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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Upper Sorbian
Pronunciation [ˈhɔrnjɔˌsɛrbʃtʃina]
Spoken in Germany
Region Saxony, Brandenburg
Total speakers 40,000
Language family Indo-European
Writing system Latin (Sorbian variant)
Official status
Official language in regional language in Germany (Brandenburg and Saxony)
Regulated by No official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 hsb
ISO 639-3 hsb

Upper Sorbian (Hornjoserbšćina) is a minority language spoken in Germany in the historical province of Upper Lusatia (Hornja Łužica in Sorbian), which is today part of Saxony. It is grouped in the West Slavic language branch together with Lower Sorbian, Czech, Polish, Slovak and other languages.



The history of the Upper Sorbian language in Germany began with the Slavic migrations during the 6th Century AD. Beginning in the 12th Century, there was a massive influx of rural Germanic settlers from Flanders, Saxony, Thuringia and Franconia. The succeeding devastation of the country by martial actions began the slow decrease of the Upper Sorbian language. In addition, in the Saxony region, the Sorbian language was legally subordinated to the German language. Language prohibitions were later added: In 1293, the Sorbian language was forbidden in Berne castle before the courts; in 1327 it was forbidden in Zwickau and Leipzig, and from 1424 on it was forbidden in Meissen. Further, there was the condition in many guilds of the cities of the area to accept only members of German-language origin.

However, the central areas of the Milzener and Lusitzer, in the area of the today's Lausitz, were relatively unaffected by the new German language settlements and legal restrictions. The language therefore flourished there. By the 17th Century, the number of Upper Sorbian speakers in that area grew to over 300,000. The oldest evidence of written Upper Sorbian is the „Burger Eydt Wendisch” monument, which was discovered in the city of Bautzen and dated to the year 1532.

The Upper Sorbian language in Germany

A bilingual sign in Germany; the lower part is in Upper Sorbian

There are estimated to be 40,000 speakers of Upper Sorbian, of which almost all live in Saxony. This puts Upper Sorbian as the third largest minority language in Germany, after Turkish and Danish, but before Frisian. Since the nationality affiliations in Germany are not officially recorded and Upper Sorbian nationality is self-identified, these figures are only estimates. The number of active speakers may be substantially smaller. Some scholars predict that Upper Sorbian is in danger of extinction. Computer forecasts predict that in 20-30 years time, there will only be 7,000 speakers of Lower Sorbian and 13,000 of Upper Sorbian left in the world. (Some in fact believe that Lower Sorbian may be extinct by that time.) In the opinion of more optimistic language experts, by the end of the 21st century Upper Sorbian will not yet be extinct. Nevertheless, no further reliable forecasts can be made at the present time.

See also

External links

Upper Sorbian language edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia





Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:




Proper noun

Upper Sorbian


Upper Sorbian

  1. A Slavic language spoken in part of Saxony.


  • Upper Lusatian

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