High German consonant shift

High German Consonant Shift

High German consonant shift

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In historical linguistics, the High German consonant shift or second Germanic consonant shift is a phonological development (sound change) that took place in the southern parts of the West Germanic dialect continuum in several phases, probably beginning between the 3rd and 5th centuries AD, and was almost complete before the earliest written records in the High German language were made in the 9th century. The resulting language, Old High German, can be neatly contrasted with the other continental West Germanic languages, which for the most part did not experience the shift, and with Old English, which remained completely unaffected.

General description

The High German consonant shift altered a number of consonants in the Southern German dialects, and thus also in modern Standard German, Yiddish, and Luxemburgish, and so explains why many German words have different consonants from the obviously related words in English and Dutch.See also Fausto Cercignani, The Consonants of German: Synchrony and Diachrony, Milano, Cisalpino, 1979.Scholars that restrict the term "High German Consonant Shift" to the core group include Braune/Reiffenstein, Chambers & Wilkie, von Kienle, Wright (1907) and Voyles (1992). Those that include other changes as part of the...
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