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Dialect Divisions

The German language is part of a dialect continuum of continental West Germanic which includes the dialects of Dutch. However, despite mutual intelligibility between neighbouring Dutch and German dialects on the border, it is not customary to include the Dutch dialects in a description of German dialects, except where this is pertinent to discussion of cross-border linguistic phenomena.

There are twenty-seven regional dialect families within the language area of Modern German, including some local dialects restricted to single villages. The regional dialect families may be considered different languages since they are often not mutually intelligible. The main division in German dialects is between Low German and High German. The latter grouping of dialects underwent an additional sound change around AD 500 known as the Second or (High) German Consonant Shift that other West-Germanic dialects and languages (including Low German, Dutch, Afrikaans language, Frisian language and English language) did not. Modern Standard German (or Hochdeutsch) derives largely from High German dialects.

The following table illustrates the effect of the Second Consonant Shift:

High German Low German English Dutch
p Pfeife Piep pipe pijp
Apfel Auppel apple appel
Schaf Schoop sheep schaap
t Zeit Tiet tide tijd
setzen setten set zetten
groß groot great groot
k Kalb Kaulf calf kalf
machen moken make maken
Dach Dack thatch dak

The main dialect groups of German are:

  • High German Hochdeutsch
    • Bavarian Bayerisch (including North, Middle and South Bavarian)
    • Alemannian Alemannisch (including Lower Alemannian, High Alemannian, Highest Alemannian and Swabian)
    • East Franconian Ostfränkisch
    • Rhine Franconian Rheinfränkisch
    • Middle Franconian Mittelfränkisch (including Moselle Franconian, Ripuarian and Low Franconian)
    • Hessian Hessisch (including Central Hessian, East Hessian and North Hessian)
    • Thuringian Thüringisch
    • Saxon Sächsisch (or Upper Saxon; including North Upper Saxon and South Markish)
  • Low German Niederdeutsch
    • Westphalian Westfälisch
    • Eastphalian Ostfälisch
    • North Low German Nordniederdeutsch
    • Brandenburgish Brandenburgisch
    • Mecklenburgish-Vorpommernish Mecklenburgisch-Vorpommersch
    • Middlepommernish Mittelpommersch

After World War II Germany ceded territory in the east to Poland, Russia, and the Czech Republic. As a result, three dialects have since largely been lost: Lower Prussian Niederpreußisch (a dialect of Low German), High Prussian Hochpreußisch and Silesian Schlesisch (both High German)

There are several other dialects of German in communities living outside of Germany. For example, Yiddish—spoken by many Jewish communities around the world—is essentially a dialect of German, though with many Hebrew words added to it. The German language has also been partially retained in some former German colonies like Namibia. The Pennsylvania Dutch language in the United States is also a dialect of German.

Standardization of German

Official German began to be standardised in the late nineteenth century after the different regions were finally united politically under the German emperor (German Kaiser). The spoken version of official High German was a compromise that drew heavily on the dialects in the middle of what is now Germany (especially around Hanover) to minimise the amount of adaptation needed for the most people.

Standard German has been successful at encouraging a national identity in Germany and fostering inter-regional communications. However, native speakers can still usually instantly detect from what region a person comes from when he speaks standard German, since many people do not lose all the traces of their original dialect. TV stations in Germany, Austria and Belgium still broadcast some programs in local dialect.

Supreme Court Justices

Appointing Presidents Chief Justices Associate Justices
George Washington John Jay (1789-1795)

John Rutledge (1795-1795)
Oliver Ellsworth (1796-1801)

John Rutledge (1789)

William Cushing (1789)
James Wilson (1789)
John Blair (1789)
James Iredell (1790)
Thomas Johnson (1791)
William Paterson (1793)
Samuel Chase (1796)

John Adams John Marshall (1801-1836) Bushrod Washington (1798)

Alfred Moore (1799)

Thomas Jefferson William Johnson (1804)

Brockholst Livingston (1806)
Thomas Todd (1807)

James Madison Gabriel Duvall (1811)

Joseph Story (1811)

James Monroe Smith Thompson (1823)
John Quincy Adams Robert Trimble (1826)
Andrew Jackson Roger Brooke Taney (1836-1864) John McLean (1829)

Henry Baldwin (1830)
James M. Wayne (1835)
Philip P. Barbour (1836)

Martin Van Buren John Catron (1837)

John McKinley (1837)
Peter V. Daniel (1841)

John Tyler Samuel Nelson (1845)
James K. Polk Levi Woodbury (1845)

Robert C. Grier (1846)

Millard Fillmore Benjamin R. Curtis (1851)
Franklin Pierce John A. Campbell (1853)
James Buchanan Nathan Clifford (1858)
Abraham Lincoln Salmon P. Chase (1864-1874) Noah H. Swayne (1862)

Samuel F. Miller (1862)
David Davis (1862)
Stephen J. Field (1863)

Ulysses S. Grant Morrison R. Waite (1874-1888) William Strong (1870)

Joseph P. Bradley (1870)
Ward Hunt (1872)

Rutherford B. Hayes John Marshall Harlan (1877)

William B. Woods (1880)

James A. Garfield Stanley Matthews (1881)
Chester A. Arthur Horace Gray (1881)

Samuel Blatchford (1882)

Grover Cleveland (first term) Melville W. Fuller (1888-1910) Lucius Q.C. Lamar
Benjamin Harrison David J. Brewer (1889)

Henry B. Brown
George Shiras, Jr.
Howell Jackson

Grover Cleveland (second term) Edward Douglass White (1894-1910; then Chief Justice)

Rufuss W. Peckham (1895)

William McKinley Joseph McKenna (1898)
Theodore Roosevelt Oliver Wendell Holmes (1902)

William R. Day (1903)
William H. Moody (1906)

William Howard Taft Edward Douglass White (1910-1921) Horace H. Lurton (1909)

Charles Evans Hughes (1910-1930; then Chief Justice)
Willis Van Devanter (1910)
Joseph R. Lamar (1910)
Mahlon Pitney (1912)

Woodrow Wilson James C. McReynolds (1914)

Louis D. Brandeis (1916)
John H. Clarke

Warren G. Harding William Howard Taft (1921-1930) George Sutherland (1922)

Pierce Butler (1922) Edward T. Sanford (1923)

Calvin Coolidge Harlan Fiske Stone (1925-1941; then Chief Justice)
Herbert Hoover Charles Evan Hughes (1930-1941) Owen J. Roberts (1930)

Benjamin N. Cardozo

Franklin D. Roosevelt Harlan Fiske Stone (1941-1946) Hugo L. Black (1937)

Stanley Forman Reed (1938)
Felix Frankfurter (1939)
William O. Douglas (1939)
Frank Murphey (1940)
James F. Byrnes (1941)
Robert H. Jackson (1941)
Wiley B. Rutledge (1943)

Harry S. Truman Fred M. Vinson (1946-1953) Harold H. Burton (1945)

Thomas C. Clark (1949)
Sherman Minton (1949)

Dwight D. Eisenhower Earl Warren (1953-1969) John Marshall Harlan (1955)

William J. Brennan, Jr. (1956)

John F. Kennedy Byron R. White (1962)

Arthur J. Goldberg (1962)

Lyndon B. Johnson Abe Fortas (1965)

Thurgood Marshall (1967)

Richard M. Nixon Warren E. Burger (1969-1986) Harry A. Blackmun (1970)

Lewis F. Powell, Jr. (1971)
William H. Rehnquist (1971-1986; then Chief Justice)

Gerald R. Ford John Paul Stevens (1975)
Ronald Reagan William H. Rehnquist (1986-2005) Sandra Day O'Connor (1981-2006)

Antonin Scalia (1986-)
Anthony M. Kennedy (1988-)

George H.W. Bush David H. Souter (1990-2009)

Clarence Thomas (1991)

Bill Clinton Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1993-)

Stephen G. Breyer (1994-)

George W. Bush John G. Roberts (2005-) Samuel Alito (2006-)
Barack Obama Sonia Sotomayor (2009-)

Eric Holder

See also: Intelligence interrogation, U.S., review#Justice_Department

On August 24, 2009, Holder announced that he would renew the appointment of John H. Durham as acting U.S. attorney investigating possible illegal acts by the CIA, including destruction of evidence and improper interrogation. Durham had originally been appointed by Holder’s predecessor, Michael Mukasey, in January 2008. [1][2]

Holder commented that he was aware of the controversy that would be created by this move but he concluded that, in view of new evidence that had come to light, “it is clear to me that this review is the only responsible course of action for me to take." In taking this step Holder deviated from President Obama’s view that no criminal investigations of his predecessor's policies should be undertaken, but the president ultimately supported the decision, underscoring the independence of the Justice Department in such matters.[3]

Republican senators Jon Kyl, Christopher Bond and Jeff Sessions called Holder’s decision a partisan do-over for political reasons, since a 2004 CIA report on the matter had concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prove unlawful acts.[4] However, this criticism ignores the fact that the investigation was reopened by Mukasey in 2008, before President Obama took office. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and former Director of Central Intelligence Michael Hayden have criticized the way in which the investigation is being handled but they have also disputed that senior Congressional leaders were unaware of the interrogation methods.[5]

  1. Dan Eggen and Joby Warrick (January 3, 2008), "Criminal Probe on CIA Tapes Opened: Case Assigned to Career Prosecutor", Washington Post. Retrieved on September 17, 2009
  2. "Mukasey: Criminal inquiry begins into CIA tapes; CIA said last month it had destroyed recordings of harsh interrogations", Associated Press, January 2, 2008. Retrieved on September 17, 2009
  3. Carrie Johnson (August 25, 2009). Prosecutor to Probe CIA Interrogations, Washington Post. Retrieved September 17, 2009.
  4. Greg Miller (August 20, 2009), "GOP senators warn Holder against CIA abuse inquiry", Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on September 17, 2009
  5. Michael Hayden and Michael Mukasey (April 17, 2009), "The President Ties His Own Hands on Terror: The point of interrogation is intelligence, not confession", Wall Street Journal. Retrieved on September 17, 2009