Lower Sorbian language
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.
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”.
Bilingual road sign in Cottbus , Germany
The consonant phonemes of Lower Sorbian are as follows:
Lower Sorbian has both final devoicing and regressive voicing assimilation::12
The postalveolar fricative /ʃ/ is assimilated to [ɕ] before /t͡ɕ/::13
The vowel phonemes are as follows:
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::14
In loanwords, stress may fall on any of the last three syllables::14
Most one-syllable prepositions attract the stress to themselves when they precede a noun or pronoun of one or two syllables::14
However, nouns of three or more syllables retain their stress:
The Sorbian alphabet is based on the Latin script but uses diacritics such as acute accent and caron.
Published - November 2014
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