What I learned today: Sorbian exists


I work at a foreign language bookshop. It is a crazy good job. My co-workers are great, my boss is great, my co-workers’ partners are great, my boss’s dad is great – It’s a whole thing.

I’ve only worked there for just over a month and so far I’ve learned about the existence of about five new languages I had never heard. We sell books for teaching and learning English as well as a plethora of fiction and language guides for  variety of foreign languages.

Today a customer put a guide to Russian, a Chinese dictionary, and a book about Persian verbs on the counter.

‘All for you?’ I said.

‘Yep,’ said the old man. ‘I’m going on the Trans-Siberian Express. My ticket’s free provided I can translate for my friends. We had the same arrangement in South America last year but I think learning Spanish and Portuguese is gonna be easier than this lot.’

One of my top five dreams is a trip on the Trans-Siberian. Days and days of train from China to Europe or vice versa.

‘That’s amazing,’ I said.

‘It is,’ said the man. ‘Oh, and I found this in the wrong place.’

He handed me a small green book: an English-Sorbian/Sorbian-English dictionary.

I looked at him, ‘I don’t-‘

‘It’s a Slavic language, there’s Upper and Lower Sorbian, it’s also called Wendian or Lusation. Upper’s more German and Lower’s more Polish. It was with your German section but you’d be better putting it with your other Slavic languages.’


‘Okay. Have a nice day.’

‘You too.’

And that’s how I learned about Sorbian.



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