South Slavic languages

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██ Countries where a West Slavic language is the national language ██ Countries where an East Slavic language is the national language ██ Countries where a South Slavic language is the national language

South Slavic languages comprise one of the three groups of Slavic languages (besides West and East Slavic). There are around 30 million speakers of these languages, mainly in the Balkans. The South Slavic languages are further subdivided into Eastern and Western groups.

German, Hungarian and Romanian form a belt that geographically separate the South Slavic languages from West and East Slavic languages.


[edit] Classification

Slavic languages belong to Balto-Slavic family, which originates from Centum-Satem isogloss of the Indo-European languages family.

South Slavic languages form a dialectal continuum stretching from today's southern Austria to southeast Bulgaria. On the level of dialectology or linguistic typology, several major dialects can be distinguished, but their borders are blurred due to strong contact and frequent migrations in the past. On the other hand, cultural establishment and national liberation from occypuing Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires, followed by formation of nation-states in 19th and 20th century, caused development of standard national languages. These processes have (almost) ended just at the end of 20th century, with the breakup of Yugoslavia (with only the Montenegrin national and linguistic issue left to be resolved). Most of those languages selected one dialect as the basis; as result, some dialects got deprecated and marginalized, while other flourished. Further, the national and ethnic borders do not coincide with dialectal boundaries in most cases.

Thus, two distinct classifications of South Slavic languages can be drawn; one from genetic linguistic point of view, and the other from sociolinguistics or political point of view. The two classifications seldom map 1:1. While e.g. Slovenians basically speak the same dialect, codified as Slovenian language, Croats speak three main and two exclaval dialects in four countries, while their standard language is based on Štokavian Ijekavian.

Note: Due to different political statuses of languages/dialects and different historical contexts, the classifications are necessarily arbitrary to an extent.

[edit] Genetic linguistic classification


[edit] Sociolinguistic classification

South Slavic languages

[edit] Eastern group of South Slavic languages

[edit] Bulgarian dialects

Main article: Bulgarian language

[edit] Macedonian dialects

Main article: Macedonian language

[edit] Transitional South Slavic languages

[edit] Torlakian dialect

Main article: Torlakian dialect

There also exists another dialect, called torlački or torlak, which is spoken in southern and eastern Serbia, northern Republic of Macedonia and western Bulgaria, and often considered transitional between Central and Eastern group of South Slavic languages.

It is even thought to fit into the so-called Balkansprachbund, an area of linguistic convergence among languages due to long-term contact rather than being related.

[edit] Central or Eastern Western group of South Slavic languages

[edit] History

Each of these primary and secondary dialectical units breaks down into subdialects and accents by region. In the past, it was not uncommon for individual villages to have some of their own words and phrases. However, throughout the twentieth century the various dialects have been strongly influenced by the Štokavian standards through mass media and public education, and much of the "local color" has been lost.

With the breakup of Yugoslavia, nationalism has also caused many, especially in Bosnia and Hercegovina, to modify their speech, or even attempt to change dialects entirely. The various wars have also caused mass migrations, and changed the ethnic makeup of some areas, especially in Bosnia, but also in Croatia and Serbia, especially in Vojvodina. In some areas it is unclear whether location or ethnicity is now the dominant factor in the dialect of the speaker.

Because of these forces, the speech patterns of some communities and regions are in a state of flux, and it is difficult to determine which dialects will die out entirely. Further research over the next few decades will be necessary to determine the changes made in the dialectical distribution of the language.

[edit] Rendering of yat

The Proto-Slavic vowel jat has changed over time and is now being rendered in three different ways:

  • In Ekavian (ekavski), jat has morphed into the vowel e.
  • in Ikavian (ikavski), the vowel i.
  • in Ijekavian or Jekavian (ijekavski or jekavski), the diphthong ie (written/pronounced as ije or je), depending on whether the vowel was long or short or what the dialect is: in Eastern Herzegovina, Northern Montenegro and Dubrovnik area long diphthong is pronounced as ije, but in Sarajevo or Zagreb, long diphthong is pronounced as je [where 'e' is long]). All standard languages follow pronounce from Eastern Herzegovina, Northern Montenegro and Dubrovnik.

The following are some examples:

to needtrěbatitrebatitribatitrebati
to heatgrějatigrejatigrijatigrijatinewsvěstivestivistivijesti

The first two examples involve long vowels. For instance, the first e in vreme and the i in vrime are long, so the long diphthong ije is found in the Ijekavian form. In the third and fourth examples, the corresponding ekavian and ikavian vowels are short, so the short diphthong je is found in the Ijekavian form.

However, there are some cases where that pattern of correspondence is altered. The fifth example, selo, is there as an example of a word in which the e did not derive from jat, and hence the word is the same in all three dialects. In other cases, especially when the jat follows an r, Ijekavian also formed out an e, as we see in the sixth example, or an i as in the seventh example.

The example sentence in the following sections means approximately "What is, is; it's how it always was, what will be, will be, and it'll be somehow!"

[edit] Štokavian dialects and languages

[edit] Štokavian dialects

Main article: Štokavian dialect

The Štokavian dialect is spoken in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Hercegovina, and the greater part of Croatia. The Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian standard languages are all based on the štokavian dialect.

The primary subdivisions of Štokavian are based on the different ways the jat vowel has been changed. There are other differences between the standard dialects, including vocabulary, some syntax, and orthography. See Differences in official languages in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia.


  • Serbian
    • Ekavian
      • Cyrillic: Што јест, јест; тако је увек било, што ће бити, биће, а некако већ ће бити!
      • Latin: Što jest, jest; tako je uvek bilo, što će biti, biće, a nekako već će biti!
    • Iyekavian
      • Latin: Što jest, jest; tako je uvijek bilo, što će biti, biće, a nekako već će biti!
      • Cyrillic: Што јест, јест; тако је увијек било, што ће бити, биће, а некако већ ће бити!
  • Croatian (Iyekavian, Latin): Što jest, jest; tako je uvijek bilo, što će biti, bit će, a nekako već će biti!
  • Bosnian (Iyekavian):
    • Latin: Što jest, jest; tako je uvijek bilo, što će biti, bit će, a nekako već će biti!
    • Cyrillic: Што јест, јест; тако је увијек било, што ће бити, бит ће, а некако већ ће бити!

Note that all variants were correct in Serbo-Croatian standard language.

[edit] Molise Croatian

Main article: Molise Slavic language

The so-called Molise Slavic language is a dialect spoken in three villages of the Italian region of Molise by the descendants of South Slavs who migrated there from the eastern Adriatic coast in the 15th century. Because these people have migrated away from the rest of their kinsmen so long ago, their diaspora language is rather distinct from the standard language, and rather influenced by Italian.

In addition, they have not been influenced by romantic nationalism of the 19th century (unlike the people in Burgenland, who were separated but still within the same empire) so they have come to refer to their language merely as "Slavic". There has been some controversy as to whether they are Molise Croats or Molise Serbs. Currently they are generally considered to be Croatian rather than Serbian.

[edit] Dialects and official languages

The Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian standard languages (as well as former Serbo-Croatian standard language) are all mainly based on the Štokavian dialect, although if they are considered as systems of dialects, one might observe that:

Note that people in census also declare Montenegrin and Bunjevac language, although these two are not in official use.

[edit] Čakavian dialects and languages

[edit] Čakavian dialects

Main article: Čakavian dialect

Čakavian is spoken in the western and southern parts of Croatia, mainly in Istria and Dalmatia. The Čakavian renders jat as i as well as e, or even mixed Ekavian-Ikavian. Many dialects of Čakavian have a lot of loan words from Venetian and Italian.

Example: Ča je, je, tako je navik bilo, ča će bit, će bit, a nekako već će bit!

[edit] Burgenland Croatian

This dialect is spoken primarily in the federal state of Burgenland in Austria, but also in nearby areas in Vienna, Slovakia, and Hungary by descendants of Croats who migrated there in the 16th century. This dialect or possibly family of dialects is quite different from standard Croatian. It has been heavily influenced by German and also Hungarian. In addition, it has some properties from all three of the major dialectical groups in Croatia, as the migrants did not all come from the same areas of Croatia. The "micro-literary" standard is based on a Čakavian dialect, and, like all Čakavian dialects, is characterized by very conservative grammatical structures: it preserves, prominently, case endings lost in the Štokavian base of standard Serbo-Croatian.

At most 100,000 people speak Burgenland Croatian and almost all are bilingual in German. Its future is uncertain, but there is some movement to preserve it. It has official status in six districts of Burgenland, and is used in some schools in Burgenland and neighboring western parts of Hungary.

[edit] Western group of South Slavic languages

[edit] Kajkavian dialects

Main article: Kajkavian dialect

Kajkavian is mostly spoken in northern Croatia, in and around Zagreb and near the Hungarian and Slovenian borders. It renders jat mostly as e, but note that this rendering cannot be equated to that of the ekavian štokavian dialects, as many kajkavian dialects distinguish a closed e (from jat) and an open e (from original e).

It also lacks several phonemes found in other dialects and has loanwords from the nearby Slovenian dialects as well as Russian.

Example: Kak je, tak je; tak je navek bilo, kak bu tak bu, a bu vre nekak kak bu!

[edit] Slovenian language

Main article: Slovenian language

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Slavic languages
East Slavic Belarusian | Old East Slavic † | Old Novgorod dialect † | Russian | Rusyn (Carpathians) | Ruthenian † | Ukrainian
West Slavic Czech | Kashubian | Knaanic † | Lower Sorbian | Pannonian Rusyn | Polabian † | Polish | Pomeranian † | Slovak | Slovincian † | Upper Sorbian
South Slavic Banat Bulgarian | Bulgarian | Church Slavic | Macedonian | Old Church Slavonic † | Serbo-Croatian (Bosnian, Bunjevac, Croatian, Montenegrin, Serbian) | Slavic (Greece) | Slovenian
Other Proto-Slavic † | Russenorsk † | Slavoserbian † | Slovio

ast:Eslavu Meridional bg:Южнославянски езици cs:Jihoslovanské jazyky de:Südslawische Sprachen el:Νοτιοσλαβικές γλώσσες ko:남슬라브어군 hr:Južnoslavenski jezici id:Bahasa Slavia Selatan it:Lingue slave meridionali csb:Pôłniowòsłowiańsczé jãzëczi mk:Јужнословенски јазици ja:南スラヴ人 pl:Języki południowosłowiańskie ru:Южнославянские языки sk:Južnoslovanské jazyky sl:Južnoslovanski jeziki sr:Јужнословенски језици sh:Južnoslovenski jezici fi:Eteläslaavilaiset kielet sv:Sydslaviska språk

South Slavic languages

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