Languages

Polabian

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Introduction

Polabian Slavs are the westernmost Slavic tribes who advanced to Central Europe from the Common Slavic homeland. Polabians settled on lands along the river Elbe (Laba in Slavic) at the end of the 1st millennium AD, having Germans as their neighbours. Polabian was spoken until the mid-18th-c. in the vicinity of Dannenberg, Lüchow and Wustrow in the Lüneburg Wendland in Germany.

While German tribes expanded, the only branch of Polabians who managed to survive in the Germanic surroundings were Lusatians or Sorbs, existing even now and speaking two Sorbian languages related to Polabian. Other Polabian tribes were assimilated, and their language is now completely extinct. The only source for it is a number of small phrases recorded in the 17th and 18th centuries, and also placenames and some borrowings in German dialects which represent the Slavic substratum.

There are 3 main dialects in Polabian:

  • Süthen
  • Lüchow (Ljauchüw in Polabian)
  • Klennow

The verb

Polabian has gone far in its morphological development comparing to other West Slavic tongues, losing some noun and verbal endings, like the 3rd person singular verb *-t.

The infinitive was ending in -t which was not changing into -c' or -s' like in Polish, Sorbian, and Czech.

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