The Wendish Research Exchange

Drescher, Alexander and Viktor Zakar: The Sorbian Language in the German Literature of Lusatia

mersiowsky - 10-2-2016 at 01:55 PM

Lětopis Abstract 2010 1: Drescher, Alexander and Viktor Zakar: The Sorbian Language in the German Literature of Lusatia

There is evidence of language contact in Lusatia between the Sorbian and German languages since the 6th Century. As a result, a dialect form of German developed, New Lusatian, which remains today an essential part of everyday life for the inhabitants of Lusatia. A typical feature of New Lusatian is that it incorporates Sorbian elements into what was originally a German language structure, and it is also possible, using a linguistic perspective, to draw conclusions about the way in which Germans and Sorbs have lived together in Lusatia. The main interest here is to investigate how far and for what purposes German-language literature makes use of the Sorbian language, thereby playing a part in the continuation and development of New Lusatian. The following works act as examples and are examined to determine their specific respective connections with the vocabulary of Sorbian: Krabat by Otfried Preußler, Die Schwarze Mühle by Jurij Brězan, Der Laden, volume 1, by Erwin Strittmatter and the volume of poems Selbstredend selbzweit selbdritt by Róža Domašcyna. While Brězan to a large extent avoids Sorbian elements in his account of the Krabat myth, using it as a parable of the history of the German workers’ movement, Preußler makes active use of Sorbian words in order to paint a romantic-exotic backdrop against which the actual plot of the novel develops. Der Laden is also rich in elements from Sorbian and New Lusatian, which represent a world, which has almost disappeared, and bear witness to the desire of the modern-rational world to be reconciled with its archaic-passionate roots. Finally, Domašcyna distances herself from traditional Sorbian in her lyric poetry and consciously breaks the frequently rigid and unnecessarily complicated grammatical rules, which tend to hinder rather than promote the organic development of the Sorbian language and therefore ultimately its survival.