Croatian language

Croatian (hrvatski jezik) belongs to the South Slavic group of the Indo-European language family. After the break-up of Yugoslavia, Serbo-Croat, the common language of Serbs, Croats, Bosnians and Montenegrins, was officially divided into three mutually intelligible languages: Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian.

Although the term "Serbo-Croat" stopped to be used with the dissolution of Yugoslavia, it remains a controversial topic due to its historical, cultural and political connotations and the lack of precision in the definition of the term "language". Suffice it to say that these three languages are largely the result of political rather than linguistic decisions.

The eastern part of Yugoslavia, i.e. Serbia, Montenegro and parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was religiously and culturally distinct from the western part of the country, i.e. Croatia and other parts of Bosnia and HerzegovinaSerbia was part of the Ottoman Empire, while Croatia was under Austro-Hungarian Empire.

As a result, Serbian and Croatian are based on different dialects and are written with different alphabets. Serbian and Croatian became one language in the 19th century, in an attempt to create an independent Slavic state (yug means "south").

Although Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian differ in several respects, these differences do not prevent their speakers from understanding each other; in fact, they are not as great as the dialectal differences within the languages themselves. This is not surprising, since the continuous migrations of Slavic populations during the five hundred years of Turkish rule produced a mosaic of local dialects that go beyond the recently established national borders.

Dialects of Croatian

The dialectal scheme of Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian is quite complex and is shared by all three languages. The main dialectal difference is based on the pronunciation of the initial consonant in the word "what".

Shtokavian: shto
Chakavian: cha
Kajkavian: kaj

Shtokavian is spoken in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and southern Austria. The main subdivisions of Shtokavian are based on two principles: one is whether the subdialect is the ancient Shtokavian or the neo-Stokavian, and the different accents according to the way the ancient Slavic phoneme jat has changed. Linguists distinguish seven subdialects of Shtokavian.

Speakers of Croatian

Standard Croatian is the official language of Croatia. It is spoken by around 4.8 million people in all areas of public and private life. It is also spoken in Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Australia, United States and Canada. It is estimated that around 4 million people speak Croatian in Croatia, and 5.5 million worldwide.

In 1967, Croatian scholars and writers published the Declaration on the Name and Status of the Croatian Literary Language, which called for a wider use of Croatian in public life. In 1974, the Yugoslav constitution allowed each republic to identify its own official language. With the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the Croatian language played an important role in establishing Croatia's identity as an independent state.

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