In jeder Sprache gab es Schriftsteller und Dichter, die für zeitgenössische Sprache stehen und einen erheblichen Einfluss in der Entwicklung der Sprache haben. So war es Chaucer für die englische und Dante für die italienische Sprache.

Aber wer war das für die deutsche Mittelsprache?

I just want to know the author(s) (likely poet) who holds a similar place in the development of German that Chaucer did in England and Dante did in Italy. A person who bridged "early" and "middle" periods of the language (and yes, I do realize that the demarcation in German is not nearly as clear cut as it might be in English due to the influence of the Normans on the history of the British Isles).

Note: this is different from the question of "Who was the German Shakespeare" as Shakespeare bridges middle and modern, not early and middle.

  • de.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Em1
    Jan 30, 2012 at 7:40
  • @Em1 Thank you for the corrections. My German is mediocre, but I wanted to try "in good faith" as it were. As to Wikipedia, I see a few names listed as being examples, but I don't see an exemplar. Is there none? Jan 30, 2012 at 8:39
  • Unfortunately I left at least one mistake but won't edit again for just one character. But now to your question: I am not knowledgeable about this topic, this was just what I found in a quick google search. So, I can only make a guess...
    – Em1
    Jan 30, 2012 at 8:51
  • 2
    I removed the somehow suggestive implication, that there has to be such an author, and that it has to be exactly one. Jan 30, 2012 at 14:40

2 Answers 2


Not a poet in that sense, but Martin Luther is commonly assumed to have standardised "modern" high German on the basis of his Saxon dialect. He translated the bible from Latin/Greek to German in the early 16th century.

The Brothers Grimm are noteworthy as well. They collected and published fairy tales and they were the first to compile a comprehensive German dictionary.

The 18th century writers, such as Goethe, Lessing, Schiller or Kleist certainly had a great impact on the language, but I wouldn't say they codified the language as such.

I can't say how influential the novel "Simplicissimus" was, but in retrospect it is considered, one of the most important works of the 17th century.

EDIT: Sorry, I missed that you were actually asking for the transition from early to middle. This is very difficult to answer, as German was even less standardised then and there are very few written sources. The death of Notker III is often connected to the end of "Althochdeutsch".


When I think about Middle High German, the first thing that comes to mind is the Nibelungenlied — but that does not have a known author.

  • As a side note: Tolkien's translation of that poem was masterful Jan 30, 2012 at 8:35
  • @Ansgar, you can use — instead of -- :D Anyway, I studied that in my German Philology course. :)
    – Alenanno
    Jan 30, 2012 at 9:50

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