Lower Sorbian language

Last updated on 24 January 2017

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

Bilinguale Stra%C3%9Fenbeschilderung Cottbus.jpg
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".

Consonants

Consonant phonemes[4][5]
Labial Dental/
Alveolar
Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
hard soft hard soft hard soft hard hard
Nasal m n
Plosive voiceless p t k
voiced b d ɡ
Affricate voiceless t͡s t͡ʂ t͡ɕ
Fricative voiceless f s ʂ ɕ x h
voiced v z ʐ ʑ
Trill r
Approximant w l j
  • /m, mʲ, p, pʲ, b, bʲ, w, wʲ/ are bilabial, whereas /f, v/ are labiodental.[4]
  • /n, nʲ, l, r, rʲ/ are alveolar [n, nʲ, l, r, rʲ], whereas /t, d, t͡s, s, z/ are dental [, , t̪͡s̪, , ].[4]
  • /t͡ʂ, ʂ, ʐ/ are laminal retroflex (flat postalveolar) [t͡ʂ, ʂ, ʐ] in all of the Lower Sorbian–speaking area. This is unlike in standard Upper Sorbian, where these are palato-alveolar [t͡ʃ, ʃ, ʒ].[6][7]
  • /h/ is voiceless [h], unlike Upper Sorbian, where it is voiced [ɦ].[8][9]

Final devoicing and assimilation

Lower Sorbian has both final devoicing and regressive voicing assimilation:[10]

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

The retroflex fricative /ʂ/ is assimilated to [ɕ] before /t͡ɕ/:[11]

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

Vowels

The vowel inventory of Lower Sorbian is exactly the same as that of Upper Sorbian.[12] It is also very similar to the vowel inventory of Slovene.

Vowel phonemes[12]
Front Central Back
Close i u
Close-mid e o
Open-mid ɛ ɔ
Open a
  • /i/ is retracted to [ɨ] after hard consonants.
  • /e, o/ are diphthongized to [i̯ɛ, u̯ɔ] in slow speech.[12]
  • The /e–ɛ/ and /o–ɔ/ distinctions are weakened or lost in unstressed syllables.[13]
  • /a/ is phonetically central [ä].[12]

Stress

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

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

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

Orthography

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

Sample

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Lower Sorbian:

Wšykne luźe su lichotne roźone a jadnake po dostojnosći a pšawach. Woni maju rozym a wědobnosć a maju ze sobu w duchu bratšojstwa wobchadaś.

(All people are born free and equal in their dignity and rights. They are given reason and conscience and they shall create their relationships to one another according to the spirit of brotherhood.)[15]

See also

References

  1. ^ Lower Sorbian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Lower Sorbian". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Moseley, Christopher, ed. (2010). Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger (3rd ed.). Paris: UNESCO Publishing. ISBN 978-92-3-104096-2.
  4. ^ a b c Stone (2002), p. 605.
  5. ^ Zygis (2003), pp. 180–181.
  6. ^ Zygis (2003), pp. 180–181, 190–191.
  7. ^ Šewc-Schuster (1984), pp. 40–41.
  8. ^ Stone (2002), pp. 600, 605.
  9. ^ Šewc-Schuster (1984), pp. 43, 46.
  10. ^ Hannusch (1998), p. 12.
  11. ^ Hannusch (1998), p. 13.
  12. ^ a b c d Stone (2002), p. 600.
  13. ^ Stone (2002), pp. 606–607.
  14. ^ a b c Hannusch (1998), p. 14.
  15. ^ Omniglot

Bibliography

  • Hannusch, Erwin (1998), Niedersorbisch praktisch und verständlich, Bautzen: Domowina-Verlag, ISBN 3-7420-1667-9
  • Šewc-Schuster, Hinc (1984), Gramatika hornjo-serbskeje rěče, Budyšin: Ludowe nakładnistwo Domowina
  • Stone, Gerald (2002), "Sorbian (Upper and Lower)", in Comrie, Bernard; Corbett, Greville G., The Slavonic Languages, London and New York: Routledge, pp. 593–685, ISBN 9780415280785
  • Zygis, Marzena (2003), "Phonetic and Phonological Aspects of Slavic Sibilant Fricatives" (PDF), ZAS Papers in Linguistics, 3: 175–213

External links

Dictionaries

Czech-Lower Sorbian and Lower Sorbian-Czech

German–Lower Sorbian

Lower Sorbian–German

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