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FROM 22.9.22


Lower Sorbians/Wends

German with a big stick

Prussia pursued a strict policy of Germanisation towards the autochthonous language groups within its borders in the late 19th century. The Upper and Lower Sorbians were no exception. The key venues for this forced linguistic Germanisation, along with churches, were schools. In his 1886 “Statistik der Lausitzer Sorben” (“Statistics of the Lusatian Sorbs”), the Sorbian ethnologist Arnošt Muka describes many cases of German-speaking teachers standing in front of entirely Sorbian/Wendish school classes, ignoring their native language and punishing its use. Many Sorbs/Wends yielded to the pressure and switched languages. Meanwhile, the rapid industrialisation of Lower Lusatia that began in the late 19th century made Lower Sorbian speakers a minority within a few generations. In many places, this process has led to the disappearance of Lower Sorbian as an everyday language.

Follow this link to the complete 1886 text of Muka’s “Statistik”: