Polabian is an extinct West Slavic
language that was spoken by the Polabian Slavs
(german: Wenden) in present-day northeastern Germany
around the Elbe
(''Łaba/Laba/Labe'' in Slavic) river, from which its name derives (''po Labe'' - up the Elbe or iving
up to Elbe). It was spoken approximately until the rise to power of Prussia
in the mid-18th century, when it was superseded by Low German
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 is attested only in a handful of manuscripts, dictionaries and various writings from the 17th and 18th centuries.
About 2800 Polabian words are known; of prose writings, only a few prayers, one wedding song and a few folktales survive. Immediately before the language became extinct, several people started to collect phrases and 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, Emerentz Schultze, died in 1756 at the age of 88, 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
(way to the island or place on the island), Ljauchów (Lüchow)
, Łuków (Luckau)
…) etc. The Polabian language is also a likely origin of the name Berlin
, from the Polabian stem ''berl-''/''birl-'' (swamp).
For Polabian the following segments are reconstructable:
The ''Lord's Prayer
'' in Polabian and related Lechitic languages
, compared to Old Church Slavonic
, Old High German and English:
[Polabian version quoted afte]
/ref> Germanic loanwords, which are comparatively rare in the other West Slavic languages, are highlighted in bold (loanwords in Germanic versions are highlighted as well).
*House of Griffins
*Slavic Native Faith
*''Słownik etymologiczny języka Drzewian połabskich'', Part 1: ed. Tadeusz Lehr-Spławiński & Kazimierz Polański, Wrocław, 1962, from Part 2 on: ed. K. Polański, Wrocław, 1971–
*Kazimierz Polański & Janusz Sehnert: ''Polabian-English Dictionary''. The Hague: Mouton 1967
Category:Extinct Slavic languages
Category:Languages of Germany
Category:Languages extinct in the 18th century