A8 Dialects

This chapter uses specific stress symbols,
different than in the rest of Easy Croatian.

(This chapter is under construction.)

I'll give a brief overview of dialects in Croatia and neighboring countries.

Croatia belongs to the South Slavic language area, and to the wider Slavic area. Both these areas are essentially dialect continua, that is, areas where any dialect is similar to the dialect next to it, which is similar to the one next to it, and so on: difference between dialects increases with distance, and there are very few sharp dialect borders.

Many features of South Slavic dialects change roughly in the northwest-southeast direction, represented by the arrow in this map:

(The arrow should go, and does go further into Macedonia and Bulgaria, but I will concentrate on dialects in Croatia and countries next to it.)

Going in the direction of the arrow (i.e. to the south-east), features change in this way:

• There are fewer noun forms (that is, different case endings). In Slovenia, nouns have singular, dual and plural forms, and 6 cases with different endings in plural. In the area around Niš, Serbia, there is only singular and plural, and only two cases (N and A). In Macedonia, nouns have no cases! This doesn't apply to the vocative case, though.

• There are more verb tenses in use. In the western parts of Croatia, the aorist tense is very rarely used. It doesn't exist at all in Slovenia. In Serbia, it's used every day in speech. When you reach Macedonia, there are 9 tenses.

Infinitives are less used and finally disappear in South of Serbia, where only da + present is used.

Vocatives are more often used – in western parts of Croatia, vocatives are rare, N is used when calling someone. In Bosnia and Serbia, they are frequently used.

• There are more Greek and Turkish loan words further you go to the south-east.

There are couple of forms that are specific for ‘west’ and ‘east’:

  ‘west’ ‘east’
you can moreš možeš
four men/boys četvero četvoro

Each feature splits the area at a different line. Standard Croatian has the ‘eastern’ možeš, but the ‘western’ četvero.

Furthermore, there's something interesting: most dialectal variation is in the northwest. In the central and southeastern areas, there's less dialects on the same land area. (That's due to history.) It's obvious from this simplified and not-too-accurate dialect map, showing the dialects in villages in middle 20th century (click on the image to enlarge):

Dialects are marked with the following two-letter abbreviations, here grouped into traditional dialect groups (the usual term in Croatian is narječje):

‘Slovene’: CR - Carinthian, ST - Styrian, PA - Pannonian, UC - Upper Carniolan, LC - Lower Carniolan, RV - Rovte, LI - Littoral;

‘Kajkavian’: ZM - Zagorje-Međimurje, TP - Turopolje-Posavina, KP - Križevci-Podravina, PR - Prigorje;

‘Čakavian’: NČ - Northwestern Čakavian, CČ - Central Čakavian, SČ - Southeastern Čakavian;

‘Štokavian’: SL - Slavonian, WI - Western Ikavian, HK - Herzegovina-Krajina (East Herzegovinian), EB - East Bosnian, ŠV - Šumadija-Vojvodina, SM - Smederevo-Vršac, ZS - Zeta-Sandžak, KR - Kosovo-Resava;

‘Torlak’: PM - Prizren-South Morava, TL - Timok-Lužnica.

There are other ways to divide dialects: for example, the classification of ‘Čakavian’ dialects shown here is after Dutch linguist Willem Vermeer; you'll find other ways to classify them in many books. Some dialects shown here together are usually shown separately – even if they are quite alike neighboring ones – for traditional (and political) reasons (e.g. Lower Carniolan dialects in Croatia are usually shown separately as ‘goranski’, etc.

The grouping of dialects into ‘Kajkavian’, ‘Čakavian’ and ‘Štokavian’ is usually presented as something fundamental. However, it's not really so: for example, Northwestern Čakavian dialects have a lot of similarities with the Littoral dialects in Slovenia; ‘Kajkavian’ Zagorje-Međimurje dialects have many similarities with Pannonian dialects in Slovenia; ‘Torlak’ dialects are often grouped with ‘Štokavian’, but they have many similarities with dialects in Macedonia and Bulgaria as well; there's no sharp border between Southeastern Čakavian and ‘Štokavian’ Western Ikavian; ‘Štokavian’ Slavonian dialects have similarities with ‘Čakavian’ dialects, etc.

(the rest is coming soon)

5 Easy Croatian: A8 Dialects This chapter uses specific stress symbols, different than in the rest of Easy Croatian. (This chapter is under construction.) I'll...

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