(From serbi, an old Slavic tribal name, q.v. Serb).
A Western Slavic ethnic group, dwelling in the SE corner of Germany. The population of 50-60 thousand Sorbs are the last remnant of the previously widespread Wends. Of these, most speak the Sorbic language, though less than half do so with any great fluency. Approximately 2/3 of the Sorbs live in Upper Lausitz (Bautzen) and the rest in Lower Lausitz (Cottbus), in Brandenburg and Saxony.
Following the German Ostsiedlung (Eastwards colonisation) in the middle ages, the Sorbs found themselves living as an isolated Slavic enclave in the middle of a Germanised region. From the 19th century on, many emigrated, moving to the great cities of Leipzig and Dresden (where they became assimilated) or abroad, to the United States.
During the Nazi era, the Sorbs were a persecuted minority, but the Communist régime of the quondam German Democratic Republic tolerated them, and allowed them to cultivate their language and culture.
The Sorbic language, which has existed in a written form since the 16th century, is (with Slovenian) one of the only two Slavic languages to have retained the dualis, or dual case.