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Shtokavian dialects:


Bunjevac dialect that slowly disappears …

Bunjevac dialects in Croatia, Hungary, and Serbia. There is a diversity of Bunjevac dialects in Croatia, Hungary, and Serbia. Institutions of Serbia developed a standardized Bunjevac dialect variety in Serbia. Some Bunjevac leaders and political activists, who are influential in the Bunjevac National Council, are strongly involved in developing a "national" identity of Bunjevci: stimulating folklore activities and searching for political and linguistic support to transform Bunjevac dialect in to a distinct language. The leadership of the Croat Bunjevci and Croatian minority in Serbia, has presented the 'standard of the Bunjevac dialect' as an attempt to abolish the dialect of Bunjevac Croats from the Croatian cultural heritage. BEC

Classification of Bunjevac dialects (ethnolect): A dialect is a regional speech pattern. Bunjevac speech is categorized as a New-Štokavian Young Ikavian dialect of the Serbo-Croatian pluricentric language (Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian: BCMS). And an ethnolect is a variety of a language spoken by a certain ethnic/cultural subgroup and serves as a distinguishing mark of social identity. The term combines the concepts of an ethnic/cultural group and a dialect. BEC

Dialect verieties of Serbo-Croatian

Languages of Europe

Difference between dialect and language

History of the Balkans

Dialect Continuum



Intercultural influences 

Dialects can be classified into two categories: standard and non-standard. A standard dialect is a dialect that is approved and supported by institutions. Likewise, non-standard dialects are those that are not supported by institutions. For example, some dialects of English include American English, Indian English, and Australian English, etc. There are sub-dialects within these dialects as well. There is no globally accepted standard to distinguish the difference between language and a dialect of a language. One of the most common ways of identifying the difference is their mutual intelligibility. If two speakers of two varieties can understand each other, then it is accepted that the two varieties are two dialects; if not, they are considered to be two different languages.

Political-linguistic dispute 'Bunjevac dialect vs. Bunjevac language' in Croatia and Serbia: "It appears that the concept of standardization, whatever it may mean to the various parties involved, occupies a central position, or – actually – the central position in the Bunyev language debate, for it looks as though it is only thanks to standardization that a speech variety may gain the label of language." Belić, Bojan (2014). изворни научни чланак УДК 81'27(497.113) Bunyev(s): linguistic frontier to be? pp.613

Bunjevac speech/dialect standardization in Serbia (2017): "Although Bunjevac language has not been standardised yet, the Republic of Serbia has introduced measures in certain areas in which the standardisation of language is not a condition for its usage, in order to encourage or facilitate the usage of this language." Fourth periodical report presented to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe in accordance with Article 15 of the Charter. pp.33. 15 november 2017. Serbia 

Status of Bunjevac dialect according to Aleksandar Raičh and Suzana Kujundžić Ostojić: Bunjevac speech is in Serbia officially recognized as a dialect. "Bunjevački jezik u javnoj upotribi. Dakle, za onaj jezik za koji mi kažemo jezik, a zvanično je priznat ko dijalekat." Bunjevci izmed asimilacije i nacionalne zajednice. Udruženje građana "Bunjevci". 2013. pp. 144.

Standardized dialect: "In every region there is a linguistic variation. This linguistic variation has to be respected, because it is the identity of people. That is where differentiation between the culture is. Dialect standardization only happens when the people involved have enough or modify their identity to that or affiliation associated with a larger group, standardization is possible and often occurs. Before a standardization process, speaker use their dialects for all of their speech functions. After a standardization process, speaker use the standardized variety for at least some of their speech functions. For example, reading and writing and conversation in formality situations often call for use of standardized variety. Thus, the standardization process is fundamentally a shift in language use patterns." Mark E. Karan, Kerry M. Corbett (2014). The Importance of Identity and Affiliation in Dialect Standardization. pp. 55-61. Dialogue on Dialect Standardization. University North Dakota. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, ISBN (10):1-4438-666-1X.

School textbooks in a Bunjevac dialect variety in Cyrillic script. The Serbian government insisted that school textbooks in a Bunjevac dialect variety appeared in the Cyrillic script for the first class of primary school, despite the fact that the use of the Latin script is dominant in the Bunjevac community. It is noteworthy that school textbooks were published (Serbia, 2014), in a variety of the Bunjevac speech (ethnolect), before an official scientific standardization of the Bunjevac dialect variety was finalized (2018). BEC

"The subject 'Bunjevac Speech with Elements of National Culture' (Bunjevački govor s elementima nacionalne kulture) continues to be taught at primary schools, but Bunjevac is not present at pre-school or secondary levels." (Chapter 2 Conclusions of the Committee of Experts on how the Serbian authorities have reacted to the recommendations of the Committee of Ministers, Recommendation, Chapter 2, no.2:22, pp.7) MINLANG(2015)20rev 3rd Eval Report Serbia for plenary - Coe

Language politics and EU integration: "While language previously had been a means to unite Balkan Slavs, it became an instrument of nationalism wielded by politically motivated actors to widen the division among the ethnicities. Language disputes did not destroy Yugoslavia, but they may hinder recovery and modernization. As each Yugoslav successor state strives toward integration into the European Union, political questions concerning language may polarize domestic politics and inhibit regional cooperation, thereby hampering efforts to carry out needed economic and political reforms." Rice, Eric A. (2010). Language politics in Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia - Calhoun: The NPS

Language Ideologies of the Bunjevac Community in Vojvodina: "In Vojvodina, attempts to divide Bunjevac and Šokac from Croatian ethnicity were launched in order to create two separate Bunjevac and Šokac ethnicities. This resulted in the revision of choices for ethnic affiliation in the 1991 Yugoslavian census. The categories of Bunjevac and Šokac were introduced as the new categorization of ethnic affiliation for the purpose of reducing the number of Croatian population inside the Socialist republic of Serbia. Although Bunjevci were officially recognized as a separate ethnic group beginning in 1991, there are many Bunjevci who question the new categorization and continue to identify themselves not as a separate ethnicity from Croatian but simply as Yugoslav, or, as a part of Croatian ethnicity in the frame of “Vojvodina Croats” (which includes Šokci)." Kameda, Masumi (2013). pp. 96. Language Ideologies of the Bunjevac Minority in Vojvodina: Historical Backgrounds and the Post-1991 Situation

  • Croatian Minority in Serbia - Croat National Council of the Republic of Serbia: "Pursuant to the law on the Rights and liberty of national minorities (adopted by the Assembly of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, on February 26, 2002), the Croat national minority was guaranteed, for the first time ever, the status of  minority. Although they carry several regional and sub-ethnic names (e.g. „Bunjevci“ and „Šokci“), Croats in Vojvodina constitute an integral part of the Croatian people, who in the capacity of an autochthone people reside in the parts of the Srijem of the Vojvodina province, in the Banat and the Bačka region, but also in a significant number in Belgrade. From the historical perspective, this population, in its overwhelming number, has been for centuries an indigenous population."
  • "The constituting session of the Bunjevac National Minority Council was held on 14 June 2010 in Subotica. By the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights of the Republic of Serbia document No. 290-212-00-10/2010-06 of 26 July 2010 Bunjevac National Minority Council was entered into the national council register."

Absence of objective evidence based criteria for voluntary self-identification of Bunjevci in relation to population census in Serbia: "The legal system of the Republic of Serbia guarantees freedom to declare one’s ethnic background ... . The initial problem arises with regard to the self-identification of Bunjevci ... . ... there are problems with “faking” a particular national minority background in order to benefit from affirmative action measures.  In this context, the question can be raised whether there are limits to self-identification, i.e. whether belonging to a particular ethnic group can be based solely on one’s sentiments or is self-identification limited by objective criteria." Self-evaluation Report - Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia – Serbian OSCE Chairmanship, CSO Coalition for the monitoring of Serbia’s OSCE Chairmanship; 5.3.2 Primacy of Voluntary Self-Identification, September 2015, pp. 78, Belgrade, Serbia

Disputes about the national status and historical origins of the Bunjevci . Both the Croatian, Hungarian and Serbian authorities do not recognize a distinct Bunjevac/Bunjevci language/nationality. Disputes about the national status and historical origins of the Bunjevci go back to the nationalism wave in the 19th century in Austria-Hungary. The debate revived by the Breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Some Bunjevci in Hungary and Serbia, who are gathered around the Bunjevac National Council (Vojvodina/Serbia), claiming they are an autochthonous ethnic group (Bunjevac nation/tribe/people,, while most of the Bunjevci in the Bačka region identify themselves as a Croatian sub-ethnic group – an integral part of the Croatian national corpus (Izjava Predsjednistva HAZU o hrvatskoj etnickoj skupini Bunjevci), represented by the Croat National Council (Vojvodina/Serbia). BEC

Serbian state support of the division of the Bunjevac community: "Amongst the population that is identified as Bunjevac, there are some who declare their ethnic and national identity to be Bunjevac, while others declare their nationality to be Croat with Bunjevac as a ‘sub-ethnic identity’. These correspond to two officially recognised (by the Republic of Serbia and the AP of Vojvodina) national councils, both with their seats in Subotica, the Croat National Council and the Bunjevac National Council. Formal recognition and the financial benefits of establishing a national council should certainly not be neglected in this case. National councils not only receive funds from the state/autonomous province but have extensive powers over cultural and educational institutions. By providing structural, formal and financial support, the host state recognises these divisions and arguably sustains them." Stjepanović, Dejan (2013). The Claimed Co-ethnics and Kin-State Citizenship in Southeastern Europe. University of Edinburgh, UK. Published online: 08 Jan 2015. pp. 152

© Stichting Bunjevac European Center, 2015