|Latin (Sorbian alphabet)|
Official language in
|Regional language in Brandenburg and Saxony.|
Upper Sorbian (hornjoserbina) is a minority language spoken by Sorbs in Germany in the historical province of Upper Lusatia, which is today part of Saxony. It is grouped in the West Slavic language branch, together with Lower Sorbian, Czech, Polish, Slovak and Kashubian.
The history of the Upper Sorbian language in Germany began with the Slavic migrations during the 6th century AD. Beginning in the 12th century, there was a massive influx of rural Germanic settlers from Flanders, Saxony, Thuringia and Franconia. This so-called "Ostsiedlung" (eastern settlement or expansion) led to a slow but steady decline in use of the Sorbian language. In addition, in the Saxony region, the Sorbian language was legally subordinated to the German language. Language prohibitions were later added: In 1293, the Sorbian language was forbidden in Berne castle before the courts; in 1327 it was forbidden in Zwickau and Leipzig, and from 1424 on it was forbidden in Meissen. Further, there was the condition in many guilds of the cities of the area to accept only members of German-language origin.
However, the central areas of the Milzener and Lusitzer, in the area of today's Lusatia, were relatively unaffected by the new German language settlements and legal restrictions. The language therefore flourished there. By the 17th century, the number of Sorbian speakers in that area grew to over 300,000. The oldest evidence of written Upper Sorbian is the Burger Eydt Wendisch monument, which was discovered in the city of Bautzen and dates to the year 1532.
There are an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 speakers of Upper Sorbian. Almost all of these live in the state of Saxony, chiefly in the district of Bautzen (Budy?in). The stronghold of the language is the village of Crostwitz (Chrós?icy) and the surrounding municipalities, especially to the west of it. In this core area, Upper Sorbian remains the predominant vernacular.
The Lord's Prayer in Upper Sorbian:
Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Upper Sorbian:
(All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.)