New ISO 639 language identifiers - Upper and Lower Sorbian

han.steenwijk at han.steenwijk at
Mon Sep 8 09:41:00 CEST 2003

The Lower Sorbian literary name for Lower Sorbian is "dolnoserbski".
The Upper Sorbian literary name for Upper Sorbian is "hornjoserbski".

In both Lower and Upper Sorbian, the colloquial name for the language is 
"serbski". This name has the still more colloquial variant "serski", at least, 
in Lower Sorbian. These are all adjectives.

Until recently, approximately 5 years ago, the variants "serbski" and "serski" 
were semantically equivalent. Then, the variant "serski" started being used in 
opposition to "serbski", the former ("serski") with the new meaning "genuine 
Lower Sorbian that is close to the dialects", whereas the latter ("serbski") 
would mean "literary Lower Sorbian that is influenced by Upper Sorbian". These 
new meanings are constructed in parallellism to the German pair "wendisch" - 

I hope I did not create more confusion than exists already.

Prof. Han Steenwijk
Universita di Padova
Dipartimento di Lingue e Letterature Anglo-Germaniche e Slave
Sezione di Slavistica
Via Beldomandi, 1
I-35139 Padova

e-mail: han.steenwijk at
tel.: (39) 049 8278669
fax:  (39) 049 8278679

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