CROATIAN LITERARY LANGUAGE IN THE 18TH CENTURY*
Standard languages of Europe were formed at different historical periods ranging from the Dantean times in Italy to the twentieth century when Macedonian, a number of Caucasian, Uralic, Altaic and other standard languages of the Soviet Union were formed. In Romance and Germanic worlds the most important period in the development of their standard languages was the 16th century, when the Renaissance and Reformation movements were at their peak. In the history of Slavic standard languages some major events took place in the 18th century, and for some of them it was the most important phase in their history. That is the reason why at the Seventh International Congress of Slavists in Warsaw one of the major topics was the sociolinguistic situation in the Slavic countries in the 18th century, and why the majority of papers from all the participating countries dealt with this question.
If we apply the somewhat vague term "Croatian Literary Language" to cover both the written languages from the past and the contemporary standard language of the Croats, the history of the Croatian Literary Language can be divided into six periods, some of which consist of more than one phase. In this historical perspective the 18th century emerges as the most important point, which divides the first three periods (i.e., the prestandard history) from the latter three periods, which are characterized by the gradual formation of the latter three periods, which are characterized by the gradual formation of the present-day Croatian standard language.
A. Prestandard history:
— Medieval Croatian writing
— Development from the acceptance of Glagolitic script in the 9-10th centuries until the end of the 15th century
— Dominance of the čakavian dialect in writing and strong influence of the Croatian Church Slavic (with increasing secular usage)
— Appearance of the Cyrillic and the Latin alphabets in the 12th and 14th centuries, respectively
— Development of regional literatures in the 16th century (which adopt the intellectual linguistic adstratum of the medieval writings but drop the accumulated linguistic substance)
— Balance between čakavian, štokavian and kajkavian dialects in writing and between čakavian and štokavian in belle lettres
— Formation of two Croatian territorial complexes: northwestern (northern čakavian-kajkavian), and southeastern (southern čakavian-štokavian)
— Gradual disappearance of Glagolitic script
— Formation of several regional written languages based on various subdialects of all three major dialects
— Development and multiplication of regional literatures and regional written languages in the 17th and the first half of the 18th centuries.
— Livelier contacts among the latter
— Prevalence of the štokavian dialect in the southeastern territorial complex
— Slow decline of čakavian and the Western type of Cyrillic alphabet in the second phase (the first half of the 18th century)
— Unification of the kajkavian written language
— Neo-štokavian expansion in the southeastern territorial complex, i.e., its influence on the čakavian territory and the influence of neoštokavian on non-neoštokavian written languages, primarily on the language of Dubrovnik
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Journal of Croatian Studies, XXVIII-XXIX, 1987-88 – Annual Review of the Croatian Academy of America, Inc. New York, N.Y., Electronic edition by Studia Croatica, by permission. All rights reserved by the Croatian Academy of America.
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