Lower Sorbian language

Not to be confused with Serbian language.
Lower Sorbian
Dolnoserbski, Dolnoserbšćina
Pronunciation [ˈdɔlnɔˌsɛrskʲi]
Native to Germany
Region Brandenburg
Ethnicity Sorbs
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.


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".


Consonant phonemes[4][5]
Labial Dental/
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

Final devoicing and assimilation

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

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


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


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.


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]


  1. Lower Sorbian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Lower Sorbian". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: 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. 1 2 3 Stone (2002), p. 605.
  5. Zygis (2003), pp. 180–181.
  6. Zygis (2003), pp. 180–181 and 190–191.
  7. Šewc-Schuster (1984), pp. 40–41.
  8. Stone (2002), pp. 600 and 605.
  9. Šewc-Schuster (1984), pp. 43 and 46.
  10. Hannusch (1998), p. 12.
  11. Hannusch (1998), p. 13.
  12. 1 2 3 4 Stone (2002), p. 600.
  13. Stone (2002), pp. 606–607.
  14. 1 2 3 Hannusch (1998), p. 14.
  15. Omniglot


  • 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 
Lower Sorbian edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For a list of words relating to Lower Sorbian language, see the Lower Sorbian language category of words in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Wikibooks has a book on the topic of: Lower Sorbian


Czech-Lower Sorbian and Lower Sorbian-Czech

German–Lower Sorbian

Lower Sorbian–German

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