Croatian Language
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Croatian Language

Native toCroatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia (Vojvodina), Montenegro (Bay of Kotor), Romania (Cara?-Severin County)
RegionSoutheast Europe
Native speakers
Native: 7 million (including all dialects spoken by Croats) (2011)[1]
L2: 7 million (2011)
Latin (Gaj's alphabet)
Yugoslav Braille
Official status
Official language in
 Bosnia and Herzegovina (co-official)
 Montenegro (co-official)[3]
 Serbia (in Vojvodina)
 Austria (in Burgenland)
 European Union
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated byInstitute of Croatian Language and Linguistics
Language codes
Linguaspherepart of 53-AAA-g
Croatian dialects in RH and BiH.PNG
Traditional extent of Serbo-Croatian dialects in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Lang Status 99-NI.png
Croatian is not endangered according to the classification system of the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Croatian (; hrvatski [xa:tski:]) is the standardized variety of the Serbo-Croatian pluricentric language[8][9][10][11][12] used by Croats,[13] principally in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Serbian province of Vojvodina, and other neighboring countries. It is the official and literary standard of Croatia and one of the official languages of the European Union. Croatian is also one of the official languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina and a recognized minority language in Serbia and neighboring countries.

Standard Croatian is based on the most widespread dialect of Serbo-Croatian, Shtokavian, more specifically on Eastern Herzegovinian, which is also the basis of Standard Serbian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin. In the mid-18th century, the first attempts to provide a Croatian literary standard began on the basis of the Neo-Shtokavian dialect that served as a supraregional lingua franca pushing back regional Chakavian, Kajkavian, and Shtokavian vernaculars.[14] The decisive role was played by Croatian Vukovians, who cemented the usage of Ijekavian Neo-Shtokavian as the literary standard in the late 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, in addition to designing a phonological orthography.[15] Croatian is written in Gaj's Latin alphabet.[16]

Besides the Shtokavian dialect, on which Standard Croatian is based, there are two other main dialects spoken on the territory of Croatia, Chakavian and Kajkavian. These dialects, and the four national standards, are usually subsumed under the term "Serbo-Croatian" in English, though this term is controversial for native speakers,[17] and paraphrases such as "Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian" are therefore sometimes used instead, especially in diplomatic circles.


Modern language and standardization

In the late medieval period up to the 17th century, the majority of semi-autonomous Croatia was ruled by two domestic dynasties of princes (banovi), the Zrinski and the Frankopan, which were linked by inter-marriage.[18] Toward the 17th century, both of them attempted to unify Croatia both culturally and linguistically, writing in a mixture of all three principal dialects (Chakavian, Kajkavian and Shtokavian), and calling it "Croatian", "Dalmatian", or "Slavonian".[19] Historically, several other names were used as synonyms for Croatian, in addition to Dalmatian and Slavonian, and these were Illyrian (ilirski) and Slavic (slovinski).[20] It is still used now in parts of Istria, which became a crossroads of various mixtures of Chakavian with Ekavian, Ijekavian and Ikavian isoglosses.[21]

The most standardized form (Kajkavian-Ikavian) became the cultivated language of administration and intellectuals from the Istrian peninsula along the Croatian coast, across central Croatia up into the northern valleys of the Drava and the Mura. The cultural apex of this 17th century idiom is represented by the editions of "Adrianskoga mora sirena" ("The Siren of the Adriatic Sea") by Petar Zrinski and "Putni tovaru?" ("Traveling escort") by Katarina Zrinska.[22][23]

However, this first linguistic renaissance in Croatia was halted by the political execution of Petar Zrinski and Fran Krsto Frankopan by the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I in Vienna in 1671.[24] Subsequently, the Croatian elite in the 18th century gradually abandoned this combined Croatian standard.[25]

The Institute of Croatian Language and Linguistics added the Bunjevac dialect to the List of Protected Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Croatia on 8 October 2021.[26][27] The Bunjevac dialect branches (Dalmatian, Danubian, and Littoral-Lika) are categorised by Croatia as New-Shtokavian Ikavian dialects of the Shtokavian dialect of the Croatian language.[28][29] Its speakers largely use the Latin alphabet and are living in parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, different parts of Croatia, southern parts (inc. Budapest) of Hungary as well in the autonomous province Vojvodina of Serbia.

Illyrian period

The Illyrian movement was a 19th-century pan-South Slavic political and cultural movement in Croatia that had the goal to standardize the regionally differentiated and orthographically inconsistent literary languages in Croatia, and finally merge them into a common South Slavic literary language. Specifically, three major groups of dialects were spoken on Croatian territory, and there had been several literary languages over four centuries. The leader of the Illyrian movement Ljudevit Gaj standardized the Latin alphabet in 1830-1850 and worked to bring about a standardized orthography. Although based in Kajkavian-speaking Zagreb, Gaj supported using the more populous Neo-Shtokavian - a version of Shtokavian that eventually became the predominant dialectal basis of both Croatian and Serbian literary language from the 19th century on.[30] Supported by various South Slavic proponents, Neo-Shtokavian was adopted after an Austrian initiative at the Vienna Literary Agreement of 1850,[25] laying the foundation for the unified Serbo-Croatian literary language. The uniform Neo-Shtokavian then became common in the Croatian elite.[25]

In the 1860s, the Zagreb Philological School dominated the Croatian cultural life, drawing upon linguistic and ideological conceptions advocated by the members of the Illyrian movement.[31] While it was dominant over the rival Rijeka Philological School and Zadar Philological Schools, its influence waned with the rise of the Croatian Vukovians (at the end of the 19th century).[32]

Distinguishing features and differences between standards

Croatian is commonly characterized by the Ijekavian pronunciation (see an explanation of yat reflexes), the sole use of the Latin alphabet, and a number of lexical differences in common words that set it apart from standard Serbian.[33] Some differences are absolute, while some appear mainly in the frequency of use.[33] However, "an examination of all the major 'levels' of language shows that BCS is clearly a single language with a single grammatical system."[34]

Sociopolitical standpoints

States and/or regions in which Croatian is an official language (dark red) and states in which Croatian is a minority language (light red)

Croatian, although technically a form of Serbo-Croatian, is sometimes considered a distinct language by itself.[17] Purely linguistic considerations of languages based on mutual intelligibility (abstand and ausbau languages)[35] are frequently incompatible with political conceptions of language so that varieties that are mutually intelligible can not be considered separate languages. "There is no doubt of the near 100% mutual intelligibility of (standard) Croatian and (standard) Serbian, as is obvious from the ability of all groups to enjoy each others' films, TV and sports broadcasts, newspapers, rock lyrics etc."[34] Differences between various standard forms of Serbo-Croatian are often exaggerated for political reasons.[36] Most Croatian linguists regard Croatian as a separate language that is considered key to national identity.[37] The issue is sensitive in Croatia as the notion of a separate language being the most important characteristic of a nation is widely accepted, stemming from the 19th-century history of Europe.[38] The 1967 Declaration on the Status and Name of the Croatian Literary Language, in which a group of Croatian authors and linguists demanded greater autonomy for Croatian, is viewed in Croatia as a linguistic policy milestone that was also a general milestone in national politics.[39] At the 50th anniversary of the Declaration, at the beginning of 2017, a two-day meeting of experts from Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro was organized in Zagreb, at which the text of the Declaration on the Common Language of Croats, Bosniaks, Serbs and Montenegrins was drafted.[40] The new Declaration has received more than ten thousand signatures. It states that in Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro a common polycentric standard language is used, consisting of several standard varieties, similar to the existing varieties of German, English or Spanish.[41] The aim of the new Declaration is to stimulate discussion on language without the nationalistic baggage[42] and to counter nationalistic divisions.[43]

The terms "Serbo-Croatian" or "Serbo-Croat" are still used as a cover term for all these forms by foreign scholars, even though the speakers themselves largely do not use it.[33] Within ex-Yugoslavia, the term has largely been replaced by the ethnic terms Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian.[44]

The use of the name "Croatian" for a language names has been historically attested to, though not always distinctively; the Croatian-Hungarian Agreement, for example, designated "Croatian" as one of its official languages,[45] and Croatian became an official EU language upon accession of Croatia to the EU on 1 July 2013.[46][47] In 2013, the EU started publishing a Croatian-language version of its official gazette.[48]

Official status

Areas with an ethnic Croatian majority (as of 2006)

Standard Croatian is the official language of the Republic of Croatia[49] and, along with Standard Bosnian and Standard Serbian, one of three official languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[1] It is also official in the regions of Burgenland (Austria),[50] Molise (Italy)[51] and Vojvodina (Serbia).[52] Additionally, it has co-official status alongside Romanian in the communes of Cara?ova[53] and Lupac,[54][55] Romania. In these localities, Croats or Krashovani make up the majority of the population, and education, signage and access to public administration and the justice system are provided in Croatian, alongside Romanian.

Croatian is officially used and taught at all the universities in Croatia, and at the University of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

There is no regulatory body that determines the proper usage of Croatian. The current standard language is generally laid out in the grammar books and dictionaries used in education, such as the school curriculum prescribed by the Ministry of Education and the university programmes of the Faculty of Philosophy at the four main universities.[][needs update] In 2013, a Hrvatski pravopis by the Institute of Croatian Language and Linguistics received an official sole seal of approval from the Ministry of Education.

The most prominent recent editions describing the Croatian standard language are:

Also notable are the recommendations of Matica hrvatska, the national publisher and promoter of Croatian heritage, and the Lexicographical institute Miroslav Krle?a, as well as the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts.

Numerous representative Croatian linguistic works were published since the independence of Croatia, among them three voluminous monolingual dictionaries of contemporary Croatian.

Sample text

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Croatian:

Sva ljudska bi?a ra?aju se slobodna i jednaka u dostojanstvu i pravima. Ona su obdarena razumom i svijeu i treba da jedno prema drugome postupaju u duhu bratstva.[56]

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in English:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.[57]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Croatian at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) closed access
  2. ^ "Croatia: Language Situation". Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (2nd ed.). The official language of Croatia is Croatian (Serbo-Croatian). [...] The same language is referred to by different names, Serbian (srpski), Serbo-Croat (in Croatia: hrvatsko-srpski), Bosnian (bosanski), based on political and ethnic grounds. [...] the language that used to be officially called Serbo-Croat has gotten several new ethnically and politically based names. Thus, the names Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian are politically determined and refer to the same language with possible slight variations.
  3. ^ "Language and alphabet Article 13". Constitution of Montenegro. WIPO. 19 October 2007. Serbian, Bosnian, Albanian and Croatian shall also be in the official use.
  4. ^ Slovenskej Republiky, Národná Rada (1999). "Zákon 184/1999 Z. z. o pou?ívaní jazykov národnostných men?ín" (in Slovak). Zbierka zákonov. Retrieved 2016.
  5. ^ "Národnostní men?iny v ?eské republice a jejich jazyky" [National Minorities in Czech Republic and Their Language] (PDF) (in Czech). Government of Czech Republic. p. 2. Podle ?l. 3 odst. 2 Statutu Rady je jejich po?et 12 a jsou u?ivateli t?chto men?inových jazyk?: [...], srb?tina a ukrajin?tina
  6. ^ "2011. évi CLXXIX. törvény a nemzetiségek jogairól" [Act CLXXIX/2011 on the Rights of Nationalities] (in Hungarian). Government of Hungary. 22. § (1) E törvény értelmében nemzetiségek által használt nyelvnek számít [...] a horvát
  7. ^ "Legge 15 Dicembre 1999, n. 482 "Norme in materia di tutela delle minoranze linguistiche storiche" pubblicata nella Gazzetta Ufficiale n. 297 del 20 dicembre 1999". Italian Parliament. Archived from the original on 12 May 2015. Retrieved 2014.
  8. ^ Dalby, David (1999). Linguasphere. 53-AAA-g. Srpski+Hrvatski, Serbo-Croatian. Linguasphere Observatory. p. 445.
  9. ^ Benjamin W. Fortson IV (2010). Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction (2nd ed.). Blackwell. p. 431. Because of their mutual intelligibility, Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian are usually thought of as constituting one language called Serbo-Croatian.
  10. ^ Bla?ek, Václav. On the Internal Classification of Indo-European Languages: Survey (PDF). pp. 15-16. Retrieved .
  11. ^ ?ipka, Danko (2019). Lexical layers of identity: words, meaning, and culture in the Slavic languages. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 206. doi:10.1017/9781108685795. ISBN 978-953-313-086-6. LCCN 2018048005. OCLC 1061308790. S2CID 150383965. Serbo-Croatian, which features four ethnic variants: Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin
  12. ^ ?ali?, Jelena (2021). "Pluricentricity in the classroom: the Serbo-Croatian language issue for foreign language teaching at higher education institutions worldwide". Sociolinguistica: European Journal of Sociolinguistics. De Gruyter. 35 (1): 113-140. doi:10.1515/soci-2021-0007. ISSN 0933-1883. S2CID 244134335. Retrieved 2022. The debate about the status of the Serbo-Croatian language and its varieties has recently shifted (again) towards a position which looks at the internal variation within Serbo-Croatian through the prism of linguistic pluricentricity
  13. ^ E.C. Hawkesworth (2006). "Serbian-Croatian-Bosnian Linguistic Complex". Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (2nd ed.).
  14. ^ Bi?ani? et al. (2013:55)
  15. ^ Bi?ani? et al. (2013:84)
  16. ^ "Croatia: Themes, Authors, Books". Yale University Library Slavic and East European Collection. 2009-11-16. Retrieved .
  17. ^ a b Cvetkovic, Ljudmila (2010). "Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Or Montenegrin? Or Just 'Our Language'? - Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty". Retrieved .
  18. ^ Gazi, Stephen (1973). A History of Croatia. New York: Philosophical library. ISBN 978-0-8022-2108-7.
  19. ^ Van Antwerp Fine, John (2006). When Ethnicity did not Matter in the Balkans. Michigan, USA: University of Michigan Press. pp. 377-379. ISBN 978-0-472-11414-6.
  20. ^ Stankiewicz, Edward (1984). Grammars and Dictionaries of the Slavic Languages from the Middle Ages Up to 1850. ISBN 9783110097788. Retrieved .
  21. ^ Kalsbeek, Janneke (1998). "The ?akavian dialect of Orbani?i near ?minj in Istria". Studies in Slavic and General Linguistics. 25.
  22. ^ Ivana, Sabljak. "Dva brata i jedna Sirena" [Two Sisters and One Siren]. Matica hrvatska (in Croatian). Retrieved 2012.
  23. ^ "Matica Hrvatska - Putni tovaru? - izvornik (I.)". Archived from the original on 2013-05-13. Retrieved .
  24. ^ Tanner, Marcus (1997). Croatia: a Nation Forged in War. New Haven, USA: Yale University Press. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-300-06933-4.
  25. ^ a b c Mali?, Dragica (1997). Razvoj hrvatskog knji?evnog jezika. ISBN 978-953-0-40010-8.[page needed]
  26. ^ Institut za hrvatski jezik i jezikoslovlje. "Prijedlog za progla?enje bunjeva?koga govora nematerijalnom kulturnom ba?tinom". Retrieved 2022. Institut za hrvatski jezik i jezikoslovlje uputio je Ministarstvu kulture RH prijedlog da se bunjeva?ki govor proglasi hrvatskom nematerijalnom kulturnom ba?tinom, kao va?an ?in pomo?i bunjeva?komu govoru i svim Bunjevcima u Hrvatskoj i inozemstvu.
  27. ^ Fajin Deran, Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia (8 October 2021). "Bunjeva?ki govori upisani u Registar kulturnih dobara Republike Hrvatske kao nematerijalno kulturno dobro". Retrieved 2022.
  28. ^ "Bunjeva?ki govori". Retrieved 2022. Bunjeva?ki govori pripadaju novo?tokavskom ikavskom dijalektu ?tokavskoga narje?ja hrvatskoga jezika.
  29. ^ "Bunjeva?ki govori". Razlikuju se tri ogranka Bunjeva?kih govora - podunavski, primorsko-li?ki i dalmatinski, a svi su kulturno bliski prema povijesnim, etnolo?kim i lingvisti?kim istra?ivanjima.
  30. ^ Uzelac, Gordana (2006). The development of the Croatian nation: an historical and sociological analysis. Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-7734-5791-1.
  31. ^ Bi?ani? et al. 2013, p. 77.
  32. ^ Bi?ani? et al. 2013, p. 78.
  33. ^ a b c Corbett & Browne 2009, p. 334.
  34. ^ a b Bailyn, John Frederick (2010). "To what degree are Croatian and Serbian the same language? Evidence from a Translation Study" (PDF). Journal of Slavic Linguistics. 18 (2): 181-219. ISSN 1068-2090. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 October 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  35. ^ Mader Skender, Mia (2022). "Schlussbemerkung" [Summary]. Die kroatische Standardsprache auf dem Weg zur Ausbausprache [The Croatian standard language on the way to ausbau language] (PDF) (Dissertation). UZH Dissertations (in German). Zurich: University of Zurich, Faculty of Arts, Institute of Slavonic Studies. pp. 196-197. doi:10.5167/uzh-215815. Retrieved 2022. Obwohl das Kroatische sich in den letzten Jahren in einigen Gebieten, vor allem jedoch auf lexikalischer Ebene, verändert hat, sind diese Änderungen noch nicht bedeutend genug, dass der Terminus Ausbausprache gerechtfertigt wäre. Ausserdem können sich Serben, Kroaten, Bosnier und Montenegriner immer noch auf ihren jeweiligen Nationalsprachen unterhalten und problemlos verständigen. Nur schon diese Tatsache zeigt, dass es sich immer noch um eine polyzentrische Sprache mit verschiedenen Varietäten handelt.
  36. ^ Benjamin W. Fortson IV, Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction, 2nd ed. (2010, Blackwell), pg. 431.
  37. ^ Snje?ana Ramljak (June 2008). ""Jezi?no" pristupanje Hrvatske Europskoj Uniji: prevo?enje pravne ste?evine i europsko nazivlje" [The Accession of the Croatian Language to the European Union: Translation of the Acquis Communautaire and European Legal Terminology]. Croatian Political Science Review (in Serbo-Croatian). Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb. 45 (1). ISSN 0032-3241. Retrieved .
  38. ^ Stokes 2008, p. 348.
  39. ^ ?ute 1999, p. 317.
  40. ^ Derk, Denis (28 March 2017). "Donosi se Deklaracija o zajedni?kom jeziku Hrvata, Srba, Bo?njaka i Crnogoraca" [A Declaration on the Common Language of Croats, Serbs, Bosniaks and Montenegrins is About to Appear]. Ve?ernji list (in Croatian). Zagreb. pp. 6-7. ISSN 0350-5006. Archived from the original on 20 September 2017. Retrieved .
  41. ^ Trudgill, Peter (30 November 2017). "Time to Make Four Into One". The New European. p. 46. Retrieved 2018.
  42. ^ J., T. (10 April 2017). "Is Serbo-Croatian a Language?". The Economist. London. ISSN 0013-0613. Archived from the original on 10 April 2017. Retrieved . (alternate URL Archived 2021-10-26 at the Wayback Machine)
  43. ^ Mileki?, Sven (30 March 2017). "Post-Yugoslav 'Common Language' Declaration Challenges Nationalism". London: Balkan Insight. Archived from the original on 27 April 2017. Retrieved .
  44. ^ Crystal, David (2000). Language Death. Cambridge University Press. pp. 11-12.
  45. ^ "Hrvatsko-ugarska nagodba 1868" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-02-07. Retrieved .
  46. ^ "Vandoren: EU membership - challenge and chance for Croatia - Daily -". 2010-09-30. Archived from the original on 2010-11-15. Retrieved .
  47. ^ "Applications now open for Croatian linguists". EU careers. 2012-06-21. Archived from the original on 2012-06-28. Retrieved .
  48. ^ "Slu?beni list Europske unije" [Official Gazette of the European Union] (in Croatian). European Union. 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-05-13. Retrieved .
  49. ^ "Croatia". Retrieved .
  50. ^ Kinda-Berlakovich, Andrea Zorka (2006). "Hrvatski nastavni jezik u Gradiu u ?kolsko-politi?kome kontekstu" [Croatian as the Language of Instruction and Language Policy in Burgenland from 1921 onwards]. LAHOR. 1 (1): 27-35. ISSN 1846-2197. Retrieved .
  51. ^ "Endangered languages in Europe: report". Archived from the original on 2010-11-17. Retrieved .
  52. ^ "Official Use of Languages and Scripts in the AP Vojvodina". Retrieved .
  53. ^ "Structura Etno-demografic? a României". Retrieved .
  54. ^ "Structura Etno-demografic? a României". Retrieved .
  55. ^ "Structura Etno-demografic? a României". Retrieved .
  56. ^ "Universal Declaration of Human Rights".
  57. ^ "Universal Declaration of Human Rights".


Further reading

External links

Language history

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