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The Bosnian language (; bosanski / босански ) is the standardized variety of mainly used by .David Dalby, Linguasphere (1999/2000, Linguasphere Observatory), p. 445, 53-AAA-g, "Srpski+Hrvatski, Serbo-Croatian".Benjamin V. Fortson, IV, Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction, 2nd ed. (2010, Blackwell), p. 431, "Because of their mutual intelligibility, Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian are usually thought of as constituting one language called Serbo-Croatian."Václav Blažek, "On the Internal Classification of Indo-European Languages: Survey" retrieved 20 Oct 2010, pp. 15–16. Bosnian is one of three such varieties considered official languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina,See Art. 6 of the Constitution of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, available at the official website of Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina along with Croatian and Serbian, and also an officially recognized minority or regional language in , , and the Republic of Kosovo.

Bosnian uses both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets, with Latin in everyday use.

(2009). 9780230550704, Palgrave Macmillan. .
It is notable among the varieties of Serbo-Croatian for a number of , Ottoman Turkish and loanwords, largely due to the language's interaction with those cultures through Islamic ties.

Bosnian is based on the most widespread dialect of Serbo-Croatian, Shtokavian, more specifically on Eastern Herzegovinian, which is also the basis of Standard Croatian, , and Montenegrin. Until the dissolution of , they were treated as a unitary Serbo-Croatian language, and that term is still used in English to subsume the common base (vocabulary, grammar and syntax) of what are today officially four national standards, although this term is controversial for native speakers, Radio Free Europe – Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Or Montenegrin? Or Just 'Our Language'? Živko Bjelanović: Similar, But Different, Feb 21, 2009, accessed Oct 8, 2010 and paraphrases such as "Serbo-Croato-Bosnian" (SCB) or "Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian" (BCS) are therefore sometimes used instead, especially in diplomatic circles.

[[File:RacsunBosanskiJezik1827.jpg|thumb|School book of Latin and Bosnian, 1827]]
[[File:Gramatika bosanskog jezika.jpg|thumb|Bosnian Grammar, 1890]]

Although Bosnians are, at the level of colloquial , linguistically more homogeneous than either Serbians or Croatians, unlike those nations they failed to codify a standard language in the 19th century, with at least two factors being decisive:

  • The Bosnian elite, as closely intertwined with Ottoman life, wrote predominantly in foreign (Turkish, Arabic, Persian) languages. Vernacular literature written in Bosnian with the script was relatively thin and sparse.
  • The Bosnians' national emancipation lagged behind that of the Serbs and Croats, and because denominational rather than cultural or linguistic issues played the pivotal role, a Bosnian language project did not arouse much interest or support amongst the intelligentsia of the time.

The literature of the so-called "Bosnian revival" at the start of the 20th century was written in an idiom that was closer to the Croatian standard than to the Serbian one: it was a western Shtokavian dialect with an Ijekavian accent and used a Latin script, but had recognizable Bosnian lexical traits. The main authors were the polymath, politician and poet Safvet-beg Bašagić and the storyteller Edhem Mulabdić.

The modern Bosnian standard took shape in the 1990s and 2000s. Lexically, Islamic-Oriental loanwords are more frequent; phonetically: the phoneme /x/ (letter h) is reinstated in many words as a distinct feature of vernacular Bosniak speech and language tradition; also, there are some changes in grammar, morphology and orthography that reflect the Bosniak pre-World War I literary tradition, mainly that of the Bosniak renaissance at the beginning of the 20th century.


Controversy and recognition
The name "Bosnian language" is a controversial issue for some and , who also refer to it as the "Bosniak" language (bošnjački / бошњачки; ). Bosniak linguists however insist that the only legitimate name is "Bosnian" language ( bosanski), and that that is the name that both Croats and Serbs should use. The controversy arises because the name "Bosnian" may seem to imply that it is the language of all Bosnians, while and reject that designation for their idioms.

The language is called Bosnian language in the 1995 and is concluded by observers to have received legitimacy and international recognition at the time.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN), and the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names (PCGN) recognize the Bosnian language. Furthermore, the status of the Bosnian language is also recognized by bodies such as the , , and translation and interpreting accreditation agencies,

(2019). 9780521223157, Cambridge University Press.
including internet translation services.

Most English-speaking language encyclopaedias (, , , etc.)Bernard Comrie (ed.): The World's Major Languages. Second Edition. Routledge, New York/London, 2009 register the language solely as "Bosnian" language. The Library of Congress registered the language as "Bosnian" and gave it an ISO-number. The Slavic language institutes in English-speaking countries offer courses in "Bosnian" or "Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian" language, not in "Bosniak" language (e.g. Columbia, Cornell, Chicago, Washington, Kansas). The same thing in German-speaking countries, where the language is taught under the name Bosnisch, not Bosniakisch (e.g. Vienna, Graz, Trier) with very few exceptions.

Some Croatian linguists (Zvonko Kovač, Ivo Pranjković, Josip Silić) support the name "Bosnian" language, whereas others (Radoslav Katičić, Dalibor Brozović, ) hold that the term Bosnian language is the only one appropriate and that accordingly the terms Bosnian language and Bosniak language refer to two different things. The Croatian state institutions, such as the Central Bureau of Statistics, use both terms: "Bosniak" language was used in the 2001 census, Central Bureau of Statistics of the Republic of Croatia Census of 2001, Population by native language while the census in 2011 used the term "Bosnian" language.

The majority of Serbian linguists hold that the term Bosniak language is the only one appropriate, which was agreed as early as 1990.Svein Mønnesland, »Language Policy in Bosnia-Herzegovina«, (pp 135–155.). In: Language : Competence–Change–Contact = Sprache : Kompetenz – Kontakt – Wandel, edited by: Annikki Koskensalo, John Smeds, Rudolf de Cillia, Ángel Huguet; Berlin ; Münster : Lit Verlag, 2012., , p. 143. "Already in 1990 the Committee for the Serbian language decided that only the term 'Bosniac language' should be used officially in Serbia, and this was confirmed in 1998."

The original form of The Constitution of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina called the language "Bosniac language", until 2002 when it was changed in Amendment XXIX of the Constitution of the Federation by Wolfgang Petritsch. The original text of the Constitution of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina was agreed in , and was signed by Krešimir Zubak and Haris Silajdžić on March 18, 1994.

The constitution of , the Serb-dominated entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina, did not recognize any language or ethnic group other than Serbian. Bosniaks were mostly expelled from the territory controlled by the Serbs from 1992, but immediately after the war they demanded the restoration of their civil rights in those territories. The Bosnian Serbs refused to make reference to the Bosnian language in their constitution and as a result had constitutional amendments imposed by High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch. However, the constitution of Republika Srpska refers to it as the Language spoken by Bosniaks, because the Serbs were required to recognise the language officially, but wished to avoid recognition of its name.

(2019). 9780199258154, Oxford University Press.

Serbia includes the Bosnian language as an elective subject in primary schools. officially recognizes the Bosnian language: its 2007 Constitution specifically states that although Montenegrin is the official language, Serbian, Bosnian, Albanian and Croatian are also in official use. See Art. 13 of the Constitution of the Republic of Montenegro, adopted on 19 October 2007, available at the website of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Montenegro

Historical usage of the term
  • In the work Skazanie izjavljenno o pismeneh that was written between 1423 and 1426, the Bulgarian chronicler Constantine the Philosopher, in parallel with the Bulgarian, Serbian, Slovenian, Czech and Croatian, he also mentions the Bosnian language.
  • The notary book of the town of Kotor from July 3, 1436 recounts a duke buying a girl that is described as a: "Bosnian woman, heretic and in the Bosnian language called Djevena".Aleksandar Solovjev, Trgovanje bosanskim robljem do god. 1661. - Glasnik Zemaljskog muzeja, N. S., 1946, 1, 151.
  • The work Thesaurus Polyglottus, published in Frankfurt am Main in 1603 by the German historian and linguist Hieronymus Megiser, mentions the Bosnian dialect alongside the Dalmatian, Croatian and Serbian one.V. Putanec, Leksikografija, Enciklopedija Jugoslavije, V, 1962, 504.
  • The Bosnian Franciscan Matija Divković, regarded as the founder of the modern literature of Bosnia and Herzegovina, asserts in his work "Nauk krstjanski za narod slovinski" ("The Christian doctrine for the Slavic peoples") from 1611 his "translation from Latin to the real and true Bosnian language" ("A privideh iz dijačkog u pravi i istinit jezik bosanski")
  • Bosniak poet and writer Muhamed Hevaji Uskufi Bosnevi who refers to the language of his 1632 dictionary Magbuli-arif as Bosnian.
  • One of the first grammarians, the Jesuit clergyman Bartolomeo Cassio calls the language used in his work from 1640 Ritual rimski (Roman Rite) as naški ("our language") or bosanski ("Bosnian"). He used the term "Bosnian" even though he was born in a region: instead he decided to adopt a "common language" ( lingua communis) based on a version of .Vatroslav Jagić, Iz prošlost hrvatskog jezika. Izabrani kraći spisi. Zagreb, 1948, 49.
  • The Italian linguist (1601–1654) who states in his dictionary Blagu jezika slovinskoga (Thesaurus lingue Illyricae) from 1649 that he wants to include "the most beautiful words" adding that "of all Illyrian languages the Bosnian is the most beautiful", and that all Illyrian writers should try to write in that language.
  • 18th century Bosniak chronicler Mula Mustafa Bašeskija who argues in his yearbook of collected Bosnian poems that the "Bosnian language" is much richer than the Arabic, because there are 45 words for the verb "to go" in Bosnian.
  • The Venetian writer, naturalist and cartographer (1741–1803) calls in his work Viaggio in Dalmazia (Travels into Dalmatia) the language of as Illyrian, Morlach and Bosnian.
  • The Croatian writer and lexicographer Matija Petar Katančić published six volumes of biblical translations in 1831 described as being "transferred from Slavo-Illyrian to the pronunciation of the Bosnian language".
  • Croatian writer Matija Mažuranić refers in the work Pogled u Bosnu (1842) to the language of Bosnians as Illyrian (a 19th-century to South Slavic languages) mixed with Turkish words, with a further statement that they are the speakers of the Bosniak language.
  • The Bosnian Franciscan Ivan Franjo Jukić states in his work Zemljopis i Poviestnica Bosne (1851) that the Bosnia was the only Turkish land (i.e. under the control of the Ottoman Empire) that remained entirely pure without Turkish speakers, both in the villages and so on the highlands. Further he states "... a language other than the Bosnian is not spoken in, the greatest Turkish i.e. gentlemen only speak Turkish when they are at the ".
  • Ivan Kukuljević Sakcinski, a 19th-century Croatian writer and historian, stated in his work Putovanje po Bosni (Travels into Bosnia) from 1858, how the 'Turkish' (i.e. Muslim) Bosniaks, despite converting to the Muslim faith, preserved their traditions and the Slavic mood, and that they speak the purest variant of the Bosnian language, by refusing to add Turkish word to their vocabulary.

Differences between Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian
The differences between the Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian literary standards are minimal. Although Bosnian employs more Turkish, Persian, and Arabic loanwords—commonly called orientalisms—it is very similar to both Serbian and Croatian in its written and spoken form.

The Bosnian language, as a new normative register of the Shtokavian dialect, was officially introduced in 1996 with the publication of Pravopis bosanskog jezika in Sarajevo. According to that work, Bosnian differed from Serbian and Croatian on some main linguistic characteristics, such as: sound formats in some words, especially "h" ( kahva versus Serbian kafa); substantial and deliberate usage of Oriental ("Turkish") words; spelling of future tense ( kupit ću) as in Croatian but not Serbian ( kupiću) (both forms have the same pronunciation).

See also
  • Abstand and ausbau languages
  • Dialects of Serbo-Croatian
  • Hval's Codex
  • Language secessionism in Serbo-Croatian
  • Muhamed Hevaji Uskufi Bosnevi
  • Mutual intelligibility
  • Oriental Institute in Sarajevo
  • Pluricentric Serbo-Croatian language


Further reading

External links

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