The dialects of Serbo-Croatian include the regional varieties of Serbo-Croatian as a whole or as part of its standard varieties: Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian. They are part of the dialect continuum of South Slavic languages that joins the Macedonian dialects to the south, Bulgarian dialects to the southeast and Slovene dialects to the northwest.
The primary dialects are named after the most common question word for what: Shtokavian (štokavski) uses the pronoun što or šta, Chakavian (čakavski) uses ča or ca, Kajkavian (kajkavski), kaj or kej. The pluricentric Serbo-Croatian standard language and all four contemporary standard variants are based on the Eastern Herzegovinian subdialect of Neo-Shtokavian. The other dialects are not taught in schools or used by the state media. The Torlakian dialect is often added to the list, though sources usually note that it is a transitional dialect between Shtokavian and the Bulgaro-Macedonian dialects. Burgenland Croatian and Molise Slavic are varieties of the Chakavian dialect spoken outside the South Slavic dialect continuum, which combine influences from other dialects of Serbo-Croatian as well as influences from the dominantly spoken local languages.
Another common distinction among the dialects is made through the reflex of the long Common Slavic vowel jat and thus the dialects are divided into Ikavian, Ekavian, and Ijekavian, with the reflects of jat being /i/, /e/, and /ije/ or /je/ respectively.
|South Slavic languages and dialects|
The Proto-Štokavian idiom appeared in the 12th century. In the following century or two, Štokavian was divided into two zones: western, which covered the major part of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slavonia in Croatia, and eastern, dominant in easternmost Bosnia and Herzegovina and greater parts of Montenegro and Serbia. Western Štokavian was principally characterized by three-accentual system, while eastern Štokavian was marked by two-accentual system. According to research of historical linguistics, the Old-Štokavian was well established by the mid-15th century. In this period it was still being mixed with Church Slavonic to varying degrees, as geographically transitory to Čakavian and Kajkavian dialects spoken on the territory of today's Croatia, with which it had constituted a natural dialectal continuum.
Originally the dialect covered a significantly smaller area than it covers today, meaning that the Štokavian speech had spread for the last five centuries, overwhelmingly at the expense of Čakavian and Kajkavian idioms. Modern areal distribution of these three dialects as well as their internal stratification (Štokavian and Čakavian in particular) is primarily a result of the migrations resulting from the spread of Ottoman Empire on the Balkans. Migratory waves were particularly strong in the 16th–18th century, bringing about large-scale linguistic and ethnic changes on the Central South Slavic area (See: Great Serb Migrations).
By far the most numerous, mobile and expansionist migrations were those of Ijekavian Štokavian speakers of eastern Herzegovina, who have flooded most of Western Serbia, many areas of eastern and western Bosnia, large swathes of Croatia (Banovina, Kordun, Lika, parts of Gorski kotar, continental parts of northern Dalmatia, some places north of Kupa, parts of Slavonia, southeastern Baranya etc.). This is the reason why Eastern Herzegovinian dialect is the most spoken Serbo-Croatian dialect today, and why it bears the name that is only descriptive of its area of origin. These migrations also played the pivotal role in the spread of Neo-Štokavian innovations.
The Shtokavian dialect is divided into Old Shtokavian and Neo-Shtokavian subdialects. Subdialects grouped under Old-Shtokavian are the following:
Neo-Shtokavian dialects comprise the following subdialects:
Shtokavian is characterized by a number of characteristic historical sound changes, accentual changes, changes in inflection, morphology and syntax. Some of these isoglosses are not exclusive and have also been shared by neighboring dialects, and some of them have only overwhelmingly but not completely been spread on the whole Štokavian area. The differences between Štokavian and the neighboring Eastern South Slavic dialects of Bulgaria and Macedonia are clear and largely shared with other Western South Slavic dialects, while the differences to the neighboring Western South Slavic dialect of Čakavian and Kajkavian are much more fluid in character, and the mutual influence of various subdialects and idioms play a more prominent role.
General characteristics of Štokavian are the following:
As can be seen from the list, many of these isoglosses are missing from certain Štokavian idioms, just as many of them are shared with neighboring non-Štokavian dialects.
Chakavian is the oldest written Serbo-Croatian dialect that had made a visible appearance in legal documents - as early as 1275 ("Istrian land survey") and 1288 ("Vinodol codex"), the predominantly vernacular Chakavian is recorded, mixed with elements of Church Slavic. Archaic Chakavian can be traced back to 1105 in the Baška tablet. All these and other early Chakavian texts up to 17th century are mostly written in Glagolitic alphabet.
Initially, the Chakavian dialect covered a much wider area than today including about two thirds of medieval Croatia: the major part of central and southern Croatia southwards of Kupa and westwards of Una river, as well as western and southwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina. During and after the Ottoman intrusion and subsequent warfare (15th–18th centuries), the Chakavian area has become greatly reduced and in the Croatian mainland it has recently been almost entirely replaced by Shtokavian, so it is now spoken in a much smaller coastal area than indicated above.
Chakavian is now mostly reduced in southwestern Croatia along the eastern Adriatic: Adriatic islands, and sporadically in the mainland coast, with rare inland enclaves up to central Croatia, and minor enclaves in Austria and Montenegro.
The Chakavian dialect comprises the following subdialects:
There is no generally accepted opinion on the set of characteristics a dialect has to possess to be classified as Chakavian (rather than its admixture with Shtokavian or Kajkavian), but the following characteristics are most commonly proposed:
Besides the usual Chakavian (with typical pronoun "ča"), in some Adriatic islands and in eastern Istra another special variant is also spoken which lacks most palatals, with other parallel deviations called "tsakavism" (cakavizam):
The largest area of tsakavism is in eastern Istra at Labin, Rabac and a dozen nearby villages; minor mainland enclaves are the towns Bakar and Trogir. Tsakavism is also frequent in Adriatic islands: part of Lošinj and nearby islets, Baška in Krk, Pag town, the western parts of Brač (Milna), Hvar town, and subentire Vis with adjacent islets.
Dialectogical investigations of the Kajkavian dialect had begun at the end of the 19th century: the first comprehensive monograph was written in Russian by Ukrainian philologist A. M. Lukjanenko in 1905 (Kajkavskoe narečie). Kajkavian is not only a folk dialect, but in the course of history of Serbo-Croatian it has been the written public language (along with the corpus written in Čakavian and Štokavian). Kajkavian was the last to appear on the scene, mainly due to economic and political reasons. Although the first truly vernacular Serbo-Croatian texts (i.e. not mixed with Church Slavonic) go back to the 13th century (Chakavian) and to the 14th century (Shtokavian), the first Kajkavian published work was Pergošić's "Decretum" from 1574. After that, numerous works appeared in Serbo-Croatian Kajkavian literary language in the following centuries.
Kajkavian literary language gradually fell into disuse since Croatian National Revival, ca. 1830–1850, when leaders of the Croatian National Unification Movement (the majority of them being Kajkavian native speakers themselves) adopted the most widespread and developed Serbo-Croatian Shtokavian literary language as the basis for the Croatian standard language. However, after a period of lethargy, the 20th century has witnessed new flourishing of literature in Kajkavian dialect – this time as Croatian dialectal poetry, main authors being Antun Gustav Matoš, Miroslav Krleža, Ivan Goran Kovačić, Dragutin Domjanić, Nikola Pavić etc. Nowadays, Kajkavian lexical treasure is being published by the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in "Rječnik hrvatskoga kajkavskoga književnoga jezika"/Dictionary of the Croatian Kajkavian Literary Language, 8 volumes (1999).
Kajkavian is spoken in North Croatia, including the capital Zagreb, as well as in a few enclaves in Austria, Hungary, and Romania. Though its speakers are ethnic Croats and Kajkavian is thus generally considered a dialect of Serbo-Croatian, it is closer to neighboring Slovene than it is to Chakavian or Shtokavian. The Kajkavian area of Croatia is bordered on the northwest by Slovene language territory. It is bordered on the east and southeast by Shtokavian dialects roughly along a line that was the former division between Civil Croatia and the Habsburg Military Frontier; in southwest along Kupa and Dobra rivers, it persisted in ancient (medieval) contact with Chakavian dialects.
The major cities in northern Croatia with prevailing urban Kajkavians are chiefly Zagreb (old central city, Sesvete and V. Gorica), Koprivnica, Krapina, Križevci, Varaždin, Čakovec, etc. The typical and archaic Kajkavian is today spoken chiefly in Zagorje hills and Medjimurje plain, and in adjacent areas of northwestern Croatia where other immigrants and Štokavian standard had much less influence. The most peculiar Kajkavian archidiom (Baegnunski) is spoken at Bednja in northernmost Croatia. The mixed half-Kajkavian towns along the eastern and southern edge of Kajkavian speaking area are Pitomača, Čazma, Kutina, Popovača, Sunja, Petrinja, Ozalj, Ogulin, Fužine, and Čabar, with included newer Štokavian enclaves of Bjelovar, Sisak, Glina, Dubrava, Zagreb and Novi Zagreb. The southernmost Kajkavian villages are Krapje at Jasenovac; and Pavušek, Dvorišče and Hrvatsko selo in Zrinska Gora.
Kajkavian dialects have been classified along various criteria: Serbian philologist Aleksandar Belić had divided (1927) the Kajkavian dialect according to the reflexes of Proto-Slavic phonemes /tj/ and /DJ/ into three subdialects: eastern, northwestern and southwestern. However, later investigations have not corroborated Belić's division. Contemporary Kajkavian dialectology originates mainly from Croatian philologist Stjepan Ivšić's work "Jezik Hrvata kajkavaca"/The Language of Kajkavian Croats, 1936, which is based on accentuation characteristics. Due to great diversity of Kajkavian speech, primarily in phonetics, phonology and morphology – the Kajkavian dialectological atlas is notable for its bewildering proliferation of subdialects: from four identified by Ivšić, up to six proposed by Croatian linguist Brozović (formerly accepted division) and even as many as fifteen, according to a monograph authored by Croatian linguist Mijo Lončarić (1995).
The most commonly accepted division of Kajkavian dialect lists the following subdialects:
Kajkavian is closely related to Slovene and to the Prekmurje dialect in particular. The speakers of Prekmurje dialect are Slovenes and Hungarian Slovenes who belonged to the Archdiocese of Zagreb during the Habsburg era. Higher amounts of correspondences between the two exist in inflection and vocabulary. Some Kajkavian words also bear a closer resemblance to other Slavic languages (such as Russian) than they do to Shtokavian or Chakavian. For instance gda seems (at first glance) to be unrelated to kada, however, when compared to the Russian когда, the relationship becomes more apparent, at the same time in Slovene: kdaj, in Prekmurje Slovene gda, kda. Kajkavian kak (how) and tak (so) are exactly like their Russian cognates, as compared to Shtokavian and Chakavian kako and tako, in Prekmurje Slovene in turn tak, kak (in Slovene like Chakavian: tako, kako). (This vowel loss occurred in most other Slavic languages; Shtokavian is a notable exception, whereas the same feature of Macedonian is probably not a Serbian influence, because the word is preserved in the same form in Bulgarian, to which Macedonian is much more closely related than to Serbian.). Another distinctive feature of Kajkavian is the use of another future tense. Instead of Shtokavian and Chakavian future I ("ću", "ćeš", and "će" + infinitive), Kajkavian speakers use future II ("bum", "buš" and "bu" + active verbal adjective). Future II in Standard Croatian can only be used in subordinate clauses to refer to a condition or an action which will occur before other future action. For example, the phrase "I'll show you" is "Ti bum pokazal" in Kajkavian whereas in standard Croatian it is "Pokazat ću ti". This is a feature shared with Slovene: bom, boš, bo.
The Serbo-Croatian dialects differ not only in the question word they are named after, but also heavily in phonology, accentuation and intonation, case endings and tense system (morphology) and basic vocabulary. In the past, Chakavian and Kajkavian dialects were spoken on a much larger territory, but have subsequently been replaced by Štokavian during the period of migrations caused by Ottoman Turkish conquest of the Balkans in the 15th and the 16th century. These migrations caused the koinéisation of the Shtokavian dialects, that used to form the West Shtokavian (more closer and transitional towards the neighbouring Chakavian and Kajkavian dialects) and East Shtokavian (transitional towards the Torlakian and the whole Bulgaro-Macedonian area) dialect bundles, and their subsequent spread at the expense of Chakavian and Kajkavian. As a result, Štokavian now covers an area larger than all the other dialects combined, and continues to make its progress in the enclaves where subliterary dialects are still being spoken.
The main bundle of isoglosses separates Kajkavian and Slovenian dialects on the one hand from Štokavian and Čakavian on the other. These are:
Other characteristics distinguishing Kajkavian from Štokavian, beside the demonstrative/interrogatory pronoun kaj (as opposed to što/šta used in Štokavian), are:
Characteristics distinguishing Čakavian from Štokavian, beside the demonstrative/interrogatory pronoun ča, are:
The differences among the dialects can be illustrated on the example of Schleicher's fable. Diacritic signs are used to show the difference in accents and prosody, which are often quite significant, but which are not reflected in the usual orthography.
The Torlakian dialects are intermediate between the Eastern and Western branches of South Slavic, and have been variously described, in whole or in parts, as belonging to either group. In the 19th century, their classification was hotly contested between Serbian and Bulgarian writers.
Most Serbian linguists (like Pavle Ivić and Asim Peco) classify Torlakian as an Old-Shtokavian dialect, referring to it as Prizren-Timok dialect. However, this opinion was not shared by the Croatian linguists and thus Milan Rešetar classified the Torlak dialects (which he called Svrlijg) as a different group from Shtokavian.
All old Bulgarian scientists as Benyo Tsonev, Gavril Zanetov and Krste Misirkov classified Torlakian as dialect of Bulgarian language. They noted the manner of the articles, the loss of most of the cases, etc. Today Bulgarian linguists (Stoyko Stoykov, Rangel Bozhkov) also classify Torlakian as a "Belogradchik-Tran" dialect of Bulgarian, and claim that it should be classified outside the Shtokavian area. Stoykov further argued that the Torlak dialects having a grammar that is closer to Bulgarian was indicative of them being originally Bulgarian.
In Macedonian dialectology, the Torlakian varieties spoken on Macedonian territory (Kumanovo, Kratovo and Kriva Palanka dialects) are classified as part of a North-Eastern group of Macedonian dialects.
The Torlakian dialects, together with Bulgarian and Macedonian, display many properties of the Balkan linguistic area, a set of structural convergence features shared also with other languages of the Balkans such as Albanian and Aromanian. In terms of areal linguistics, they have therefore been described as part of a prototypical "Balkan Slavic" area, as opposed to other parts of Serbo-Croatian, which are only peripherally involved in the convergence area.
Burgenland Croatian (gradišćanskohrvatski jezik) is a regional variety of the Chakavian dialect spoken in Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It is recognized as a minority language in the Austrian state of Burgenland where it is spoken by 19,412 people according to official reports (2001).
This variety was the language of Croatian refugees who fled Croatia during the Turkish Wars and settled in the western part of what was then Hungary, the area where they still live. Burgenland Croats included speakers of all three dialects of the Croatian language (Shtokavian, Chakavian and Kajkavian), with the majority being the Chakavians who originally came from the northern Adriatic coast. Burgenland Croats did not take part in the shaping of the present Croatian standard language in the 19th century. Instead, they constructed their own written standard based mainly on the local Chakavian speech and adopted the Croatian alphabet, a modified Latin alphabet, as their script.
It is still a matter of debate whether Burgenland Croatian should be classified as a Slavic micro-language of its own. Burgenland Croatian dialects are mostly viewed as isolated dialects of the Croatian language. Burgenland Croatian and the Prekmurje dialect of Slovene (spoken in Prekmurje and Hungary) was to press with interact. The first Prekmurje Slovene works (for example Old hymn-book of Martjanci) was applied to the Burgenland Croatian books. A few writers of the Prekmurje dialect were of Burgenland Croatian descent (for example Jakab Szabár) and also the Burgenland Croatian language (József Ficzkó).
The variety uses the Latin alphabet with the same diacritical modifiers as the Croatian alphabet. In the course of language development it acquired some of its own specialised vocabulary, sometimes different from that used in standard Croatian. Sampled differences from standard Croatian are presented in the table in turn.
|English||Standard Croatian||Burgenland Croatian|
|Jesus Christ||Isus Krist||Jezuš Kristuš|
|village, settlement||selo, mjesto, naselje||selo|
Burgenland Croatian written language is based mainly on the local Chakavian speech with some influences from the other Croatian dialects spoken in Burgenland. These dialects include:
Molise Slavic or Slavomolisano is a variety of the Shtokavian dialect with some Chakavian influences spoken in the province of Campobasso, in the Molise Region of southern Italy, in the villages of Montemitro (Mundimitar), Acquaviva Collecroce (Živavoda Kruč) and San Felice del Molise (Štifilić). There are fewer than 1,000 active speakers, and fewer than 2,000 passive speakers. The language has been preserved since a group of Croats emigrated from Dalmatia abreast of advancing Ottoman Turks. The residents of these villages speak a Chakavian dialect with Ikavian accent. The Molise Croats, however, consider themselves to be Italians who speak a Slavic language, rather than ethnic Slavs. Some speakers call themselves Zlavi or Harvati and call their language simply na našo ("our language").
The language was preserved until today only in the aforementioned three villages, although several villages in Molise and Abruzzo region are aware of their Slavic and Croat ancestry. The existence of this Croat colony was unknown outside Italy until 1855 when Medo Pucić, a linguist from Dubrovnik, during one of his journeys in Italy overheard a tailor in Naples speaking with his wife in a language very similar to Pucić's own. The tailor then told him that he came from the village of Kruč, then part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Subsequently, the Gajica, the modern Croatian alphabet, was adopted to the language.
The language is highly Italianized and also retains many archaic features. Because the colony was established before the discovery of the Americas, all the names of animals and plants introduced from the Americas are borrowed from Italian or created from whole cloth. Along with these, Molise Slavic features the following characteristics:
A basic distinction among the dialects is in the reflex of the long Common Slavic vowel jat, usually transcribed as *ě. Depending on the reflex, the dialects are divided into Ikavian, Ekavian, and Ijekavian, with the reflects of jat being /i/, /e/, and /ije/ or /je/ respectively. The long and short jat is reflected as long or short */i/ and /e/ in Ikavian and Ekavian, but Ijekavian dialects introduce a ije/je alternation to retain a distinction.
Standard Croatian and Bosnian are based on Ijekavian, whereas Serbian uses both Ekavian and Ijekavian forms (Ijekavian for Montenegrin, Croatian and Bosnian Serbs; Ekavian for most of Serbia). Influence of standard language through state media and education has caused non-standard varieties to lose ground to the literary forms.
The jat-reflex rules are not without exception. For example, when short jat is preceded by r, in most Ijekavian dialects developed into /re/ or, occasionally, /ri/. The prefix prě- ("trans-, over-") when long became pre- in eastern Ijekavian dialects but to prije- in western dialects; in Ikavian pronunciation, it also evolved into pre- or prije- due to potential ambiguity with pri- ("approach, come close to"). For verbs that had -ěti in their infinitive, the past participle ending -ěl evolved into -io in Ijekavian Neoštokavian.
The following are some examples:
|beautiful||*lěp||lep||lip||lijep||long ě → ije|
|faith||*věra||vera||vira||vjera||short ě → je|
|pr + long ě → prije|
|times||*vrěmena||vremena||vrimena||vremena||r + short ě → re|
|heat||*grějati||grejati||grijati||grijati||r + short ě → ri|
|saw||*viděl||video||vidio||vidio||ěl → io|
|village||*selo||selo||selo||selo||e in root, not ě|