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Old 10-23-2019, 09:15 PM
Hari Seldon is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Trantor
Posts: 13,453
What I was told was that the main characteristic that separates low from high German is that in the latter certain stops changed to fricatives or affricates (a stop-fricative) in certain phonetic contexts. As an example, I word that started out like pepper changed to Pfeffer, the first consonant an affricate and the second a fricative. Similarly a word like fut changed to fuss, book to Buch and so on. The change went even further for Swiss in which the words for cheese and cook are Kchase and kchochen. Of course, these are hardly the only differences only the ones that characterize whether a German dialect or a Germanic language is low or high. English, Dutch, Frisian, low German are low and high German and Swiss are high.

Incidentally a native German colleague of mine spent a year in Zurich and it took that year before he could understand Swiss.