Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors.
Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker.

Download links will be available after you disable the ad blocker and reload the page.

A Middle High German Primer Third Edition

Download options:

  • 318.89 KB
  • 1.07 MB
  • 604.46 KB




§ 1.


Middle High German (MHG.) embraces the High German language from about the year 1100 to 1500. It is divided into three great dialect-groups: Upper German, Franconian, and East Middle German.

1. Upper German is divided into: (a) Alemanic, embracing High Alemanic (Switzerland), and Low Alemanic (South Baden, Swabia, and Alsace). (b) Bavarian, extending over Bavaria and those parts of Austria where German is spoken.

2. Franconian (West Middle German), which is subdivided into Upper Franconian and Middle Franconian. Upper Franconian consists of East Franconian (the old duchy of Francia Orientalis) and Rhenish Franconian (the old province of Francia Rhinensis), Middle Franconian extending over the district along the banks of the Moselle and of the Rhine from Coblence to Düsseldorf.

3. East Middle German, extending over: Thuringia, Upper Saxony, and Silesia.

Since it is impossible to deal with all these dialects in an elementary book like the present, we shall confine ourselves almost exclusively to Upper German, and shall only deal with that period of Middle High German which extends from about 1200 to 1300.


§ 2. MHG. had the following simple vowels and diphthongs:—

Short vowels a, ä, ë, e, i, o, u, ö, ü. Long vowels ā, æ, Ä“, Ä«, ō, Å«, œ, iu. Diphthongs ei, ie, ou, uo, öu (eu), üe.

Note.— ë represents primitive Germanic e (= Gr. ε, Lat. e, as in Gr. δá½³κα, Lat. decem, MHG. zëhen, ten) and is generally written ë in Old and Middle High German grammars, in order to distinguish it from the OHG. umlaut-e (). The former was an open sound like the e in English bed, whereas the latter was a close sound like the é in French été. ä was a very open sound nearly like the a in English hat, and arose in MHG. from the i-umlaut of a (). Good MHG. poets do not rhyme Germanic ë with the umlaut-e, and the distinction between the two sounds is still preserved in many NHG. dialects. In like manner the modern Bavarian and Austrian dialects still distinguish between ä and ë. In the MHG. period ä, ë, and e were kept apart in Bavarian, but in Alemanic and Middle German ä and ë seem to have fallen together in ë or possibly ä, as the two sounds frequently rhyme with each other in good poets. MHG. texts do not always preserve in writing the distinction between the old umlaut-e and the MHG. umlaut-ä, both being often written e in the same text.

Pronunciation of the Vowels.

§ 3. The approximate pronunciation of the above vowels and diphthongs was as follows:—

a as in  NHG. mann man, man. ā„„ Engl. father hāt, has. ä„„ „man mähte, powers. æ„„ „air lære, empty. ë„„ „men hëlfen, to help. e„„ Fr. été geste, guests. Ä“„„ NHG. reh sÄ“, sea. i„„ Engl. bit biten, to beg. Ä«„„ „ween wÄ«n, wine. o„„ „pot golt, gold. ō„„ NHG. tot tōt, dead. u„„ Engl. put guldÄ«n, golden. Å«„„ „fool  hÅ«s, house. ö„„ NHG....