The Sorbian languages (Serbsce, Serbski) are classified under the Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages. They are the native languages of the Sorbs, a Slavic minority in the Lusatia region of eastern Germany. Historically the language has also been known as Wendish or Lusatian. Their collective ISO 639-2 code is wen. It is closely related to Polish, Kashubian, Czech and Slovak.
There are two literary languages: Upper Sorbian (hornjoserbsce), spoken by about 40,000 people in Saxony, and Lower Sorbian (dolnoserbski) spoken by about 10,000 people in Brandenburg. The area where the two languages are spoken is known as Lusatia (Łužica in Upper Sorbian, Łužyca in Lower Sorbian, or Lausitz in German).
Both languages have the dual for nouns, pronouns, adjectives and verbs; very few known living Indo-European languages retain this feature as a productive aspect of the grammar (see Slovene grammar or Lithuanian grammar for other ones).
In Germany, Upper and Lower Sorbian are officially recognized and protected as minority languages. In the home areas of the Sorbs, both languages are officially equal to German.
The city of Bautzen in Upper Lusatia is the centre of Upper Sorbian culture. Bilingual signs can be seen around the city, including the name of the city, "Bautzen/Budyšin".
The city of Cottbus (Chóśebuz) is considered the cultural centre of Lower Sorbian; here too bilingual signs are found.
Sorbian has also been spoken in the small Sorbian (“Wendish”) settlement of Serbin in Lee County, Texas, and it is possible that a few speakers still remain there. Until recently newspapers were published in Sorbian there. The local dialect has been heavily influenced by surrounding speakers of German and English.
While the old German-derived labels “Wend” and “Wendish,” which once denoted “Slav(ic)” generally, have been retained in American and Australian communities, they are today mostly unusual in place of “Sorb” and “Sorbian” with reference to Sorbian communities in Germany, because many Sorbs consider such words to be offensive.
A ban against the language came into effect in the 13th century. Once common across Germany, the Sorbian language was all but eradicated outside Lusatia.
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