Croatian  
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  • belongs to the Western subgroup of the South Slavonic branch of Slavonic languages.

  • spoken by almost five million people, in Croatia; in the southern parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina; and in the Burgenland province of Austria (a separate dialect).

  • in Italy, Croatian is spoken in three communities in the Molise region (province of Campobasso).

  • it has three main dialects: Chakavian, spoken primarily along the Croatian coast;  Kajkavian, spoken in Zagreb and other parts of northwest Croatia; and Stokavian, spoken  in the rest of Croatia.

  • written in Roman script.

  • Although first purely vernacular texts of Croatian language, distinctly different from Church Slavonic go back to the 13th century, it was in 14th and 15th centuries that modern Croatian language emerged (recorded in texts as Vatican Croatian prayer book from 1400.) in the form (morphology, phonology and syntax) that only slightly differs from contemporary Croatian standard language.

  • The standardization of Croatian language can be traced back to the first Croatian dictionary (Faust Vrančić: Dictionarium quinque nobilissimarum Europae linguarum—Latinae, Italicae, Germanicae, Dalmatiae et Ungaricae, Venice 1595) and first Croatian grammar (Bartul Kašić: Institutionum linguae illyricae libri duo, Rome 1604). Interestingly enough, the language of Jesuit Kašić's unpublished (until 2000) translation of the Bible (Old and New Testament, 1622-1636) in the Croatian štokavian-ijekavian dialect (the ornate style of the Dubrovnik Renaissance literature) is as close to the contemporary standard Croatian language (problems of orthography apart) as are French of Montaigne's "Essays" or King James Bible English to their respective successors—modern standard languages.



     

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