The Polabian language was a West Slavic language that was spoken by the Polabian Slavs (German: Wenden) in present-day northeastern Germany around the Elbe (Łaba/Laba/Labe in Slavic) river, from which derives its name ("po Labe" – unto Elbe or [traveling] on Elbe). It was spoken approximately until the rise to power of Prussia in mid-18th century – when it was superseded by Low German – in the areas of Pomoré (Mecklenburg-West Pomerania), compare the related Morini and Veneti of Armorica), central (Mittelmark) part of Branibor (Brandenburg) and eastern Saxony-Anhalt (Wittenberg originally part of Béla Serbia), as well as in eastern parts of Wendland (Lower Saxony) and Dravänia (Schleswig-Holstein), Ostholstein and Lauenburg). Polabian was also relatively long (until the 16th century) spoken in and around the cities of Bukovéc (Lübeck), Starigard (Oldenburg) and Trava (Hamburg). The very poorly attested Slavic dialects of Rügen seemed to have had more in common with Polabian than with Pomeranian varieties. In the south, it bordered on the Sorbian language area in Lusatia.
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Grey: Former settlement area of the Polabian Slavs. Green: Uninhabited forest areas. Darker shade just indicates higher elevation.
By the 18th century Lechitic Polabian was in some respects markedly different from other Slavic languages, most notably in having a strong German influence. It was close to Pomeranian and Kashubian, and is attested only in a handful of manuscripts, dictionaries and various writings from the 17th and 18th centuries.