High and Low German

An alumnus of Oberlin College in Ohio, Andrew Whiteman is a native of Michigan. Growing up, Mr. Whiteman and his family hosted a German exchange student through the German American Partnership Program. Andrew Whiteman developed an interest in German culture and left Michigan for Germany following his sophomore year in high school. He lived with a German family for a month and became fluent in the language.

With history dating back to first century BCE, German is the primary language of Austria and Germany. It is also one of three official languages spoken in Switzerland. A part of the West Germanic group of the Indo-European language family, the German language possesses many dialects that belong to either the High or Low German groups.

Derived from the Middle German dialect used by Martin Luther in his translation of the Bible, the modern standard of High German is utilized throughout higher education, administration, and literature. This professional form of German speech can also be found in the mass media in Low German dialect groups.

Low German is used through the lowlands of northern Germany. Its origin consists of Old Saxon and Middle Low German speech utilized by the Hanseatic League. Unlike High German, there is no formal standard when applying the dialect group to administrative and literary works.

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