, this answer also corresponds to what Johann Peter Hebel said about the localization of Alemannic. In the preface to the first edition of his Allemannic poems, published in 1803, the poet writes: The dialect in which these poems are written may justify their naming. It rules in the corner of the Rhine between Frickthal and the former Sundgau, and continues in many variations to the Vosges and Alps and across the Black Forest in a large part of Swabia. The area of ​​Alemannic would therefore be - roughly speaking - the Upper Rhine area including the Black Forest in the north and Alsace in the west, and German-speaking Switzerland in the south. From a linguistic point of view, there are also Vorarlberg and Tyrol, to put it bluntly, the mountain people: Black Whale, Vosges, Switzerland and the northern Alpine regions as far as Tyrol. 17th


18 18 The Swabian language would therefore have to be located between this area and the state of Bavaria, and thus the southwest German language area in question would be complete. As far as the state of Bavaria is concerned, it is obviously not always purely and exclusively Bavarian, as the entire southwest corner of this state is named after the Swabians, namely Bavarian Swabia. And the traditional dialect of Augsburg e.g. is not Bavarian, but Swabian. Among the inhabitants of Bavarian Swabia, the opinion will occasionally be heard that one can find the real and original Swabians with them, in contrast to the less Swabian Wuerttemberg Swabians. Over behind the Black Forest, De Allemane-Marsch, two-mole töisich Johr Üs-em backed Ural Herner on the brain and bad luck in the Hoor sense se gchumme, d Allemane. Durich Swamp, Muer, Wald un Wies, Nüsgepoltert iwweral lwwer de Rhin, like the rat sharewis, Sinn si gchumme, d Allemane. D Alewiwer, d all Bagasch Hintenooch sitter-em Ural, Herner on the brain and kchen shirt on the A ... Sin se gchumme, d Allemane. Holteri-Polteri, rnummlichi Munni, Hungri, lüsi, poor like Kchilchemiis Haawi Schlüri, rüdigi Trueli, Klotzigi Gselle, growi Tapp-ins-Mues. Un vun so ebbs come from, Un m r still looks at us; Herner on the brain, poor Lumpepack, our ancestor, d Allemane. Do you guys do another trick, full hat like bearskin. Awwer e heart like handshake, the soft Unsri ancestor, d Allemane. Without going into the truth of this expression of opinion, one can at least notice that since the beginning of this discussion the Swabian and Alemannic spaces have evidently grown steadily, especially when one considers how modest it just sounded to be here and over there behind the Black Forest . Swabians are not just the Swabians. In the case of Swabian, however, this peaceful expansion is not limited to Bavaria; When our Swiss neighbors speak of Swabians, they don't always mean the Württemberg or Bavarian Swabians, but the Germans and earlier the Reichs


19 Germans at all, including the Königsbergers, Berliners and East Frisians. All of Germany - a single Swabian country. The map should show how the Alemanni around the year 100 AD. begin to advance south. In order to find your way around on this map, it is advisable to first look for Lake Constance, the Alemannic Sea (light blue) (bottom left). in France or in Spain, when they use Allemagne or Alemanes to denote not only Baden, but Germany and the Germans as a whole. Incidentally, such an extension of a designation is a frequent occurrence in naming, which often proceeds pars pro toto and substitutes the part for the whole, in this case the closest neighbor for the whole nation. We proceed in a similar way here in Germany, for example, when we speak of the English and of course - sometimes to their chagrin - also include the Valais and Scots. This type of naming is therefore not to be blamed on either the English, the Swabians or the Alemanni. But even if only the southwest German language area is claimed for the latter and is divided among them in the manner mentioned - for example Alemanni in the west, Swabia in the east - that doesn't quite work 19


20 without difficulty. Most linguists summarize the entire south-west German dialects up to the area around Augsburg under the main name of Alemannic, which is then followed by Bavarian in the east and Franconian in the north. 20 at 260 a.d. the Alemanni have already advanced far to the south, from which they have displaced the Romans. The Baltic Sea - the Swabian Sea Alemannia was also the traditional political name of the entire southwest German language area in the early Middle Ages; and this is what the corresponding maps in Putzger's historical world atlas show. After that, Stuttgart or Augsburg would be in East Alemannia. In the High Middle Ages, on the other hand, there was hardly any mention of Alemannia; therefore the entire area is now called Swabia; thus Freiburg, Colmar or Bad Krozingen would be located in West Swabia. To round off this back and forth of changing names and migrating names, it should be remembered that in the Roman Empire the Swabian Sea, the mare suebicum, was not Lake Constance, but the Baltic Sea.


21 In the 5th and 6th centuries Suebi and at times even a Suebi empire are attested in what is now northern Portugal and northwestern Spain. If one leaves aside the extensive range of meanings of Alemannia and Swabia for Germany as a whole, since the type of pars-pro-toto-naming can be explained without further ado, then there is still enough questionableness for the Swabians and Alemanni in the narrower sense. To summarize it again: Once the southwest German language area is called Alemannia, then Swabia, then again it is divided into a Swabian and an Alemannic area and finally even the Baltic Sea is said to have been a Swabian Sea. This strange confusion has a story; and this story must be consulted if one is to understand this apparent disorder. 20 years later around 280 AD. they also occupied the knee of the Rhine. The Rhine is initially a natural border. From the Suebi The main features of this whole history of the Swabian Alemannic confusion of names have long been clarified by science. The Baltic Sea as mare suebicum of the Roman imperial era owes this name to the tribe of the Suebi, already mentioned several times, whose residences at that time were roughly in the area between the middle Elbe and the sea coast.

In the name Sueben / Swabia there is the Germanic word sueba, which means something like free, independent, own right; Our current word float in the sense of being fully fledged is still connected with this. The word sweba is also related to the Germanic word swear, and has roughly the meaning of the self-employed; but the root swear is also in the name of today's Sweden. Tribal or popular names such as Sweden or Swabia represent a type of origin in which a certain quality or an ideal determines the name, in these cases the ideal of independence and freedom. The same type with even the same direction of meaning is present in the name of the Franks, which today is only used as an adjective in the idiom frank and freely flowing. 22 Around 450 a.d. the Alemannic groups expand along the Danube. The Rhine has not yet been crossed. About the Alemanni It is quite different with the name of the Alemanni, which, in contrast to the Franconian or Swabian names, is not associated with an ideal of meaning. Alemanni only means as much as people (manen) or men, taken as a whole. The Dutch alman translates as anyone. Ancient historians consequently explained the name Alamanni or alamannoi as a merged and mixed bunch of people.


23 In this meaning, the collective name Alemanni as a type is comparable to the name German, which does not mean any special quality, but simply means the people. In this respect, the Alemannic name is not only less meaningful, it is also clearly younger than the Swabian or Suebian name, which is already documented, for example, in the writings of Caesar, while A lamanni is mentioned for the first time for the year 213 AD become. Unknown but effective Under this name, a kind of tribal or army association appeared at the Roman imperial border in what is now south-west Germany, from which no one had heard anything before. Regardless of their absolutely inadequate level of awareness, these Alemanni managed to conquer what was then Roman territory in what is now southwestern Germany in just a few decades. This made them the very first Germanic association that could permanently and irrevocably take possession of the Roman Empire. The expansion of the Alemanni is slowed down by the Franks in the north, as they spread across the Rhine and gain a foothold there. We took the cards with the kind permission of Ernst Klett Verlag Stuttgart, Sprachbuch A / B 10 23


24 Suebischer Kern But what did these Alemanni have to do with the Swabians or Suebi? Research is fairly certain that these Alemannic associations, which, coming from the north, advanced towards the Roman territory, consisted for the most part, or at least in their core, of Suebi, who were joined by parts of other Germanic tribes on the migration to the south . In a similar way, other Suebi associations came to Spain on the trains of the Visigoths. This collection of different tribal affiliations would explain the collective name of the Alemanni; the assumption that the core of the association is predominantly Suebian in origin would explain why the Swabian name has held up alongside its Alemannic competitor. The act of conquest, which was also extremely impressive for the Romans, would thus be the first historical proof of the common Alemannic-Swabian proficiency. (...) Suebi - Alemanni (...) The name Alamanni, which is younger than Suebi, prevailed up to the 6th / 7th century, but after that the Swabian name reappears in written sources. Examples: Gregor von Tours writes in the 6th century: Suevi, id est Alamanni, Wahlafried, the monk from Reichenau, mentions in the 9th century the province of the Alemanni or Swabians: provincia Alamannorum vel Suaborum, Alamannia vel Suevia, a communication by Einhart from the 9th century describes the Lech as the border between Baiern and Alemanni, and vice versa in 1018 Emperor Heinrich counts the Breisgau to Swabia. 24 Sources: Holger Münzer: Handbuch der Rhetorik (Edition Aetas 2001) Konrad Sonntag: Alemanni and Swabians in Alemannisch dunkt üs guet, volume III / IV 1984 (MUETTERSPROCH Society Freiburg) Sprachbuch A / B 10, Ernst Klett Verlag Editing and layout: Holger Münzer


25 24 The peculiarity of the German language When it comes to vocabulary, it is above all clarity and rootedness that stand out. Thus, the German word coining often goes into the vivid and peculiarity of the objects, where the French is content with a general reference (boilermaker: chaudronnier, bedroom: daoir; ashtray: cendrier, etc.); the German preference for compositions over the French use of the word derivation plays a role here. But according to the German, the variety of going in, driving, rowing, flying etc. is indispensable, where in French. simple entrer is sufficient; and in the modification of the designation of the processes (in a verb like fall: down, down, down, out, down, around, together, down, down, out, out-) that is German reached by any neighboring language. - The rootedness of the German allows the development of meaning to run more strongly in word families compared to the French, which is broken up by repeated renaissances in Latin words. or by the union of germ. and roman. Verbatim verbalized English word groups (e.g. German blind: blindness against French aveugle: cécité or English blind: blindness, cecity). In the sentence structure, an almost exaggerated marking of the inflection forms is noticeable. Despite the formation of the article, the case endings have not been lost in German (as in English or French), even the distinction between genera and root classes, which has long since become unimportant, has been retained. But this preservation of the wealth of forms is to be seen in connection with the freedom of word order in the German sentence, for which an easy recognizability of sentence function and word association is indispensable. The most characteristic is the role played by the clasps in the structure of the German sentence construction plans. While in French the traits that determine a salary are lined up in a loose sequence, the German leads to ever more extensive wholes by clasping them: the bread: the white bread le pain - le pain blanc etc. This continues up to the well-known nesting of the German Sentences that keep opening brackets up to the structures made possible primarily by verb forms that can be bracketed, the peculiarities of which are best illustrated in pictures: he wanted to move on with his companions who were threatened with death and threatened by refugees


26 With such sentence structure plans, German deviates significantly from the French or English method. One can certainly see a hindrance in this, but in such clasps there is also a strong intellectual power of formation, which is a closed, consequently progressive, but also bound to the chosen direction and difficult to modify. Procedure enforces. Overall, a strongly dynamic trait is characteristic of the worldview of the German language. Many details point to this, such as the possibility of compressing action and effect into a single word (thinking something away, buying someone out), or the extensive use of the substantiated infinitive (hiking, climbing), even for entire phrases (drinking wine, being alone ). From the comparison with the French, Ch. Bally confirms a word by Hugo von Hofmannsthal: “That we Germans describe what surrounds us as something active, reality, the Latin.Europeans as the thinginess, la réalité, that shows the fundamental diversity of the mind and that we and them are at home in this world in very different ways. « In any case, the peculiarity of the German language points in particular to the development of the phenomena, the radiating of their effects, the emergence of their achievements, and this information is naturally followed by everyone who has learned German as their mother tongue. 25th


27 The development of the German vocabulary The words of the German language can be divided into root words that have belonged to it since ancient times, and can be largely traced back to the Indo-European original language: nobility, work, drive, sound, bones, mother, father, Dwarf; Derivations from stem words that come from different times: allegiance, consort, lighthearted, duchy, openness; Loan words from other languages: alms, waiter, cook, wall, square, write, apron, devil; and foreign words, i.e. borrowed words whose foreign origin can still be clearly seen: advocate, alphabet, despot, gage, isolate, lunch, primitive, rowdy; Made-up words in science, technology and trade: automobile, bakelite, buna, din, indanthrene. Many words are of uncertain origin. We can only get at the origin of the words in a few exceptional cases. Of some artificial words we even know the creator, of other words we can imagine that they have been eavesdropped as an imitation of a sound from nature (sound words: bimbam, bums, yodel, creak, wauwau). In general we have to be content with indicating whether a word belongs to the root words or when it is used in the German language. In the Old High German period (from about 750 to about 1100) and the following Middle High German period (especially in the courtly-knightly period around 1200), words appear in large numbers that were not previously used; learned monks worked first; Loan words such as church, pulpit, monastery, cross, monk, torment, preach, school go back to them, then court education and the crusades provided new expressions: adventure, blond, blouse, fable, pretty, clear, sash, doublet, coat of arms , in the late Middle Ages the popular sermon and mysticism, think of mercy, confession, penance, grace, compassion, repentance. As a new phenomenon, a pronounced legal and office language emerged as well as the language of the trades, trade and trade: lawyer, bank, gallows, guild, cash register, master, mayor, sort, bailiff, guild. The creations of Luther's time (from 1517-46) reflect the struggles of the Reformation and the reawakened knowledge of antiquity; in addition, you can feel the strong development of the army, the state and the administration of justice. Soldiers and foreign words, a colorful mixture of languages, denote the time of the Thirty Years' War (1618-48). The language life of the Baroque period, which began after the Thirty Years' War and lasted into the 18th century, was influential: in addition to a tangle of foreign words and artificial formations, the many good German word coining for general terms was surprising. The language of music and businessmen also originated from this period. For the 26th


28 With such sentence construction plans, German deviates significantly from the French or English method. One can certainly see a hindrance in this, but in such clasps there is also a strong intellectual power of formation, which is a closed, consequently progressive, but also bound to the chosen direction and difficult to modify. Procedure enforces. Overall, a strongly dynamic trait is characteristic of the worldview of the German language. Many details point to this, such as the possibility of compressing action and effect into a single word (thinking something away, buying someone out), or the extensive use of the substantiated infinitive (hiking, climbing), even for entire phrases (drinking wine, being alone ). From the comparison with the French, Ch. Bally confirms a word by Hugo von Hofmannsthal: “That we Germans describe what surrounds us as something active, reality, the Latin. Europeans as the thinginess, la réalité, that shows the fundamental diversity of the spirit and that we and them are at home in this world in very different ways. « In any case, the peculiarity of the German language points in particular to the development of the phenomena, the radiating of their effects, the emergence of their achievements, and this information is naturally followed by everyone who has learned German as their mother tongue. During Gottsched's time (around 1720-60), a scientific language was developed that replaced Latin. In addition, Pietism, like Catholic and natural-philosophical mysticism, develops a set of words to express inner movement, which is then expanded during the period of sensitivity. In the "classical" era, the Goethe era (around 1772-1832), German intellectual life attained the highest linguistic culture. While the classical period avoids everything dialect, the romantic language is enriched by popular and ancient idioms. The Bismarck period (around 1860-90) is characterized by the development of natural sciences and technology. The majority of the artificial words belong to her. The loanwords, which faithfully reflect the development of German culture, are also lined up in these times. The borrowing of words begins in the most ancient times, gets its fixed form in the time of conversion of the Germanic peoples and finds its first main source especially in Latin scholarship: the Greco-Latin vocabulary, from which is still drawn today. Later, French was added as the second main source, from which German borrowed words in great numbers for centuries, and finally English. All other borrowing 27


29 Some of these words can be put into a special group as culture words. Many expressions with the things they refer to have often wandered from language to language from the most distant parts of the world and occur among most European peoples. North Sea words should be understood to mean the words that are found in all peoples around the North Sea, since they have evidently migrated on this sea while exchanging languages. The artificial words are also noticeable. Modern science and technology have required a great many new words. Mostly, Greek or Latin words were used to form sometimes quite daring word formations, sometimes the names of well-known researchers, and recently only initial letters. Not everything can be squeezed into the groups that have been formed here. The vocabulary is of unlimited variety. The number of German words is usually given today in the range of 300,000 to 440,000, German is in fourth place of the languages ​​with the most words. The German vocabulary is thus larger than that of the Romance languages ​​and less than that of today's American language (Webster's collection of words comes to around 600,000 words).


For graphic see


Last update: October 26, 2020