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Review of Satava

Sunday 13 November 2016 at 8:32 pm.
Language death occurs usually as a combination of circumstances. In the Lower Sorbian area the cohesion of the language area with its dialectal features was considerably reduced by moving entirevillage populations to other areas in order to get easily to the lignite coal deposits. This in itself required more effort to speak the language across generations. The revivalists in Cottbus thought they could prevent language death by increasing usage but as Harrison put it so well: when it came to getting together and speak Lower Sorbian as it had been spoken 50-60 years ago, nobody showed up. This, as most revivalists will agree with now, is an impossible task (purism never pays off in such efforts). Then, the mere effort to get people together to speak Lower Sorbian in a natural environment - after a few trials people never showed up - there was simply no motivation. Here one can learn a great deal from the revitalization of indigenous languages where goals are set much lower, i-phones  are used without having to be in a class-room situation, and purism (overcorrection) is a no-no. But you tell that to the Sorbs: "Gunter, we aren't any Indians!" Of course, Lewaszkiewicz is right also - the Sorbs were too enthralled by consumerism rather than making time to maintain and revitalize their language.
my reply to him:

One comment

Charles Wukasch

Interesting! I’ve probably told you this before, but a couple of decades ago or so I asked the Rev. Herbert Nowak (the father of Madlena Nowak Norberg) about the number of speakers of Lower Sorbian. He said (his letter is in the archives of the TWHS) that today (i.e., “today” back when he wrote the letter) there were probably not more than a dozen children who were growing up with LS as their first language. As to the number of older speakers, he said that there were villages in Lower Lusatia where everyone over 50 still spoke LS. Of course, today that means “over 70,” which doesn’t bode well for the survival of LS. To a certain extent, it parallels the situation with Wendish in the Serbin area up to about the late 60’s.

Lubje strowi a přeje Wam rjany dźeń

Korla

Charles Wukasch - 11/13/2016 20:34




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