The Wendish Research Exchange

Die Sorben: Ein Volk Zwischen Maerchen und Moderne

mersiowsky - 9-27-2016 at 09:56 PM

Thank you to Maxine Moerbe, a Wend in England, for this interesting movie:

Die Sorben: Ein Volk Zwischen Maerchen und Moderne

Maxine's father was a German POW in England who met his bride there and came back and married her and stayed in England.

Die Sorben: Ein Volk Zwischen Maerchen und Moderne

mersiowsky - 9-28-2016 at 04:58 AM

Dave Goeke's response:

Absolutely fascinating! As I'm sure you aware, the film points out a couple of really interesting, encouraging things....but, also points out a couple of disturbing things. The encouraging thing is that the Sorbian language (Upper Sorbian, anyway) is still being spoken among young couples, who are also teaching it to their children. And, the Sorbian Kindergarten still plays a significant role in helping to maintain the language. And, while this is very encouraging, the sad thing is that this is taking place almost exclusively in the Catholic communities in and around Bautzen....and especially in the dorfs where the population is predominately Catholic. Thus, in addition to families who still tenaciously hold to Sorbian, the language is further grounded by the educational system and especially by the church. I found it really interesting when the narrator, early in the film, stated that in the Roman Catholic churches, while daily masses are not very well attended, the Sunday mass "fill up the benches" almost every week. So, really what has kept the Sorbian language alive in this area boils down to the church. You have a small dorf where almost everyone is Roman Catholic, where everyone knows each other, where a heavy influx of totally German speakers (because of industry) did not move in...and where the school system promotes the language, and the language is surviving. And the young couples (at least those shown in the film) are raising their children bilingually, Sorbian remains the chief language spoken in the home. Another thing that has helped to save Sorbisch in several of these small dorfs around Bautzen, is the fact industry did not move in on them....whereas farther north in the area around Schleife, the Braunkohl industry with its Tagebau, brought large numbers of German speakers into the area and these small Sorbian "islands" (as Jan Mahling calls them...such as those around Bautzen)could not exist in the area around Schleife because it was almost imperative that German be chiefly spoken in the coal industry. So, the areas around Schleife, where the coal industry heavily impacted Sorbian...and, also where the Lutheran and the Reformed churches "diversified" and thus disrupted worship serves held in Sorbian, the language began to die out more rapidly. So, one might say that industry and Protestantism were the major "nails in the coffin" for Sorbian not being spoken in the areas around Schleife, northward and eastward today. Really sad.

Well, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and plan on watching it several more times. Thanks so much for sharing it. Did you just stumble across it or did someone point it out to you? Either way, I'm tickled that you shared it with me. The R.C. Sorbs may be the salvation of the Upper Sorbian language. I fear that Niedersorbisch as well as the Schleife dialect, are on their last legs, however.