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Upper Saxon (German: Obersächsisch, pronounced ; Upper Saxon: ) is an East Central German dialect spoken in much of the modern German state of Saxony and in adjacent parts of southeastern Saxony-Anhalt and eastern Thuringia. As of the early 21st century, it's mostly extinct and a new regiolect (also known asobersächsische Umgangssprache) has emerged instead. Though colloquially called "Saxon" (Sächsisch), it is not to be confused with the Low Saxon dialect group in Northern Germany. Upper Saxon is closely linked to the Thuringian dialect spoken in the adjacent areas to the west.

Upper Saxon
Obersächsisch
Native toGermany
RegionSaxony
Native speakers
2 million (1998)
Language codes
ISO 639-3sxu
Glottologuppe1465
Central German dialects after 1945 and the expulsions of the Germans
Upper Saxon (8)
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper , you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see .

Standard German has been heavily based on Upper Saxon, especially in its lexicon and grammar. This is due to it being used as the basis for early developments in the standardization of German during the early 1500s, including the translation of the Bible by Martin Luther.

Contents

The Upper Saxon dialect evolved as a new variety in the course of the medieval German Ostsiedlung (eastern colonisation) from about 1100 onwards. Settlers descending from the stem duchies of Saxony, Franconia, and Bavaria, as well as Thuringia and Flanders, moved into the Margravate of Meissen between the Elbe and Saale rivers, formerly populated by Polabian Slavs. As the colonists belonged to different German tribes speaking different dialects, Upper Saxon became an intermediary, koiné dialect (Kolonialdialekt or Ausgleichsdialekt), having less distinct features than the older, more original dialects.

In the Middle Ages, a variety of Upper Saxon called Meißner Kanzleisächsisch developed as the "chancery language" of Saxony. This was the official, literary language of the Margravate of Meissen (respectively the Electorate of Saxony after 1423), replacing Latin as the language of administrators during the period of Renaissance humanism (15th to 16th century). It was less influenced by Upper German features than the Habsburg chancery language, and thus intelligible to speakers of both Upper and Low German dialects. In the context of the Bible translation by Martin Luther, it played a large part in the development of the Early New High German language as a standard variety.

Due to the influence and prestige of the Electorate of Saxony during the Baroque era (17th to 18th century), and especially its role as a focal point of artists and scientists, the language of the Upper Saxon elite (but not of its ordinary people) was considered the exemplary variant of German during that period. The literary theorist Johann Christoph Gottsched (1700–1766), who spent most of his adult life in Leipzig, considered Saxony's upper-class speech as the guiding form of standard German. When Johann Christoph Adelung published his High German dictionary (Grammatisch-kritisches Wörterbuch der hochdeutschen Mundart), he made clear that "High German" to him meant the parlance of educated Upper Saxons. He claimed that the Upper Saxon variety was to the German language what Attic was to Greek and Tuscan to Italian. One motive of the parents of German national poet Johann Wolfgang Goethe (a native of Frankfurt) to send him to study in Leipzig was to adopt a more sophisticated language.

With Saxony's loss of political power after the Seven Years' War (1756–63), its dialect lost prestige as well. Standard German phonology was then increasingly based on that of East Franconian dialects afterwards. In 1783, philosopher Johann Erich Biester, residing in the Prussian capital of Berlin, rated the "unpleasant singsong" and "highly peculiar confusion of b and p, of d and t"—even among upper-class speakers—"very crude".

According to linguist Beat Siebenhaar, Upper Saxon — defined as a cohesive linguistic system with its own, clear rules for pronunciation, word formation and syntax — became largely extinct during the second half of the 19th to early 20th century. This was due to the increased adoption of the standard language among the Saxony populace. Since then, (Upper) Saxon merely refers to a colloquial, regional variety of Standard German and not a dialect in the proper sense.

Spoken by leading communists descending from the Central German industrial area like Walter Ulbricht, the Upper Saxon dialect was commonly perceived as the colloquial language of East Germany by West German citizens and up to today is a subject of numerous stereotype jokes. The mildly derogatory verb sächseln means to speak with a Saxon accent.

Like many other German dialects, Upper Saxon features the unrounding of vowel sounds descended from Middle High German (/ö/, /öː/, /ü/, /üː/, and /üe/ to /e/, /eː/, /i/, and /iː/). This results in words such as bäse for Standard German böse (wicked) and Biehne for Standard German Bühne (stage). In common with other East Central German varieties is the weakening of consonants, resulting in words such as Kardoffeln for Standard German "Kartoffeln" (potatoes) and Babba for Standard German Papa (dad). Additionally, /ë/ is reduced to /a/, resulting in Standard German Schwester (sister) becoming Schwaster in Upper Saxon.

The most notable distinguishing feature of the dialect is that the letters o and u are pronounced as centralized vowels ([ɞ] and[ɵ], respectively, when short;[ɵː] and[ʉː], respectively, when long). Speakers of other German dialects that do not have these sounds tend to perceive these sounds as being ö[øː] and ü[yː] respectively. For example, they hear[ˈɵːma] 'grandma' as if written Öma (Standard Oma[ˈoːma]). Front rounded vowels are pronounced as non-rounded (ö =[eː], ü =[iː]). Final -er is pronounced[oˤ] (or similarly, depending on the subdialect), which speakers of other German dialects tend to hear as[oː]; e.g.[ˈheːo̯ˤ] 'higher' (Standard[ˈhøːɐ̯] höher) is misheard as if written hä(h)er.

The Upper Saxon dialects outside the Ore Mountains can be easily recognized by the supposed "softening" (lenition) of the voiceless stop consonants/p/, /t/ and/k/. Speakers of other dialects hear these as if they were "b", "d" and "g" respectively. In reality, these are merely non-aspirated versions of the same/p/, /t/ and/k/, a widespread feature among Central German dialects, as opposed to strongly aspirated[pʰ],[tʰ] and[kʰ] in dominant German dialects.

In contrast to neighboring Thuringian, Upper Saxon infinitives end in -en as in Standard German rather than -e .

The degree of accent varies from place to place, from a relatively mild accent in the larger cities such as Dresden, Chemnitz or Leipzig to a stronger form in rural areas, depending on the grade of the High German consonant shift:

  1. Upper Saxon at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)(subscription required)
  2. Siebenhaar, Beat. "Der obersächsische Sprachraum". Leipzig University. Retrieved2 June 2019.
  3. Sächsische Hochsprache, Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 10 January 2021. (in German)
  4. "Ein Leipziger Sprachforscher ist sich sicher: Sächsischer Dialekt weitgehend ausgestorben". Leipziger Internet Zeitung. 17 February 2011. Archived from the original on 26 August 2014.
  5. Siebenhaar, Beat (2011). Matthias Donath; André Thieme (eds.). Der sächsische Dialekt. Sächsische Mythen. Edition Leipzig. pp. 91–99.
  6. Ludwig Erich Schmitt (editor): Germanische Dialektologie. Franz Steiner, Wiesbaden 1968, p. 143
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-06-10. Retrieved2010-03-27.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

Upper Saxon German Article Talk Language Watch Edit This article needs additional citations for verification Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources Unsourced material may be challenged and removed Find sources Upper Saxon German news newspapers books scholar JSTOR August 2007 Learn how and when to remove this template message Upper Saxon German Obersachsisch pronounced ˈoːbɐˌzɛksɪʃ Upper Saxon ɵːb oˤˈsɛɡ sʃ is an East Central German dialect spoken in much of the modern German state of Saxony and in adjacent parts of southeastern Saxony Anhalt and eastern Thuringia As of the early 21st century it s mostly extinct and a new regiolect also known as obersachsische Umgangssprache has emerged instead 2 Though colloquially called Saxon Sachsisch it is not to be confused with the Low Saxon dialect group in Northern Germany Upper Saxon is closely linked to the Thuringian dialect spoken in the adjacent areas to the west Upper SaxonObersachsischNative toGermanyRegionSaxonyNative speakers2 million 1998 1 Language familyIndo European GermanicWest GermanicHigh GermanCentral GermanEast Central GermanUpper SaxonLanguage codesISO 639 3 a href https iso639 3 sil org code sxu class extiw title iso639 3 sxu sxu a Glottolog a rel nofollow class external text href http glottolog org resource languoid id uppe1465 uppe1465 a Central German dialects after 1945 and the expulsions of the Germans Upper Saxon 8 This article contains IPA phonetic symbols Without proper rendering support you may see question marks boxes or other symbols instead of Unicode characters For an introductory guide on IPA symbols see Help IPA Standard German has been heavily based on Upper Saxon especially in its lexicon and grammar This is due to it being used as the basis for early developments in the standardization of German during the early 1500s including the translation of the Bible by Martin Luther 3 Contents 1 History 2 Dialectal features 3 Subgroups 4 See also 5 References 6 External linksHistory EditThe Upper Saxon dialect evolved as a new variety in the course of the medieval German Ostsiedlung eastern colonisation from about 1100 onwards Settlers descending from the stem duchies of Saxony Franconia and Bavaria as well as Thuringia and Flanders moved into the Margravate of Meissen between the Elbe and Saale rivers 4 formerly populated by Polabian Slavs As the colonists belonged to different German tribes speaking different dialects Upper Saxon became an intermediary koine dialect Kolonialdialekt or Ausgleichsdialekt having less distinct features than the older more original dialects 4 In the Middle Ages a variety of Upper Saxon called Meissner Kanzleisachsisch developed as the chancery language of Saxony This was the official literary language of the Margravate of Meissen respectively the Electorate of Saxony after 1423 replacing Latin as the language of administrators during the period of Renaissance humanism 15th to 16th century It was less influenced by Upper German features than the Habsburg chancery language and thus intelligible to speakers of both Upper and Low German dialects In the context of the Bible translation by Martin Luther it played a large part in the development of the Early New High German language as a standard variety 5 Due to the influence and prestige of the Electorate of Saxony during the Baroque era 17th to 18th century and especially its role as a focal point of artists and scientists the language of the Upper Saxon elite but not of its ordinary people was considered the exemplary variant of German during that period The literary theorist Johann Christoph Gottsched 1700 1766 who spent most of his adult life in Leipzig considered Saxony s upper class speech as the guiding form of standard German When Johann Christoph Adelung published his High German dictionary Grammatisch kritisches Worterbuch der hochdeutschen Mundart he made clear that High German to him meant the parlance of educated Upper Saxons He claimed that the Upper Saxon variety was to the German language what Attic was to Greek and Tuscan to Italian One motive of the parents of German national poet Johann Wolfgang Goethe a native of Frankfurt to send him to study in Leipzig was to adopt a more sophisticated language 5 With Saxony s loss of political power after the Seven Years War 1756 63 its dialect lost prestige as well Standard German phonology was then increasingly based on that of East Franconian dialects afterwards In 1783 philosopher Johann Erich Biester residing in the Prussian capital of Berlin rated the unpleasant singsong and highly peculiar confusion of b and p of d and t even among upper class speakers very crude 5 According to linguist Beat Siebenhaar Upper Saxon defined as a cohesive linguistic system with its own clear rules for pronunciation word formation and syntax became largely extinct during the second half of the 19th to early 20th century This was due to the increased adoption of the standard language among the Saxony populace Since then Upper Saxon merely refers to a colloquial regional variety of Standard German and not a dialect in the proper sense 4 5 Spoken by leading communists descending from the Central German industrial area like Walter Ulbricht the Upper Saxon dialect was commonly perceived as the colloquial language of East Germany by West German citizens and up to today is a subject of numerous stereotype jokes 5 The mildly derogatory verb sachseln means to speak with a Saxon accent Dialectal features EditLike many other German dialects Upper Saxon features the unrounding of vowel sounds descended from Middle High German o oː u uː and ue to e eː i and iː This results in words such as base for Standard German bose wicked and Biehne for Standard German Buhne stage In common with other East Central German varieties is the weakening of consonants resulting in words such as Kardoffeln for Standard German Kartoffeln potatoes and Babba for Standard German Papa dad Additionally e is reduced to a resulting in Standard German Schwester sister becoming Schwaster in Upper Saxon The most notable distinguishing feature of the dialect is that the letters o and u are pronounced as centralized vowels ɞ and ɵ respectively when short ɵː and ʉː respectively when long Speakers of other German dialects that do not have these sounds tend to perceive these sounds as being o oː and u yː respectively For example they hear ˈɵːma grandma as if written Oma Standard Oma ˈoːma Front rounded vowels are pronounced as non rounded o eː u iː Final er is pronounced oˤ or similarly depending on the subdialect which speakers of other German dialects tend to hear as oː e g ˈheːo ˤ higher Standard ˈhoːɐ hoher is misheard as if written ha h er The Upper Saxon dialects outside the Ore Mountains can be easily recognized by the supposed softening lenition of the voiceless stop consonants p t and k Speakers of other dialects hear these as if they were b d and g respectively In reality these are merely non aspirated versions of the same p t and k a widespread feature among Central German dialects as opposed to strongly aspirated pʰ tʰ and kʰ in dominant German dialects In contrast to neighboring Thuringian Upper Saxon infinitives end in en as in Standard German rather than e Subgroups EditThe degree of accent varies from place to place from a relatively mild accent in the larger cities such as Dresden Chemnitz or Leipzig to a stronger form in rural areas depending on the grade of the High German consonant shift Meissen dialect which remained in the former margraviate after the development of the New High German standard variety spoken from Meissen District and Central Saxony up the Elbe River to Saxon Switzerland including the Dresden metrolect North Upper Saxon dialect with stronger Low German features spoken in Northern Saxony in and around the city of Leipzig from Torgau and Eilenburg down to Borna and in the adjacent territory of Saxony Anhalt up to the Saale River at Weissenfels in the west Erzgebirgisch a distinct dialect is spoken in the villages of the Central Ore Mountains Until the post war expulsions it also included the Northwestern Bohemian language in the adjacent Sudetenland territories to the south today part of the Czech Republic 6 7 It is also found in Lower Saxony in the Upper Harz to where miners from the Ore Mountains moved in the 16th century see Mining in the Upper Harz See also EditSorbian languagesReferences Edit Upper Saxon at Ethnologue 18th ed 2015 subscription required Siebenhaar Beat Der obersachsische Sprachraum Leipzig University Retrieved 2 June 2019 Sachsische Hochsprache Deutsche Welle Retrieved 10 January 2021 in German a b c Ein Leipziger Sprachforscher ist sich sicher Sachsischer Dialekt weitgehend ausgestorben Leipziger Internet Zeitung 17 February 2011 Archived from the original on 26 August 2014 a b c d e Siebenhaar Beat 2011 Matthias Donath Andre Thieme eds Der sachsische Dialekt Sachsische Mythen Edition Leipzig pp 91 99 Ludwig Erich Schmitt editor Germanische Dialektologie Franz Steiner Wiesbaden 1968 p 143 Archived copy Archived from the original on 2007 06 10 Retrieved 2010 03 27 a href wiki Template Cite web title Template Cite web cite web a CS1 maint archived copy as title link External links EditUpper Saxon German test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia IncubatorUpper Saxon Obersachsisch or Meissnisch at genealogienetz de Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Upper Saxon German amp oldid 1081082622, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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