Lower Sorbian language

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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)
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

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. Most native speakers are in the oldest generation today.


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:

Bilabial Labiodental Dental Alveolar Postalveolar Alveolo-palatal Palatal Velar Glottal
plain pal. plain pal. plain pal. plain pal.
Plosive voiceless p t k
voiced b d ɡ ɡʲ
Affricate voiceless t͡s t͡ʃ t͡ɕ
voiced d͡ʒ d͡ʑ
Nasal m n
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ ɕ x h
voiced z ʒ ʑ
Rhotic r
Approximant w l j

Lower Sorbian has both final devoicing and regressive voicing assimilation:

  • /dub/ "oak" is pronounced [dup]
  • /susedka/ "(female) neighbor" is pronounced [susetka]
  • /lit͡sba/ "number" is pronounced [lʲid͡zba]

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

  • /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 ij  ɨj  uj iw  ɨw  uw
Starting mid   ej  ɔj ɛw  ow
Starting open   aj aw


Stress in Lower Sorbian normally falls on the first syllable of the word:

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

In loanwords, stress may fall on any of the last three syllables:

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


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. 

External links[edit]


German–Lower Sorbian[edit]

Lower Sorbian–German[edit]