SORBS, the tribal name of the Slavonic people, whom the Germans call Wends in Lusatia (Lausitz) ; they call themselves Serbs or Luzicane. Their country includes the western extremity of the kingdom of Saxony and parts of the districts of Hoyerswerda, Muskau, Kottbus, Kalau, Spremberg and Sorau in Prussia; they are now surrounded on all sides by Germans, but they formerly had them as neighbours only on the west along the Fulda, while on the north towards Kopenick they marched with the Lutici, on the east with the Poles and Silesians along the Queiss and Bobr, and on the south were separated from the Bohemians by the mountains that now make the Austrian frontier. The Sorbs are divided into High and Low along a line from Sagan to Muskau and Spremberg. They are in all about 180,000 in number; 80,000 Low Sorbs and 40,000 of the 100,000 High Sorbs are hi Prussia, and 60,000 High Sorbs in Saxony. These have gained definite rights for their language in school and administration, so that Bautzen (Budysin), their capital, is the intellectual centre not only for Saxon subjects, but for all High Sorbs and to a great extent for Low Sorbs. The first monuments of both dialects belong to the Reformation period, these being translations of Luther's Catechism by Warichius and Moller. Some Sorbs are Protestants, though the Saxon Sorbs are mostly Roman Catholics. Early in the igth century the High Sorbs had a revival under the leadership of F. A. Klin, a lawyer and politician; A. Seidler, a considerable poet, and S. E. Smoler, an ethnographer and publicist. More recent writers are J. Cisinsk and J. Radyserb. A Macica or Literary and Linguistic Society was founded in 1847, and publishes a Casopis or Periodical. Meanwhile Low Sorb has remained almost uncultivated owing to the pressure of the Prussian administration.
The two dialects stand between Polish and Cech: they have lost the nasal vowels, have the accent on the first syllable, and make tj into t, dj into 2, like Cech, but they retain x and y and, like Polish, have grod for Cech grad. High Sorb has h, Low the original g. They have kept the old aorist and dual. Sorb is usually printed in German blackletter variously adapted; the Macica publishes some books spelt after the Cech system.
BIBLIOGRAPHY. G. Krai, Grammatik der wendischen Sprache in der Oberlausitz (Bautzen, 1895) ; K. E. Mucke, Historische und vergleichende Laut- u. Formen-Lehre d. niedersorbischen Sprache (Jablonowski Preisschrift, xviii.) (Leipzig, 1891) ; Pfuhl, LausitzischWendisch Worterbuch (High Sorb) (Bautzen, 1866) ; J. G. Zwahr, Niederlausitz-wendisch-deutsches Handworterbuch (Spremberg, 1847); M. Hornik, Citanka (Chrestomathy of High Sorb) (Bautzen, 1863); L. Haupt and J. S. Smoler, Volkslieder der Wenden in der Oberund Niederlausitz (Grimma, 1842-1843). (E. H. M.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)