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Originally appearing in Volume V11, Page 783 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MODERN HIGH GERMAN Although the Middle High German period had thus not succeeded in effecting any permanent advance in the direction of a uniform literary language, the desire for a certain degree of uniformity was never again entirely lost. At the close of the 13th century literature had passed from the hands of the nobility to those of the middle classes of the towns; the number of writers who used the German tongue rapidly increased; later the invention of printing, the in-creased efficiency of the schools, and above all the religious movement of the Reformation, contributed to awakening the desire of being understood by those who stood outside the dialectic community of the individual. A single authoritative form of writing and spelling' was felt on all sides to be particularly necessary. This was found in the language used officially by the various chanceries (Kanzleien), and more especially the imperial chancery. Since the days of Charles IV. (1347–1378) the latter had striven after a certain uniform, language in the documents it issued, and by the time of Maximilian I.' (1493–1519) all its official documents were characterized by pretty much the same phonology, forms and vocabulary, in whatever part of Germany they originated. And under Maximilian's successor, Charles V., the conditions remained pretty much the same. The fact that the seat of the imperial chancery had for a long time been in Prague, led to a mingling of Upper and Middle German sounds and inflections; but when the crown came with Frederick III. (1440–1493) to the Habsburgs, the Upper German elements were considerably increased. The chancery of the Saxon electorate, whose territory was exclusively Middle German, had to some extent, under the influence of the imperial chancery, allowed Upper German characteristics to influence its official language. This is clearly marked in the second half of the 15th century, and about the year 1500 there was no essential difference between the languages of the two chanceries. Thuringia, Silesia and Brandenburg soon followed suit, and even Low German could not ultimately resist the accepted High German notation (o, E, ie, &c.). We have here very favourable conditions for the creation of a uniform literary language, and, as has already been said, the tendency to follow these authorities is clearly marked. In the midst of this development arose the imposing figure of Luther, who, although by no means the originator of a common High German speech, helped very materially to establish it. He deliberately chose (cf. the often quoted passage in his Tischreden, ch. 69) the language of the Saxon chancery as the vehicle of his Bible translation and subsequently of his own writings. The differences between Luther's usage and that of the chancery, in phonology and inflection, are small; still he shows, in his writings subsequent to 1524, a somewhat more pronounced tendency towards Middle German. But it is noteworthy thaf he, like the chancery, retained the old vowel-change in the singular and plural of the preterite of the strong verbs (i.e. sleig, stigen; starb, sturben), although before Luther's time the uniformity of the modern preterite had already begun to show itself here and there. The adoption of the language 5 Cf. K. Lachmann, Kleinere Schriften, i. p. 161 ff. ; Mfillenhoff and Scherer's Denkmdler (3rd ed.), i. p. xxvii.; H. Paul, Gab es eine mhd. Schriftsprache? (Halle, 1873) ; O. Behaghel, Zur Frage nach einer mhd. Schriftsprache (Basel, 1886) (Cf. Paul and Braune's Beitrage, xiii. p. 464 ff.) ; A. Socin, Schriftsprache and Dialekte (Heilbronn, 1888) ; H. Fischer, Zur Geschichte des Mittelhochdeutschen (Tubingen, 1889) ; O. Behaghel, Schriftsprache and Mundart (Giessen, 1896) ; K. Zwierzina, Beobachtungen zum Reimgebrauch Hartmanns and Wolframs (Haile, 1898) ; S. Singer, Die mhd. Schriftsprache (1900); C. Kraus, Heinrich von Veldeke and die mhd. Dichtersprache (Halle, 1899) ; G. Roethe, Die Reimvorreden des Sachsenspiegels (Berlin, 1899) ; H. Tempel, Niederdeutsche Studien (1898). of the chancery gave rise to the mixed character of sounds and forms which is still a feature of the literary language of Germany. Thus the use of the monophthongs i, u, and u, instead of the old diphthongs ie, uo and fie, comes from Middle Germany; the forms of the words and the gender of the nouns follow Middle rather than Upper German usage, whereas, on the other hand, the consonantal system (p to pf; d to t) betrays in its main features its Upper German (Bavarian-Austrian) origin. The language of Luther no doubt shows greater originality in its style and vocabulary (cf. its influence on Goethe and the writers of the Sturm and Drang), for in this respect the chancery could obviously afford him but scanty help. His vocabulary is drawn to a great extent from his own native Middle German- dialect, and the fact that, since the 14th century, Middle German literature (cf. for in-stance, the writings of the German mystics, at the time of and subsequent to Eckhart) had exercised a strong influence over Upper Germany, stood him in good stead. Luther is, therefore, strictly speaking, not the father of the modern German literary language, but he forms the most important link in a chain of development which began long before him, and did not reach its final stage until long after him. To infer that Luther's language made any rapid conquest of Germany would not be correct. It was, of course, immediately acceptable to the eastern part of the Middle German district (Thuringia and Silesia), and it did not find any great difficulty in penetrating into Low Germany, at least into the towns and districts 1 ing to the east of the Saale and Elbe (Magdeburg, Hamburg). One may say that about the middle of the 16th century Luther's High German was the language of the chanceries, about 1600 the language of the pulpit (the last Bible in Low German was printed at Goslar in 1621) and the printing presses. Thus the aspirations of Low Germany to have a literary language of its own were at an early stage crushed. Protestant Switzerland, on the other hand, resisted the " uncommon new German " until well into the 17th century. It was also natural that the Catholic Lower Rhine (Cologne) and Catholic South Germany held out against it, for to adopt the language of the reformer would have seemed tantamount to offering a helping hand to Protestant ideas. At the same time, geographical and political conditions, as well as the pronounced character of the Upper German dialects, formed an important obstacle to a speedy unification. South German grammarians of the 16th century, such as Laurentius Albertus, raise a warning; voice against those who, although far distant from the proper use of words and the true pronunciation, venture to teach nos puriores Germanos, namely, the Upper Germans. In 1593 J. Helber, a Swiss schoolmaster and notary, spoke of three separate dialects as being in use by the printing presses:' (I) Mitteldeutsch (the language of. the printers in Leipzig, Erfurt, Nuremberg, Wiirzburg, Frankfort, Mainz, Spires, Strassburg and Cologne; at the last mentioned place in the event of their attempting to print Ober-Teulsch) ; (2) Donauisch (the printers' language in South Germany, but limited to Bavaria and Swabia proper—here more particularly the Augsburg idiom, which was considered to be particularly zierlich) ; 2 (3) Hochsl Reinisch, which corresponds to Swiss German. Thus in the 16th century Germany was still far from real unity in its language; but to judge from the number and the geographical position of the towns which printed in Mitteldeutsch it is pretty clear which idiom would ultimately predominate. During the 17th century men like M. Opitz (Buch von der deutschen Poeterey) and J. G. Schottelius (Teutsche Sprachkunst, 1641, and Von der teutschen Sprachkunst, 1663), together with linguistic societies like the Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft and the Nuremberg Pegnitzorden, did a great deal to purify the German language from foreign (especially French) elements; they insisted on the claims of the vernacular to a place beside and even above Latin (in 1687 Christian Thomasius held for the first time lectures in the German language at the university of Leipzig), and they established a firm grammatical basis for Luther's common language, which especially in the hymnals had become modernized and more uniform. About the middle of the 17th century the disparity between the vowels of the singular and plural of the preterite of the strong verbs practically ceases; under East Middle German influence the final e is restored to words like Knabe, Jude, Pfaffe, which in South German had been Knab, &c. ; the mixed declension (Ehre, Ehren; Schmerz, Schmerzen) was established, and the plural in -er was extended to some masculine nouns (Wald, Welder);° the use of the mutated sound has now ' For literature bearing on the complicated question of the Druckersprachen, readers are referred to the article " Neuhochdeutsche Schriftsprache," by W. Scheel, in Bethge's Ergebnisse .. . der germanistischen Wissenschaft (1902), pp. 47, 50 f. Cf. also K. von Bander, Grundlagen des nhd. Lautsystems (189o), pp. 15 if. 2 A German Priamel mentions as an essential quality in a beautiful woman: " die red dort her von Swaben." 3 Cf. for a detailed discussion of the noun declension, K. Boiunga, Die Entwickelung der mhd. Substantivflexion (Leipzig, 189o) ; and, more particularly for the masculine and neuter nouns, two articles by H. Molz, " Die Substantivflexion seit mhd. Zeit," in Paul and Braune's Beilrage, xxvii. p. 209 if. and xxxi. 277 ff. For the changes in the gender of nouns, A. Polzin, Geschlechtswandel der Substantive im Deutschen (Hildesheim, 1903).become the rule as a plural sign cVater, Brume). How difficult, even in the first half of the 18th century, it was for a Swiss to write the literary language which Luther had established is to be seen from the often quoted words of Haller (17o8–1777): " I am a Swiss, the German language is strange to me, and its choice of words was almost unknown to me." The Catholic south clung firmly to its own literary language, based on the idiom of the imperial chancery, which was still an influential force in the 17th century or on local dialects. This is apparent in the writings of Abraham a Sancta Clara,' who died in 1709, or in the attacks of the Benedictine monk, Augustin Dornbliith, on the Meissner Schriftsprache in 1755. In the 18th century, to which these names have introduced us, the grammatical writings of J. C. Gottsched (Deutsche Sprachkunst, 1748) and J. C. Adelung (Grammatisch-kritisches Worterbuch der hochdeutschen Mundart, 1774–1786) exercised a decisive and far-reaching influence. Gottsched took as his basis the spoken language ( Umgangssprache) of the educated classes of Upper Saxony (Meissen), which at this time approximated as nearly as possible to the literary language. His Grammar did enormous services to the cause of unification, ultimately winning over the resisting south; but he carried his purism to pedantic lengths, he would tolerate no archaic or dialectical words, no unusual forms or constructions, and consequently made the language unsuited for poetry. Meanwhile an interest in Old German literature was being awakened by Bodmer; Herder set forth better ideas on the nature of language, and insisted on the value of native idioms; and the Sturm and Drang led by Goethe encouraged all individualistic tendencies. All this gave rise to a movement counter to Gottsched's absolutism, which resulted in the revival of many obsolete German words and forms, these being drawn partly from Luther's Bible translation (cf. V. Hehn, " Goethe and die Sprache der Bibel," in the Goethe-Jahrbuch, viii. p. 187 ff.), partly from the older language and partly from the vocabulary peculiar to different social ranks and trades.° The latter is still a source of linguistic innovations. German literary style underwent a similar rejuvenation, for we are on the threshold of the second classical period of German literature. It had strengthened Gottsched's hand as a linguistic reformer that the earlier leaders of German literature, such as Gellert, Klopstock and Lessing, were Middle Germans; now Wieland's influence, which was particularly strong in South Germany, helped materially towards the establishment of one accepted literary language throughout all German-speaking countries; and the movement reaches its culmination with Goethe and Schiller. At the same time this unification did not imply the creation of an unalterable standard; for, just as the language of Opitz and Schottelius differed from that of Luther, so—although naturally in a lesser degree—the literary language of our day differs from that of the classic writers of the 18th .century. Local peculiarities are still to be met with, as is to be seen in the modern German literature that emanates from Switzerland or Austria. But this unity, imperfect as it is, is limited to the literary language. The differences are much more sharply accentuated in the Umgangssprache 6 whereby we understand the language as it is spoken by educated people throughout Germany; this is not only the case with regard to pronunciation, although it is naturally most noticeable here, but also with regard to the choice of words and the construction of sentences. Compared with the times of Goethe and Schiller a certain advance towards unification has undoubtedly been made, but the differences between north and south are still very great. This is particularly noticeable in the pronunciation of r—either the uvular r or the r produced by the tip of the tongue; of the voiced and voiceless (stops, b, p, d, t, g and k; of the s sounds; of the diphthongs; of the long vowels e and oe, &c. (cf. W. Vietor, German Pronunciation, 2nd ed., 1890). The question as to whether a unified pronunciation (Einheitaussprache) is desirable or even possible has occupied the attention of academies, scholars and the educated public during recent years, and in 1898 a commission made up of scholars and theatre directors drew up a scheme of pronunciation for use in the royal theatres of Prussia.' This scheme has since been recommended to all German theatres by the German Bithnenverein. Desirable as such a uniform pronunciation is for the national theatre, it is a much debated question how far it should be edopted in the ordinary speech of everyday life. Some scholars, such as W. Braune, declared themselves strongly in favour of its adoption; 8 Braune's ' Cf. C. Blanckenburg, Studien fiber die Sprache Abrahams a S. Clara (Halle, 1897) ; H. Strigl, " Einiges fiber die Sprache des P. Abraham a Sancta Clara (Zeitschr. f. deutsche Wortforschung, viii. 206 ff.). ° Cf. F. Kluge, Etymologisches Worterbuch (6th ed.), pp. 5o8 ff. One can speak of: Studenten-, Soldaten-, Weidmanns-, Bergmanns-, Drucker-, Juristen-, and Zigeunersprache, and Rotwelsch. Cf. F. Kluge, Die deutsche Studentensprache (Strassburg, 1894) ; Rotwelsch i. (Strassburg, 1901); R. Bethge, Ergebnisse, &c., 55 f. ° Cf. H. Wunderlich, Unsere Umgangssprache (Weimar, 1894). T Cf. Th. Siebs, Deutsche Biihnenaussprache (2nd ed., Berlin, 1901), and the same writer's Grundzuge der Buhnensprache (1900). 8 W. Braune, Ober die Einigung der deutschen Aussprache (Halle, 1905) ; and the review by O. Brenner, in the Zeitschrift des allgemeinen deutschen Sprachvereins, Beihefte iv. 27, pp. 228-232. argument being that the system of modern pronunciation is based on the spelling, not on the sounds produced in speaking. The latter, he holds, is only responsible for the pronunciation of -chs- as -ks- in wachsen, Ochse, &c., or for that of sp- and st- in spielen, stehen, &c. Other scholars, again, such as K. Luick and O. Brenner, warn against any such attempts to create a living language on an artificial basis;' the Buhnendeulsch or " stage-German " they regard as little more than an abstract ideal. Thus the decision must be left to time. AuTHORITIns.—General Literature: J. Grimm, Geschichte der deutschen Sprache (Leipzig, 1848; 4th ed., 1880) ; W. Scherer, Zur Geschichte der deutschen Sprache (Berlin, 1868; 2nd ed., 1878); E. Forstemann, Geschichte des deutschen Sprachstammes (Nordhausen, 1874–1875); O. Behaghel, Die deutsche Sprache (Leipzig, 1886; 2nd ed., 1902) ; the same, " Geschichte der deutschen Sprache," in Paul's Grundriss der germanischen Philologie (2nd ed.), i. pp. 65o ff. ; O. Weise, Unseredeutsche Sprache, ihr Werden and ihr Wesen (Leipzig, 1898) ; K. von Raumer, Geschichle der germanischen Philologie (Munich, 187o) ; J. Grimm, Deutsche Grammatik (4 vols., vols. i.-iii. in new edition, 187o--189o); Dieter, Laut- and Formenlehre der allgermanischen Dialekte (2 vols., Leipzig, 1898–1900) ; F. Kauffmann, Deutsche Grammatik (2nd ed., 1895); W. Wilmanns, Deutsche Grammatik, so far, vols. i., ii. and iii., 1 (Strassburg, 1893–1906, vol. i., 2nd ed., 1897) ; O. Brenner, Grundauge der geschichtlichen Grammatik der deutschen Sprache (Munich, 1896); H. Lichtenberger, Histoire de la langue allemande (Paris, 1895). Old and Middle High German Period: W. Braune, Althochdeutsche Grammatik (2nd ed., Halle, 1891); the same, Abriss der althochdeulschen Grammatik (3rd ed., 1900) ; F. Holthausen, Altsdchsisches Elementarbuch (Heidelberg, 1899); W. Schluter, Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altsdchsichen Sprache, i. (Gottingen, 1892) ; O. Schade, Altdeutsches Worterbuch (2nd ed., Halle, 1872–1882) ; G. E. Graff, Althochdeutscher Sprachschatz (6 vols., Berlin, 1834–1842) (Index by Massrnann, 1846) ; E. Steinmeyer and E. Sievers, Althochdeutsche Glossen (4 vols., Berlin, 1879–1898); J. A. Schmeller, Glossarium Saxonicum (Munich, 184o); K. Weinhold, Mittelhochdeutsche Grammatik (3rd ed., Paderborn, 1892) ; H. Paul, Mittelhochdeutsche Grammatik (5th ed., Halle, 1900); V. Michels, Mittelhochdeutsches Elementarbuch (Heidelberg, 1900) ; O. Brenner, Mittelhochdeutsche Grammatik (3rd ed., Munich, 1894); K. Zwierzina, Mittelhochdeutsche Studien," in Zeitschrift fur deutsches Altertum, vols. xliv. and xlv.; A. Lubben, Mittelniederdeutsche Grammatik (Leipzig, 1882) ; W. Muller and F. Zarncke, Mittelhochdeutsches Worterbuch (4 vols., Leipzig, 1854–1866) ; M. Lexer, Mittelhochdeutsches Handworterbuch (3 vols., 1872–1878) ; the same, Mittelhochdeutsches Taschenworterbuch (8th ed., 1906); K. Schiller and A. Lubben, Mittelniederdeutsches Worterbuch (6 vols., Bremen, 1875–1881); A. Lubben, Mittelniederdeutsches Handworterbuch (Norden, 1888) ; F. Seiler, Die Entwickelung der deutsch. Kultur im Spiegel des deutschen Lehnworts (Halle, i., 1895, 2nd ed., 1905, ii., 1900). Modern High German Period : E. WUlcker, " Die Entstehung der kursachsischen Kanzleisprache " (in the Zeitschrift des Vereins far kursachsische Geschichte, ix. p. 349) ; the same, ' Luthers Stellung zur kursachsischen Kanzleisprache " (in Germania, xxviii. pp. 191 ff.) ; P. Pietsch, Martin Luther and die hochdeutsche Schriftsprache (Breslau, 1883); K. Burdach, Die Einigung der neuhochdeutschen Schriftsprache, (1883); E. Opitz, Die Sprache Luthers (Halle, 1869); J. Luther, Die Sprache Luthers in der Septemberbibel (Halle, 1887); F. Kluge, Von Luther bis Lessing (Strassburg, 1888) (cf. E. Schroder's review in the Gottinger gelehrie Anzeiger, 1888, 249); H. Ruckert, Geschichte der neuhochdeutschen Schriftsprache bis zur Mitte des 18. Jahrhunderts (1875); J. Kehrein, Grammatik der deutschen Sprache des 15. bis 17. Jahrhunderts (Leipzig, 2nd ed., 1863); K. von Bander, Grundlagen des neuhochdeutschen Lautsystems (Strassburg, 1890) ; R. Meyer, Einphrung in das dltere Neuhochdeutsche (Leipzig, 1894); W. Scheel, Beitrage zur Geschichte der neuhochdeutschen Gemeinsprache in Koln (Marburg, 1892) ; R. Brandstetter, Die Rezeption der neuhochdeutschen Schriftsprache in Stadt and Landschaft Luzern (1892); K. Burdach, " Zur Geschichte der neuhochdeutschen Schriftsprache " (Forschungen zur deutschen Philologie, 1894) ; the same, " Die Sprache des jungen Gaethe " (Verhandlungen der Dessauer Philologenversammlung, 1884, p. 164 ff.); F. Kasch, Die Sprache des jungen Schiller (Dissertation, 1900); F. Kluge, " Uber die Entstehung unserer Schriftsprache " (Beihefte zur Zeitschrift des allgemeinen Sprachvereins, Heft 6, 1894) ; A. Waag, Bedeutungsentwickelung unseres Wortschatzes (Lahr, 1901). Mention must also be made of the work of the German commission of the Royal Prussian Academy, which in 1904 drew up plans for making an inventory of all German literary MSS. dating from before the year 1600 and for the publication of Middle High German and early Modern High German texts. This undertaking, which has made considerable progress, provides rich material for the study of the somewhat neglected period between the 14th and 16th centuries; at the same time it provides a basis on which a monumental history of Modern High German may be built up, as well as for a Thesaurus linguae germanicae. (R.PR.) ' Cf. K. Luick, Deutsche Lautlehre mit besonderer Beracksichtigung der Sprechweise Wiens and der Osterreichischen Alpenlander (1904); O. Brenner, " Zur Aussprache des Hochdeutschen," l.c., pp. 218-228.783
End of Article: MODERN HIGH

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