Shtokavian or Štokavian (/ʃtɒˈkɑːviən, -ˈkæv-/;
Serbo-Croatian: štokavski / штокавски,
pronounced [ʃtǒːkaʋskiː]) is the prestige dialect of the
Serbo-Croatian language, and the basis of its Bosnian,
Croatian, Serbian, and Montenegrin standards. It is a part of the
South Slavic dialect continuum. Its name comes from the form for
the interrogatory pronoun for "what" in Western Shtokavian, što (it
is šta in Eastern Shtokavian). This is in contrast to
Chakavian (kaj and ča also meaning "what").
Shtokavian is spoken in Serbia, Montenegro,
Bosnia and Herzegovina,
much of Croatia, as well as the southern part of Austria’s
Burgenland. The primary subdivisions of
Shtokavian are based on two
principles: one is whether the subdialect is Old-
Neo-Shtokavian, and different accents according to the way the old
Slavic phoneme jat has changed. Modern dialectology generally
1 Early history of Shtokavian
2 Relationship towards neighboring dialects
3 General characteristics
5.1.3 East Bosnian
5.2.4 Eastern Herzegovinian
7 Ethnic affiliation of native speakers of
8 Earliest texts of
9 Standard language
10 See also
13 Further reading
14 External links
Early history of Shtokavian
Serbo-Croatian dialects prior to the 16th-century migrations,
distinguishing Western and Eastern Shtokavian
Slavic languages and dialects
Western South Slavic
Serbo-Croatian standard languages
Comparison of standard
Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian
Eastern South Slavic
Church Slavonic (Old)
Transitional Bulgarian dialects
Banat Bulgarian alphabet.
Shtokavian idiom appeared in the 12th century. In the
following century or two,
Shtokavian was divided into two zones:
western, which covered the major part of
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina and
Slavonia in Croatia, and eastern, dominant in easternmost
Herzegovina and greater parts of
Montenegro and Serbia. Western
Shtokavian was principally characterized by a three-accent system,
Shtokavian was marked by a two-accent system.
According to research of historical linguistics, Old-
well established by the mid-15th century. In this period it was still
mixed with Church Slavonic to varying degrees.
As can be seen from the image on the right, originally the Shtokavian
dialect covered a significantly smaller area than it covers today,
meaning that the
Shtokavian speech had spread for the last five
centuries, overwhelmingly at the expense of
Chakavian and Kajkavian
idioms. Modern areal distribution of these three dialects as well as
their internal stratification (
Chakavian 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
Shtokavian 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
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-
Relationship towards neighboring dialects
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 mostly but
not completely spread over the whole
Shtokavian area. The differences
Shtokavian and the unrelated, neighboring
Bulgarian–Macedonian dialects are clear-cut, whereas the differences
with the related
Serbo-Croatian dialects of
Chakavian and Kajkavian
are much more fluid, and the mutual influence of various subdialects
plays a more prominent role.
The main bundle of isoglosses separates Slovenian and
Kajkavian on the
one hand from
Chakavian on the other. These are:
long falling accent of newer origin (neocircumflex)
development of the consonant group rj (as opposed to consonant /r/)
from former soft /r'/ before a vowel (e.g. morjem, zorja)
reflexes of /o/ or /ọ/ of the old
Common Slavic nasal vowel /ǫ/,
and not /u/
inflectional morpheme -o (as opposed to -ojo) in the instrumental
singular of a-declension
Other characteristics distinguishing
Kajkavian from Shtokavian, beside
the demonstrative/interrogatory pronoun kaj (as opposed to što/šta
used in Shtokavian), are:
a reflex of old semivowels of /ẹ/ (e.g. dẹn < Common Slavic
*dьnь, pẹs <
Common Slavic *pьsъ); closed /ẹ/ appearing
also as a jat reflex
retention of word-final -l (e.g. došel, as opposed to Shtokavian
word-initial u- becoming v- (e.g. vuho, vuzel, vozek)
dephonemicization of affricates /č/ and /ć/ to some form of middle
genitive plural of masculine nouns has the morpheme -of / -ef
syncretized dative, locative and instrumental plural has the ending
the ending -me in the first-person plural present (e.g. vidime)
affix š in the formation of adjectival comparatives (e.g. debleši,
future tense formation in the form of bom/bum došel, došla, došlo
Chakavian from Shtokavian, beside the
demonstrative/interrogatory pronoun ča, are:
preservation of polytonic three-accent system
vocalization of weak jers (e.g. malin/melin < Common Slavic
vowel /a/ as opposed to /e/ after palatal consonants /j/, /č/, /ž/
(e.g. Čk. jazik/zajik : Št. jezik, Čk. počati : Št.
početi, Čk. žaja : Št. želja)
the appearance of extremely palatal /t'/ or /ć'/ (< earlier /t'/)
and /j/ (< earlier /d'/) either in free positions or in groups
depalatalization of /n'/ and /l'/
/ž/ instead of /dʒ/ (c.f. Čk. žep : Št. džep)
/č/ > /š/ (c.f. Čk. maška : Št. mačka)
word-initial consonant groups čr-, čri-, čre- (c.f. Čk.
črivo/črevo : Št. cr(ij)evo, Čk. črn : Št. crn)
conditional mood with biš in the 2nd-person singular
non-syncretized dative, locative and instrumental plural
General characteristics of
Shtokavian are the following:
što or šta as the demonstrative/interrogative pronoun
differentiation between two short (in addition to two or three long)
accents, rising and falling, though not in all
preservation of unaccented length, but not consistently across all
/u/ as the reflex of
Common Slavic back nasal vowel /ǫ/ as well as
the syllabic /l/ (with the exception of central
Bosnia where a
diphthongal /uo/ is also recorded as a reflex)
initial group of v- + weak semivowel yields u- (e.g. unuk < Common
schwa resulting from the jer merger yields /a/, with the exception of
the Zeta-South Sandžak dialect
metathesis of vьse to sve
čr- > cr-, with the exception of Slavonian, Molise and Vlachia
word-final -l changes to /o/ or /a/; the exception is verbal adjective
in the Slavonian southwest
d' > /dʑ/ (⟨đ⟩) with numerous exceptions
cr > tr in the word trešnja "cherry"; some exceptions in Slavonia,
Hungary and Romania
/ć/ and /đ/ from jt, jd (e.g. poći, pođem); exceptions in
Slavonian and Eastern Bosnian dialect
so-called "new iotation" of dentals and labials, with many exceptions,
Slavonia and Bosnia
general loss of phoneme /x/, with many exceptions
ending -ā in genitive plural of masculine and feminine nouns, with
ending -u in locative singular of masculine and neuter nouns (e.g. u
gradu, u m(j)estu)
infix -ov- / -ev- in the plural of most monosyllabic masculine nouns,
with many exceptions (e.g. in the area between
Neretva and Dubrovnik)
syncretism of dative, locative and instrumental plural of nouns, with
preservation of ending -og(a) in genitive and accusative singular of
masculine and neuter gender if pronominal-adjectival declension (e.g.
drugoga), with exceptions on the area of
Dubrovnik and Livno
special form with the ending -a for the neuter gender in nominative
plural of pronominal-adjectival declension (e.g. ova m(j)esta and no
preservation of aorist, which is however missing in some areas (e.g.
special constructs reflecting old dual for numerals 2–4 (dva, tri,
lots of so-called "Turkisms" (turcizmi) or "Orientalisms", i.e. words
borrowed from Ottoman Turkish
As can be seen from the list, many of this isoglosses are missing from
Shtokavian idioms, just as many of them are shared with
Shtokavian dialect is divided into Old-
Shtokavian subdialects. The primary distinction is the
accentuation system: although there are variations, "old" dialects
preserve the older accent system, which consists of two types of
falling (dynamic) accents, one long and one short, and unstressed
syllables, which can be long and short. Both long and short unstressed
syllables could precede the stressed syllables. Stress placement is
free and mobile in paradigms.
In the process known as "Neo-
Shtokavian metatony" or "retraction",
length of the old syllables was preserved, but their quality changed.
Stress (intensity) on the inner syllables moved to the preceding
syllable, but they kept the high pitch. That process produced the
"rising" accents characteristic for Neo-Shtokavian, and yielded the
modern four-tone system. Stress on the initial syllables remained the
same in quality and pitch.
Most speakers from
Croatia do not distinguish between short
rising and short falling tones. They also pronounce most
unstressed long vowels as short, with some exceptions, such as
genitive plural endings.
The following notation is used for
The following table shows the examples of Neo-
No retraction from the first syllable
No retraction from the first syllable
Retraction from short to short syllable → short rising
Retraction from long to short syllable → short rising + unstressed
Retraction from short to long syllable → long rising
Retraction from long to long syllable → long rising + unstressed
As result of this process, the following set of rules emerged, which
are still in effect in all standard variants of Serbo-Croatian:
Falling accents may only occur word-initially (otherwise it would have
Rising accents may occur anywhere except word-finally.
thus, monosyllabic words may only have falling accent.
Unstressed length may only appear after a stressed syllable.
In practice, influx of foreign words and formation of compound words
have loosened these rules, especially in spoken idioms (e.g.
paradȁjz, asistȅnt, poljoprȉvreda), but they are maintained in
standard language and dictionaries.
Main article: Torlakian dialect
The most conservative dialects[how?] stretch southeast from Timok near
the Bulgarian border to Prizren. There is disagreement among linguists
whether these dialects belong to the
Shtokavian area, because there
are many other morphological characteristics apart from rendering of
što (also, some dialects use kakvo or kvo, typical for Bulgarian),
which would place them into a "transitional" group between Shtokavian
and Eastern South
Slavic languages (Bulgarian and Macedonian). The
Prizren group falls to the Balkan language area: declension has
all but disappeared, the infinitive has yielded to subjunctives
da-constructions, and adjectives are compared exclusively with
suffixes. The accent in the dialect group is a stress accent, and it
falls on any syllable in the word. The old semi-vowel[clarification
needed] has been retained throughout. The vocalic l has been retained
(vlk = vuk), and some dialects don't distinguish ć/č and đ/dž by
preferring the latter, postalveolar variants. Some subdialects
preserve l at the end of words (where otherwise it has developed into
a short o) – došl, znal, etc. (cf.
Kajkavian and Bulgarian); in
others, this l has become the syllable ja.
Torlakian is spoken in Metohija, around Prizren,
Gnjilane and Štrpce
especially, in Southern
Serbia around Bujanovac, Vranje, Leskovac,
Niš, Aleksinac, in the part of Toplica Valley around Prokuplje, in
Serbia around Pirot, Svrljig, Soko Banja, Boljevac, Knjaževac
ending up with the area around Zaječar, where the Kosovo-Resava
dialect becomes more dominant. It has been recorded several exclaves
with Torlakian speeches inside Kosovo-Resava dialect area. One is the
most prominent and preserved, like village Dublje near Svilajnac,
where the majority of settlers came from Torlakian speaking village
Veliki Izvor near Zajecar. Few centuries ago, before settlers from
Metohija brought Kosovo-Resava speeches to Eastern Serbia
(to Bor and
Negotin area), Torlakian speech had been overwhelmingly
represented in this region.
Also called the Archaic Šćakavian dialect, it is spoken by Croats
who live in some parts of Slavonia, Bačka, Baranja, Syrmia, in
Croatia and Vojvodina, as well as in northern Bosnia. The Slavonian
dialect has mixed
is predominant in the Posavina, Baranja, Bačka, and in the Slavonian
subdialect enclave of Derventa, whereas
Ekavian accent is predominant
in Podravina. There are enclaves of one accent in the territory of the
other, as well as mixed Ekavian–
Ikavian and Jekavian–Ikavian
areas. In some villages in Hungary, the original yat is preserved.
Local variants can widely differ in the degree of Neo-Shtokavian
influences. In two villages in Posavina, Siče and Magića Male, the
l, as in the verb nosil, has been retained in place of the modern
nosio. In some villages in the Podravina, čr is preserved instead of
the usual cr, for example in črn instead of crn. Both forms are usual
Kajkavian but very rare in Shtokavian.
Also called Jekavian-šćakavian, it is a base for the Bosnian
language. It has Jekavian pronunciations in the vast majority of local
forms and it is spoken by the majority of
Bosniaks living in that
area, which includes the bigger Bosnian cities Sarajevo, Tuzla, and
Zenica, and by most of
Serbs that live in that area
(Vareš, Usora, etc.). Together with basic Jekavian pronunciation,
mixed pronunciations exist in
(Ekavian–Jekavian) and around
Žepče and Jablanica djete–diteta
(Jekavian–ikavian). In the central area of the subdialect, the
diphthong uo exists in some words instead of the archaic l and more
common u like vuok or stuop, instead of the standard modern vuk and
Also known as Đekavian-Ijekavian, it is spoken in eastern Montenegro,
Podgorica and Cetinje, around the city of
Novi Pazar in eastern
Raška in Serbia, and by descendents of Montenegrin settlers in the
single village of
Peroj in Istria. The majority of its speakers are
Serbs and Montenegrins and Muslims from
Serbia and Montenegro.
Together with the dominant Jekavian pronunciation, mixed
pronunciations like djete–deteta (Jekavian–Ekavian) around Novi
Pazar and Bijelo Polje, dite–đeteta (Ikavian–Jekavian) around
Podgorica and dete–đeteta (Ekavian–Jekavian) in the village of
Mrkojevići in southern Montenegro. Mrkojevići are also characterised
by retention of čr instead of cr as in the previously mentioned
villages in Podravina.
Some vernaculars have a very open /ɛ/ or /æ/ as their reflex of
ь/ъ, very rare in other
Shtokavian vernaculars (sæn and dæn
instead of san and dan). Other phonetic features
include sounds like ʑ in iʑesti instead of izjesti, ɕ as in ɕekira
instead of sjekira. However these sounds are known also to many in
Herzegovina like those in Konavle, and are not Zeta–Raška
specific . There is a loss of the /v/ sound apparent, seen in čo'ek
or đa'ola. The loss of distinction between /ʎ/ and /l/ in some
vernaculars is based on a substratum. Word pljesma is a
hypercorrection (instead of pjesma) because many vernaculars have
changed lj to j.
All verbs in infinitive finish with "t" (example: pjevat 'sing'). This
feature is also present in most vernaculars of East Herzegovinian, and
actually almost all Serbian and Croatian vernaculars.
The group a + o gave ā /aː/ (kā instead of kao, rekā for rekao),
like in other seaside vernaculars. Elsewhere, more common is ao >
See also: Smederevo–
Also called Older Ekavian, is spoken by Serbs, mostly in western and
northeastern Kosovo (
Kosovo Valley with
Kosovska Mitrovica and also
around Peć), in Ibar Valley with Kraljevo, around Kruševac, Trstenik
and in Župa, in the part of Toplica Valley (Kuršumlija) in the
Morava Valley (Jagodina, Ćuprija, Paraćin, Lapovo), in Resava Valley
(Svilajnac, Despotovac) and northeastern
Požarevac, Bor, Majdanpek, Negotin, Velika Plana) with one part of
Banat (around Kovin, Bela Crkva and Vršac). This dialect can be also
found in parts of Banatska Klisura (Clisura Dunării) in Romania, in
places where Romanian
Serbs live (left bank of the Danube).
Substitution of jat is predominantly
Ekavian accent even on the end of
datives (žene instead of ženi), in pronouns (teh instead of tih), in
comparatives (dobrej instead of dobriji) in the negative of biti
(nesam instead of nisam); in Smederevo–
Vršac dialects, Ikavian
forms can be found (di si instead of gde si?). Smederevo-Vršac
dialect (spoken in northeastern Šumadija, Lower Great Morava Valley
and Banat) is sometimes classified as a subdialect of the
Kosovo-Resava dialect but is also considered to be a separate dialect
as it the represents mixed speech of Šumadija-Vojvodina and
Also called Western
Ikavian or Younger Ikavian. The majority of its
Croats who live in Lika, Kvarner, Dalmatia, Herzegovina
and Bunjevci and
Croats of north
Bačka around Subotica. The minority
speakers of it include
Bosniaks in western Bosnia, mostly around the
city of Bihać, and also in central
Croats and Bosniaks
(Travnik, Jajce, Bugojno, Vitez, ..) used to speak this dialect.
Ikavian accent, Bosnian and Herzegovinian forms use o in
verb participle, whereas those in
Lika use -ija or ia
like in vidija/vidia. Local form of
Bačka was proposed as the base
Bunjevac dialect of Bunjevci in Vojvodina.
Also known as Western (I)jekavian, in earlier centuries, this
subdialect was the independent subdialect of Western Shtokavian
dialect. It is spoken by
Croats who live in some parts of Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik dialect has mixed Jekavian and Ikavian
pronunciations or mixed
Chakavian word. It is a base
for the Croatian language. The dialect today is considered to be a
part of East
Herzegovina subdialect because it is similar to it. It
retained certain unique features that distinguishing it from the
Main article: Šumadija–Vojvodina dialect
Also known as Younger Ekavian, is one of the bases for the standard
Serbian language. It is spoken by
Serbs across most of Vojvodina
(excluding easternmost parts around Vršac), northern part of western
Valjevo in Šumadija, in
Šabac and Bogatić, in
Belgrade and in Serb villages in eastern
Croatia around the town of Vukovar. In some extent, among
Ilok and partly in
Vukovar this dialect can be also found today. It is
Ikavian forms are of morphophonological
origin). In some parts of Vojvodina the old declension is preserved.
Most Vojvodina dialects and some dialects in
Šumadija have an open e
and o[clarification needed]. However the vernaculars of western
Serbia, and in past to them connected vernaculars of (old) Belgrade
Banat (Borča, Pančevo, Bavanište) are as close to
the standard as a vernacular can be. The dialect presents a base for
Ekavian variant of the Serbian standard language.
Main article: Eastern Herzegovinian dialect
Also called Eastern Herzegovininan or Neo-Ijekavian. It encompasses by
far the largest area and the number of speakers of all Shtokavian
dialects. It is the dialectal basis of the standard literary Croatian,
Bosnian, Serbian, and Montenegrin languages.
Montenegro – spoken south
Ijekavian variant micro groups in region Slavonia,
Banovina, Kordun, Žumberak, Neretva, East
Herzegovina (Ravno, Stolac,
Buna, Neum), around of region Dubrovnik, and is the basis of the
Croatian standard. City: (Osijek, Bjelovar, Daruvar, Sisak, Pakrac,
Petrinja Dubrovnik, Metković).
Ijekavian variant groups; East Bosnia, East Herzegovina
(Trebinje, Nevesinje, Bileća), Bosnian Krajina, western
Podrinje (Užice, Čačak, Ivanjica, Loznica, Priboj,
Prijepolje ) and
minority Croatian Serbs. City: Trebinje, Bijeljina, Banja Luka,
Its south-eastern form is characterised by the total lack of /x/ sound
that is sometimes not only left out or replaced by more common /j/ or
/v/ but is replaced as well by less common /k/ and /ɡ/ (bijak, bijaku
imperfect of verb biti). Local forms in the
Žumberak enclave and
Slunj have some special Croatian features,
Chakavian and the western subdialect, whereas forms in
Pakrac are influenced from Kajkavian.
The Proto-Slavic vowel jat (ѣ in
Cirillic or ě Latin) has changed
over time, coming to be pronounced differently in different areas.
These different reflexes define three "pronunciations" (izgovori) of
Ekavian pronunciation (ekavski [ěːkaʋskiː]), jat has
conflated into the vowel e
Ikavian pronunciation (ikavski [ǐːkaʋskiː]), it has
conflated into the vowel i
Ijekavian or Jekavian pronunciation (ijekavski
[ijěːkaʋskiː] or jekavski [jěːkaʋskiː]), it has come
to be pronounced ije or je, depending on whether the vowel was long or
short. In standard Croatian, pronunciation is always jekavian je,
although when yat is short then is je (written as je), and when yat is
long then is je: - e is long (written as ije).
Historically, the yat reflexes had been inscribed in Church Slavic
texts before the significant development of
reflecting the beginnings of the formative period of the vernacular.
In early documents it is predominantly Church Slavic of the Serbian or
Croatian recension (variant). The first undoubted
(beše 'it was') is found in a document from
Serbia dated 1289; the
Ikavian reflex (svidoci 'witnesses') in
Bosnia in 1331; and
first (I)jekavian reflex (želijemo 'we wish', a "hyper-Ijekavism") in
Croatia in 1399. Partial attestation can be found in earlier texts
Ikavian pronunciation is found in a few Bosnian
documents from the latter half of the 13th century), but philologists
generally accept the aforementioned dates. In the second half of the
20th century, many vernaculars with unsubstituted yat[clarification
needed] are found. The intrusion of the vernacular into Church
Slavic grew in time, to be finally replaced by the vernacular idiom.
This process took place for Croats,
and without mutual interference until the mid-19th century. Historical
linguistics, textual analysis and dialectology have dispelled myths
about allegedly "unspoilt" vernacular speech of rural areas: for
instance, it is established that
Bosniaks have retained phoneme "h" in
numerous words (unlike
Serbs and Croats), due to elementary religious
education based on the Quran, where this phoneme is the carrier of
specific semantic value.
Ekavian pronunciation, sometimes called Eastern, is spoken
primarily in Serbia, and in small parts of Croatia. The Ikavian
pronunciation, sometimes called Western, is spoken in western and
central Bosnia, western Herzegovina, some of
Slavonia and the major
Dalmatia in Croatia. The (I)jekavian pronunciation, sometimes
called Southern, is spoken in central Croatia, most of Slavonia,
southern Dalmatia, most of Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, as well as
some parts of western Serbia. The following are some generic examples:
to grow gray hairs
Long ije is pronounced as a single syllable, [jeː], by many Ijekavian
speakers. In Zeta dialect and most of East
however, it is pronounced as two syllables, [ije]. The distinction can
be clearly heard in first verses of national anthems of
Montenegro—they're sung as "Lje-pa na-ša do-mo-vi-no" and "Oj
svi-je-tla maj-ska zo-ro" respectively.
Ikavian pronunciation is the only one that is not part of any
standard variety of Serbo-Croatian. This has led to a reduction in its
use and an increase in the use of
Ijekavian in traditionally Ikavian
areas since the standardization. For example, most people in Split,
Croatia today use both
Ijekavian words in everyday speech
without a predictable pattern.
Ethnic affiliation of native speakers of
During the first half of the 19th century, protagonists of nascent
Slavic philology were, as far as South Slavic dialects were concerned,
embroiled in frequently bitter polemic about "ethnic affiliation" of
native speakers of various dialects. This, from contemporary point of
view, rather bizarre obsession was motivated primarily by political
and national interests that prompted philologists-turned-ideologues to
express their views on the subject. The most prominent contenders in
the squabble, with conflicting agenda, were the Czech philologist
Josef Dobrovský, the Slovak Pavel Šafárik, the Slovenes Jernej
Kopitar and Franc Miklošič, the Serb Vuk Karadžić, the
Slovak origin Bogoslav Šulek, and the Croatians
Vatroslav Jagić and
The dispute was primarily concerned with who can, philologically, be
labelled as "Slovene", "Croat" and "Serb" with the aim of expanding
one's national territory and influence. Born in the climate of
romanticism and national awakening, these polemical "battles" led to
increased tensions between the aforementioned nations, especially
Shtokavian dialect cannot be split along ethnic lines in
an unequivocal manner.
However, contemporary native speakers, after process of national
crystallization and identification had been completed, can be roughly
identified as predominant speakers of various
Because standard languages propagated through media have strongly
influenced and altered the situation in the 19th century, the
following attribution must be treated with necessary caution.
The distribution of Old-
Shtokavian speakers along ethnic lines in
present times is as follows:
Ekavian accent) dialect: Serbian
Zeta-South Sanjak dialect (
Ijekavian accent): Montenegrin, Bosniak and
Slavonian dialect (fluctuating "yat": mainly
Ikavian accent, also
Ijekavian and Ekavian): vastly Croatian
Eastern-Bosnian dialect (
Ijekavian accent): Bosniak and Croatian
Generally, the Neo-
Shtokavian dialect is divided as follows with
regard to the ethnicity of its native speakers:
Šumadija-Vojvodina dialect (
Ekavian accent): Serbian
Dalmatian-Bosnian dialect (
Ikavian accent): Croatian and Bosniak
Eastern Herzegovinian (
Ijekavian accent): Serbian, Montenegrin,
Croatian and Bosniak
Earliest texts of
Proto-Shtokavian, or Church Slavic with ingredients of nascent
Shtokavian, were recorded in legal documents like the charter of Ban
Kulin, regulating the commerce between
Croatia, dated 1189, and in liturgical texts like Gršković’s and
Mihanović’s fragments, ca. 1150, in southern
Bosnia or Herzegovina.
Experts' opinions are divided with regard to the extent these texts,
especially the Kulin ban parchment, contain contemporary Shtokavian
vernacular. Mainly Shtokavian, with ingredients of Church Slavic, are
numerous legal and commercial documents from pre-Ottoman Bosnia, Hum,
Serbia, Zeta, and southern Dalmatia, especially Dubrovnik. The first
Shtokavian text is the Vatican Croatian
Prayer Book, written in
Dubrovnik a decade or two before 1400. In the
next two centuries
Shtokavian vernacular texts had been written mainly
in Dubrovnik, other Adriatic cities and islands influenced by
Dubrovnik, as well as in Bosnia, by Bosnian Franciscans and Bosniak
Muslim vernacular alhamiado literature – the first example being
"Chirwat turkisi" or "Croatian song", dated 1589.
The standard Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian variants of
Serbo-Croatian standard language are all based on the
However, it must be stressed that standard variants, irrespectively of
their mutual differences, have been stylised in such manners that
parts of the Neo-
Shtokavian dialect have been retained—for instance,
declension—but other features were purposely omitted or
altered—for instance, the phoneme "h" was reinstated in the standard
The Croatian has had a long tradition of
literacy and literature. It took almost four and half centuries for
Shtokavian to prevail as the dialectal basis for the Croatian
standard. In other periods,
Kajkavian dialects, as well
as hybrid Chakavian–Kajkavian–
Shtokavian interdialects "contended"
for the Croatian national koine – but eventually lost, mainly due to
historical and political reasons. By the 1650s it was fairly obvious
Shtokavian would become the dialectal basis for the Croatian
standard, but this process was finally completed in the 1850s, when
Shtokavian Ijekavian, based mainly on Ragusan (Dubrovnik),
Dalmatian, Bosnian, and Slavonian literary heritage became the
national standard language.
Serbian was much faster in standardisation. Although vernacular
literature was present in the 18th century, it was
Vuk Karadžić who,
between 1818 and 1851, made a radical break with the past and
established Serbian Neo-
Shtokavian folklore idiom as the basis of
standard Serbian (until then, educated
Serbs had been using Serbian
Slavic, Russian Slavic and hybrid Russian–Serbian language).
Although he wrote in Serbian
Ijekavian accent, the majority of Serbs
Ekavian accent, which is dominant in Serbia.
Croatia and Bosnia, as well as Montenegrins, use the
The Bosnian is only currently beginning to take shape. The Bosniak
idiom can be seen as a transition between Serbian
Croatian varieties, with some specific traits. After the collapse of
Bosniaks affirmed their wish to stylise their own standard
language, based on the Neo-
Shtokavian dialect, but reflecting their
characteristics—from phonetics to semantics.
Also, the contemporary situation is unstable with regard to the
accentuation, because phoneticians have observed that the 4-accents
speech has, in all likelihood, shown to be increasingly unstable,
which resulted in proposals that a 3-accents norm be prescribed. This
is particularly true for Croatian, where, contrary to all
expectations, the influence of
Kajkavian dialects on the
standard language has been waxing, not waning, in the past 50–70
The Croatian, Serbian, and Bosnian standard variants, although all
based on the East Herzegovinian subdialect of Neo-
mutually intelligible, do differ slightly, as is the case with other
pluricentric languages (English, Spanish, German and Portuguese, among
others), but not to a degree which would justify considering them as
different languages. Their structures are grammatically
and phonologically almost identical, but have differences in
vocabulary and semantics. See Differences between standard Bosnian,
Croatian and Serbian.
Example: Što jest, jest; tako je uv(ij)ek bilo, što će biti, (biće
/ bit će), a nekako već će biti!
(The first option (in brackets) in the middle of the sentence
represents the difference between
whereas the second option in the middle represents the difference
between Serbian and Croatian norms, respectively.)
Another example is:
English: Cooking salt is a compound of sodium and chlorine.
Croatian: Kuhinjska sol je spoj natrija i klora.
Serbian Latin: Kuhinjska so je jedinjenje natrijuma i hlora.
Bosnian: Kuhinjska so je spoj natrija i hlora.
Abstand and ausbau languages
Comparison of standard Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian
Language secessionism in Serbo-Croatian
South Slavic dialect continuum
^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds.
Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck
Institute for the Science of Human History.
^ "Hrvatski jezični portal (1)". Retrieved 21 March 2015.
^ Sussex & Cubberly (2006:506) "The core of the modern literary
languages, and the major dialect area, is
‘what’), which covers the rest of the area where B/C/S is spoken."
^ Crystal (1998:25)
^ Alexander (2000:4)
^ Okuka (2008:15)
^ Okuka (2008:16)
^ Okuka (2008:17)
^ Cited after Okuka (2008:20–21)
^ a b Cited after Okuka (2008:21)
^ Cited after Lisac (2003:17–18)
^ a b Alexander (2006:356)
^ Pešikan (2007:65)
^ Kašić, Zorka (1995). "Govor Konavala". Srpski dijalektološki
zbornik. XLI: 241–395.
^ "Hrvatski jezični portal (2)". Retrieved 21 March 2015.
^ "Hrvatski jezični portal (3)". Retrieved 21 March 2015.
^ a b "Hrvatski jezični portal (4)". Retrieved 21 March 2015.
^ P. Ivić, Putevi razvoja srpskohrvatskog vokalizma, Voprosy
jazykoznanija VII/1 (1958), revised in Iz istorije srpskohrvatske
^ Brozović (1992:347–380)
^ Blum (2002:134)
^ Kordić (2010:99–101)
^ Pohl (1996:219)
^ Blum (2002:125–126)
^ Bunčić (2008:93)
Alexander, Ronelle (2000). In honor of diversity: the linguistic
resources of the Balkans. Kenneth E. Naylor memorial lecture series in
South Slavic linguistics ; vol. 2. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State
University, Dept. of Slavic and East European Languages and
Literatures. OCLC 47186443.
—— (2006). Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian - A Grammar with
Sociolinguistic Commentary. The University of Wisconsin Press.
Blum, Daniel (2002). Sprache und Politik : Sprachpolitik und
Sprachnationalismus in der Republik Indien und dem sozialistischen
Jugoslawien (1945–1991) [Language and Policy: Language Policy and
Linguistic Nationalism in the Republic of India and the Socialist
Yugoslavia (1945–1991)]. Beiträge zur Südasienforschung ;
vol. 192 (in German). Würzburg: Ergon. p. 200.
ISBN 3-89913-253-X. OCLC 51961066.
Bunčić, Daniel (2008), "Die (Re-)Nationalisierung der
serbokroatischen Standards" [The (Re-)Nationalisation of
Serbo-Croatian Standards], in Kempgen, Sebastian, Deutsche Beiträge
zum 14. Internationalen Slavistenkongress, Ohrid, 2008, Welt der
Slaven (in German), Munich: Otto Sagner, pp. 89–102,
Crystal, David (1998) [1st pub. 1987], The Cambridge encyclopedia of
language, Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press,
Gröschel, Bernhard (2009). Das Serbokroatische zwischen Linguistik
und Politik: mit einer Bibliographie zum postjugoslavischen
Serbo-Croatian Between Linguistics and Politics: With
a Bibliography of the Post-Yugoslav Language Dispute]. Lincom Studies
in Slavic Linguistics ; vol 34 (in German). Munich: Lincom
Europa. p. 451. ISBN 978-3-929075-79-3.
LCCN 2009473660. OCLC 428012015. OL 15295665W.
Kordić, Snježana (2010), Jezik i nacionalizam [Language and
Nationalism] (PDF), Rotulus Universitas (in Serbo-Croatian), Zagreb:
Durieux, p. 430, ISBN 978-953-188-311-5,
LCCN 2011520778, OCLC 729837512, OL 15270636W, archived
from the original on 8 July 2012, retrieved 3 April 2014
Lisac, Josip (2003), Hrvatska dijalektologija 1 – Hrvatski
dijalekti i govori štokavskog narječja i hrvatski govori torlačkog
narječja, Zagreb: Golden marketing – Tehnička knjiga,
Okuka, Miloš (2008), Srpski dijalekti, SDK Prosvjeta,
Pohl, Hans-Dieter (1996), "Serbokroatisch – Rückblick und
Ausblick" [Serbo-Croatian – Looking backward and forward], in
Ohnheiser, Ingeborg, Wechselbeziehungen zwischen slawischen Sprachen,
Literaturen und Kulturen in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart : Akten
der Tagung aus Anlaß des 25jährigen Bestehens des Instituts für
Slawistik an der Universität Innsbruck, Innsbruck, 25. – 27.
Mai 1995, Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Kulturwissenschaft, Slavica
aenipontana ; vol. 4 (in German), Innsbruck: Non Lieu,
pp. 205–219, OCLC 243829127
Sussex, Roland; Cubberly, Paul (2006), The Slavic Languages,
Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São
Paulo: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-22315-7
Pešikan, Mitar (2007), "III. Akcenat i druga pitanja pravilnog
govora", Srpski jezički priručnik (IV ed.), Beogradska knjiga,
p. 65, ISBN 978-86-7590-169-3
Friedman, Victor (1999). Linguistic emblems and emblematic languages:
on language as flag in the Balkans. Kenneth E. Naylor memorial lecture
series in South Slavic linguistics ; vol. 1. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio
State University, Dept. of Slavic and East European Languages and
Literatures. OCLC 46734277.
Gröschel, Bernhard (2003). "Postjugoslavische Amtssprachenregelungen
- Soziolinguistische Argumente gegen die Einheitlichkeit des
Serbokroatischen?" [Post-Yugoslav Official Languages Regulations –
Sociolinguistic Arguments Against Consistency of Serbo-Croatian?].
Srpski jezik (in German). 8 (1-2): 135–196. ISSN 0354-9259.
Retrieved 14 April 2015. (COBISS-Sr).
Kordić, Snježana (2004). "Pro und kontra: "Serbokroatisch" heute"
[Pro and con: "Serbo-Croatian" nowadays] (PDF). In Krause, Marion;
Sappok, Christian. Slavistische Linguistik 2002: Referate des XXVIII.
Konstanzer Slavistischen Arbeitstreffens, Bochum 10.-12. September
2002. Slavistishe Beiträge ; vol. 434 (in German). Munich: Otto
Sagner. pp. 97–148. ISBN 3-87690-885-X.
OCLC 56198470. Archived from the original on 4 August 2012.
Retrieved 2 October 2013. (ÖNB).
—— (2009). "Policentrični standardni jezik" [Polycentric Standard
Language] (PDF). In Badurina, Lada; Pranjković, Ivo; Silić, Josip.
Jezični varijeteti i nacionalni identiteti (in Serbo-Croatian).
Zagreb: Disput. pp. 83–108. ISBN 978-953-260-054-4.
OCLC 437306433. Archived from the original on 4 August 2012.
Retrieved 31 January 2015. (ÖNB).
—— (2009). "Plurizentrische Sprachen, Ausbausprachen,
Abstandsprachen und die Serbokroatistik" [Pluricentric languages,
Ausbau languages, Abstand languages and the Serbo-Croatians].
Zeitschrift für Balkanologie (in German). 45 (2): 210–215.
ISSN 0044-2356. OCLC 680567046. ZDB-ID 201058-6.
Archived from the original on 4 August 2012. Retrieved 6 May
Kristophson, Jürgen (2000). "Vom Widersinn der Dialektologie:
Gedanken zum Štokavischen" [Dialectological Nonsense: Thoughts on
Shtokavian]. Zeitschrift für Balkanologie (in German). 36 (2):
178–186. ISSN 0044-2356.
Peco, Asim (1967). "Uticaj turskog jezika na fonetiku štokavskih
govora". Naš jezik, 16, 3. (in Serbo-Croatian)
Škiljan, Dubravko (2002). Govor nacije: jezik, nacija, Hrvati [Voice
of the Nation: Language, Nation, Croats]. Biblioteka Obrisi moderne
(in Serbo-Croatian). Zagreb: Golden marketing.
Thomas, Paul-Louis (2003). "Le serbo-croate (bosniaque, croate,
monténégrin, serbe): de l'étude d'une langue à l'identité des
Serbo-Croatian (Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, Serbian):
from the study of a language to the identity of languages]. Revue des
études slaves (in French). 74 (2–3): 311–325.
ISSN 0080-2557. OCLC 754204160. ZDB-ID 208723-6.
Retrieved 23 September 2015.
Serbo-Croatian dialects according to Brabec, Kraste, and
Shtokavian dialects according to Dalibor Brozović