|Region||Stari Vlah (U?ice)|
|Extinct||Considered moribund, suppressed by the standard language|
The U?ice dialect or Zlatibor dialect (Serbo-Croatian: u?i?ki govor / or zlatiborski govor / ) is a subdialect of the Shtokavian dialect of the Serbo-Croatian language. It is part of the Eastern Herzegovinian subdialects. It is traditionally spoken by c. 500,000 people – the Bosniaks and Serbs of the region – in the Zlatibor and Moravica Districts in the U?ice region (Stari Vlah) in the southwestern part of Serbia.
One of the earliest mentions of the local dialect of U?ice region is found in Ottoman geographer Evliya Çelebi's record on his visit to the U?ice nahiya in 1664. In his travelogue, the language of U?icans is called the Bosnian language.
Today Orthodox people in the U?ice region usually say they speak Serbian, whereas Muslims (who primarily dwell in the municipalities of Nova Varo?, Priboj, Prijepolje, and Sjenica in the Zlatibor District) say they speak Bosnian. The name Serbo-Croatian was also used during the Yugoslav era.
|South Slavic languages and dialects|
The U?ice dialect is a Neo-?tokavian dialect with Ijekavian accent. It is characterized by an Eastern Herzegovinian accenting system consisting of four pitch accents with long vowels following accented syllables, and a case system using full declension. Today many people in the U?ice region, especially in urban areas, use the Ekavian accent (which is dominant in Serbia) in speech and writing, instead of the traditional Ijekavian. Nevertheless, the original Ijekavian forms of local toponyms such as Bioska, ?etinja, Prijepolje, Bjelu?a, Kosjeri?, Drijetanj etc., are usually preserved, as these are the names used in official documents and other publications. However, there is also a number of toponyms which were Ekavized in the written language, although their original Ijekavian forms have often survived in the spoken language. These include Donja Bela Reka / Gornja Bela Reka, Kriva Reka, Seni?ta and others, which can often be heard as Bijela Rijeka, Kriva Rijeka, Sjeni?ta etc. in conversation among the locals.
In the Central South Slavic dialect continuum, the U?ice dialect forms a transition between the neighbouring dialects of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the dialects of Serbia. Some of its characteristics are shared with either dialects, but many of them are common with the Bosnian vernacular rather than the dialects of the rest of Serbia; including the traditional Ijekavian reflex of yat, the reduction of short unaccented vowels in speech, and other characteristics of the local phonetics, morphology, and lexis, the latter manifested primarily in many loanwords from Turkish, Persian, and Arabic languages, which are, however, suppressed and less used in the modern language. The connections between the U?ice region and Bosnia were even stronger in the past, as parts of this region once belonged to the mediaeval Bosnian state, and the mediaeval local population were followers of the Church of Bosnia.
The local population descends from the Slavs who mixed with Illyrian and Celtic tribes in the early Middle Ages, and therefore the dialect in its earliest mediaeval form has been rather influenced by the Celtic and Illyrian languages, the remaining of which are some local toponyms of Illyrian or Romanized Celtic etymology, such as Tara Mountain, Negbina, Murtenica, ?igota etc., or the mediaeval U?ican personal name Brajan of Celtic origin.
Mediaeval records of local toponyms show Ikavian characteristics of the local Slavonic vernacular, similarly to the mediaeval Bosnian language. These toponyms include Bila Rika, Si?a Rika, Bilu?a, and others, which are today known as Bela Reka or Bijela Rijeka, Se?a Reka, and Bjelu?a (either Ijekavian accent or Ekavized during the 19th and 20th centuries).
The dialect's vocabulary was later influenced by the Ottoman Turkish language. A mention of the respectable Turkish influence on U?ican language and mentality is also found in the novel Do?ljaci by a notable U?ice writer Milutin Uskokovi?:
The Turkish influence still remained in speech and mentality. The language ... is full with Turkish words. Older U?icans are at home still very much like the Turks-- Milutin Uskokovi?, Do?ljaci (1919)
During the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, the U?ice region was mostly populated by the migrants from Herzegovina, Montenegro, and other Dinaric regions. Most of the present-day U?icans descend from these settlers. The local dialect was then influenced by the Younger Ijekavian dialects of Herzegovina and Montenegro, and thus became one of the Eastern Herzegovinian dialects.
|plosive||p b||t d ||k ?|
|fricative||s z ||? ?||? (?) |
|affricate||ts ||t? d?||t? d?|
|lateral approximant||l (?) ||?|
The significant portion of the U?ican vernacular literature consists of local anecdotes and proverbs, as well as the epic and lyric poems, both of which are usually sung according to a common metric system consisting of ten units (ten syllables in a verse), and often performed with gusle. The hero of all U?ican anecdotes is called Ero (another name for U?icans, also spelled Era), who is portrayed as a most clever, witty, and hospitable person, although he is just a simple Zlatiborian peasant. In these short anecdotes, he always succeeds to trick the others at the end, even though they hold a higher position in the society or are often considered smarter than him (priests, Ottoman and Serbian nobility, the police, etc.). Characters similar to smart and clever Ero are found in anecdotes across the Balkans: in the stories about Nasredin Hod?a, of oriental origin, or Karagiozis in the Greek and Turkish literatures.
The written literature, on the other hand, usually stuck to the standard language; that is Old Church Slavonic and Church Slavonic in the Middle Ages, and later the standard Serbian language. The first U?ican printed book, Rujansko ?etvorojevan?elje (the Gospels of Rujno), was printed in Church Slavonic in 1537. Other Church Slavonic books printed in the U?ice region include Psalter printed in Mile?eva monastery in 1544, and Evangelion and Pentecostarion printed in Mrk?a's Church in 1562 and 1566, respectively. After the printing centres in U?ican monasteries were demolished by the Ottoman Turks, a manuscript culture arose in the Ra?a monastery. The manuscripts produced in Ra?a were written in Church Slavonic, but they contained many elements of the U?ican vernacular. The first works compiled in the local dialect by literate U?icans appeared in the 19th century. They include Miladin Radovi?'s chronicle Samouki rukopis, and the Prophecy of Kremna which was told by Zechariah Zahari?, the protopope of Kremna.