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Language Information

Sorbian, also known by the names of Wendish and Lusatian, is a Slavic language spoken in Lusatia, the southeastemmost part of East Germany bisected by the River Spree. Although surrounded by German speakers for centuries, the Sorbs have preserved their Slavic speech, and the study and propagation of the language is strongly encouraged today by the German government.

Despite its small number of speakers (about 50,000), and the small area in which it is spoken, Sorbian has two distinct dialects. Upper Sorbian, centered in the city of Bautzen to the south (the word "upper" refers to the level rather than the location of the land), is closer to Czech. Lower Sorbian, spoken in the vicinity of Cottbus to the north, more closely resembles Polish. The poem below, by the Sorbs' most famous poet, is given in each of the two dialects.

Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.

Writing Sample

Writing Sample


Look! Strongly have I praised your holy fields.
Your image has woven together all my thoughts and dreams,
the string of blue mountains and vast meadows of proud land,
and I have praised you for these mountains and meadows!

Cries were often my companion, when with a sharp pain
I called with my harp the heavy sighs of the past,
when I shouted to heaven all strings sounded like bells.
I am yours with my hand, heart and will!


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