General information

23px Germany
Flag of Poland Poland


extinct since the 18th century

Language family Indo-European
Political information
Group of speakers

Polabian Slavs

Language codes
ISO 639-1


ISO 639-2


ISO 639-3


Polabian is an extinct Lechitic language spoken among the Polabian Slavs (German: Wenden) in present-day Germany near Elbe River. It was spoken until about the 18th century when it was superseded by the German language in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg (Mittlemark) and Saxony-Anhalt, as well as in Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein. In the south, it border the Sorbian population in Lusatia.

The language was, in some respects, markedly different from other Slavic languages. It was closely related to the neighboring Pomeranian and Kashubian languages, and only attested in a very small number of manuscripts, dictionaries, and other writings from the 17th and 18th centuries. As can be seen in the comparisons of the Lord's Prayer below, Polabian contained a number of German loanwords, such as Wader (father) and Rîk (kingdom).


Polabian Slavs

Former settlement areas of the Polabian Slavs.

Only about 2800 Polabian words are known today, from prosaic writings, a few prayers, one wedding song, and a few folktales. Immediately before Polabian's extinction, several people began collecting phrases, compile wordlists, and were engaged in folklore of the Polabian Slavs, but only one of these people, Johann Parum Schultze, appears to have been a native speaker of the language, leaving 13 pages of linguistically important material from a 310-page manuscript.[1] 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 Polabian is the so-called Vocabularium Venedicum (1679–1719) by Christian Hennig.

The language left some traces in current toponymy; for example, Wustrow "Place on the island", Lüchow (Polabian: Ljauchüw), Sagard, Gartow, etc. It is also likely that the name of Berlin may have originated from the Polabian stem berl-/birl- meaning "swamp".



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For Polabian, the following segments are reconstructable:[2]

Oral non-reduced monophthongs
*i    ü    u
 e   ö   o 
 a   å 
  ai     åi     åu  
  ą     ǫ  
Polabian consonant segments
Bilabial Labiodental Dental Alveolar Palatal Post-palatal Velar
Plosive p b t d t' d' k g
Affricate c ʒ ć ʒ́
Fricative f v s z š ś ź x
Nasal m n ń
Lateral l
Trill r
Semi-vowel j


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Polabian was divided into three main dialects:[3]


Below is the Lord's Prayer in Polabian, related Lechitic languages, and English {ELLC (1988)}.[4]


Nôße Wader,
ta toy giß wa Nebisgáy,
Sjungta woarda tügí Geima,
tia Rîk komma,
tia Willia ſchinyôt,
kok wa Nebisgáy,
tôk kak no Sime,
Nôßi wißedanneisna Stgeiba doy nâm dâns,
un wittedoy nâm nôße Ggrêch,
kak moy wittedoyime nôßem Grêsmarim,
Ni bringoy nôs ka Warſikónye,
tay löſoáy nôs wit wißókak

Upper Sorbian:
Wótče naš,
kiž sy w njebjesach.
Swjeć so Twoje mjeno.
Přińdź Twoje kralestwo.
Stań so Twoja wola,
kaž na njebju,
tak na zemi.
Wšědny chlěb naš daj nam dźens.
Wodaj nam naše winy,
jako my tež wodawamy swojim winikam.
A njewjedź nas do spytowanja,
ale wumóž nas wot złeho.

Òjcze nasz,
jaczi jes w niebie,
niech sã swiãcy Twòje miono,
niech przińdze Twòje królestwò,
niech mdze Twòja wòlô
jakno w niebie
tak téż na zemi.
Chleba najégò pòwszednégò dôj
nóm dzysô
i òdpùscë nóm naje winë,
jak i më òdpùszcziwóme naszim winowajcóm.
A nie dopùscë na nas pòkùszeniô,
ale nas zbawi òde złégò.

Ojcze nasz,
któryś jest w niebie,
święć się imię Twoje,
przyjdź królestwo Twoje,
bądź wola Twoja
jako w niebie
tak i na ziemi.
Chleba naszego powszedniego daj nam dzisiaj;
i odpuść nam nasze winy,
jako i my odpuszczamy naszym winowajcom.
I nie wódź nas na pokuszenie,
ale nas zbaw ode złego.

ELLC (1988)[5]
Our Father
in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth
as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.


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Languages Wiki has 1 images related to Polabian language.
  • Polański, Kazimierz (1993), "Polabian", in Bernard Comrie and Greville G. Corbett, The Slavonic languages, London & New York: Routledge, ISBN 978-0415280785 
  • Słownik etymologiczny języka Drzewian połabskich, Part 1: ed. Tadeusz Lehr-Spławiński & Kazimierz Polański, Wrocław, 1962, from Part 2 on: ed. K. Polański, Wrocław, 1971-

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