Definition 2023


High German


Proper noun

High German

  1. Any of a group of West Germanic languages or dialects spoken in High Germany which is divided into the Central German group (including Luxembourgish and Pennsylvania German) and the Upper German group (including Alemannic and Bavarian).
  2. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) The standard variety of German spoken and written throughout the German language area; linguistically a compromise form of Central German and Upper German (with, additionally, a strong Low German adstratum).
    • 1989, Alfred Wyler, Dialect and High German in German-speaking Switzerland, p. 15:
      There is a widespread reluctance to speak High German in German-speaking Switzerland, and many Swiss prefer to speak even bad French or English to people who do not speak Swiss dialect.
    • 2010, Dankwart Koehler, In Different Worlds: From POW to PhD, p. 49:
      We, the students, also were supposed to speak High German, but, like our teachers, we did so with a fairly strong Swabian accent.
    • 2016, Nicole Egger, Hoi: Your New Swiss German Survival Guide, p. 15:
      Many foreigners who learn to speak High German complain that Swiss people only reluctantly reply in High German. Apparently Swiss people generally don't like to speak High German. Why is that so? For the Swiss, High German is a foreign language.

Usage notes

The use of High German to refer to standard German is avoided in scholarly discourse but may be found otherwise (mirroring the German use of Hochdeutsch).


Related terms


See also