Upper Sorbian Grammar

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Alphabet and pronunciation


The following table lists the letters and digraphs of the Upper Sorbian alphabet, the phonemes which they usually represent and rough English (or other) equivalents to the sounds of those phonemes. The digraphs and ch are treated as independent letters of the alphabet, whereas all the other digraphs given in brackets are not.

LetterIPAApproximate equivalent
A aacar
B bbbad
(Bj bj)abuse
C ct͡spizza
Č čt͡ʃchin
Ć ć
D dddoor
Dź dźd͡ʒjam
E eɛbed
Ě ěeplay
F fffun
G gggame
H hɦbehind
Ch chk͡xword initially: Cockney cab
xother position: Scotts loch
LetterIPAApproximate equivalent
I iimeet
J jjyes
K kkskin
L lllong
Ł łβSpanish lava
M mmman
(Mj mj)muse
N nnnot
Ń ńɲnews
(Nj nj)
O oɔpot
Ó óoCockney yawn
P ppspot
(Pj pj)pure
LetterIPAApproximate equivalent
R rʀFrench Paris
(Rj rj)ʀʲ
Ř řʃshoe
S sssaw
Š šʃshoe
T ttstreet
(Tř tř)t͡sʲ
U uuboot
W wβSpanish lava
(Wj wj)ɥFrench nuit
Y yɪroses
Z zzzoo
Ž žʒvision

Voicing and devoicing

Upper Sorbian obstruents are subject to voicing and devoicing in certain positions.

At the end of a word, all voiced obstruents become devoiced, ex. chlěb [k͡xlep] bread, chlěb a woda [k͡xlep a βɔda] bread and water, unless the next word of an utterance begins with a voiced obstruent, ex. chlěb žiwjenja [k͡xleb ʒiɥɛɲa] bread of life.

In the latter position, ie. word-finally when the next word begins with a voiced obstruent, unvoiced obstruents become voiced, čłowjek dyrbi [t͡ʃβɔɥɛg dɪrbʲi] a man must, in other cases they remain unvoiced, ex. čłowjek móže [t͡ʃβɔɥɛk moʒɛ] a man can.

In a consonant cluster consisting of obstruents the consonants are either all voiced or all voiceless, regardless the spelling of the words. The actual pronunciation is determined by the quality of the last obstruent in the cluster, ex.


As a rule, the stress falls on the first syllable of a word, ex. budźeće [bˈud͡ʒɛt͡ʃɛ] you (plur.) will be, čłowjekojo [t͡ʃβˈɔɥɛkɔjɔ] men.

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