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Sorbian Proverbs - Serbske přislowa

Edited by Susanne Hose in collaboration with Wolfgang Mieder

Thursday 25 September 2014 at 07:17 am.

In 2004 Susanne Hose, PhD, of the Sorbian Institute in Bautzen  and Wolfgang Mieder, PhD, of the University of Vermont collaborated on a book of Sorbian Proverbs. Copies of the book were shipped to Serbin and quickly sold out. What follows is the introduction to that book. It is a very concise and well written history of the Sorbs as well as an introduction to the world of proverbs. - Weldon Mersiovsky


The Sorbians in Germany

"Our land is truly small, my friend, small too is our Sorbian people like a tiny island surrounded by the sea.

And yet I firmly believe that its waves will never inundate our region, villages and farms."[i]

The image of a small, hardy island in a German ocean has often been used to describe the situation of Sorbians in Germany. Jakub Bart-Ćišinski (1856-1909) first used it in the opening lines of his poem "Mein sorbisches Bekenntnis" ("My Sorbian Avowal," 1891). Ćišinski, whom cultural historians have characterized as "the classical writer of Sorbian literature," believed in his people's strength to survive, yet recognized the danger of isolation that an island-like existence poses to an ethnic minority. On the one hand, he believed that literature and the education of the people were the keys to the preservation of the vitality of Sorbian culture, and, on the other, that through them, the threat of cultural isolation could be curbed. Writings and the school system have indeed contributed to the survival of the "Sorbian island."

Today, two-thirds of the roughly 60,000 Sorbians live in the eastern part of Saxony and one third resides in south-eastern Brandenburg. In addition to their immediate coexistence with the Germans, the Poles are their neighbors to the East and the Czechs to the South. In their native language, they call themselves "Serbja" (Upper Sorbian) or "Serby" (Lower Sorbian), and in German they are called "Sorben" or "Wenden." The landscape that they inhabit in these two German federal states is called "Lusatia." The Sorbian name "Luzica" means "swampy, wooded lowland."

At the end of the migration of peoples, the area was settled by two Slavic tribes: the Luzici in the North and the Milceni in the South. They are the ancestors of the Lower and Upper Sorbians, who currently live in Lower Lusatia and Upper Lusatia, respectively. Altogether, approximately twenty tribes left their original homes north of the Carpathian Mountains and headed west. They settled in the region between the Saale and Elbe rivers in the West and the Oder, Bober and Queis rivers in the East. Archaeological finds show that the Sorbians had well-developed crafts and that they traded intensively among themselves and with the neighboring Franconian and Saxon tribes. A trade route connected the Sorbians to Western and Eastern Europe and reached as far as Arabia and Byzantium. The oldest roads running through Upper Lusatia are the "via regia,'' which led through Frankfurt on the Main, Leipzig, Bautzen, Gorlitz, Breslau, and Lemberg into the Far East, and a route also connected Prague and Frankfurt on the Oder. Small market towns came into being at the intersections of the trade routes where traders and carters exchanged not only their goods, but also stories and news. Many of the internationally known proverb types were spread throughout Europe in this manner. For this reason, well-known proverbs such as "One hand washes the other,'' "Strike while the iron is hot,'' or "A crow doesn't peck another's eyes out" also exist in the Sorbian language.

In the tenth century, the Sorbian tribes were forced to submit to the rule of the early feudal German state under Henry the First. Christianization went hand in hand with political conquest. In 948, the diocese of Brandenburg was formed, followed twenty years later by the dioceses of Merseburg, Zeitz, Naumburg, and Meissen and the archdiocese of Magdeburg. The massive influx of settlers from Flanders, Saxony, Thuringia, and Franconia in the twelfth century led to the assimilation of the Sorbian population. Of the Slavic tribes, which also included the Obodrites between Luebeck and Rostock and the Serbi between the Saale and Elbe rivers, only the Sorbians in Lusatia survived. Therefore, present-day Sorbian is the only remaining Slavic language in Germany preserved from the original tribal dialects. It belongs to the family of West-Slavic languages and is closely related to Polish, Czech, and Slovakian.

The first written texts arose in connection with the Reformation and the resulting confessional rivalries. Martin Luther insisted upon the dissemination of his doctrines in the respective tongues, which in turn led the Sorbians to translate the Bible and the Catechism. ln doing so, each translator used the dialect spoken in his region. Two different written languages were formed from the linguistic variations that were strongly characterized by dialect: Upper Sorbian in Upper Lusatia and Lower Sorbian in Lower Lusatia. Since there was no state in which Sorbian served as a means of communication, and since the language was only spoken by certain, mostly rural classes, it was not necessary to unite the two written forms of the language into one standard language. Therefore, the Lusatian Sorbians speak and write in two languages to this day.

The Upper Sorbian alphabet consists of the following letters and letter combinations: a, b, c (z), ć (tsch), č (tsch), d, dź (dsch), e, ě (a mix between the German e and i), f, g, h, ch, i, j, k, l, ł (like the English w), m, n, ń (nj), o, ó (a mix between the German o and u), p, r, ř (sch after p, t, k), s (voiceless s), š (sch), t, u, w, y (darker, shorter than the German i), z (voiced s), ž (like the j in journal). The Lower Sorbian alphabet also has an ś (light sch), ź (as in giro), and ŕ (rj); it does not have the Upper Sorbian ř.

English / German / Upper Sorbian / Lower Sorbian

Hello! / Guten Tag! / Dobry dźen! / Dobry źeú!

Good morning! / Guten Morgen! / Dobre ranje! / Dobre zajtšo!

Goodbye! / Auf Wiedersehen! / Bozemje! / Na zasejwiźenje!

Do you speak Sorbian?/ Sprechen Sie Sorbisch? / Rěčiće serbsce?/ Powědaśo serbski?

teacher / Lehrer(in) / wučer(ka) / cepter(ka)

corner / Winkel, Ecke / kut / nugel

to say, to name / sagen, nennen / prajić / groniś

hare / Hase / zajac / wuchac

potatoes / Kartoffeln/ běmy / kulki

The area where Sorbian is currently spoken can be divided into three basic areas. They are a) the area where Upper Sorbian is spoken in the South (where the Milceni had settled), b) the area where Lower Sorbian is spoken in the North (where the Lusatians had settled), and c) the large common area between the two, where characteristics of Upper and Lower Sorbian mix. However, in most villages, only the older generation speaks Sorbian, and even then, very few people can actually speak Sorbian. The main area with young people who also speak Sorbian is made up of the Catholic villages in the triangle of Kamenz-Bautzen-Hoyerswerda with the centers Crostwitz (in Sorbian, Chrósćicy), Panschwitz-Kuckau (Pančicy-Kukow), Ralbitz (Ralbicy), and Radibor (Radwor). Bautzen (Budyšin) and Cottbus (Chośebuz) are the administrative centers and seats of many Sorbian institutions in Upper and Lower Lusatia, respectively.

The national language was born when it was put into written form. This marked the beginning of the development of a cultural self-awareness that is based on literature that supports collective memory and a feeling of togetherness. This is especially important, since Upper and Lower Lusatia never belonged to the same authorities. Lusatia was always on the periphery and belonged to various administrative districts, whether it was ruled by the Hapsburgs, the Hohenzollerns or the Wettiners, whether it was Saxon, Prussian, or Silesian, whether it was the Dresden or the Cottbus district, whether it was the Free State of Saxony or the State of Brandenburg. Its inhabitants always lived under different rulers, and the Sorbians were always a minority in the various territorial divisions.

The first attempts at a secular literature were made in the late eighteenth century. Humanists strove to prove the equal value of the Sorbian language in translations and verse. This led to the formation of an independent, aesthetic Sorbian literature in the nineteenth century. Interest in folklore grew with it as well. Within the small group of the Sorbian intelligentsia, who received their education as priests or teachers mainly in Prague, Breslau (present-day Wrocław in Poland) or Leipzig, this led to a collection movement like the one we know from the Brothers Grimm. We owe to it the recording of more than 500 folksongs, about 20,000 proverbs, farmers' sayings, and proverbial expressions, as well as about 100 fairy tales and legends. Handrij Zejler (1804-1 872), who is regarded as the founder of Sorbian national literature, studied folk poetry, primarily proverbs and fairy tales, in order to create a body of literary works that the people would understand. This was ex pressed especially well through his linguistically simple folk-song like lyrics and his fables.[ii] In doing so, he could not rely on an extensive paremiological tradition as was possible for the Brothers Grimm. Only two publications show the interest in proverbs by scholars before his time: The theologian Andreas Tharaeus (1570- 1638) included 20 proverbs in his handbook that contains Luther's Catechism and other primary school texts,[iii] and Johann Gottlieb Hauptmann (1703-1768) published 57 texts as a "Sammlung von einigen wendischen Sprichwörtern" (Collection of Some Wendic Proverbs") that is part of his Lower Sorbian Grammar.[iv]

Many followed Zejler's lead. The two-volume collection titled "Pjesnički-Volkslieder der Wenden in Ober- und Nieder­ lausitz" (Pjesnicki-Folksongs of the Wends in Upper and Lower Lusatia) that appeared in 1841 and 1843 by Jan Amost Smoler (Johann Ernst Schmaler, 1816-1884) and Leopold Haupt (1797-1883) was an influential work at the time. lt was the result of a contest to find the richest collection of folksongs in Lusatia. Besides song texts and melodies, it also contained a treatise dealing with the way of life of the Sorbian rural population and its traditions, as well as a representation of its mythology, proverbs, and fairy tales. The Slavist and philologist Smoler met with Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben (1798-1874) and the Czech scholar Ladislaus Čelakovský (1799-1852) while studying in Breslau. He also was in contact with Jacob (1785-1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786-1859). As the first folkloric monograph about the Sorbians, the "Pjesnički" represent a standard work of Sorabistics and folklore.

The primary figure in the collection of Sorbian proverbs was Jan Radyserb-Wjela (1822-1907). During his lifetime, the teacher and poet endeavored to record, conserve and publish texts in the Upper Sorbian language. As a typical representative of the positivists, he based his commitment to language-related work on the notable abundance of proverbs and other folk expressions, which is reflected by their considerable inclusion in his collection. ln 1902, after 50 years of untiring work, his Upper Sorbian proverb dictionary "Přisłowa a přisłowne hrónćka a wusłowa Hornjołužiskich Serbow" appeared, which contains more than 9,l00 proverbs.[v] At every possible opportunity, Radyserb-Wjela recorded proverbs, proverbial expressions, similes, metaphorical expressions, and sayings. Occasionally, his poetic talent helped him to come up with new entries by cloaking a phrase in a "proverbial jacket." He handed the extensive material over to the philologist Arnost Muka (1854-1932), who edited and shortened it by taking out variants and parallel entries and by alphabetizing everything according to the beginnings of the phrases. Thanks to its publication, Radyserb-Wjela's collection was preserved, albeit without the important data for the paremiological breadth of examples. The alphabetization of the proverbs made the book less user-friendly, and by leaving out German translations, only people with a working knowledge of Upper Sorbian could make use of it. Therefore, the scholarly world outside of Lusatia could not take advantage of the book; instead, it could only bear witness to the richness of the linguistic traditions handed down from generation to generation within the Sorbian-speaking region. Nevertheless, the work of the intelligentsia increased the value of the folkloric tradition. It made something special out of the previously ordinary words and expressions, since it considered the folk language as part of poetry and also declared it as an instrument for achieving national consciousness. Over time, traditions that were not limited solely to the verbal genres were separated from their actual connection to life and became an object of official Sorbian cultural politics. The comparison of a "small island" with "multicolored folklore" resulted in a contrast out of which the Sorbian intelligentsia drew its motivation for studying folk poetry, and which subsequently helped to generate pride in the folklore of the people.

"Folkloristics," writes Jakub Bart-Ćišinski, "is not only of importance and value for the history and literature of a people, it does not just work for a museum, oh no, it intervenes decisively in the practical, social life of the people [...]. Everything that is exaggerated, whether it is naturalism or realism at a lower level, whether it is symbolism or mysticism at a higher level, is unhealthy and therefore untenable. The people in their natural state and with their natural aspirations are, however, and will remain the fountain of youth."[vi]

The ideologically motivated search for the origins of the traditional life of the Sorbians encountered a wealth of living traditions in Lusatia in the nineteenth century. At that time, the commonly accepted image of the Sorbians as a predominantly rural people who differentiated themselves from the neighboring Germans through clothing and customs came into being. At the same time, capitalist development in the city and in the country in Lusatia had also accelerated the distinction between social classes. Among the Sorbians there were also proletarians and agricultural workers, landowners and large farmers, and salaried employees and business people. Owing to the abolition of serfdom, the emergence of an organized school system, and continued industrialization after 1850, the way of life and of doing business began to change. Dominating agrarian structures disintegrated and the difference between social classes became more pronounced.

Several thousand Sorbians left Lusatia for countries overseas. At first, this was due to religious motivations. When the ecclesiastical union of the members of the Reformed Church and Lutherans in Prussia aroused the opposition of the Old Lutherans, many people tried to evade this forced union by emigrating. Around the middle of the nineteenth century, more social reasons for emigration emerged. Germany could not provide enough food for its rapidly growing population. Emigrants from Lusatia mainly followed the streams of people to America (Texas) and Australia (South Australia, Victoria); individuals also emigrated to Canada and South Africa.[vii]7 Of the descendants of the emigrated Sorbians, it was above all the inhabitants of the town Serbin, located in Texas, who began to investigate their roots one hundred years after the emigration took place. In 1934, George Engerrand published his book "The So-Called Wends of Germany and Their Colonies in Texas and in Australia," which was the world's first complete treatise on the overseas emigration of the Sorbians. The book 'The Wends of Texas" by Anne Blasig, published in 1954, became far more popular in Texas, however. It was followed by "Texas Wends: Their First Half-Century" by Lillie Moerbe Caldwell, published in 196I. Together with some older women, the latter founded the "Wendish Culture Club," which now has become the 'Texas Wendish Heritage Society" with several hundred members. It has been running its own museum, the "Texas Wendish Heritage Museum," since 1983.

In Lusatia, the development of industry led to the appearance of foreign workers, which changed the national makeup of the population to the disadvantage of the Sorbians, resulting in the formation of a Sorbian-German bilingual population. Many people, especially in the northern part of Upper Lusatia, and in Lower Lusatia, where the sandy ground brought no yields worth mentioning, looked for work in the industrial sector and quickly adapted to the life and ideas of their German colleagues. The economic development of Lusatia at the end of the nineteenth century brought with it financial gains and an increase in cultural opportunities for the middle class. At the same time, the physical and spiritual well-being of the Sorbian people became more and more intertwined with the German language. The increased chance of finding work and food lessened material need, but it also strengthened the awareness that they were inferior as a people. Their native culture was of no economic value, and therefore had no future. Furthermore, after the founding of the German empire by Bismarck in 1871, anti-Sorbian feelings increased, which were primarily aimed at the use of the Sorbian language in schools and in churches. In order to counter these attacks objectively, the Sorbian intelligentsia organized itself into a movement that has been described as the "Young Sorbian Movement." Its agenda emphasized the development of middle class organizations including bank and credit associations. The promotion of science and art at a level comparable with the surrounding populations and with the goal of achieving cultural autonomy were part of this. Finally, in 1912, the Domowina was founded as the parent organization of Sorbian associations, and it has looked out for the public interests of the Sorbians ever since.

Article 113 of the 1919 constitution of the Weimar Republic guaranteed the protection of the "foreign language-speaking portion of the population" and ensured people "a free development of their customs and traditions." The Sorbian national movement quickly gained momentum in the following years, but it was interrupted abruptly by National Socialism. In 1937, all Sorbian political and cultural activities were forbidden along with the work of the Domowina, the use of the Sorbian language in churches and schools was no longer permitted, and active priests and teachers were forced to leave Lusatia. Therefore, it is obvious that the collapse of the Third Reich was viewed by the majority of Sorbians as a liberation. On May 10, 1945, the Domowina was newly formed as the first democratic organization in Germany after the war. The "Law for the Preservation of the Rights of the Sorbian People," ratified by the Saxon State Parliament in March of 1948, introduced the institutionalization of cultural life using financial means of the state, and for the first time established a model for state-funded education of the diverse Sorbian population. A teacher's college in Bautzen and the Sorabistic Institute at the University of Leipzig began to educate teachers for the bilingual Sorbian secondary schools. In the fifties, the Sorbian Folk Theater, the Sorbian Folk Art Ensemble, the Institute for Sorbian Folklore in Bautzen (today called the Sorbian Institute), and the Domowina Publishing House were founded. Radio stations and newspapers began operation. In 1957, the Museum for Sorbian History and Culture in Hoyerswerda was created, housing many of the holdings of the former museum called the Bautzen Wendish House that had been founded in 1904 and taken over by the Nazis in 1941. It was relocated at Bautzen and renamed the Sorbian Museum in 1988. In 1994, the Wendish Museum in Cottbus opened, serving as the repository of the joint cultural traditions of Germans and Sorbians in Lower Lusatia.

Over the course of their thousand-year history, the Sorbians were never able to secure their own administrative unit for their region. Since the eleventh century, they have been integrated into the respective German entity, from the Holy Roman Empire until the Federal Republic. For the most part, they lived in several German territorial units, always as a minority. The German attitude towards Sorbians vacillated among oppression, tolerance, and support, with an increasing tendency towards liberalization through the centuries. The promotion of Sorbians by the government reached a high point under the German Democratic Republic through institutional support for the first time. The price for this, however, was complete political integration that amounted to an ethnically levelling "proletarian internationalism." Moreover, the forced collectivization of agriculture and the brown coal mines that began to affect the entire region further harmed the essence of Sorbian culture.

In 1990, a small note of the unifying treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic assured the Sorbians the protection of their ethnic identity and strengthened the freedom of Sorbian speech and culture. Nevertheless, attempts to have this written into law through an amendment to the Basic Law remained unsuccessful. However, Saxony and Brandenburg guaranteed the Sorbians crucial rights in their constitutions and in specific "Sorbian laws." While Sorbian is a means of communication that is effective on all levels, further preservation of Sorbian culture in its natural state will only be possible when the legally established Sorbian-German bilingualism is understood as an enrichment and maintained. Until now, science and the arts, which transcend territorial borders, have contributed a great deal to the survival of the "Sorbian island" in the German ocean.

About this Proverb Collection

When one deals with Sorbian proverbs from a scholarly point of view today, one no longer does it with the intention of proving how unique they are. Their similarities with the proverbs of other peoples both inside and outside of Europe invite consideration beyond their regional or ethnic peculiarities. They refer to essential features of human thinking and the obvious need to summarize experiences into linguistic formulas that can be handed down as irrefutable "words of truth." However, life holds not just one, but many truths, and that not only since the beginning of the so-called post-modem age. "Proverbs contradict each other. And that, to be sure, is folk wisdom," says Stanislaw Jerzy Lee. With this statement, he hits the proverbial nail on the head. In itself, the proverb "Opposites attract" is true, just like "Birds of a feather flock together" is true, although the two proverbs have opposite meanings. Each fits in a certain situation. Since one always uses a proverb in situations where it fits, its wisdom is repeatedly confirmed.

Aside from this ambivalence that makes the proverb an exciting object for study, the many similarities and parallels infer an intensive intercultural contact among peoples. This is especially interesting with respect to Sorbian, because in this case, writing contributed to the translation of proverbs relatively late. A large portion of the proverbs and proverbial expressions that Jan Radyserb[viii]-Wjela recorded in the second half of the nineteenth century had previously been handed down solely by word of mouth. In contrast, Karl Simrock (1802-1876) and Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Wander (1803-1879) primarily made use of written texts for their editions of "Die deutschen Sprichwörter"[ix] and "Deutsches Sprichwörter-Lexikon,"[x] which appeared roughly at the same time as Radyserb-Wjela's collection. Consequently, Radyserb-Wjela's collection consists of relatively authentic materials whose actual value was not properly recognized by Radyserb-Wjela himself. Firstly, he made selections without explaining the principles of his selection process, secondly, he recorded a few invented texts that he formulated according to the vernacular, and thirdly, he did not include any data regarding the situations in which he had recorded the proverbs. We therefore have no knowledge of his informants, nor do we know anything about the time and place of the recording, and we cannot gather the meaning of some unintelligible statements from their context.

In order to make Sorbian proverbs accessible for international proverb research, a dictionary is needed that reduces the maximum of entries to a practical optimum of commonly used proverbs. The only conclusive evidence for the popular appeal of a proverb is its frequent use. When a proverb appears again and again in different collections in a more or less varied form,[xi] it seems reasonable to suppose that it was popular. Therefore, the bilingual "Sorbian Proverb Dictionary" (1996)[xii] contains only Sorbian proverbs with German equivalents that have been verified several times in written texts. Well-known proverbs in German, Czech, and Polish as well as proverbs from Sorbian literature were also considered.

For the present much smaller volume, the most common proverbs from the "Sorbian Proverb Dictionary" were selected and translated into English and arranged alphabetically by the English key-words. The reference to the Sorbian examples ("SSL number") denotes the place in the "Sorbian Proverb Dictionary" where one can, if needed, find all variants that are not listed in this selective collection. The Lower Sorbian examples are marked with an asterisk. In order to demonstrate the similarities between Sorbian proverbs and those of neighboring peoples,[xiii] German equivalents (representative for other languages as well) have been added, provided that the proverb in question is well-known in German today (indicated by "today" in parentheses), or that it is listed in Wander's dictionary ("Wander's volume, column"). Here is an example of a normal entry:

You don't have to teach an old hare how to look for cabbage. (English translation from the Sorbian original) Stareho zajaca njetrjebas wucic do kalu chodzic. (Upper Sorbian proverb)

Starego wuchaca njewuc do kalu chojzic.* (Lower Sorbian example) SSL 2858 (reference in the "Sorbian Proverb Dictionary")

Einem alten Hasen braucht man die Krautfelder nicht zu zeigen. Wander 2, 369 (German proverb from Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Wander's collection)

This English-Sorbian bilingual proverb collection was put together by Susanne Hose in close collaboration with Wolfgang Mieder, who inspired its creation and who took care of the final manuscript preparation and its publication as a supplementary volume of "Proverbium." Together with Courtney Magwire and Veronica Richel, he translated the foreword and the Sorbian proverbs into English. Translating proverbs is no easy task, and we wish to thank Courtney Magwire and Veronica Richel for their invaluable help as native speakers of English. We also thank Hope Greenberg for her tremendous help in the final formatting of the manuscript. The graphic artist Hans Winkler illustrated the book. He lives in Mecklenburg and has a connection to Lusatia and the Sorbian language through his mother's family. We also owe him much thanks.

It is our hope that this bilingual proverb collection of Sorbian proverbs will be a welcome addition to the study and appreciation of the rich treasures of proverbs from ethnic minorities throughout the world.

Susanne Hose and Wolfgang Mieder

Bautzen and Burlington, Vermont

Winter 2003


[i] Jakub Bart-Cisinski: Mein sorbisches Bekenntnis. In: Serbska citanka­ Sorbisches Lesebuch. Edited by Kito Lorenz. Leipzig 1981, p. 345.

[ii] As a theology student and intellectual leader of the Leipzig student organization "Sarabia," Zejler continually encouraged his fellow students to record examples of Sorbian folk expressions and tales. The literary scholar Ota Wićaz ( 1874-1952) called Leipzig the "birthplace of Sorbian Romanticism."

[iii] Enchiridion Vandalicum. Das ist / Der Kleine Catechismus Lutheri / da bey etliche schone nothwendige Gebet und Psalmen / Vermanung und Erinnerung für der Trawe und Tauffe / Auch wie man die Krancken trosten sol / Einfaltigen Christen und sonderlich der Jugendt in den Wendischen Dörffern hochnötig zu wissen / für die Wendischen Cüster / damit sie zu gelegener Zeit / solches der Jugendt fürlesen mögen. Alles aus dem Deutschen in Wendische Sprache gebracht / sampt fürher-gehenden kurtzen Unterricht / Wie man recht Wendisch schreiben / lesen und außsprechen sol / Durch Andream Tharaeum Muscoviensem Pfarrherm zu Friedersdorff. Gedruckt zu Franckfurt an der Oder / bey Nickel Voltzen. Im Jahr 1610. Reprint: Enchiridion Vandalicum. Ein niedersorbisches Sprachdenkmal aus dem Jahre 1610. Edited by Heinz Schuster-Sewc. Bautzen 1990.

[iv] Johann Gottlieb Hauptmann: Nieder-Lausitzsche Wendische Grammatica. Das ist Möglichste Anweisung zur Erlernung der Nieder-Lausitzschen Wendischen Sprache. Lubben 1761.

[v] Jan Radyserb-Wjela: Přislowa a přislowne hrónćka a wusłowa Hornjołužiskich Serbow. Budysin 1902. Reprint with translation by Gerhard Wirth. Bautzen 1997.

[vi] Jakub Bart-Ćišinski: Zhromadźene Spisy IX. Bautzen, pp. 157-158.

[vii] See Alfons Frenzel: Am Horizont der Welt. Unterwegs auf allen Kontinenten. Bautzen 2000; and Trudla Malinkowa: Ufer der Hoffnung. Sorbische Auswanderer nach Übersee. Bautzen 1995.

[viii] Radyserb = glad to be a Sorb (Wend).

[ix] Karl Simrock: Die deutschen Sprichwörter. Frankfurt am Main 1846. Reprint: Basel 1892, Hildesheim 1974, Dortmund 1978, Stuttgart 1988, 1995, edited by Wolfgang Mieder.

[x] Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Wander: Deutsches Sprichworter-Lexikon. Ein Hausschatz für das deutsche Volk. 5 volumes. Leipzig 1867-1880. Reprint: Darmstadt 1964, Kettwig 1987).

[xi] Some valuable publications are the following: (Handrij Zejler) Sserske Pschißłowa-Wendische Sprichwörter. Aufgesammelt vom Prediger Seiler in Lohsa. In: Neues Lausitzisches Magazin 17 (1839), pp. 352-358; Jan Ernst Smoler: Serske přisłowa a přisłowne hrónćka-Wendische Sprichwörter und sprichwörtliche Redensarten. In: Leopold Haupt and Jan Ernst Smoler: Pjesnički hornych a delnych Lužiskich Serbow-Volkslieder der Wenden in der Ober- und Nieder-Lausitz. 2 volumes. Grimma J 841/43; Jakub Buk: 1,000 serbskich přisłowow a přisłownych prajidmow. Budyšin 1862; and Hendrich Jordan: Delnjoserbske přisłowa. In: Časopis Maćicy Serbskeje 55 (1902), pp. 1 18-123, 143-145.

[xii] Susanne Hose (ed.): Serbski přisłowny leksikon-Sorbisches Sprichwörterlexikon. Bautzen 1996.

[xiii] For a comparison of Sorbian proverbs with those of other Slavic peoples see the comparative proverb collection "Mudroslovi národu slovanského ve přislovich" by František Ladislav Čelakovský (Praha 1852. Reprint J 949).

One comment

Charles Wukasch

Here are two new (new to me, and I assume to you, too) Wendish proverbs I’ve come across:

Hdyž so ći duša kwěka,

Maš w Božim słowje lěka.

Literally: When the soul aches, God’s word is the cure.

štóž chce měć lěćo, dyrbi tež kuntwory znjesć.

Literally: Whoever wants to have the summer must also put up with mosquitoes.

The English equivalent would be “you have to put up with the bad as well as the good.”

Hdy bychmy my bjez piwa byli, a hdy by swět bjez nas?

This isn’t a folk proverb, but rather a quotation from Jakub Bart-Ćišinski. Bart-Ćišinski is considered one of the three greatest Wendish poets, the other two being Handrij Zejler and the Lower Wendish poet Mato Kosyk.

Its translation is “how would we exist without beer, and how would the world exist without us?” The way I interpret it is “everything in the universe (beer, even non-famous people) has its part to play.”

Charles Wukasch - 02/15/2017 10:35

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