Middle German Dialects

Central German includes the West and East Central German dialects. The border between West and East Central German, which is characterized by the shifting of an initial Germanic »p« to »f« (e.g. in »pund« versus »fund« for »pound«) runs over between Fulda and Werra the Rhön. West Central German is divided into Middle Franconian (with Lower Franconian, Ripuarian and Moselle Franconian), Rhine Franconian, North, East and Central Hesse; East Central German includes the dialect groups Thuringian, Upper Saxon, North Upper Saxon, Südmärkisch, Silesian and High Prussian.

West Central German: The Low Franconian (Niederrheinisch, Kleverländisch) marks the transition from High German to Low German. While vocalism features characteristics of High German (e.g. monophthonging from äi (ei) to e and from ou to o before r, h, w and in the final), consonantism is very close to Low German, as the High German sound shift was only partially implemented. For the assignment to Standard German speaks v. a. the explicitly Franconian sound base, which contrasts with the Saxon origin of High German. Furthermore, inter alia the abbreviation of Middle High German î and û to short i and u (“biten” for “offer”, “is” for “ice cream”) is characteristic.

A general characteristic of Middle Franconian is the prosodic peculiarity of the tone accents (tone languages); Words with an identical sound structure are given a different meaning due to the type of intonation, e.g. B. [ ʃ dε: n] 1 with tone accent 1 for “the stones” compared to [ ʃ dε: n] 2 with tone accent 2 for “the stone”. In addition, in consonantism, a. the realization of r as typical ah-sound (“gachten” for “garden”) as well as the extensive preservation of West Germanic t (eg “dat” for “that”); as in Rhine Franconian, West Germanic p remains unchanged (e.g. “ponk, pond” for “pound”). It is also found in Ripuarian  - spoken in the north of Middle Franconia – i.a. a consonant system corresponding to the Lower Franconian, in which, however, the proportion of the High German sound shift from West Germanic p, t, k in individual words fluctuates; so there is z. For example, in relation to k, unshifted “hook” for “hook” next to shifted “laache” for “laugh”. In contrast to almost all of the rest of the Central German dialect area, the New High German diphthongization of the Middle High German long vowels î, û, iu [y:] to ei, au, eu is not carried out.

The Moselle Franconian  - spoken in the south of Central Franconia – also includes Luxembourgish (Lëtzebuergesch), the dialects of the area around Diedenhofen (French Thionville) in Lorraine and the dialect of the Transylvanian Saxons in Romania, which is related to Luxembourgish. Moselle Franconian is to be separated from Ripuarian by the realization of Middle High German nd; while in the Moselle Franconian z. B. is present in the final nt, encountered in Ripuarian nk (“hont” versus “honk” for “dog”). Preservation of West Germanic t can still be found in “dat” (“das”) and “wat” (“was”).

The Rhine Franconian is a very heterogeneous dialect association, which differs from the Moselle Franconian v. a. can be distinguished by the more far-reaching High German sound shift; All that remains is West Germanic p (“pund” and “appel” for “pound” and “apple”). To the south it represents a transition area to Upper German, which morphologically z. B. can be recognized by the use of the diminutive suffix -lein (opposite -chen in the north) (e.g. “kindel” in the south compared to “kindsche” in the north for “little child”). Characteristic for large parts of the Rhine Franconian are among others. Special features of the grammatical gender (“der Butter”) or the replacement of d between vowels with r (“brurer” for “brother”) and in some places with l (“bruler”). There is a Rhine-Franconian base in numerous German-speaking islands (e.g. Banat, Russia, Pennsylvania).

The central Hessian (Mittelhessisch) is historically the Mosel Franconian closely related. Characteristic are among others. the »fallen diphthongs« »ei«, »oi«, »ou« for Middle High German »ie«, »üe«, »uo«, (e.g. »läib« for »dear«, »broirer« for »brother«, “Gout” for “good”), the diphtonging of the pronouns “I”, “me”, “you” and morphologically the use of n for the 1st person singular indicative (“aich fooern” for “I drive”).

The North Hessian is due to linguistic similarities both with the Central Hessian, v. a. but related to Northern Thuringia. The infinitive ending on n, which is similar to the standard language, is typical (e.g. “gedoon” for “done”); this is related to the receipt of a dative-e in the declension of the nouns (»dem table«). Another characteristic is a shortening of Middle High German long vowels similar to East Hesse (e.g. [gr ɪ s] »Gries« for Middle High German ie).

The Osthessische is sprachgeografisch near the Unterostfränkischen. It has its own quantity of vowels. In addition, the realization of Middle High German ie, üe, uo as long vowels e, ö, o (“bref” for “letter”, “möd” for “tired”, “god” for “good”) is typical, as is the partial development of Middle High German iu [y:] too long ü (“Füer” for “fire”, “hüd” for “today”). A morphological peculiarity is the endingless infinitive (»mach« for »to make«), which is similar to East Franconian.

East Central German: In contrast to West Central German, West Germanic p is mostly changed to f (“fund” for “pound”). In addition, traces of earlier settlers or formerly native ethnic groups can be seen in the East Central German dialects to a greater extent, albeit to a different extent.

The relatively inconsistent Thuringian language is particularly closely related to the surrounding dialects. Characteristic in verb morphology is the infinitive ending -e, which opposes a -en in the plural forms of the 1st and 2nd person (“mache” for “make”, “make” for “we, they do”) as well as the transition from Middle High German e to a ([asən] for »eat«) and the change from »i« (also from rounded »ü«) to »ö« (eg »tösch« for »table«, »höbsch« for »pretty «,» Drönne «for» inside «), whereas old ö is de-rounded.

The Upper Saxon (with the Meißnischen) shows a clear north-south difference. The south, which is more Upper German, shows z. B. for West Germanic p initial bf- or pf-, which is opposite to f- in the northern part, which is more central German; nd is in the north z. Sometimes as ng, in the south as nd or n (“gefungen” or “gefunen” for “found”), the diminutive suffix -lein in the south stands opposite -chen in the north (“schdigl” opposite “schdigchen” for “little bit”)). Upper Saxon had a formative influence on the development of a standard German language.

The North Upper Saxon can be with the Südmärkischen summarized. Berlinic is also related to these two dialect spaces. In terms of linguistic history, a Low German, Slavic (cf. the Sorbian language island as a relic of this influence) and Brandenburg base is to be used, which has gradually been largely supplanted by High German. Typical characteristics include: the use of an oblique unit case like the accusative, in which the functions of the dative and the accusative coincide (“mich” for “mich, mir”) as well as the realization of Middle High German g and k as j and g (“jorden, korden” for ” Garden, maps «).

A characteristic of Silesian, which developed into a new dialect based on Meissnian as well as from Rhenish, Franconian, Bavarian, but especially Thuringian settler dialect, is the key word “ins” (for “us”), still voicing of b, d, g as well as of s before vowels. Similar to Upper Saxon there is a north-south difference, e.g. B. the long vowels e and o are raised north to i and u ([ ʃ ni:] for “snow”, [ru: t] for “red”). A morphological peculiarity is the ending morpheme – ɐ or -ə in the south compared to -ən in the north, which conforms to the standard language (»sing ɐ, singə« compared to »singən«).

High Prussian, located in the Low German area, is also an East Central German dialect that now has strong Low German features. For example, For example, the distinction between Middle High German ie and i (“bite, pray” for “offer, ask”) on the East Central German influence, whereas the development from Middle High German ä to a (“ase” for “eat”) is evidence of the Low German character. A special feature is the voicing opposition to be found in the wording: “brout” for “the bread” versus “broud” for “the breads”.

Middle German Dialects