Polabian language

Native toPoland, Germany
Extinct18th century
Language codes
ISO 639-3pox
Polabian Slavs.png
Grey: Former settlement area of the Polabian Slavs. Green: Uninhabited forest areas. Darker shade just indicates higher elevation.

The Polabian language is an extinct West Slavic language that was spoken by the Polabian Slavs (German: Wenden) in present-day northeastern Germany around the Elbe (Labe in Slavic) river, from which derives its name ("po Labe" - on the Elbe). It was spoken approximately until the mid-18th century, when it was superseded by Low German, in the areas of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, central Brandenburg (Mittelmark) and eastern Saxony-Anhalt (Wittenberg), as well as in eastern parts of Lower Saxony (Wendland) and Schleswig-Holstein (Ostholstein and Lauenburg). In the south it bordered on the Sorbian language area in Lusatia.

By the 18th century Lechitic Polabian was in some respects markedly different from other Slavic languages, most notably in having a strong German influence. It was close to Pomeranian and Kashubian, and attested only in a handful of manuscripts, dictionaries and various writings from the 17th and 18th centuries. As can be seen in the comparisons of the Lord's Prayer below, Polabian contained many German loanwords, such as Wader (Father) and Rîk (Kingdom).


About 2800 Polabian words are known; of prose writings, only a few prayers, one wedding song and a few folktales survive. Immediately before the language became extinct, several people started to collect phrases and compile wordlists and were engaged with folklore of the Polabian Slavs, but only one of them appears to have been a native speaker of Polabian (himself leaving only 13 pages of linguistically relevant material from a 310-page manuscript).[2] The last native speaker of Polabian, a woman, died in 1756, and the last person who spoke limited Polabian died in 1825.

The most important monument of the language is the so-called Vocabularium Venedicum (1679–1719) by Christian Hennig.

The language left many traces to this day in toponymy; for example, Wustrow "Place on the island", Lüchow (Polabian: Ljauchüw), Sagard, Gartow etc. It is also a likely origin of the name Berlin, from the Polabian stem berl-/birl- ("swamp").

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Polabies
العربية: لغة بولابية
aragonés: Idioma polabo
asturianu: Idioma polabo
беларуская: Палабская мова
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Палабская мова
български: Полабски език
brezhoneg: Polabeg
català: Polabi
Чӑвашла: Полаб чĕлхи
čeština: Polabština
dolnoserbski: Połobske rěcy
español: Idioma polabo
Esperanto: Polaba lingvo
français: Polabe
Gaeilge: An Pholáibis
한국어: 폴라브어
հայերեն: Պոլաբերեն
hornjoserbsce: Połobšćina
hrvatski: Polapski jezik
Bahasa Indonesia: Bahasa Polabia
íslenska: Pólabíska
italiano: Lingua polaba
ქართული: პოლაბური ენა
Lëtzebuergesch: Polabesch
lietuvių: Polabų kalba
lumbaart: Lengua polaba
македонски: Полапски јазик
Nederlands: Polabisch
日本語: ポラーブ語
norsk: Polabisk
norsk nynorsk: Polabisk
Piemontèis: Lenga Polabian
português: Língua polábia
română: Limba polabă
slovenčina: Polabčina
slovenščina: Polabščina
српски / srpski: Полапски језик
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Polapski jezik
suomi: Polabi
svenska: Polabiska
Türkçe: Polapça
українська: Полабська мова