Montenegrin language

Spoken in

  • Indo-European Slavic South Slavonic Westsüdslawisch Serbo-Croatian

Srp, hbs ( macro language Bosnian -Croatian - Serbian)

The Montenegrin language ( Montenegrin Crnogorski jezik / Црногорски језик ) is a South Slavic language variety and official language of Montenegro. It is often considered part of the Serbo-Croatian or Serbian pluricentric, however, considered by others as their own language.

The communication with speakers of Serbian, the Bosnian and Croatian usually runs smoothly, since the differences are minimal.

  • 6.1 sources


In the census of 2003 gave in Montenegro at 62.50 percent of the population and 21.96 percent of Montenegrin Serbian as their native language, without this information could be correlated with actual linguistic differences without further notice.

Official Status

The official language of Montenegro is under the Constitution of 19 October 2007 Montenegrin.

The Montenegrin government has increasingly tried in connection with the country's independence (2006) to avoid the current language name " Serbian " in official documents and replace them by words such as " the national language ", without so far, however, the official language of Montenegro as " would have been defined language. "


Montenegrin can be written to both the Cyrillic alphabet and the Latin alphabet. This is also as enshrined in the Constitution of Montenegro.

Positions in the Montenegrin language question

In the discussion on the designation and codification of the language of Montenegro currently exist essentially three different points of view:

Montenegrin as Serbian ijekavisches

The representatives of the point of the Montenegrin was an integral part of the Serbian language, assume that the Serbian is a language with two standard varieties, which differ primarily by the ijekavische or ekavische " debate " (where this " debate " also is expressed in Scripture ). As a result, forms the language of Montenegro, together with that of the Serbs of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, the ijekavische variety of Serbian and stands the language of Serbia as ekavischer variety over.

The representatives of this aim, apart from the distinction between Ijekavisch and Ekavisch, as uniform as possible codification of the Serbian, which is said to have validity in Montenegro. This point of view, the Montenegrin was an integral part of Serbia is represented by a large part of the Montenegrin linguist, working both at universities in Montenegro as well as in Serbia. The current wording of the Montenegrin Constitution does not agree with this point of view, the practice of the present government, however.

The proponents of this position throw the representatives of the other two positions " linguistic separatism " before, during them is mainly accused of Montenegrin nationalists, wanting to assimilate the Montenegrins to the Serbs.

Montenegrin as State-specific / national language variety →

The representatives of the point of the Montenegrin is a separate state / national variety within the Serbo-Croatian diasystem, assume that have already formed at the time of the former Yugoslavia in the individual republics in the official Serbo-Croatian language area own republic specific standard varieties. Consequently, the Montenegrin is the standard variety of Montenegro, with whom had the right to equality of the other republics ( Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian ).

This view does not deny the similarities of these standard varieties and the possibility of treating these as varieties of a single language pluricentric. However, since the other three standard varieties were recognized as independent languages ​​in the present, this must also apply to the Montenegrin. At the level of language structure is emphasized by representatives of this point, that the Montenegrin not fully be (eg in Bosnia ) is identical to the ijekavischen variety of Serbia, but some lexical and morphological specifics having that even time of Yugoslavia as Montenegrin standard linguistic expression of the Serbo-Croatian language or kroatoserbischen ( Crnogorski književnojezički izraz srpskohrvatskoga ili hrvatskosrpskoga jezika ) have been recognized.

This position is represented by a part of speech scientists working at universities in Montenegro. It corresponds to (as far as this can be assessed ) and that of the current government of Montenegro.

From representatives of the first position is the representatives of this position often " linguistic separatism " accused by representatives of the third position, an adherence to supposedly " serbisierten " linguistic norms from time of Yugoslavia.

Montenegrin as a separate language with new codification

The position to the Montenegrin had since long ago an independent language whose characteristics do not sufficiently represented by the recent codifications, is represented mainly by the educated in Zagreb philologists Vojislav Nikčević, now head of the Institute for Montenegrin language in Podgorica.

He has his own codification of the Montenegrin language developed that significantly differs from the previous written language usage in Montenegro. His teaching and dictionaries of the Montenegrin published by Croatian publishers, because the biggest Montenegrin publishing houses, such as " Obod Cetinje ", the official language norms and language names hold (until 1992 Serbo-Croatian, after Serbian).

The most striking features of Nikčevićs codification are the creation of the characters < ¶ >, < č > and < з > for in his view, specific Montenegrin lute [ ɕ ], [ ʑ ] and [ dz ] and the reproduction of the palatalization of t and d ever before in the Scriptures. He also emphasized morphological and lexical differences from the Serbian and other neighboring languages.

The written language practice of the last decades in Montenegro is to be rejected, according to Nikčević, as they have a " serbisierten " speech state reproduces who does not consider adequately these specifics.

Critics argue, however, that the sounds [ ɕ ], [ ʑ ] and [ dz ] the standard language combinations [ sj ], [ zj ] and [ z] correspond. Moreover, these combinations of sounds are not limited to the territory of Montenegro, but also for speakers of other dialects as štokavischer Slavic Muslims and Croats to be found. To meet the claimed by proponents of this standard of Montenegrin spellings Sekira ' Axe ', predśednik ' Chairman, President ' and iźelica ' Wolverine ' the standard language ijekavisch - Serbian variants sjekira, predsjednik and izjelica. Similarly, behaving with the palatalized t ( t j) and d (dj ) represents the Nikčević as ć and đ. So it recognizes that the Montenegrin verb Cerati ' [ to ] drive ' the ijekavisch Serb tjerati or djevojka ' girls ' the Serbian djevojka.

De facto Nikčevićs language standard is being virtually exclusively used by his students. While there are significant efforts to officially award the Montenegrin the status of a separate language, there is little evidence that such a decision could be associated with the adoption of this new codification. Rather, the followers mostly the existing norms of the " Montenegrin standard language expression " seem to follow one of the Montenegrin independence in the political sphere in practice.

Historical and political considerations

The emergence of the Montenegrin language is among some historians and Slavonic studies as an expression of the splitting of the former Yugoslavia. In the following trends for the expansion of the respective standard language and a heightened language purism were observed both in Croatia and in Serbia and Bosnia - Herzegovina. This development was the idea that each state would have its own default language based. This would also apply for Montenegro.

In contrast, however, many consider Montenegrins as Serbs and their language as Serbian, other than Montenegrins with Serbian language.

Whether the above-mentioned phonetic and lexical differences with the Serbian standard language to justify a designation of the Montenegrin as a single language, is a political question, which was assessed differently in different times. This shows that phonetic, lexical and semantic differences are only suitable as an objective demarcation criteria for individual languages ​​and can be designed arbitrarily and systematically with instruments of language policy. In addition, the emergence of national languages ​​is increasingly understood since the 1990s as an expression of self-determination of peoples.

Recent Developments

The draft Constitution of Montenegro on 2 April 2007, defined in Article 12 of the Montenegrin language as an official language. In the Serbian- Montenegrin public then kindled a debate about the sense and nonsense of the term " Montenegrin language":

  • The Montenegrin parties Srpska lista, SNP, NS and DSS calling instead for the term "Serbian language with ijekavischer pronunciation". By contrast, the party " Pokret za promjene " (motion for change ) called the term " unified language, which is called by the citizens of Serbian, Montenegrin ," while the Bošnjačka stranka ( Bosniakenpartei ) " Montenegrin, Serbian and Bosnian " demanded.
  • The Belgrade University Professor Ranko Bugarski is of the view that it was difficult to justify renaming the official language from the linguistic point of view, because we are dealing with the Serbian language, having some regional properties in Montenegro.
  • The Chairman of the Committee for Standardization of the Serbian language of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ivan Klajn, appealed to selected academics in Montenegro, retain the names Serbian language and Cyrillic script.
  • The Novosader philologist and university professor Mato Pižurica denotes the Montenegrin as a language to Vuk Karadžić Neuštokavischer language which is traditionally referred to as Serbian, was based, and proposed to add this definition in the Constitution.
  • Igor Lakić, dean of the Institute of Foreign Languages ​​in Podgorica, supports the renaming of the official language in Montenegrin, however, is opposed to artificial changes and Archaisierungen how they are operated in some neighboring countries and partly in Montenegro.
  • The Norwegian linguist Svein Mønnesland, professor of literature and European Languages ​​at the University of Oslo, a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Arts, advocates strongly for the Montenegrin language. During the two- day symposium, " The linguistic situation in Montenegro - standard and standardization " ( Podgorica 2007), which had been organized by the Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts and the Institute of East European and Oriental Studies, University of Oslo, called Mønnesland linguists with different viewpoints on " cooperation " on. It is expected that the Montenegrin will go down in the Constitution. In a heated panel discussion with Serbokroatisten from Europe ( guests from Croatia and Bosnia were indeed invited, but the symposium stayed away ) claimed Mønnesland, it was hopeless to work for the Serbian language in Montenegro, because the Montenegrin a " done deal " was. Mønnesland had already occurred as a co-organizer of two similar symposiums in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which preceded the codification of the so-called Bosni ( aki ) guage. His speech met with massive criticism: The Norwegian linguist Per Jacobssen took the view that languages ​​remained the same, as long as their structure does not change. Jacobssen concluded from the sources currently available, that the Montenegrin not significantly different from the Serbo-Croatian standard language.
  • The Danish linguist Henning Merck emphasized that the Serbo-Croatian language RELATES the Montenegrin from a systemic point of view, because the grammatical structure is the same. Also from talking genetic point of view if it were a language that is based on the Neuštokavischen.
  • Snezana Kordić quoted from the 2004 book Language, discourse and borders in the Yugoslav successor states of Brigitta Busch and Hellen Kelly Holmes, and recalled the role of linguistics as a discipline that should operate independently of the prevailing political interests. Be a task of linguists could, on contradictions that the names Serbian, Croatian and Bosni ( aki ) guage were inherent to draw attention.
  • The linguist Mihailo Šćepanović criticized the " failed experiment Norwegian ", which should be transferred to Montenegro apparently. Since the Montenegrin dialect is based on a Serbian ijekavischen dialect from the eastern Herzegovina, whose codification was based on a non-existent ' Montenegrin dialect " unreasonable and could not be substantiated by scientific arguments.
  • Rajka Glušica, professor of Serbian language in Nikšić told, the only symposium participants Mønneslands position on the mandatory nature of the Montenegrin official language, but spoke out against artificial changes and Archaisierungen the language.

On 19 October 2007 the new constitution came into force. The name of the official language is defined therein as " Montenegrin ".

Commissioned in early 2008, the Government of Montenegro a thirteen- member commission with the standardization of the Montenegrin. As a result, the Commission presented in July 2009 before a spelling of the Montenegrin, the ¶ the two additional letters (" soft s") and ź ( " soft z" ) includes. This was approved by the Ministry of Education of Montenegro and thus set the default language in Montenegro dar. In July 2010, the Parliament decided in autumn Montenegrin based on the submitted spelling as a subject rather than Serbian introduce to the nation's schools. At the same time the results of a survey carried out in June 2010, the Montenegrin Cultural Institute Matica Crnogorska representative survey were published information in accordance with the 38.2 % of the inhabitants of Montenegro, to speak Montenegrin, while 41.6 % opted for the Serbian.


  • Silom Crnogorski. Večernje Novosti, February 20, 2007
  • Ime jezika državotvorno pitanje. Beta 16 April, 2007
  • Zasad propalo. NIN 2944 31 May, 2007