Thursday, May 03, 2007


Zschertnitz and Zschieren

These are districts in Dresden, where I was working last week (it's the German EU presidency).

Like so many place-names in Germany's eastern states - all those -ow, -itz and -in endings - they are of Slavic origin, as is the name Dresden itself. But what catches the eye is that initial consonant cluster, which appears to be quite common in those parts: Zschepen, Zschortau, Zscheplin, Zschettgau, Zschölkau...

To take the Encyclopaedic Muret-Sanders as a proxy for the language as a whole, German has no word between zottlig and zu, so this Zsch- must be regarded as phonologically and orthographically alien.

Yet, in Dresden and Saxony at least, entirely domesticated.

According to Ethnologue, there are still several thousand Sorbian speakers in Saxony and Brandenburg. And 'perhaps a few in Texas'.

There's a Texas Wendish [i.e. Sorbian] Heritage Museum in the town of Serbin.
Thanks for that. The words 'heritage' and 'museum' signal to me that it's all over.
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