Polabian language

Polabian Slavs.png
The Polabian language is an extinct West Slavic language that was spoken by the Polabian Slavs (German: Wenden) in present-day northeastern Germany around the Elbe (Labe in Slavic) river, from which derives its name ("po Labe" - on the Elbe). It was spoken approximately until the mid-18th century, when it was superseded by Low German, in the areas of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, central Brandenburg (Mittelmark) and eastern Saxony-Anhalt (Wittenberg), as well as in eastern parts of Lower Saxony (Wendland) and Schleswig-Holstein (Ostholstein and Lauenburg). In the south it bordered on the Sorbian language area in Lusatia.

By the 18th century Lechitic Polabian was in some respects markedly different from other Slavic languages, most notably in having a strong German influence. It was close to Pomeranian and Kashubian, and attested only in a handful of manuscripts, dictionaries and various writings from the 17th and 18th centuries. As can be seen in the comparisons of the Lord's Prayer below, Polabian contained many German loanwords, such as Wader (Father) and Rîk (Kingdom).

About 2800 Polabian words are known (but of prosaic writings, only a few prayers, one wedding song and a few folktales). Immediately before the language became extinct several people started to collect phrases, compile wordlists and were engaged with folklore of the Polabian Slavs, but only one of them appears to have been a native speaker of Polabian (himself leaving only 13 pages of linguistically relevant material from a 310-page manuscript). The last native speaker of Polabian, a woman, died in 1756, and the last person who spoke limited Polabian died in 1825.

The most important monument of the language is the so-called Vocabularium Venedicum (1679–1719) by Christian Hennig.

The language left many traces to this day in toponymy; for example, Wustrow "Place on the island", Lüchow (Polabian: Ljauchüw), Sagard, Gartow etc. It is also a likely origin of the name Berlin, from the Polabian stem berl-/birl- ("swamp").

For Polabian the following segments are reconstructable:

This page was last edited on 27 March 2018, at 06:24 (UTC).
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polabian_language under CC BY-SA license.

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