Montenegrin language

Montenegrin language
Crnogorski, Црногорски
Pronunciation [t͡sr̩ˈnɔ̌ɡɔrskiː]
Spoken in Montenegro
Region Southern Europe
Language family
Official status
Official language in  Montenegro
Recognised minority language in  Vojvodina (Municipality of Mali Iđoš)[1]
Regulated by Board for Standardization of the Montenegrin Language
Language codes
ISO 639-3 srp – Ethnologue[2] identifies it as an alternate name of Serbian
Linguasphere part of 53-AAA-g
Area (lavender) where a plurality of respondents identified themselves as Montenegrin speakers in the 2003 census in Montenegro

Montenegrin (Crnogorski jezik, Црногорски језик) is a name used for the Serbo-Croatian language as spoken by Montenegrins; it also refers to an incipient standardized form of the Shtokavian dialect of Serbo-Croatian used as the official language of Montenegro. The same subdialect of Shtokavian is also the basis of standard Croatian, Bosnian, and Serbian, so all are mutually intelligible and are a single language by that criterion, despite being distinct national standards.[3]

The idea of a Montenegrin standard language separate from Serbian appeared in 1990s, and gained traction in 2000s, by proponents of Montenegrin independence. Montenegrin became the official language of Montenegro with the ratification of a new constitution on 22 October 2007[citation needed]. The Montenegrin standard is still emerging. Its orthography was established 10 July 2009, with the addition of two letters to the alphabet, though grammar and a school curriculum are yet to be approved.[4]


Language standardization

In January 2008, the government of Montenegro formed the Council for the Codification of the Montenegrin Language, which aims to standardize the Montenegrin language according to international norms. Proceeding documents will, after verification, become a part of the educational programme in Montenegrin schools.

The first Montenegrin standard was officially proposed in July 2009. In addition to the Serbo-Croatian standard, the proposal introduced two additional letters, ⟨ś⟩ and ⟨ź⟩, to replace the digraphs ⟨sj⟩ and ⟨zj⟩.[4] The Ministry of Education has accepted neither of the two drafts by the Council for the Standardization of the Montenegrin language, but adopted an alternate 3rd one, which wasn't a part of their work. The Council has criticized that this act, referring that it corresponds to "a small group" and that it contains an abundance of "methodological, conceptual and linguistic errors".[5]

On 21 June 2010 the Council for General Education adopts the first Montenegrin Grammar.

Official status and speakers' preference

The language remains an ongoing issue in Montenegro.[6]

In the previous census of 1991, the vast majority of Montenegrin citizens, 510,320 or 82.97%, declared themselves as speakers of the then official language: Serbo-Croatian. The 1981 population census also recorded a Serbo-Croatian-speaking majority. However in the first Communist censuses, the vast majority of the population declared Serbian their native language. Such is also the case with the first recorded population census in Montenegro, in 1909, when approximately 95% of the population of the Principality of Montenegro declared Serbian their native language. According to the Constitution of Montenegro, the official language of the republic, since 1992, is Serbian of the Ijekavian standard. After World War II and until 1992, the official language of Montenegro was Serbo-Croat. Before that, in the previous old Montenegrin realm, Serbian was the language in usage. The Serbian language was the officially used language in Communist Montenegro, until after the 1950 Novi Sad Agreement that defined the Serbo-Croat, and "Serbo-Croatian" introduced into the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Montenegro in 1974. In the late nineties and early 21st century, organizations promoting Montenegrin as a distinct language appeared, and since 2004 the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro regime introduced the term to usage. The new constitution, adopted on 19 October 2007, deemed Montenegrin to be the official language of Montenegro.

The most recent population census conducted in Montenegro was in 2011. According to it, 36.97% of the population declared Montenegrin their native language. The speakers' statistics is as follows:

In 2011, 42.88% of Montenegrin citizens declared "Serbian" their native language. The following is the speakers' statistics:

Mijat Šuković, a prominent Montenegrin lawyer, wrote a draft version of the constitution, which passed the parliament's constitutional committee. Šuković suggested Montenegrin as the official language of Montenegro. The Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe, had a generally positive attitude towards the draft of the constitution, but did not address the language and church issues, calling them symbolical. The new constitution was ratified on 19 October 2007, declaring Montenegrin as the official language of Montenegro, as well as recognising Albanian, Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian.

The ruling Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro and Socialdemocratic Party of Montenegro stand for nothing but plainly renaming the country's official language into Montenegrin, meeting opposition from the Socialist People's Party of Montenegro, the People's Party, the Democratic Serb Party, the Bosniak Party, the Movement for Changes as well as the Serb List coalition led by the Serb People's Party. However, a referendum was not needed, as two-thirds majority of the parliament voted for the Constitution, including the ruling coalition, Movement for Changes, the Bosniaks and the Liberals, while the pro-Serbian parties voted against and the Albanian minority parties abstained from voting. The Constitution was thus ratified and adopted on 19 October 2007, recognizing Montenegrin as the official language of Montenegro.

According to the latest poll of 1,001 Montenegrin citizens conducted by Matica crnogorska in mid 2010[7]:

  • 41.6% Serbian
  • 38.2% Montenegrin
  • 12.3% - Serbian, Montenegrin, Bosnian, Croatian and Serbo-Croatian are one and the same
  • 4.4% Serbo-Croatian
  • 1.9% Bosnian
  • 1.7% Croatian

Linguistic considerations

A proposed Montenegrin alphabet, which contains 3 more letters than the Serbian counterpart — Ś, Ź, and З

Montenegrins speak Štokavian subdialects, some which are shared with other neighbouring Slavic nations:

Montenegrin alphabet

The proponents of the separate Montenegrin language tend to prefer using the Latin alphabet (top row) over the Cyrillic (bottom row). In both alphabets there are special characters.

  • Abeceda: A B C Č Ć D Dž Đ E F G H I J K L Lj M N Nj O P R S Š Ś T U V Z З Ž Ź
  • Azbuka: А Б В Г Д Ђ Е Ж З́ З Ѕ И Ј К Л Љ М Н Њ О П Р С Т Ћ У Ф Х Ц Ч Џ Ш Ć <



Many literary works of authors from Montenegro provide examples of the local Montenegrin vernacular. The medieval literature was mostly written in Old Church Slavonic and its recensions, but most of the 19th century works were written in some of the dialects of Montenegro. They include the folk literature collected by Vuk Stefanović Karadžić and other authors, as well as books of the writers from Montenegro, such as Petar Petrović Njegoš's Gorski vijenac (The Mountain Wreath), Marko Miljanov's Primjeri čojstva i junaštva (The Examples of Humanity and Bravery), etc. In the second half of the 19th century and later, the East Herzegovina dialect, which served as a base for the standard Serbo-Croatian language, was often used instead of the Zeta-Sanjak dialect, characteristical for most dialects of Montenegro. Petar Petrović Njegoš, one of the most respectable Montenegrin authors, changed many characteristics of the Zeta-Sanjak dialect from the manuscript of his Gorski vijenac to those proposed by Vuk Stefanović Karadžić as a standard for the Serbian language.

For example, most of the accusatives of place, used in the Zeta-Sanjak dialect, were changed by Njegoš to locatives, used in the Serbian standard. Thus the stanzas "U dobro je lako dobar biti, / na muku se poznaju junaci" from the manuscript were changed to "U dobru je lako dobar biti, / na muci se poznaju junaci" in the printed version. Other works of later Montenegrin authors were also often modified to the East Herzegovinian forms, in order to follow the Serbian language literary norm. However, some characteristics of the traditional Montenegrin Zeta-Sanjak dialect sometimes used to appear as well. For example, the poem Onamo namo by Nikola I Petrović Njegoš, although it was written in East Herzegovinian Serbian standard, contains several Zeta-Sanjak forms: "Onamo namo, za brda ona" (accusative, instead of instrumental case za brdima onim), and "Onamo namo, da viđu (instead of vidim) Prizren", and so on.

Language politics

Most mainstream politicians and other proponents of the Montenegrin language state that the issue is chiefly one of self-determination and the people's right to call the language what they want, rather than an attempt to artificially create a new language when there is none. The Declaration of the Montenegrin PEN Center[8] states that the "Montenegrin language does not mean a systemically separate language, but just one of four names (Montenegrin, Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian) by which Montenegrins name their part of [the] Shtokavian system, commonly inherited with Muslims, Serbs and Croats". Introduction of the Montenegrin language has also been supported by other important academic institutions, such as the Matica crnogorska, although meeting opposition from the Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts.

Some proponents go further. The chief proponent of Montenegrin is Zagreb-educated dr Vojislav Nikčević, professor at the Department of Language and Literature at the University of Montenegro and the head of the Institute for Montenegrin Language in the capital Podgorica. His dictionaries and grammars were printed by Croatian publishers as the major Montenegrin publishing houses such as Obod in Cetinje opted for the official nomenclature specified in the Constitution (Serbian until 1974, Serbo-Croatian to 1992, Serbian until 2007).[9] Nikčević advocates amending of the Latin alphabet with three letters Ś, Ź, and З and corresponding Cyrillic letters Ć, З́ and Ѕ (representing IPA [ç], [ʝ] and [dz] respectively).[10]

Opponents acknowledge that these sounds can be heard by many Montenegrin speakers, however, they do not form a language system and so are allophones rather than phonemes.[11] In addition, there are speakers in Montenegro who don't utter them and speakers of Serbian and Croatian outside of Montenegro (notably in Herzegovina and Bosanska Krajina) who do. In addition, introduction of those letters could pose significant technical difficulties (Eastern European code page ISO/IEC 8859-2 does not contain letter З, for example, and the corresponding letters were not proposed for Cyrillic).

Montenegro's former prime minister Milo Đukanović declared his open support for the formalization of the Montenegrin language by declaring himself as a speaker of the Montenegrin language, in an October 2004 interview with Belgrade daily Politika. Official Montenegrin government communiqués are given in English and Montenegrin on the government's webpage.[12] The official web page of the President of Montenegro states that it is provided in "Montenegrin–Serbian version" (Crnogorsko-srpska verzija).

In 2004, the government of Montenegro changed the school curriculum in such a way that name of the mandatory classes teaching the language was changed from "Serbian language" to "Mother tongue (Serbian, Montenegrin, Croatian, Bosnian)". This change was made, according to the government, in order to better reflect the diversity of languages spoken among citizens in the republic and to protect human rights of non-Serb citizens in Montenegro who declare themselves as speakers of other languages.[13]

This decision resulted in a number of teachers declaring a strike and parents refusing to send their children to schools.[14] The cities affected by the strike included Nikšić, Podgorica, Berane, Pljevlja and Herceg Novi.

See also

Portal icon Montenegro portal
Portal icon Languages portal


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем решить контрольную работу

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts — Abbreviation CANU Formation 1973 Type National academy …   Wikipedia

  • Montenegrin Air Force — Founded 2006[1] Country …   Wikipedia

  • Montenegrin Ground Army — Emblem of the Montenegrin Ground Army Active 1879 1918 2006 Country Montenegro …   Wikipedia

  • Montenegrin Navy — Emblem of the Montenegrin Navy Active 2006 Country …   Wikipedia

  • Language secessionism — or linguistic secessionism is an attitude consisting in separating a language variety from the language to which it normally belongs, in order to make this variety considered as a distinct language. This phenomenon was first analyzed by Catalan… …   Wikipedia

  • Montenegrin folklore — shares many characteristics with Albanian folklore and Serbian folklore, which it has cultural and historical ties with. Dances In Montenegrin folklore, many dances are performed. Some include the ever popular Šota, the Halaturko, which is… …   Wikipedia

  • Montenegrin — may refer to: Something of, from, or related to Montenegro, a country located in the Balkans (Southeastern Europe) A member of the Montenegrins, people from Montenegro or of Montenegrin descent. For more information, see Demographics of… …   Wikipedia

  • Montenegrin alphabet — The Montenegrin alphabet is the collective name given to Abeceda (Montenegrin Latin alphabet) and Азбука (Montenegrin Cyrillic alphabet) writing systems used to write the Montenegrin language. It was adopted on 9 June 2009 by the minister of… …   Wikipedia

  • Montenegrin Cyrillic alphabet — The Montenegrin Cyrillic alphabet (Montenegrin: црногорска ћирилица / crnogorska ćirilica) or Азбука is the modern alphabet officially proposed for Cyrillic writing of the Montenegrin language. Its first version was originally developed by… …   Wikipedia

  • Montenegrin independence referendum, 2006 — Montenegro This article is part of the series: Politics and government of Montenegro …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”