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Journal of Croatian Studies, XXVIII-XXIX, 1987-88 – Annual Review of the Croatian Academy of America, Inc. New York, N.Y., Electronic edition by Studia Croatica, by permission. All rights reserved by the Croatian Academy of America.

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Standard languages of Europe were formed at different historical periods ranging from the Dantean times in Italy to the twentieth century when Macedonian, a number of Caucasian, Uralic, Altaic and other standard languages of the Soviet Union were formed. In Romance and Germanic worlds the most important period in the development of their standard languages was the 16th century, when the Renaissance and Reformation movements were at their peak. In the history of Slavic standard languages some major events took place in the 18th century, and for some of them it was the most important phase in their history. That is the reason why at the Seventh International Congress of Slavists in Warsaw one of the major topics was the sociolinguistic situation in the Slavic countries in the 18th century, and why the majority of papers from all the participating countries dealt with this question.


If we apply the somewhat vague term "Croatian Literary Language" to cover both the written languages from the past and the contemporary standard language of the Croats, the history of the Croatian Literary Language can be divided into six periods, some of which consist of more than one phase. In this historical perspective the 18th century emerges as the most important point, which divides the first three periods (i.e., the prestandard history) from the latter three periods, which are characterized by the gradual formation of the latter three periods, which are characterized by the gradual formation of the present-day Croatian standard language.


A. Prestandard history:


First period:


— Medieval Croatian writing

— Development from the acceptance of Glagolitic script in the 9-10th centuries until the end of the 15th century

— Dominance of the čakavian dialect in writing and strong influence of the Croatian Church Slavic (with increasing secular usage)

— Appearance of the Cyrillic and the Latin alphabets in the 12th and 14th centuries, respectively


Second period


— Development of regional literatures in the 16th century (which adopt the intellectual linguistic adstratum of the medieval writings but drop the accumulated linguistic substance)

— Balance between čakavian, štokavian and kajkavian dialects in writing and between čakavian and štokavian in belle lettres

— Formation of two Croatian territorial complexes: northwestern (northern čakavian-kajkavian), and southeastern (southern čakavian-štokavian)

— Gradual disappearance of Glagolitic script

— Formation of several regional written languages based on various subdialects of all three major dialects


Third Period


— Development and multiplication of regional literatures and regional written languages in the 17th and the first half of the 18th centuries.

— Livelier contacts among the latter

— Prevalence of the štokavian dialect in the southeastern territorial complex

— Slow decline of čakavian and the Western type of Cyrillic alphabet in the second phase (the first half of the 18th century)

— Unification of the kajkavian written language

— Neo-štokavian expansion in the southeastern territorial complex, i.e., its influence on the čakavian territory and the influence of neoštokavian on non-neoštokavian written languages, primarily on the language of Dubrovnik



B. History of the Croatian Standard Language:


Fourth Period


— Ikavian and ijekavian types of neoštokavian as the exclusive written language in the southeastern territorial complex in the second half of the 18th century and the first decades of the 19th century

— Beginnings of standardization of this language and its increased influence in the northwestern territorial complex

— Relatively quick but not widespread enough standardization of kajkavian written language and its orthographic standardization

— Total victory of the Latin alphabet in the southeastern territorial complex with substantial tendencies towards orto graphic convergence

— Widening of functional potential of both Croatian super-regional written languages in the process of standardization accompanied by weakening or stagnation of their purely literary function


Fifth Period


— Croatian National Revival (Preporod) and its development till the end of the 19th century

— Annexation of the northwestern territorial complex to the southeastern

— Important advancement of neoštokavian as the only Croatian standard language

— General orthographic reform

— Gradual disappearance of ijekavian-ikavian duality in the first phase of the fifth period

— Struggle between various proposals about the ideal type of the Neo-štokavian standard (so-called language schools—the schools of Zagreb, Zadar, Rijeka)

— Struggle with the remnants of language regionalism Struggle between the proponents of ethymological vs. phonetic onthography

— Change in the physiognomy of neoštokavian

— Final victory of the phonetic orthography at the turn of the century


Sixth Period: Developments in the 20th century


— Unification of the standard language

— Apparent orthographic oscillations

— Awareness of the necessity for a stable Croatian neo-štokavian norm which became actual in the 60's Formation of neo-čakavian and neo-kajkavian dialectal literatures at the beginning of the century and their constant development, which is a distinctive characteristic of the present-day situation in the Croatian language and literature


This periodization clearly shows the place which the 18th century occupies in the history of the Croatian literacy and in the prehistory and history of the Croatian standard language: the first half of the 18th century is the last phase of the third period and, therefore, represents the end of prestandard history; the second half of the 18th century is the first phase of the fourth period and, therefore, represents the beginning of standardization. It is important to note that the middle of 18th century marks the end of the processes which had begun at the turn of 15th and 16th centuries, i.e., in the second period.


The several centuries-long development of the medieval Croatian writing (a period longer than the period since the discovery of America) was interrupted and its results completely lost. The catastrophe was survived only by the cultural-linguistic adstratum developed in the Middle Ages (abstract vocabulary, elements of terminology, syntax, phraseology, etc.). This adstratum will later become a part of the regional Croatian written languages and will function as a bond between them. The processes which started after the breaking point caused by the Turkish invasion were, as I mentioned earlier, finished in the middle of the 18th century: this point in time marks the beginning of a new development, this time supra-regional, which will also be interrupted in the third decade of the 19th century. However, this time the painful break was conscious and it meant the abandonment of the Kajkavian written language, which was at that time already at an advanced stage of standardization. The middle of the 18th century, therefore, is a central point between the two painful moments: it marks the end of the medieval and the beginning of the modern Croatian linguistic history. Not many nations have had such a complex and tragic linguistic and literary history.


The middle of the 18th century was, therefore, an important, maybe the most important, breaking point in the history of the Croatian language. However, as I mentioned at the beginning of this paper, this century was a crucial period in the history of almost all the Slavic languages, in each of them in a different way. That is why I would like to give an outline of these processes in other Slavic countries before I concentrate on the more detailed analysis of this period in Croatia. This approach is relevant for two reasons: (1) it will give a wider perspective to the analysis of the Croatian situation, and (2) the history of Croatian literary language abounds in various influences, analogies and parallel processes to those in other languages. This complex relationship of Croatian to other Slavic languages is much richer than is normally the case in the Slavic world.


Slavic languages generally belong to one of the two major types with respect to their history: the first type includes languages for which the question of the relationship toward the local or the Russian variant of the Church Slavic language (or both) remained the central problem till the 18th or even 19th century; the second type includes the nations for which this question was resolved at the very onset of their literacy, or nations which never had to face this problem directly. The first, i.e., Eastern, group includes the East Slavic languages and the Bulgarians, Macedonians, Serbs and Montenegrins, while the West Slavic nations and Slovenians comprise the second or Western group. The Cyrillo-Methodian tradition gave to each of the Slavic literary traditions, either directly or through some other Slavic intermediary (Southern, Czech, Russian, Croatian) such a range of possibilities in the development of their lexicon, semantics, derivation and phraseology that it simply does not have a parallel in Europe (Latin is an all-European tradition). While for the second group the discussion ends with this statement, for the languages of the first group we must add that the Church Slavic tradition turned into a thousand-year-long obstacle, which was imposing its own (ortho)graphic models and which, at the threshold of the modern epoch, almost triggered the development of diglossia (in Ferguson's sense). Because of this difference, the 18th century was different in these two groups.


In Poland we have relatively the simplest and the most positive case. Here we find the only more or less western European type, which was merely waiting for modernization and polyfunctionalization of the standard language established in the 16th century. In Czech, Upper and Lower Lusatian and Slovenian, the situation is different; all of them had some kind of a standard language (Czech established in the 15th and the other three in the 16th centuries), which was in a stage of decline or stagnation in the 17th century. In the 18th century, we can see the struggle to stop this trend and to neutralize the negative sociolinguistic consequences. That is why there are many more abrupt changes and reforms with different results than in Poland. In Bohemia and Slovenia this stagnation caused the development of similar general substandard languages. In Slovakia in the second half of the 18th century there coexisted three competing idioms: beginnings of a standard language based on West Slovak created by Bernolák, the Slovak variant of standard Czech, and an east Slovak (Calvinistic) written language which was at the first stage of standardization. This disbalance, together with the development of mid-Slovak solution — the establishment of a standard language based on the mid-Slovak spoken language, which was accomplished by Stur in the 19th century. In Pomorania the choice was between germanization, or their own (practically Kashubian) standard, or the development of a Polish-Kashubian hybrid, or the acceptance of the Polish standard. The decision was made in the 18th century in favor of the first and the last solutions. The later Kashubian literary renaissance, which took place at the end of the 19th and in the 20th centuries, was no longer a question of a standard language, but remained rather at the literary level.


In the Eastern group Russian is principally different from other languages. There were only two components in the game here: Russian (East Slavic) and Church Slavic (South Slavic in its russified form). In all other cases there were four components: local variant of Church Slavic, Russian variant of Church Slavic, local language, and Russian. This is true for all these languages, despite the differences in the relative quantitative and qualitative roles of those componenents, since the South and East Slays certainly had a different relationship toward the Church Slavic and Russian components. These differences, together with different sociolinguistic and extralinguistic circumstances, created different situations in these countries in the 18th century. Russian was in the best position in this group: the centuries-long, relatively stable and uninterrupted development of an amalgam of Russian Church Slavic and Russian based on the dialect of Moscow, ended during the course of the 18th century and was definitely standardized at the beginning of the 19th century. Therefore, the Russian situation, in spite of different language material, was identical to that in Polish. In Byelorussian, the amalgam such as the one in Russian (but on much smaller scale) was achieved already in the 16th century, but it stagnated in the 17th century and practically disappeared at the beginning of the 18th century. Because of the stupor in the 18th century and the influence of other Slavic languages (Polish, Russian), Byelorussian standard language in the 19th century started from a completely new position, being based on the so-called vernacular. Ukrainian had a similar history, but the contrasts were much less extreme, and there was an East-West polarization. In Bulgaria and Macedonia these processes had a "natural" course, but with different intensity and rhythm and with different degrees of Russian Church Slavic and Russian influences. A specific "Balkan" grammatical structure, together with difficult extralinguistic circumstances in both 18th and 19th centuries, made a solution such as the one in Russian impossible, while the differences between Bulgarian and Macedonian situations resulted in almost opposite final solutions. In Bulgaria, a rather happy compromise took place in the last quarter of the 19th century. In Macedonia, the standard language was based on a purely, vernacular base starting at the beginning of the 20th century, with full realization in the 1940's. In Serbia a very strong penetration of Russian Church Slavic and Russian influences at the beginning of the 18th century prevented the stabilization of Serbian Church Slavic. This was an amalgam based on a neoštokavian, mostly ekavian, dialect which could have in the course of this century, with generally more favorable circumstances, developed into a modern standard language. However, the newly formed four-fold hybrid (so-called Slavjanoserbski) could not have developed into a standard language. There were two reasons for this: first, this language was more different from both Church Slavic and Russian, especially phonologically, than any other štokavian idiom; and second, because one century is too short a period for such a process to be accomplished. That is why already in the second decade of the 19th century Karadžić initiated a new standard language based entirely on the neoštokavian vernacular. This process will be finished by the mid-19th century with the ekavian-ijekavian duality unresolved (the situation characteristic of present-day Serbian standard as well).


In this paper so far I have introduced two values: periodization of the Croatian literary language in the vertical temporal dimension, and the classification of Slavic languages in the horizontal temporal dimension of the 18th century. Two things are immediately obvious: 18th century in Croatia was not much like the 18th century in any other Slavic country, and the Croatian vertical development was so different from all the others that it can-not be included in either of the two types we introduced. For Croats the question of the Church Slavic influence ceased to be a general problem at the end of the 15th century, i.e., half way between this occurrence in the Eastern and the Western groups (it remained a problem in individual regional languages till the 18th century).


This means that, with respect to the basic criterion used for the division of the Slavic languages, Croatian occupies a middle position. According to other parameters which define the two types of standard Slavic languages (including transitional cases), Croatian does not have many typological parallels in the Slavic world either, in spite of the fact that, as I have already mentioned, Croatian relations with some of these languages were numerous, diverse, multidirectional and many-sided. In other words, Croatian literary language is characterized by the following characteristics in its own specific historical development and in the physiognomy which resulted from it:


(a)         Middle position with respect to the Slavic groups and equal relation to their members

(b)         A number of specific extralinguistic factors which influenced the development of literacy (incongruity both with countries occupied by the Turks and with countries in the domain of medieval history, Mediterranean characteristics, and the extreme political-territorial division related to all of the above)

(c)         With respect to the literary function, analogy with the West-European, especially Mediterranean situation

(d)         Dialects spoken by Croats belong to the same diasystem as the dialects spoken by Serbs, Montenegrins and Muslims in Bosnia and Hercegovina.


These characteristics, which define at the same time the substance and the structure of dialectal basis and the development of Croatian literary language, also determined the concrete form of Croatian in the 18th century. Moreover, all the consequences of these facts received their final form exactly in this period. This includes the choice of the dialectal base among all the dialects in the diasystem mentioned under (d), which, lacking a better and more accurate name, we will call Croato-Serbian (or Serbo-Croatian). The choice fell upon the Western neoštokavian dialect of the ekavian and west ijekavian types. This neoštokavian literary language of the 18th century was the first Croatian supraregional literary language after Croatian Church Slavic, which had stopped fulfilling this role at the end of the 15th century.


This choice ended the period of the Croatian regional literary languages, which lasted through the 16th, 17th and the first half of the 18th centuries, i.e., second and third period of my periodization. Neoštokavian standard is today the standard of Serbs, Montenegrins, Muslims in Bosnia and Hercegovina, and the Croats themselves, even though these nations went through this process later than the Croats (Serbs, for example, in the second decade of the 19th century), and despite some differences in the form of the neoštokavian dialectal base (for Serbs ekavian and commonijekavian, for Montenegrins east-ijekavian, for Muslims ikavian and common-ijekavian).


Obviously the above picture is very complicated and, moreover, pretty much opposite the traditional philological ideas about this question. This means that the understanding of the 18th century in the history of Croatian literary language is difficult for two reasons: the facts are complicated in themselves, but it is also necessary to overcome inaccuracies and false interpretation which are established in Yugoslav and international philology. Sometimes even the most basic elements of the language situation are misinterpreted. One such misinterpretation is that Serbs, Montenegrins, Muslims in Bosnia and Hercegovina and Croats use a standard language based on neoštokavian, because they use dialects of the same diasystem. This is a false explanation: while it is a fact that all of these nations chose as the dialectal base for their standard language more or less the same (i.e., neoštokavian) dialect, which is a part of that diasystem, the choices were made at various times, under different circumstances and with different motives. The choice could have gone in a different directions, for example, a non-neoštokavian or a non-štokavian dialect, or even some amalgam with a Church Slavic component. Only Muslims in Bosnia and Hercegovina did not have even a hypothetical possibility for a different choice (except, maybe, regarding the alphabet, which is also very unlikely).


This is why the 18th century played a crucial role and why I have put the Croatian situation in a general Slavic framework and why I have presented a historical development of the Croatian literary language. Having this background in mind, we can now formulate our thesis and evaluate it with both traditional and unorthodox interpretations. The thesis is as follows:


"In the middle of the 18th century Croatian literary language had two forms: neoštokavian (with ijekavian-ikavian duality) in the southeastern territorial complex and kajkavian in the northwest. Both of them were in the process of standardization. Both of them were the heirs of numerous regional languages which were developing since the beginning of the 16th century: čakavian, kajkavian and (neo)štokavian. The neoštokavian language of this period was the same language of present-day Croats."


First objection: Neoštokavian was generally accepted on the entire Croatian territory only in the third decade of the 19th century. This observation is correct. However, the existence of a standard language is counted from the time when it started to be a written language, with the contemporary substance and structure, with an evolutionary development (which means that there were no abrupt changes in its form), and from the time it started to be codified, either spontaneously or through consciously prescribed rules. Example: it is widely accepted that standard French with its present (neo-French) structure and substance has been developing since the 15th - 16th centuries, but it became general French only one or two centuries later when it took the place of Provençal and Latin in Southern France (Occitanic region). If the French are willing to make their standard language two centuries younger, than Croats could sacrifice some eighty years!


Second objection: Second objection: In the period from the middle of the 18th century till the third decade of the 19th century, the grammatical and phonetic forms were still uncoordinated, unperfected and uncodified. This is true, because the neoštokavian literary language at the time was still in the process of standardization, and can be called a standard language only conditionally. However, in other European languages in which the status of a standard language has never been questioned, the situation was often similar to this. Besides, the differences in details of neoštokavian norm of Dubrovnik, Lika, Bosnia and Hercegovina and Slavonia were not greater then than in the period from the 1830's till the end of the 19th century, if we have in mind various "schools" and norms created by groups gathered around certain individuals for Zagreb and Rijeka schools even the neoštokavian character can be questioned). The existence of a codified norm is not a condition for a standard language. Standard English does not have one even today in the sense that the majority of "continental" languages have it (actually, Croatian does not have it, either). In other words, if this was a precondition, then the beginning of the Croatian standard language would be at the turn of the 19th into the 20th century and not in the third decade of the 19th century; or we would not even have a standard language today.


Third objection: In Croatian neoštokavian the ikavian-ijekavian duality existed until the period of the National Revival. This is also true and, moreover, this duality is found even in the second half of the 19th century, so that even in the 1870's a complete edition of the Bible appeared in ikavian. On the other hand, in the Serbian variant of the neoštokavian standard the ekavian-ijekavian duality exists even today and still nobody has ever doubted the existence of the Serbian standard language. Similar situation can be found in other standard languages or their variants. Examples: a zone with or without a phonetic [z] in standard Italian; the zone with the initial sequence /zh-/ or /sx-/ in standard Czech; the zone with different sandhi rules in Polish, etc.


Fourth objection: The alphabet and orthography were not perfected till the National Revival. This is again true and, moreover, they remained as such till the end of the 19th century, and a relatively large number of details are still awaiting the final solution today. On the other hand, in written neoštokavian, the second half of the 19th century was the period of intensive convergence in (ortho)graphic details. In this period (fourth period in my periodization) an almost completely unified writing system was achieved, with only 1-3 variant graphemes, and the orthography was also more or less unified basically on the phonetic principles. In any case, in the period the Revival till the end of the 19th century (our fifth period) this situation is not much better (6, written forms for /3/, tj, d, /r/ and even /1/ and /ń/: till the second half of the 19th century even /č/, /ž/, /š/, /ć/, /3/). As far as the orthography is concerned, the situation was actually worse, with oscillations between moderately phonological (popular term "phonetic") to moderately morphonological (popular term "etymological"). Finally, the existence of a standard language is nowhere counted from the point at which its final (ortho)graphic physiognomy was established, i.e., from the time that it is developing in a purely evolutionary manner. In the course of the history of a standard language even the alphabet itself can be completely changed, not only graphics or orthography. Turks certainly would not agree to count the history of their standard language only since 1928 when the Latin alphabet replaced Arabic, which was a much more drastic change than any Croatian (ortho) graphic reforms in the last centuries.


Fifth objection: The substance and the structure of the dialectal base are not the same in the 4th period and in the period after the Revival. This is simply not true. One can even say that the development between the 4th and 6th periods had a more evolutionary character than the development between the 5th and 6th periods. The period between the third decade and the end of the 19th century is a deviation, because the language of the "Illyrians" and the Zagreb school was sometimes closer to some regional languages of the 17th and the first half of the 18th centuries than to the spoken language of the fourth period and the standard language.


This is not hard to prove. With the photo copy of edition of Danica everyone can see that its language was far from the standard neoštokavian. If we, however, read Kačič or Reljković, the impression is completely different, and notably more acceptable, which is also easy to prove. No one doubts that there was an evolutionary development in the Serbian standard language since Karadžić. Let us take two texts, one by Kačić and one by Karadžić. Kačić's was taken from Razgovori, 1756 edition, and Karadžić's from Srpski rječnik, 1818 edition, i.e., it is 62 years later than Kačić's. Both texts are prose, both reflect the same society, their content is similar (kidnapping), so we can compare their language without worrying about the thematic or formal factors. Let us read Kačić's text first:


... Martin Glumčević sam otide u Duvno, dovede jedno tursko dite i prodade ga za sedamdeset groša, ma da bude umio, bi i za pet stotina, jer biše sin jednoga bega bogata. Ali za nasmijati se, potribno je kazati vas dogadaj! Otide Martin u Duvno, kazuje se da je prosijak iz careve zemlje; dolazi k jednomu begu bogatu i moll ga da se dostoji uzeti ga za svoga dvornika, koju milost lasno imade od bega. Stoji dakle s njime nikoliko vrimena ištuči prigodu kako bi mu nešto od fajde odnio. U to vrime od svoga dvorstva biše razmilovao sina svoga gospodara, i otijući jedan dan otići u diva s konjima, moli begov sin oca svoga da ga pusti poći s Martinom u planinu. Beg, ne moguči izači ditetu iz atora, pusti mu na volju, i otide s Martinom u planinu. Ali Martin, videči se slobodan i daleko od dvora begova, naprti dite na konja, doma ga u Makarsku i prodade istomu ocu za sedamdeset groša. Ma slano plati posli. Kada Martin popi i izide ono sedamdeset groša, opet ide u tursku zemlju iznova se naimati. Namira se na Turke i pitaju ga: "Odkolem si siromaše?". Odgovara i laže da je iz Glamoča. Pitaju ga: "Jesi li gladan?". Odgovara na primorsku: "Nisam od jučer bokuna okusio". Kada Turci 1.1§e ovu rič "bokun", poznadoše da je morski čovik i da je uhoda, svezaše ga i povedoše u sužanjstvo, od koga za izbaviti se bi usilovan dati pet stotina groša. To bi bokun i najam! (Stari pisci hrvatski, knj. XXVII, 1942, str.81).


Now Karadžić's text:


U Srbiji i današnji dan otimaju devojke. Mlada momčad vrlo rado idu u otmicu, i testo nude jedan drugoga: "Ajde more da ti otmemo tu, onu, devojku." U otmicu se ide s oružjem kakogod na vojsku. Kašto otmičari dovrebaju đevojku kod stoke, kad pode na vodu, pa je uvate i odvedu; a kašto udare na kuću noću (kao ajduci), pa obiju kuću i svežu đevojatkoga oca i braću, dok nadu devojku i odvedu. Kašto se pobiju đevojatka braća i rodaci s otmičarima i bude mesa dosta: kao što je u Jadru (u selu Klupcima) 1805te godine poginuo đevojtin brat i jedan otmičar; i devojku opet nijesu mogli oteti. Zato otmičari ne smiju lasno da udare na kuću, de znaju da ima mnogo roda u devojke, a osobito de je selo složno: zašto i seljaci, kako stanu puške pucati i utini se buna, spopadne svaki svoju pušku pa tri u pomoč. Svemu je selu sramota, kad se iz sela otme devojka, a otmičarima još veća, kad se vrate jalovi. Kad otmičari dokopaju devojku u ruke, onda je več ne će ostaviti, makar svi izignuli: ako li se devojka stane zatezati i neće da ide, onda je vuku za kose, i dera štapom kao vola u kupusu. Otmitari ne smiju ići s devojkom momačkoj kući: zašto pođu kašto seljaci, s rodom đevojatkim, za njima u poćeru; nego je odvedu u šumu, i tamo je vjentaju u kakvoj kolibi (pudarskoj pastirskoj), iii de oko bukvića. Pop mora vjenčati, ako mu se i ne će: zašto oče da ga biju. Kad dode poćera u selo, onda svi, otkud su otmičari, izidu preda nji lijepim načinom i grade mir. Ako se tako pomire, dobro; ako li rod đevojatki ode kadiji na tužbu, onda moraju doei i otmičari s devojkom. Kad ugleda mati devojku na mešćemi, a ona se stane busati rukama u prsi, i jaukati: "Kuku mene! evo roda moga." Kad se potnu suditi, kadija najprije pita devojku: Ili je sila, draga volja? Ako reče devojka, da je sila, i da ona ne će s onim momkom življeti ni danas ni sjutra, makar je svu isjekli na komade, onda zlo po otmičare: moraju ležati u apsu i plaćati globu. Ako li devojka rete (kao što ponajviše biva): "Nije sila, veće draga volja: ja ću za njim i u goru i u vodu", onda otmičari dadu štogođ kadiji, pa se pomire s đevojačkim rodom, i odvedu devojku kući te tine svadbu.


Najviše se dogodi te otimaju devojke, kad momak zaprosi devojku pa mu je ne dadu; a kašto je i ne prose (kad znaju da je ne će dati), nego upravo otidu i otmu, a momak je nije ni video. Đevojke otimaju ponajviše momtad, koja nemaju roditelja, ako i imaju, a oni i ne slušaju, nego se skiću kojekuda; a za poštena momka i od poštena roda slabo če kad oteti devojku, niti će takovi momak ići u otmicu. (V. S. Karadžič, Srpski rječnik, 1818, Beograd 1966, str. 429-430).


Only a stubborn person would deny the fact that these two languages have the same status. Even though the first text is 62 years older, in some details it is even closer to contemporary norm: for example the sound h (uhoda) which Karadžić didnot have in 1818 (that is why i in the last sentence "a oni i ne slušaju" should be read as a pronoun ih 'them' and not as a conjunction 'and'); Karadžić's forms devojka, poćera, are very far from contemporary norm, etc. It is understood that Kačić's text has been transcribed into contemporary Croatian alphabet, but in our discussion of the 4th objection we showed that is not very relevant. We have, I believe, also solved the question of ikavisms.


Let us now take an example of poetry from Slavonia. I randomly selected a few verses from Antun Kanižlić's (1699-1777) poem "Sveta Rožalija" published in 1780 in Vienna:


"Je li još, tko znade, uskočica živa?

Ako i dopade zla, sama je kriva.

Nek na vrata grada tuda sad brez kosâ

hodeći od glada mre gola i bosa!"

Majke srdce meko opet se povme,

zacviliš: "Sto reko, o žalosti crne!

Ah, nisam li mati ja, i ona koja

to morebit pati, nije li kći moja?

Kako bi to bilo? Ja zlatom odivam,

častim, pitam tilo, što želim, uživam,

a kći, moja krvca, gola je brez ruha,

uboga bez drvca i gladna brez kruha!"

U ovoj žalosti jer se sva smućivaš,

Majku od milosti u pomoć zazivaš,

gdi u crkvi puku pruža iz nebesa

blagodarnu ruku od mlogih čudesa.


(Stari pisci hrvatski, knj. XXVI, 1940, str.65)


It is completely wrong to claim that this is not the same language as the present-day standard language, or that in other European languages the differences between two stages separated by two hundred years are smaller. For the most developed languages this might be true, but if we take languages of comparable size in terms of number of speakers, importance and physiognomy, the differences are either similar or larger or sometimes much larger. It is, to say the least, inconceivable that some linguists would apply special criteria to such an average case.


From everything said so far we can conclude that the 18th century was a truly breaking point in the history of Croatian literary language: in the middle of this century neoštokavian Croatian written language (ikavian and ijekavian) was established and it entered the standardization process in the entire southeastern area. At the time it was the only written language in this area. After the Revival it replaced the kajkavian written language and became the standard language of all Croats. This means that in the purely linguistic sense the 18th century was more important than Croatian National Revival in the third decade of the 19th century. Of course, the Revival was more important in cultural, social, political and national sense, but in the linguistic sense it meant only two things: 1) the spreading of the already existing neoštokavian written language in a territorial sense (in kajkavian area) and a functional sense; and 2) the reform of the orthography and the creation of conditions for general acceptance of this reform by all Croats. That is why, for example, for Dubrovnik's Antun Kaznačić (1784-1874) as a writer and cultural worker the Revieval meant only a change of orthography, but not the language.


The last question we have to address is: Should we have stopped at the 18th century? Couldn't we have moved the beginning of present-day Croatian neoštokavian standard even further in the past in order to include such great writers as Gundulić or even Držić? We will address this question, if only in general terms, since it has both principled and practical relevance.


The answer to this question is no. It is necessary to match the periodization of the Croatian literary language with those of other European languages. If the same objections as those above were raised regarding some of them, the majority of the periodizations would have to be revised, and not in their favor. We must apply in all cases the same standards: nothing more and nothing less!


After the period of the Croatian Church Slavic literature in the 16th and 17th centuries (second and third periods in my periodization), there appeared a number of regional Croatian written languages. Several of them were in the southeast area (southern ćakavian-štokavian) which, from the mid-18th century was completely covered by the supraregional neoštokavian written language (the same language which in the third decade of the 19th century became the language of all Croats). That is, therefore, the first difference: supraregional vs. regional.


The regional languages in the southeastern area were both čakavian and štokavian. Leaving čakavian aside, in the second period (16th century) there were only two štokavian languages, both of them non-neoštokavian: the language of Dubrovnik a nonneo-štokavian dialect with ikavian-čakavian elements, and, at the end of this period the Bosnian language, a non-neoštokavian East Bosnian (ijekavian-šáakavian) dialect. Both of these languages should obviously remain in the prehistory of Croatian standard language, because of their regional status and because of their non-neoštokavian character. The second feature means that the development from them to the modern standard language could not be evolutionary, but was a change in substance and structure. In the third period (17th and the first half of the 18th centuries) beside čakavian, there were a number of štokavian regional languages: the language of Dubrovnik (ijekavian, in the process of neoštokavization); Dalmatian (ikavian, of early neoštokavian character); Bosnian (ikavian in the early phase of the so-called mixed ijekavian-ikavian in the process of neoštokavization, or of early neoštokavian character); Slavonian (ikavian, non-neoštokavian Slavonian dialect with local and Bosnian neoštokavian elements). These štokavian written languages of the third period should also be left in the prehistory of neoštokavian standard, because of their regional character, while it is not certain that their physiognomies would necessarily require this.


There is no doubt that, for example, Gundulić's language was already very close to the standard neoštokavian. If this were not true, Mažuranić, the writer of Smrt Smail-age Čengića, would have had a hard time finishing Gundulić's Osman. However, this similarity is not sufficient. In all four štokavian regional languages from the third period the dialectal base is limited to a single region, in all of them we find elements of non-neoštokavian and even nonštokavian character, while neoštokavian elements are not yet mature. All of this prevents us from considering any of them as an evolutionary predecessor of the supraregional neoštokavian of the fourth period.


I am using here two criteria: regional vs. supraregional character of the language, and the nature of the dialectal base. These two criteria are related: at the time of regional literatures (second and third periods), the Croatian intellectual community consisted of writers, not their audiences. Each group of readers needed only their own literary language. In the mid-18th century the audiences are integrated, at least in the southeastern area, as much as it was possible at the time. That is why the supraregional neoštokavian could replace all previously existing čakavian and štokavian languages. In order to perform its function on such a large area, it needed standardization and that is why already at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries there were some attempts to codify it in various textbooks, grammars and dictionaries. These were very different from the similar works in previous periods. In the last decades of the 18th century in Vienna there was a commission consisting of a poet from Lika, a church dignitary from Zagreb, some Slavonian experts and Stulli from Dubrovnik. This commission was working on an alphabet and an orthography for Stulli's dictionary. For the history of Croatian literary language the work of this commission was much more important than any other meeting in Vienna or anywhere else.


To conclude: out of the six periods in the history of Croatian literary language only the last three, from the 18th century till now, represent the history of the standard Croatian neoštokavian language. This is true only for the language itself. As far as the superstructure (especially lexico-terminological and phraseological) is concerned, the prehistory of the modern standard language goes back to the first Glagolitic texts. This history was very difficult, full of losses, such as the one from the turn of the 15th to the 16th centuries, and sacrifices, such as the abandonment of the almost formed standard language by the kajkavians. I do not intend to claim that only Croats had a difficult history. Such was the history of the Serbian language as well: as we have already said, at the end of the 17th century the results of a centuries-long Serbian Church Slavic tradition were lost and in the 19th century it was necessary to abandon the Slavjanoserbski language, together with all the hopes that went with it. And both times it meant a completely new start. We are dealing here with two histories which, as the result of their difficulties, call for respect. It is very wrong to think that either of them can be made easier if the other one is shown to be even more difficult than it actually was.


* This paper was presented at the 19th National Convention of the AAASS in Boston, on November 8, 1987, sponsored by the Association for Croatian Studies.