The New Student's Reference Work/German Language, The

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German Language, The, is closely related to English, Flemish and Frisian, forming with these the western Teutonic group of languages.  Literary German is essentially the High German rather than the Low German dialect.  Old High German dates from the eighth century to the beginning of the twelfth; Middle High German thence to the beginning of the 16th century; and Modern German from the Renaissance to the present time.  It is commonly said that Luther was the founder of modern literary German; but, if one may trust his own statement; he merely adopted the official language of the imperial chancery and the imperial court.  In this language the Middle High German vowels, long i, long u and ū́, had given place to the diphthongs ei, au and eu.  Luther says (Table-Talk, ch. LXIX):  “I have no particular language of my own in German, but use the common German language, so that both High and Low Germans may understand me.  I follow the language of the Saxon chancery, which all the princes and kings of Germany take as their model; all the free imperial cities and all the courts of princes write according to the chancery of the Saxons and of our prince.  Hence it is the most common German language.”  Certainly, however, Luther’s writings and especially his translation of the Bible did much to fix the form of modern literary German.  The old German empire indeed, was so divided in its politics, history and religion that modern German has only enjoyed a fixed literary form since Lessing and other pioneers in the middle of the 18th century.