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Mario Grčević, Mannheim:

Some remarks on recent lexical changes in the Croatian language

As is well known, the language policy of the former SFRJ (= Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) tried to create a "Serbo-Croatian standard language" [As to the differentiation between the concepts of "literary language" and "standard language" see Auburger 1991, 23-24.] under the domination of the Serbian language (cf. Auburger 1997). An important part of this policy were attempts to eliminate those characteristics of the Croatian literary language by which it distinguishes itself from the Serbian literary language. [Cf. the observation by Auburger (1997, 25) concerning the transformation of the variance relationship from lower linguistic levels to variance relationships on higher levels up to the lectological and general linguistic level with entire language systems such as sociolects, professional languages, dialects, etc. as items of the variance relation.] The methods used were manyfold. Even still in the eighties, a common "argument" was to claim that the opponents of the official Yugoslav language policy were sympathising with the Ustaša regime of World War 2, and that the incriminated words were "ustašoid" as well. [For example, in a report called Linguistic problems in the function of nationalist ideology in the SR Croatia (Selak 1992, 53-119; 107) written in 1980/81 for official internal use, the Croatists of that time were compared to the politicians concerned with the politics of language during the NDH-State period. (NDH = Nezavisna država Hrvatska , 1941 – 1945). ] Another method was to punish authors that fought against censorship. Therefore, when M. Šimundić (1971, 238) asking a television newscaster why he avoided the word glazba (music ), he got the reply: "Ah, you know, it would not be appropriate." Why it would not have been "appropriate" is illustrated by the fact that the editor of the Croatian edition of the official newspaper of the SFRJ ("Službeni list SFRJ"), Blaško Grce, was relegated from his former function and degraded to the function of a corrector in 1976 after he had tried to circumvent that censorship (Selak 1992, 28-52). Besides, authors of dictionaries, grammars, etc. were not allowed to write their works freely and according to the best of their professional knowledge and competence. Thus, for example, the whole edition of the Croatian Orthography edited by Babić-Finka-Moguš (1971) was destroyed in a paper factory just because it had been titled "Croatian" Orthography instead of "Serbocroatian" or "Croatoserbian" Orthography.

Most foreign scholars of "serbocroatistics" in the Western democratic world were not aware of these methods of the Yugoslav language policy and of this way of "standardizing" the Croatian literary language. This is not surprising since the ideas of many foreign serbocroatists about the Croatian language were similar to the concepts of Yugoslav language policy. Therefore, they did not show any interest in this problem when in 1971 D. Brozović described the Yugoslav language policy as a unique form of unitarianism that partly resembled the old Czechoslovakism (Brozović 1971, 197-198). According to Brozović, this unitarianism, as a vehicle of Greater Serbian ambitions hiding behind older traditions of south-Slavic solidarity, corresponded with, more or less well-known, tendencies of language policy in expansionist states. [See also Brozović 1998. In a non-terminological sense Brozović 1971 calls this unitarianism serbocroatism. L. Auburger shows that such a serbocroatism was developed already in the 19th century. He also gives a detailed description of its nature and its development (Auburger, 1997; 1999). ]

Despite all the endeavours to implement this "serbocroatistic" language policy in Yugoslavia, the intended fusion of the Croatian and Serbian literary languages into one "serbocroatic standard language" failed. Consequently, the report Linguistic problems in the function of nationalist ideology in the SR Croatia (1980/1981), complained about the fact that several "Croatisms" were being "forced" into journals as well as television, and that nouns ending in –lac were increasingly being replaced by those ending in –telj (Selak 1992, 106). Only about ten years later, the unmistakable results of this tendency have become apparent: The suffix –telj actually has replaced the suffix –lac in many words, although the suffix –lac previously was in use too (or in some words even more usually then -telj ).

If we examine Croatian dictionaries of the eighties, e.g. B. Klaić’s dictionary of foreign words, we can find lots of "Croatisms" which were more or less proscribed in former Yugoslavia (shown here in italics):

advokat - odvjetnik, branitelj; aeroport - zračna luka; ambasada - poslanstvo, poklisarstvo; artiljerija - topništvo; avijacija - zrakoplovstvo; aviomehaničar - zrakoplovni mehaničar; baterija [milit.] - bitnica; budžet - proračun; daktilografija - strojopis; datum - nadnevak; deponirati - pohraniti; delegacija - izaslanstvo; delegat - izaslanik, zastupnik; Europa - orth. older and correct beside 'Evropa'; direktan - izravan; faktor - činitelj, čimbenik; familija - obitelj; firma - tvrtka; geografija - zemljopis; geograf - zemljopisac; grupa - skupina; hapsiti - uhićivati, uhititi; kancelarija - ured; kasarna - vojarna; klavir - glasovir; muzika - glazba; komisija - povjerensto; kompozitor - skladatelj; kopilot - supilot; protest - prosvjed; protestirati - prosvjedovati; oficir - časnik; opozicija - oporba; organizirati - ustrojiti; original - izvornik; porijeklo - podrijetlo; pauza - stanka; rezerva - pričuva; sekretar - tajnik; sekretarijat - tajništvo; sistem - sustav; telegraf - brzojav; telegram - brzojavka; etc.

Depending on whether they belong to the active or passive vocabulary of the primary Croatian speakers in former Yugoslavia, not all of these words can be treated equally. Odvjetnik (lawyer ) , tvrtka ( company ) , proračun ( budget ) , sustav ( system ) , glazba ( music) were examples of active usage while pričuva ( reserve ) , vojarna ( barracks ) , časnik ( officer ) , and uhićivati ( to arrest ) belonged to the passive vocabulary. The number of references of the words odvjetnik and advokat in the frequency dictionaries by Šojat (1983) and by Moguš – Bratanić- Tadić (in the following: Moguš 1999) shows that the frequency of some of the (partial) doublets mentioned above varied substantially in the language of Croatian journals even before 1991. The corpus on which Moguš’ frequency dictionary is based was compiled in the seventies. It contains 952,327 word units (tokens) extracted from texts published in the period between 1935 and the seventies. The abbreviations DNPSU represent the different sub-corpora: D= drama, N= newspapers, P= prose, S= poetry, U= textbooks. The newspapers consulted ( Borba, Glas Slavonije, Novi list, Slobodna Dalmacija, Večernji list, Vjesnik ) were published in 1975 and 1977 and contain 200,000 word units. The corpus on which Šojat’s frequency dictionary (1983) is based consists of 130,279 word units taken from the newspapers Večernji list and Vjesnik , both published in 1980.

In Moguš, the word odvjetnik has got only 4 references, none of which come from journals (DP), whereas advokat has got 27 references, including journals (DNPU). In Šojat’s smaller frequency dictionary (1983) however, advokat has not got any references while odvjetnik has got five. Older developments of this kind are often ignored in recent research and are ascribed to the period after the proclamation of the Republic of Croatia in 1991.

For instance, the fact that the words glazba, skladatelj ( composer ) and sustav probably did not occur in certain types of texts before 1991 does ot imply that these words can now be considered "reactivated" (cf. Samardžija 1998, 149). The references in Moguš (1999) and Šojat (1983) show hat these words were in use already in the Croatian language of the seventies and early eighties. There is no reason to assume that they generally isappeared in the eighties.

Prior to 1991, the passive Croatian vocabulary contained many banished Croatian words equivalent to the actively used ords of the politically approved vocabulary. E.g. the officers of the JNA (= Jugoslavenska narodna armija, Yugoslav People’s Army ) publicly only ould be called oficir (Sg.) – oficiri (Pl.), and not časnik – časnici . (For using the word časnik ( officer ) instead of oficir the physician I. Šreter was entenced to 50 days in jail in 1987 (Vuković 1996, 78-79).) Accordingly, the possibility of using the previously frequent word časnik was already educed in such a way that before 1991 it could only occur in special contexts, e.g. in relation to historical events. Such suppressive relations changed onsiderably after the dissolution of the SFRJ and the founding of the Republic of Croatia as a sovereign state (1991) (cf. Auburger 1999, 332f.). The regained freedom to use previously forbidden words in all domains of communication without any restrictions made it possible for the Croatian terminology in the semantic field of administration, army, etc. to be based on and continue existing Croatian naming traditions. So, formerly suppressed words switched from the more or less passive vocabulary of the Croatian literary language to the active one without any special stylistic marking. On the whole, various tendencies can be observed. Although e.g. the Slavic word uljudba can be found more often in newspapers since the beginning of the nineties, no competitive relation with its synonym civilizacija , which is still common, can be observed. Another development can be seen in the pair of words klavir – glasovir (piano). The word glasovir occurs a little more often in the current newspapers than its synonym klavir although before 1991 glasovir probably was not used in the newspapers at all or only rarely. Such developments were partly influenced by the war that Serbia started against the Republic of Croatia in the name of Yugoslavia in the early nineties. People began to identify particular lexical elements of the former regime as symbols of the military aggressor. Therefore, in wartime literary language use a word like oficir had a pejorative connotation. Nowadays, this word appears in newspapers mostly as a reference to history, in particular when referring to J(N)A officers. Similarly the word kasarna has been fully replaced by vojarna, and is now being used only as a reference to history (JNA barracks). The word armija (compare the self-styled Yugoslav People’s Army = Jugoslavenska narodna armija) is still very frequent, but no in its primary meaning (cf. Šonje, 2000), which is covered by vojska: In the newspapers, it mainly occurs within compound terms belonging to the inventory of names: Jugoslavenska armija, Armija BiH, Irska republikanska armija, Ruska armija, Sovjetska armija, Crvena armija, Ukrajinska ustanička armija. Less frequently it can be found in syntagms with the metaphorical meaning "a lot of": navijačka armija, omanja armija pomoćnika javnoga tužitelja. Recently, however, vojska is also being used in this sense: vojska njezinih obožavatelja, vojska znanstvenika.

In the rare case that the word ambasador is used in newspapers with the meaning "ambassador", it almost exclusively refers to foreign ambassadors (američki ambasador , francuski ambasador, bosanski ambasador , etc.). It is also used in a new metaphorical sense (exponent, advocate, representative): ambasador dobre volje, umjetnost je najbolji ambasador Hrvatske, svaka hrvatska (poštanska) marka je ambasador koji promiče hrvatsku kulturu, uspješan ambasador naše zemlje, u funkciji ambasadora kampanje "Engleska 2006", svojevrsni ambasadori ugostiteljske struke, ambasadori bogate hrvatske glazbene tradicije, ambasadori hrvatske znanosti. The word veleposlanik does not occur in this sense, but it has largely replaced the word ambasador as a designation for Croatian and foreign ambassadors. This explains why its frequency in the newspapers is considerably higher than that of the word ambasador.

Another development can be studied analyzing the recent history of the pair of words dobrovoljac – dragovoljac and of the word prvoborac . In 1991 the average speaker would associate the word dobrovoljac (volunteer) and prvoborac (earliest partisan/soldier) with the volunteers and the first generation (1941) of Tito's partisans (1941-1945). The word dragovoljac, which was not in common usage before 1991 and which did not have this denotation (cf. Brodnjak 1991, dragovoljnik), therefore could establish itself as a designation for the volunteers on the Croatian side of the war in the nineties. In the language of Croatian newspapers in the nineties, the distinction is quite clear: dobrovoljci (Pl.) stands for the volunteers of World War 2, while dragovoljci (Pl.) stands for the Croatian volunteers of the last war. At the same time, it can be observed that the word dragovoljac replaces the word dobrovoljac in all other contexts as well, except in those cases where Tito's partisans are mentioned. A definitive redefinition of its meaning, however, has not occurred yet. It remains to be seen whether the tendency described here is only a temporary phenomenon or whether the reference in Šonje (2000), according to which there is no semantic difference between dobrovoljac and dragovoljac , will still hold true in future dictionaries. Obviously a similar differentiation was not possible for the word prvoborac because prvoborac did not have a corresponding synonym. Considering the context in which the word prvoborac still appears in the modern Croatian language of the newspapers, one would conclude that it does not describe the Croatian volunteers of the last war. The term is avoided in two ways: 1) originally by calling them dragovoljci ; and 2) later on by referring to them as "veterans" (veterani ). Consequently, the frequency of the word veterani increased significantly, despite the fact that the puristic tendency against internationalisms had become stronger in the nineties (cf. Samardžija, 2000a). Under the influence of this tendency the internationalism fronta, for example, was not used as a description of the fronts in the last war but replaced by Slavic words or syntagms: bojište, bojišnica, prva crta bojišta and prva crta bojišnice. In compound names, however, the word fronta is still used, often occuring in the non-standard form front (cf. Brodnjak 1991, front ). The use of this word in the quoted functions was obviously not influenced by the previous use in Narodnooslobodilačka fronta (1941-1945). Similarly, the word omladina (youth), which is also marked by socialist usage, was not only largely replaced by the word mladež but is in Šonje (2000) even limited to its first meaning as a description of the former Yugoslav Youth Organisation. It should be noted that before 1991 the word omladina could replace mladež because of the Yugoslav language policy. The use of the word sekretarica, which has been to a great degree replaced by tajnica (or masc. tajnik ) in the meaning "secretary", shows a similar development. Surprisingly, however, it occurs quite often in the meaning of "answering machine": telefonska sekretarica, automatska sekretarica . The corresponding tajnica (or tajnik ) occurs almost exclusively in all other meanings, also when referring to foreign employees, who are called secretary in their own language. This does not, however, apply to the ministers of the SFRJ, who are called sekretar(i) according to their own inventory of names.

Before analysing the pair of words priopćiti – saopćiti ( to inform, to notify) to show how older normative tendencies still influence the latest language changes, I would like to mention the puristic tendency against Serbisms, which increased in the first half of the nineties. On the one hand, the most influential normativists had already pointed out in the early nineties that necessary future codifications of the Croatian literary language must take place independently of the relationship between Croatian and Serbian. [Cf. e.g. Babić (1995, 29-32; first published: 1991). ] On the other hand, the results of linguistic contact with the Serbian language, which had been dominant in the process of language standardisation during the "Yugoslav era", could not be denied. The war that Serbia started against Croatia at the beginning of the nineties strengthened puristic tendencies against serbisms: Amateur linguists became involved in language politics, writing Serbian-Croatian contrastive dictionaries of their own. The old Croatian purism, which had worked against Serbisms in earlier times, was continued with renewed zeal during the war in the nineties. [Whether the paranormative advices could have a considerable influence on the Croatian language changes still has to be examined. ] Therefore, it is not surprising that words like bezbjednost (= sigurnost ) ( security, safety ) , obezbijediti (= osigurati ) ( to secure ) , uslov (= uvjet ) ( condition ) , osmatranje (= promatranje ) ( observe ) , inostranstvo (= inozemstvo ) ( foreign countries ) do not occur in Croatian newspapers today (except partly in quotations of Serbian and other texts). On the other hand, some words that are labelled as "Serbisms" and are commonly known to be such occur rather often (see e.g. the already mentioned word front). Their usage, however, should be discussed in a separate contribution.

Turning to the above mentioned pair saopćiti - priopćiti and the influence of older normative tendencies, first of all we have to note that the verb saopćiti and the verbal noun saopćenje were completely replaced by priopćiti and priopćenje at the beginning of the nineties, both in administrative and media language. The word saopćiti seems to have entered the Croatian vocabulary by the mediation of B. Šulek (1860), who probably had taken it from J. Stulli (cf. ARj) as a Church Slavonic word. Leaving aside the question whether saopćiti was as common as priopćiti in the 19th century, I would like to point out that this word was not influenced by any purism before the beginning of the 20th century. [Therefore, it was not a problem for I. Filipović (1870) to include this word in his dictionary. So we find the following entries here: report: izvješće; izviest, poviedanje; to permit: dopustiti, dopuštati, dozvoliti, dozvoljavati; to excuse: ispričati, izvinjavati; present: prisutan, nazočan; insurance: osjeguravanje, obezbjeda, obezbjednja; to be part of something: učestvovati, biti učestnik; ally: dionik, učestnik; to inform: priobćiti, saobćiti; care: obskrbljivanje, obskrba, snabdjenje. In Parčić (1901) among others the following headwords can be found: bezbiednost, izviniti se, prisutan, saobćiti, snabdievati, učestnik. Except for saopćiti these headwords are not used in Broz-Iveković (1901).] It was not until the official, politically supported measures in language standardization of the Croatian "Vukovci" (Croatian philologists following the linguistic doctrine of V. S. Karadžić) that the later Croatian linguistic purism against words originating from Church Slavonic or Russian arose. T. Maretić, the founder of this part of Croatian purism, was not bothered by the fact that these Russianisms, as he called them rather generally, were very frequent in the Serbian language of that time. For those cases where older, "native" equivalents existed he suggested, in his Jezični savjetnik (1924), to completely remove "unnecessary Russianisms" from the Croatian and Serbian vocabulary. [Cf. among others Vidović (1969) as to the question how Maretić's Jezični savjetnik influenced the later Croatian normativistics in this respect.] Many of his suggestions were fairly broadly accepted in Croatia, among others his the recommendation not to use saopćiti instead of priopćiti . Therefore, in the article under the headword saopćiti in S. Pavešić’s influential language advisor (1971) we find the statement that "our words" are (among others) priopćenje and priopćiti . In the official language of the SFRJ, in accordance with the situation in the Serbian language, only saopćiti – saopćenje were "allowed". After saopćiti and saopćenje had been replaced by priopćiti and priopćenje in official correspondence of the Croatian administration at the beginning of the nineties, there was no reason for the Croatian linguists to try to retain the word saopćiti and to declare the previously proscribed "Croatism" priopćiti to be "false". [As we have seen, this kind of development has nothing in common with a return to the period before 1918. Therefore, the remark in M. Wingender (1997, 375): "The clock has to be turned back to the period before 1918", is not at all correct.]

Because there was no semantic difference between priopćiti, priopćenje and saopćiti, saopćenje , the latter pair disappeared also from the language of the media. When these words do occur in today’s language of the media, these are rare cases of interference or quotations of older texts. Only in some magazines (see Hrvatska ljevica and Feral ) saopćiti/saopćenje still occur as the result of a conscious choice. These magazines, or rather their texts, form an exception in the Croatian press and should be therefore discussed separately.

Besides the already mentioned types of changes there are also others, e.g. those resulting from the naming of new objects (see e.g. the reactivated word domovnica ). The fast spread of the new form perilica (( dish ) washer ) instead of the older syntagm stroj za pranje (rublja, posuđa) was not caused by normative influences but solely by language economy. In Anić (1998) perilica is mentioned, however it is not in Šonje (2000). In the media, similar cases led to the formation and spread of the verb nazočiti (prisustvovati= to be present). First, the frequency of the adjective nazočan and of the noun nazočnost , equivalent to prisutan – prisutnost but not used very frequently before, increased strongly. Almost at the same time, journalists considered it possible and necessary to have the corresponding verb nazočiti . This happened despite repeated claims by philologists that the new form nazočiti is unnecessary. It is still not clear whether this new form will make its way into the vocabulary or will be replaced by e.g. pribivati (see Šonje 2000, prisustvovati ) or prisustvovati. Currently, the word pribivati is not in common use. Unlike in the case of the verb nazočiti, suggested neologisms for helikopter (helicopter) were completely rejected by the journalists.

The different effects evident in the changes partially discussed above do also occur in various combinations.

In the following paragraphs I will list the words discussed so far and others which have undergone a change in frequency in newspaper language. The first figure, the one behind the respective word, gives the number of references in Moguš (1999); the second figure, the one behind the hyphen, gives its number in Šojat (1983); the third figure, the one behind the slash, indicates the number of references in the Mannheim Croatian Corpus . The Mannheim Croatian Corpus (further: MCC) contains texts from the daily newspapers Vjesnik, Večernji list, Slobodna Dalmacija and the cultural magazine Hrvatsko slovo from the period from 1997 to 1999 and at present covers approximately 14,000,000 tokens. Later, I will give some further information about this corpus and the whole project which lead to its creation. It has to be pointed out that the underlying corpora are not ideally suited for a comparison like the following one. More appropriate linguistic material for such a comparison, however, is not available to me at the present. The aforementioned numerical ratios can be regarded only as indicators of the fact that in newspaper language some changes (probably) occured. To answer the question how and why these changes took place, it would be necessary to describe the problems of the previous and recently appearing semantic differentiations. In some cases one would also have to consider further (partial) synonyms and derivatives:


advokat 27 DNPU-0/16

odvjetnik 4 DP-5/1318


ambasada 5 N-16/47

veleposlanstvo 0-0/831 (poslanstvo 2 DS)


ambasador 21 DNU-18/89

veleposlanik 0-0/1712


analiza 100 NPSU-18/934

raščlamba 0-0/97


armija 94 DNPU-9/406

vojska 149 DNPSU-21/3236


artiljerija 4 NU-0/10

topništvo 1 U-0/67


autoput 10 N-0/9

autocesta 3 N-0/903


avijacija 3 NU-0/8

zrakoplovstvo 10 NU-0/269


avijatičar 1 S-0/4

zrakoplovac 5 N-0/21


avion 100 DNPSU-25/726

zrakoplov 5 PSU-2/1964


baterija (milit.) 4 DP-1?/0 (no milit.: 69)

bitnica 0-0/7


biblioteka 23 DNPSU-10/159

knjižnica 13 NPSU-4/1135


branilac 0-0/1

branitelj 7 DNU-8/1938


budžet 26 DNSU-3/125

proračun 29 NSU-5/2994
The meaning state budget of the word proračun probably was not part of the common language until after 1991.


centar 71 DNPU-73/5758

središte 75 NPSU-16/1754


činilac 37 NU-11/4

činitelj 1 U-0/70 čimbenik 2 U-1/543


čitalac 24 NPSU-7/24sic!

čitatelj 3 N-3/914


civilizacija 24 DNPU-0/324

uljudba 1 P-0/33


daktilografija 0-0/0

strojopis 2 U-0/6


datum 16 DNPU-8/603

nadnevak 0-0/62


davalac 7 N-2/7sic!

davatelj 0-0/75


delegacija 154 NPU-46/324

izaslanstvo 0-0/1344


delegat 91 NPU-52/148

izaslanik 5 N-3/730 zastupnik 14 DNPSU-15/2840


demilitarizacija 0-0/80

razvojačenje 0-0/29


direktor 95 DNP-32/4904 upravitelj 8 DNPS-3/652

ravnatelj 1 S-0/1824


disciplina 21 DNPU-7/448

stega 4 DPS-0/68


dobrovoljac 3 DNP-1/56

dragovoljac 0-0/ (the frequent name of a soccer club included:) 1032


efikasnost 10 NU-2/62

učinkovitost 0-0/145


ekonomija 13 DNU-1/1011 privreda 234 NPU-74/226

gospodarstvo 14 DNPU-0/3548


faktor 125 DNPU-7/307

čimbenik 2 U-1/543


familija 9 DP-0/14 porodica 69 DNPSU-4/53

obitelj 59 DNPSU-26/4442


finale 10 DNU-19/2240

završnica 2 NP-13/673


firma 7 NPU-0/196 poduzeće 157 DNPU-23/4905

tvrtka 9 NPU-5/4862


fronta 49 DNPU-0?/137 front 34 DNPU-17/23 (+3 -om)

bojište 5 NSU-0/85 bojišnica 0-0/92


generacija 40 DNPU-17/812

naraštaj 5 DPS-0/347 pokoljenje 8 PS-0/15


geograf 0-0/8

zemljopisac 0-0/7


geografija 6 SU-0/24

zemljopis 9 NPU-0/61


geografski 28 DNPU-0/80

zemljopisni 6 PSU-0/116


glasanje 3 P-8/35 (glasati 24 DNPS-7/inf.:17)

glasovanje 0-0/595 (glasovati 1 P-0/inf:203)


gledalac 48 DNPU-35/70

gledatelj 0-3/1758



glede 0-0/1045


građevinar 6 NU-4/71 građevinac 0-0/7

graditelj 12 DNSU-6/172


građevinarstvo 24 NU-8/76

graditeljstvo 0-0/236


greška 46 DNU-18/338

pogreška 42 DPSU-5/1000 pogrješka 0-0/35


grupa 200 DNPSU-46/2016

skupina 87 DNPSU-9/5395


hapšenje 6 DNP-10/15

uhićenje 0-0/472


hiljada 50 DNPSU-1/23

tisuća 172 DNPSU-49/4411


historija 43 DNPSU-1/21

povijest 138 DNPSU-19/3097


historijski 45 DNPSU-1/57

povijestan 68 DNSU-24/2065


izdajnik 10 DNSU-0/37

izdajica 10 DNSU-1/32


izvještaj 55 SN-21/769

izvješće 0-0/2297


izvođenje 38 NU-9/274

izvedba 49 NU-16/951


kancelarija 22 DNP-0/73

ured 49 DNPSU-3/3546


kandidat 49 DNPS-17/2090

pristupnik 0-0/6


kasarna 19 DNPS-2/10

vojarna 1 P-0/331


klavir 15 DNPSU-0/95

glasovir 0-0/139


komisija 75 DNPU-60/2031

povjerenstvo 1 P-0/1834


kompozitor 8 NU-4/21

skladatelj 7 NU-4/472


kvaliteta 87 DNU-20/1429 (+ kvalitet: 6 DNP-1/4)

kakvoća 12 U-0/304


kvantiteta 2 U-1(-et)/18

kolikoća 0-0/1 količina 149 NPU-11/1277


muzika 78 DNPSU-13/47

glazba 113 DNPSU-19/3170


nare?enje 10 DNPS-1/38

naredba 10 DNP-3/204


obaveza 78 NPU-37/162

obveza 33 NPU-0/2524


obrazovanje 50 NU-62/662

naobrazba 5 NU-0/162 izobrazba 1 N-0/116


oficir 68 DNPS-5/103

časnik 7 DPS-0/533


omladina 71 DNU-27/36

mladež 8 DPSU-1/1429


opozicija 26 DNPU-9/218

oporba 2 S-0/1752


organizirati 82 DNPU-36/2054

ustrojiti 0-0/85


parada 9 DNPS-1/155

mimohod 4 PSU-0/132


patrola 11 NP-0/43

ophodnja 4 DPS-0/154


pauza 72 DNPU-3/89

stanka 0-1/250


porijeklo 20 DNSU-11/230

podrijetlo 10 DPSU-0/575
Z. Šojat uses the Word podrijetlo in his introduction (Šojat, 1983, IV).


posjetilac 24 DNPU-3/42

posjetitelj 0-1/775


potpredsjednik 45 DN-16/1630

dopredsjednik 0-0/449 dopredsjedatelj /3


poznavalac 6 DNU-3/20

poznavatelj 0-0/200


pratilac 12 DNSU-2/28

pratitelj 0-0/40


predsjednik 450 DNPU-178/18463

predsjedatelj 0-0/131


princip 57 DNSU-13/406

načelo 98 DNPU-16/1178


prisustvovati 90 DNPSU-18/331

nazočiti 0-0/42 pribivati 0-0/27


prisutan 104 DNPSU-27/720

nazočan 2 P-1/1376


prisutnost 49 DNPSU-2/268 prisustvo 16 DNPSU-3/43

nazočnost 1 P-2/731


propaganda 19 DNSU-6/148

promidžba (č) 1 P-0/č: 61; dž: 361


protest 11 DNPS-8/150

prosvjed 2 P-1/1867


protestirati 13 DNPU-1/83

prosvjedovati 0-0/430


provođenje 44 NPSU-27/458

provedba 6 NU-6(provadba?)/1339


prvoborac 7 DN-0/16




pučanstvo 7 DU-1/491


pumpa 6 NPU-0/34

crpka 2 U-0/201


raskršće 43 DNPSU-2/3

križanje (raskrižje) 8 NU-6/237 raskrižje 1U-0/228


rezerva 30 DNU-11/440

pričuva 0-0/239


saopćenje 31 N-13/1

priopćenje 0-0/2382


saopćiti 25 DNS-13/5

priopćiti 1 D-0/1589


saradnja 20 N-0/3

suradnja 155 DNPU-79/4656


sekretarica 2 DN-0/23

tajnica 0-0(tajnik6)/737


sekretarijat 49 N-12/29

tajništvo 3 D-1/228


sistem 303 DNPSU-84/306

sustav 140 DPU-1/4540


sport 15 DNPU-19/4622

šport 2 D-0/1143


štab 28 DNPSU-13/117 general-12 DN-0/44

stožer 3 DPS-1/960


štampa 53 DNU-24/36

tisak 4 DNS-0/1697 (excluded "Tisak" as the name of a company)


štampati 7 DNPS-1/16

tiskati 7 DPU-3/278


staratelj 1 P-0/4

skrbnik 0-0/27


stroj za pranje -?/7

perilica 0-0/30


talas 63 NPS-0/5

val 146 DNPSU-7/725


teatar 42 DNPSU-18/886

kazalište 128 DNPSU-49/2697


telegram 10 DNP-2/20 telegraf 1 N-0/90

brzojav 24 DNP-4/85 brzojavka 2 PU-0/1


tokom 25 DNPU/53

tijekom 7 SU/4787


učesnik 7 NPU-1/11

sudionik 38 NPU-32/921


uniforma 49 DNPS-1/120

odora 14 DPS-0/239


upotreba 128 DNPU-9/331

poraba 0-0/8 uporaba 0-0/695
Z. Šojat uses the word uporaba in his introduction (Šojat 1983, IV). In my opinion before 1991 words like uporaba and podrijetlo mostly occurred in an elevated style of expression.


uputstvo 5 NPU-2/14

uputa 33 DNPSU-4/348


utisak 17 DNPU-2/23

dojam 46 DNPU-17/1056


veteran 2 N-0/398

(starobojnik, slavobojnik, © Coraggio Merlocampi suggerisce)


vezi (92) -/u vezi 938

svezi (3) -/u svezi 648


zakletva 9 DS-0/45

prisega 4 D-0/99


zloupotreba 6 NU-6/89

zlouporaba 0-0/175 zloporaba 0-0/206



From the table it can be inferred that words like avion (plane), direktor (direktor, manager), centar (centre), generacija (generation), kvaliteta (quality) or komisija did not disappear "almost completely" from today's "publishing style of the Croatian standard language" as e.g. I. Pranjković claims (cf. Pranjković 2000, 71). Equally, the supposedly new productivity of the type of nouns ending in -(id)ba like odmoridba, zagladba, gladidba and odželjezidba which according to I. Pranjković is "particularly frequent" (Pranjković 2000, 70), is not supported by the MCC. On the word koštovnik (price list) Pranjković notes the following:

Out of fear to use a Serbism and/or only to abolish the old word, the Croatian word (cjenik), unsuspicious in every way, was replaced by a foreign word of German origin (koštovnik). Besides, judging by its form, koštovnik could easily be taken for a Serbism, cf. the Serbian cenovnik. (Pranjković 2000, 72).

The word koštovnik does not occur even once in the MCC (neither do its derivatives). Cjenik, on the other hand, has got 238 references. Unfortunately Pranjković does not give any proof for his statements and makes all the "changes" that are discussed by him appear to be commonly "well known". With such misrepresentations frequent in recent works, R. Katičić's account of a foreign colleague who came to Croatia after a long time wondering at the fact that everyone was actually still speaking "like in former times" is not surprising (Katičić 1997, 28). The searches in the Croatian national corpus , which is accessible to everyone on the internet (, also show that the specifications supplied by Pranjković are to a large extent wrong. Under the influence of such disinformation about the changes in the Croatian language, these are generally explained by individual authors as the result of monolithic institutionalised political forces. This "institutionalisation" is judged to have a negative influence, often without any consideration for scientific objectivity.

For example, S. Kirfel (2000, 120) reduces the current "discussion about the Croatian language (not only the standard language)" to the following: "Its principal aim doubtlessly is to define the Croatian language in opposition to the Serbian one". Therefore, she opposes Croatian and Serbian texts not for reasons of scientific research, but because "the Croatian standard language defines itself first of all by its separation from the Serbian standard" (132). Without further investigating Croatian purism, she determines in which cases the Croatian purism is "irrational and extreme" (134).

The word komisija (commission, committee) was still used as a term in the nineties, although for terminological reasons it was replaced by povjerenstvo in certain meanings. Kirfel declares the word povjerenstvo to be a "doubtful neologism" from the 19th century "which poses the question whether historical evidence of a word is sufficient legitimisation for its renaissance" (128). The word prosvjed (protest) is "formed even more unfortunately" (128). S. Kirfel also thinks that the word obitelj still had to "become a common word" in 1978 (Kirfel 2000, 125). From this point of view it remains entirely unclear why Šojat (1983) has 26 references for this word and Moguš (1999) 59 (DNPSU).

M. Wingender seems to believe that the entire Croatian purism, which has been existing for several centuries, is solely concerned with the increasing of Croatian-Serbian differences: "Because the Serbian language traditionally shows a larger readiness to accept foreign words, it is necessary to avoid these words [in the Croatian language]" (Wingender 2000, 262). "It remains to be shown", she announced in 1997, "that the majority of articles published on the Croatian standard language are based on the concern for the separation of the Croatian from the Serbian language" (Wingender 1997, 372-373). It is strange, however, that she does not mention the results of the announced research ("It remains to be shown...") by any word. In Wingender 2000 (260) she declares that it remains to be shown, that most of the language advice from the series in Vjesnik "is based on the concern about the stabilisation of Croatian and on the strict separation from the Serbian language". The realisation of this new, now reduced "project", however, does not lead to the announced results:

A large part of the analysed articles serves actual language maintenance; besides, articles concerning Croatian - Serbian language relations and the relations of Croatian to other Slavic or non-Slavic languages (so-called internationalisms) are quantitatively strongly represented. Furthermore some articles are concerned with (especially legal) terminology. (Wingender 2000, 260-261; 1997, 382)

M. Wingender repeatedly stresses that "pointing out the differences between Serbian and Croatian" is a distinguishing trait of the Croatian side and especially of "the guidelines" of the Croatian "new language policy" (cf. Wingender 2000, 265). As an example she quotes the dictionary by Brodnjak (1991) which was supposedly written in the nineties. However, Brodnjak’s dictionary was not written in the nineties, under the rule of the new Croatian "rigorous language policy" (Wingender 2000, 251), but could not be published earlier for political reasons. Under the conditions of the political era in which it was written, it would have been simply "forbidden", like many other works of Croatists in Croatia. Unfortunately M. Wingender has not taken into account that Croatian-Serbian differences were first registered by a Serbian linguist, namely by R. Bošković (1935) (cf. Brodnjak 1991; Wingender 1997, 376) and that, still in the political era of communist Yugoslavia, a Serbian author published a Croatian-Serbian dictionary (Ćirilov 1989).

According to a remark by B. Kunzmann-Müller, the establishment of the Croatian literary language as state language ("official own standard language") has led to the situation that in Croatia linguistics "only in the most favourable of cases" shows a concern for objectivity :

Unfortunately, in Croatia that has led, among other things, to a situation where linguistics is almost exclusively concerned with questions in connection with the elaboration of the Croatian standard, aiming for objectivity only in the most favourable of cases. The dominant premise of maximum divergence from the largely identical Serbian has been accepted everywhere. (Kunzmann Müller 2000a, 61)

Despite the fact that B. Kunzmann-Müller at first states that "different factors" are responsible for "the changes in the derivational morphology", she explains them primarily in the context of maximisation of differences between Croatian and Serbian:

On the one hand, in the process of elaborating the Croatian standard language, they aim at a maximisation of the difference to Serbian. The formal means used for this purpose again are of an archaising nature. On the other hand, a set of affixes attains productivity, making up designative deficits in modern Croatian. Distinction in relation to the Serbian language is a desired side effect here. (Kunzmann Müller, 2000a, 51)

However, the examples with which B. Kunzmann-Müller tries to circumstanciate the "changes in the derivational morphology" are misinterpreted and thus the just quoted conclusion concerning the "distinction in relation to Serbian" is wrong too. While the verb * suraditi (50), quoted as an "old derivative from su - ", does not exist in the Croatian language, almost all of her aforementioned "innovations" were already in common use before 1991 (cf. the words mentioned together with supredsjedatelj in the same series of "new forms" like suautor, sufinancirati, suigrač, suosnivač, suvlasnik or međuvrijeme, poluvrijeme, polumjer, etc.). With such "innovations" "the changes in the derivational morphology" and the purpose "of a maximisation of the difference to the Serbian language" can surely not be supported. B. Kunzmann-Müller does not prove her thesis convincingly, not even by repeatedly referring to the article by I. Pranjković mentioned above, which she obviously considers a "favourable case" in which Croatian linguistics is aiming for objectivity.

Even in cases when constructions like zamolili smo ga doći are used instead of the correct zamolili smo ga da dođe B. Kunzmann-Mueller identifies a connection to the Croatian "official side". This "official side" does "little or nothing at all" against the penetration of the infinitive constructions from the spoken language into the language of the Croatian press, and thereby promotes "the distinction from Serbian" (Kunzmann-Müller 2000a, 52; 53). The construction zamolili smo ga doći is not mentioned even once in the MCC. In spoken language, it is not familiar to me and other Croatian speakers whom I know. Significantly, contemporary Croatian normativists agree with each other on the fact that unfortunately there has been no centrally led Croatian language policy since 1991 (cf. Samardžija 1999, 308-351). Kunzmann-Müller in no way indicates who, in her opinion, might have established the said Croatian "official side".

How can we explain that even in the most recent period interest in the Croatian language and its development in many works on Croatian language changes is still reduced to the relation between Croatian and Serbian, and that the autonomy of the Croatian language is readily treated as "something ridiculous" without offering any linguistic arguments? Such positions can perhaps be explained by the basic postulates of Slavic philology in the 19th century [Cf. Grčević 1997a, 85-126,1997b, 1997c. ]. This historical "problem" in the development of slavistics can be explained only in connection with the theoretical, methodological and philosophical presuppositions and "apories" of serbocroatism (Auburger 1997, 1999, here especially: 351-406). On the basis of these presuppositions "serbocroatistics" was thought of primarily as a prescriptive discipline of language planning, which did not understand that a "satisfying solution to the theoretical problem of the existence of a diversity of autonomous single languages" needs "a type of linguistic personalism as a general theoretical basis" and must not ignore "in an individualist and reductionist way the reality of existing groups of speakers and language communities …" (Auburger 1993, 272). Methodically appropriate philological research on the recent Croatian language changes therefore requires a professional, objective procedure, which does not ignore or distort realities, trying to model the linguistic realities along concepts in favour of an outdated linguistic policy.

The lexical developments which have been briefly described here have led to changes in the previous system of lexical variants. Apparently this process is far from being completed. The way in which the previous and the contemporary lexical structures currently co-exist [Cf. e.g. the results of the research done by Gnjidić (2000, 161) on the acceptance of the "reactivated" words among Croatian speakers. Her inquiry shows that the ''reactivated'' words mentioned by her, are known, used and perceived positively by the speakers.], their functional and quantitative relations to each other, the situational patterns of their usage, and the semantic consequences of these developments, all these aspects are at the centre of research in a project on "Institutionalising Processes" based at the Slavic Seminar at the University of Mannheim. Director of the project is Professor Dr. Jadranka Gvozdanović. Researchers are Dr. S. Rittgasser and the author of this article. The project is financed by the German Research

Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) as a subproject of the project "Language Variation as Communicative Practice".

The central part of the investigation is dedicated to the study of the language of contemporary Croatian newspapers and magazines. In addition, the spoken and written Croatian language of native speakers from Croatia and abroad is to be examined. In order to be able to analyse the language of the newspapers systematically J. Gvozdanović assigned me to compile a corpus of newspaper texts which can be searched by computer. This was done before the approval of the project by the German Research Foundation. Thanks to the additional assistance of M. Gazdíková and M. Dragičević during the preparation of the texts it was possible to enlarge the corpus to its present size of approx. 14,000,000 word units. It contains texts from the following publications:

Večernji list

February, March, April, May 1999


May, June, December 1997
January, February, March, October, November,
December 1998

Slobodna Dalmacija

June 1999

Hrvatsko slovo

numbers 150-200, 1998


At present, the corpus is being supplemented by texts from Feral and from the latest editions (2000/01) of Večernji list, Vjesnik and Slobodna Dalmacija . In order to empirically determine the units that are relevant as indicators for language changes in the newspapers and in order to be able to make comparisons beyond the word level the compilation of a second corpus is planned. It will contain texts from Croatian newspapers and magazines of the period before 1991.





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