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: