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The Croatian Language

The Croatian language, part of the Serbo-Croatian family of languages, is spoken by nearly six million people, primarily by Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Serbian province of Vojvodina and nearby countries.

History of the Language

The first written records of Croatian appeared in the 9th century, when the language was adopted by the Old Church Slavonic for its liturgy. Later, the language was adapted to serve other non-religious purposes, and the first standard Croatian dictionary was published in 1565 by Faust Vrancic, a bishop from the Republic of Venice, which is now part of modern Croatia. The first book of Croatian grammar was published 20 years later by Bartul Kasic, a linguist. 

During the 17th century, the language continued to become more standardized due to three major developments: the literary work of Matija Divkovic, a Bosnian Franciscan, Ivan Gundulic's poetry and the linguistic efforts of Jesuit philologists Jakov Mikalja and Kasic. 

Like Serbian and Bosnian, the Croatian language is comprised of three major dialects: Kajkavian, Stokavian and Cakavian. Kajkavian is spoken mainly in the country's northern regions, Cakavian is the dialect of choice on the Adriatic Islands and along the coast and Stokavian is used throughout the rest of the region. 

Although Croatian, Serbian and Bosnian are closely-related languages, many speakers today often emphasize the differences between them due to the complicated cultural, political and religious history of the area. Following Yugoslavia's collapse, Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia used language as a way to reaffirm their nation's distinct ethnic identities. In Croatia, efforts were made to reduce the Serbian influence in the language as a way to distance the country from Serbia. 

Croatian Usage

The official language of Croatia, the language is also one of the three official languages used in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Croatian also has official status in Austria's Burgenland region, the Molise area of Italy and Serbia's Vojvodina. In Romania, the language is recognized as co-official with Romanian in Lupac, Carasova and other communities. Croatian is also spoken in parts of Hungary. 

Eight universities use Croatian as a primary language: the universities of Dubrovnik, Mostar, Pula, Zagreb, Rijeka, Osijek, Split and Zadar. 

No regulatory body currently exists to determine the language's correct use, but the Institute for the Croatian Language does issue prescriptions for the language's use. The modern language standard was established by the Ministry of Education and through various programs offered by the Faculty of Philosophy at Croatia's four largest universities. 

Contact Axis Translations for assistance with Croatian translation, transcription and interpreting.