EXTRACTS FROM THE PREFACES
TO THE FIRST AND SECOND EDITIONS
The present book has been written in the hope that it will serve as an elementary introduction to the larger German works on the subject from which I have appropriated whatever seemed necessary for the purpose. In the grammar much aid has been derived from Paul’s Mittelhochdeutsche Grammatik, second edition, Halle, 1884, and Weinhold’s Mittelhochdeutsche Grammatik, second edition, Paderborn, 1883. The former work, besides containing by far the most complete syntax, is also the only Middle High German Grammar which is based on the present state of German Philology.... I believe that the day is not far distant when English students will take a much more lively interest in the study of their own and the other Germanic languages (especially German and Old Norse) than has hitherto been the case. And if this little book should contribute anything towards furthering the cause, it will have amply fulfilled its purpose.
London: January, 1888.
When I wrote the preface to the first edition of this primer in 1888, I ventured to predict that the interest of English students in the subject would grow and develop as time went on, but I hardly expected that it would grow so much that a second edition of the book would be required within so short a period. It has been revised throughout, and several changes have been made in the phonology, but I have not thought it advisable to alter the general plan and scope of the former edition. After many years of personal experience as a teacher and examiner in the older periods of the German language, I have become firmly convinced that the larger books on the subject contain too many details for beginners. I feel sure that the easiest and best way to acquire a thorough knowledge of Middle High German is to start with an elementary book like the present, and then to learn the details of the grammar, especially the phonology of the various dialects, from a more advanced work.
Oxford: December, 1898.
PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION
In the preparation of the new edition, I have steadily kept in view the class of students for whom the book was originally written. When the first edition appeared twenty-eight years ago, there were very few students in this country who took up the serious study of the older periods of the various Germanic languages at the Universities. In late years, however, the interest in the study of these languages has grown so much that Honour Courses and Examinations in them have been established at all our Universities. The result is that a book even intended for beginners can now reasonably be expected to be of a higher standard than the previous editions of this Primer. The grammatical introduction has accordingly been entirely rewritten and expanded to more than twice its original size. The texts have also been nearly doubled by the addition of eighteen poems from Walther von der Vogelweide, and selections from Reinmar, Ulrich von Lichtenstein, and Wolfram von Eschenbach.
The greater part of Middle High German literature is so excellent and interesting that most students, who have mastered the grammatical introduction and read the texts in the Primer, will doubtless desire to continue the subject. Such students should procure a copy of either the Mittelhochdeutsche Grammatik by Hermann Paul, eighth edition, Halle, 1911, or the Mittelhochdeutsches Elementarbuch by Victor Michels, second edition, Heidelberg, 1912, where the Grammar, especially the phonology and syntax, can be studied in greater detail. They should also procure a copy of the Mittelhochdeutsches Taschenwörterbuch by Matthias Lexer, tenth edition, Leipzig, 1910, and also have access to the two standard Middle High German dictionaries— Mittelhochdeutsches Wörterbuch mit Benutzung des Nachlasses von Georg Friedrich Benecke, ausgearbeitet von Wilhelm Müller und Friedrich Zarncke, drei Bände, Leipzig, 1854-61, and Mittelhochdeutsches Wörterbuch, von Matthias Lexer, zugleich als Supplement und alphabetischer Index zum Mittelhochdeutschen Wörterbuch von Benecke-Müller-Zarncke, drei Bände, Leipzig, 1872-78. An excellent bibliography of the best editions of the Middle High German texts— classified according to the dialects in which they were written— will be found on pp. 20-35 of Michels’ Elementarbuch.
May the new edition of the Primer continue to further the study of the subject in the future to the same extent as it has done in the past!
PAGES INTRODUCTION 1 The classification of the MHG. dialects (§ 1). CHAPTER I The Vowels 2-22 The MHG. alphabet (§ 2). Pronunciation of the MHG. vowels (§ 3). Phonetic survey of the MHG. vowel-system (§ 4). The OHG. equivalents of the MHG. vowels (§ 5). The characteristic differences between OHG. and MHG. (§ 6). The weakening of unaccented vowels (§§ 7-8). The loss of unaccented vowels (§ 9). Umlaut (§ 10). The MHG. equivalents of the OHG. vowels (§ 11). Ablaut (§ 12). Other vowel changes (§§ 13-18).
CHAPTER II The Consonants 22-35 Pronunciation of the consonants (§§ 19-20). Phonetic survey of the MHG. consonants (§ 21). Characteristic differences between High German and the other West Germanic languages (§ 22). The High German sound-shifting (§§ 23-7). The interchange between pf, b and f; k, g and h; ȥȥ, ȥ and ss, s (§ 28). The loss of the guttural nasal ŋ (§ 29). Verner’s Law (§ 30). The doubling of consonants (§ 31). The simplification of double consonants (§ 32). The interchange between the lenes and the fortes (§ 33). Interchange between medial h and final ch (§ 34). Initial and medial j (§ 35). Medial and final w (§ 36). The loss of intervocalic b, d, g (§ 37). The loss of intervocalic h (§ 38). The loss of final r (§ 39). The change of medial t to d after nasals and l (§ 40).
CHAPTER III Declension of Nouns 36-46 Introductory remarks (§ 41).
A. The vocalic or strong declension:— Masculine nouns (§§ 42-5); Neuter nouns (§§ 46-7); Feminine nouns (§§ 48-9).
B. The weak declension (§§ 50-3).
C. Declension of proper names (§ 54).
CHAPTER IV Adjectives 46-52 A. The declension of adjectives (§§ 55-6).
B. The comparison of adjectives (§§ 57-9).
C. The formation of adverbs from adjectives (§§ 60-1).
D. Numerals (§§ 62-4).
CHAPTER V Pronouns 53-57 Personal (§ 65). Reflexive (§ 66). Possessive (§ 67). Demonstrative (§ 68). Relative (§ 69). Interrogative (§ 70). Indefinite (§ 71).
CHAPTER VI Verbs 57-75 Classification of MHG. verbs (§ 72).
A. Strong verbs:— The conjugation of the model strong verb nëmen (§§ 73-4). Class I (§§ 76-7). Class II (§§ 78-80). Class III (§ 81). Class IV (§ 82). Class V (§§ 83-4). Class VI (§§ 85-6). Class VII (§ 87).
B. Weak Verbs:—Classification of MHG. weak verbs (§§ 88-9). Class I (§ 90). Class II (§ 92).
C. Minor groups.— Preterite-presents (§ 93). Anomalous verbs (§§ 94-8). Contracted verbs (§ 99).
CHAPTER VII Syntax 75-78 Cases (§§ 100-2). Adjectives (§ 103). Pronouns (§ 104). Verbs (§§ 105-7). Negation (§ 108).
TEXTS:— I. Berthold von Regensburg 79-83 II. The Swabian Lantrehtbuoch 83-85 III. Hartman von Ouwe 86-116 IV. Walther von der Vogelweide 116-133 V. Reinmar 133-139 VI. Ulrich von Lichtenstein 140-148 VII. Das Nibelungen-Lied 149-158 VIII. Wolfram von Eschenbach 158-168 NOTES 169-171 GLOSSARY 172-213 ABBREVIATIONS, ETC.
Goth. = Gothic Gr. = Greek HG. = High German Lat. = Latin MHG. = Middle High German NHG. = New High German OE. = Old English OHG. = Old High German OS. = Old Saxon P. Germ. = Primitive Germanic UF. = Upper Franconian UG. = Upper German The asterisk * prefixed to a word denotes a theoretical form, as MHG. wärmen from *warmjan, to warm.
In representing prehistoric forms the following signs are used:— þ (= th in Engl. thin), ð (= th in Engl. then), ƀ (= a bilabial spirant, which may be pronounced like the v in Engl. vine), ʒ (= g often heard in German sagen), χ (= NHG. ch and the ch in Scotch loch), ŋ (= n in Engl. sunk).
MIDDLE HIGH GERMAN
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.