The Bosnian language (; bosanski / босански ) is the standardized variety of Serbo-Croatian mainly used by Bosniaks.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 Serbia, Montenegro, and the Republic of Kosovo.
Bosnian uses both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets, with Latin in everyday use.
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, Serbian language, and Montenegrin. Until the dissolution of SFR Yugoslavia, 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 idiom, 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 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.
The language is called Bosnian language in the 1995 Dayton Accords 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 United Nations, UNESCO, and translation and interpreting accreditation agencies,
Most English-speaking language encyclopaedias (Routledge, Glottolog, Ethnologue, 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, Tomislav Ladan) 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 Vienna, and was signed by Krešimir Zubak and Haris Silajdžić on March 18, 1994.
The constitution of Republika Srpska, 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.
Serbia includes the Bosnian language as an elective subject in primary schools. Montenegro 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
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).