the Western subgroup of the South Slavonic branch of Slavonic languages.
Spoken by almost five million people in
Croatia;also spoken in the southern parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina and in the Burgenland
province of Austria (a separate dialect).
spoken in three communities in the Molise region (province of Campobasso).
It has three main dialects: Chakavian, spoken
primarily along the Croatian coast; Kajkavian, spoken in Zagreb and other
parts of northwest Croatia; and Stokavian,
spoken in the rest of Croatia.
Written in Roman script.
Although first purely vernacular texts of Croatian language, distinctly
different from Church Slavonic go back to the 13th century, it was in 14th
and 15th centuries that modern Croatian language emerged (recorded in
texts as Vatican Croatian prayer book from 1400.) in the form (morphology,
phonology and syntax) that only slightly differs from contemporary
Croatian standard language.
The standardization of Croatian language can be traced back to the first
Croatian dictionary (Faust Vrančić: Dictionarium quinque nobilissimarum
Europae linguarum—Latinae, Italicae, Germanicae, Dalmatiae et Ungaricae,
Venice 1595) and first Croatian grammar (Bartul Kašić: Institutionum
linguae illyricae libri duo, Rome 1604). Interestingly enough, the
language of Jesuit Kašić's unpublished (until 2000) translation of the
Bible (Old and New Testament, 1622-1636) in the Croatian
štokavian-ijekavian dialect (the ornate style of the Dubrovnik Renaissance
literature) is as close to the contemporary standard Croatian language
(problems of orthography apart) as are French of Montaigne's "Essays" or
King James Bible English to their respective successors—modern standard