Sorbian tribes were first mentioned in 631 AD and the ancestors of today’s Sorbs have settled in the region that became known as ‘Lusatia’ as early as the 6th century AD.
The first written document in (Eastern) Lower Sorbian is the New Testament (Martin Luther’s version) translated by Mikławš Jakubica in 1548. Sorbian (used as a generic term for both Sorbian languages, Lower Sorbian and Upper Sorbian) comprises a large number of dialects. Since the 16th century, in the wake of the Reformation, both languages began to develop a literary variety. Because of natural and forced assimilation, the language area of Sorbian has shrunk considerably over the course of the centuries. Although many dialects are already extinct or almost extinct, today’s native dialect-based Lower Sorbian shows significant differences to the literary language taught in a few schools in Lower Lusatia. Despite the efforts to revitalize Lower Sorbian with the so called “Witaj” project, the fate of native Lower Sorbian seems to be sealed as today native speakers belong to the oldest generation.