Professor Marko Samardžija, a linguist at the Zagreb Faculty of Philosophy, is to publish an “explanatory” dictionary for young Croatians left confused by the country’s linguistic split from Serbia.
The lingua franca of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was ‘Serbo-Croat’. This was the name given to the common pre-war language of the populations of present-day Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. Following the dissolution of the Yugoslav federation, lawmakers from each of its independent successor states have claimed that their populations speak a distinct national language, since defined as ‘Serbian’, ‘Croatian’, ‘Bosnian’ and ‘Montenegrin’. These claims notwithstanding, all four national languages remain mutually intelligible across the four populations.
Since independence, Croatians have replaced certain foreign loan words from Serbo-Croat – which are still used in Serbia – with their own alternatives based on Slavic etymology, an attempt to create distinctions between their national language and that of their neighbours. For instance, the Serbian word for “patrol” is “patrola”, whereas Croatians use the Slavic-rooted “ophodnja”.
As a result of this, the generation that grew up in independent Croatia are left confused when they encounter certain words from the former Serbo-Croat shared language in films, television, music and books. It is this issue that Prof. Samardžija hopes to address with his new dictionary.
The dictionary runs to 600 pages and features over 1,000 words, and will be released at the Interliber Book Fair in the Croatian capital, which takes place between 10-15 November.