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Lower Sorbian language


Lower Sorbian language

Lower Sorbian
Dolnoserbski, Dolnoserbšćina
Pronunciation [ˈdɔlnɔˌsɛrskʲi]
Native to Germany
Region Brandenburg
Native speakers
6,900  (2007)[1]
Latin (Sorbian alphabet)
Language codes
ISO 639-2 dsb
ISO 639-3 dsb
Glottolog lowe1385[2]
Linguasphere 53-AAA-ba < 53-AAA-b < 53-AAA-b...-d (varieties: 53-AAA-baa to 53-AAA-bah)

Lower Sorbian (Dolnoserbski) is a Slavic minority language spoken in eastern Germany in the historical province of Lower Lusatia, today part of Brandenburg. It is one of the two literary Sorbian languages, the other being Upper Sorbian.

Lower Sorbian is spoken in and around the city of Cottbus in Brandenburg. Signs in this region are usually bilingual, and Cottbus has a Gymnasium where one language of instruction is Lower Sorbian. It is a heavily endangered language.[3] Most native speakers are in the oldest generation today.


  • Phonology 1
    • Consonants 1.1
    • Vowels 1.2
    • Stress 1.3
  • Orthography 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4
    • Dictionaries 4.1
      • German–Lower Sorbian 4.1.1
      • Lower Sorbian–German 4.1.2


Bilingual road sign in Cottbus, Germany

The phonology of Lower Sorbian has been greatly influenced by contact with German, especially in Cottbus and larger towns. For example, German-influenced pronunciation tends to have a voiced uvular fricative [ʁ] instead of the alveolar trill [r]. In villages and rural areas German influence is less marked, and the pronunciation is more "typically Slavic".


The consonant phonemes of Lower Sorbian are as follows:

Labial Dental Alveolar Post-
Velar Glottal
plain pala. plain pala. plain pala.
Stop pb pʲ bʲ td kɡ kʲ ɡʲ
Affricate t͡s   t͡ʃd͡ʒ t͡ɕd͡ʑ
Fricative f   fʲ vʲ sz ʃʒ ɕʑ x   h
Nasal m n
Approximant w j
Lateral l
Rhotic r

Lower Sorbian has both final devoicing and regressive voicing assimilation:[4]:12

  • dub /dub/ "oak" is pronounced [dup]
  • susedka /ˈsusedka/ "(female) neighbor" is pronounced [ˈsusetka]
  • licba /ˈlit͡sba/ "number" is pronounced [ˈlʲid͡zba]

The postalveolar fricative /ʃ/ is assimilated to [ɕ] before /t͡ɕ/:[4]:13

  • šćit /ʃt͡ɕit/ "protection" is pronounced [ɕt͡ɕit]


The vowel phonemes are as follows:
Monophthongs Front Central Back
Close i ɨ u
Open-mid ɛ ɔ
Open a
Diphthongs Centering Ending
in /j/
in /w/
Starting close iɪ̯ ij  ɨj  uj iw  ɨw  uw
Starting mid   ej  ɔj ɛw  ow
Starting open   aj aw

The centering diphthong /iɪ̯/, spelled ě, occurs only in stressed syllables. In unstressed syllables it is replaced by /ɛ/; for example, wěźeś "to know" is /ˈvʲiɪ̯ʑɛɕ/, but its compound powěźeś "to announce" is /ˈpɔvʲɛʑɛɕ/.


Stress in Lower Sorbian normally falls on the first syllable of the word:[4]:14

  • Łužyca [ˈwuʒɨt͡sa] "Lusatia"
  • pśijaśel [ˈpɕijaɕɛl] "friend"
  • Chóśebuz [ˈxɨɕɛbus] "Cottbus"

In loanwords, stress may fall on any of the last three syllables:[4]:14

  • internat [intɛrˈnat] "boarding school"
  • kontrola [kɔnˈtrɔla] "control"
  • september [sɛpˈtɛmbɛr] "September"
  • policija [pɔˈlʲit͡sija] "police"
  • organizacija [ɔrɡanʲiˈzat͡sija] "organization"

Most one-syllable prepositions attract the stress to themselves when they precede a noun or pronoun of one or two syllables:[4]:14

  • na dwórje [ˈna dwɨrʲɛ] "on the courtyard"
  • pśi mnjo [ˈpɕi mnʲɔ] "near me"
  • do města [ˈdɔ mʲɛsta] "into the city" (note that the [iɪ̯] of město [ˈmʲiɪ̯stɔ] becomes [ɛ] when unstressed)

However, nouns of three or more syllables retain their stress:

  • pśed wucabnikom [pɕɛd ˈut͡sabnʲikɔm] "in front of the teacher"
  • na drogowanju [na ˈdrɔɡowanʲu] "on a journey"


The Sorbian alphabet is based on the Latin script but uses diacritics such as acute accent and caron.


  1. ^ Lower Sorbian at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Lower Sorbian". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Moseley, Christopher, ed. (2010). Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger (3rd ed.). Paris: UNESCO Publishing.  
  4. ^ a b c d e Hannusch, Erwin (1998). Niedersorbisch praktisch und verständlich. Bautzen: Domowina-Verlag.  

External links

  • (German) (Lower Sorbian) Dolnoserbski radio program (RealAudio)
  • Lower Sorbian Vocabulary List (from the World Loanword Database)


German–Lower Sorbian

  • (German) (Lower Sorbian) dolnoserbski.deat
  • (German) (Lower Sorbian) Korpus GENIEat

Lower Sorbian–German

  • (German) (Lower Sorbian) dolnoserbski.deat
  • (German) (Lower Sorbian) Lexikalische Übungen
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