Croatian is the name used for the language spoken by Croatians, throughout Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and various Serbian provinces. There are two forms of Croatian: Standard Croatian and literary Croatian. Both of these forms stem from the dialect Shtokavian. This is also the basis for the languages Serbian, Montenegrin and Bosnian.
The Croatian language first began to form as it is in the present day around two hundred years ago. Chakavian texts were discovered from the 13th century, while Shtoktavian texts (which Croatian originates from) can be dated from around a century after this. The language of Croatian began to be standardized in the period called Baroque Slavism, the first part of the 17th century, but was not unified until the mid 18th century. This is when Croatian, in its Neo-Shtoktavian standard as we know it today, was formed.
The Croatian language is spoken throughout Croatia and the surrounding countries. It is one of Croatian’s official languages as well as being an official language for Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Croatian language is also a recognized minority language in Austria (specifically Burgenland), Italy (specifically Molise), Romania (specifically Carasova) and Serbia (specifically Vojvodina). 5.5 million people throughout the world speak Croatian. It is one of the more popular Serbo-Croatian languages.
There are four dialects in Croatia: Chakavian, Kajkavian, Shtokavian and Torlakian. However, the two main dialects are Chakavian and Kajkavian. These are all generally referred to under the more blanket term of Serbo-Croatian. However, there is a little contention around this issue, and certain native speakers do not appreciate or use the term “Serbo-Croatian”, even though the alternatives such as “Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian” can be a little bit of a mouthful.
The Croatian language has a varied system of inflections, with pronouns, nouns, adjectives and certain numbers all being subject to a change in meaning based on the inflection of the speaker. The word for this linguistic device is declension, which essentially means that various aspects such as number, case or gender can be indicated as part of the word depending on the inflection.
Following a typical sentence structure of Subject Verb Object, the Croatian language is not so strict with sentence structure, and certain words may be exchanged with each other and still keep the same meaning of the sentence. Nouns have three grammatical genders: masculine, feminine and neutral, which also correspond to the word endings. For example, -a denotes feminine, and -o/-e are neutral, with the rest of the noun groups being primarily masculine. There are seven cases of noun within the Creation language, and these are nominative, accusative, vocative, locative, instrumental, genitive, and dative.
The verbs of the Croatian language are divided into one of two classes, depending on their perfective or imperfective aspect. There are also seven tenses, although only four of these are used in contemporary modern Croatian, with the other three used primarily in the written version of the language.
Why Learn The Croatian Language?
Croatian is unique compared to many of the other Serbo-Croatian languages in that it does not use the Cyrillic script, but instead uses only a Roman alphabet. This could make Croatian one of the easier languages to pick up if you are looking to learn a Serbo-Croatian language as a Western person, or someone whose alphabet is similar to this.
The Croatian language has been historically used for religious purposes. The beginnings of the language stem back for hundreds of years, and many tablets and Christian texts used Latin and Cyrillic to transcribe their religious history. If you have an interest in this particular era of history, or are a particularly religious person, then the Croatian language would be fascinating to learn to gain some true insight into this historical era.