Early New High German

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In German studies, the term Early New High German (ENHG, in German Frühneuhochdeutsch) is given to the intermediate stage between Middle High German and Modern German proper. The period during which Early New High German was spoken (and written) is not very well defined. Middle High German roughly encompasses the later 11th to early 14th centuries. Modern German proper emerges with the development of the chancery orthographical standards in the later 16th to early 17th century.

Early New High German is, then, the term for the language of the transitional period of the late 14th to early 17th century. This happens to correspond exactly to the lifetime of the German (Liechtenauer) tradition of fencing, so that practically all texts of the German school can be argued to fall under this label.

However, by nature of being a transitional period, the language shifts considerably during the three centuries between 1350 and 1650. Thus, the language of GNM 3227a (c. 1390) is still rather closer to standard Middle High German than it is to the language of Joachim Meyer (1570) even though both may be aruged to fall under the label of "ENHG" Because of this, some authors will also extend the duration of Middle High German to 1400, or to 1450. As always with this type of classification, drawing an exact line between "language stages" is a matter of convention; the corresponding stages of English are Middle English, usually taken to last until the late 15th century, and Early Modern English (EME), usually taken to span ca. 1500 to 1700, but as in the German case, these dates are fluid, and the end of EME may be set anywhere between 1674 (death of Milton) and 1755 (Johnson's dictionary).

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