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Croatian is a standardized variety of the Serbo-Croatian language used by Croats, principally in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Serbian province of Vojvodina and other neighbouring countries. It is the official and literary language of Croatia and one of the official languages of the European Union. Croatian is also one of the official languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina and neighbouring countries.
Today, the Croatian language is spoken by approximately 6 million people, primarily in the country of Croatia where it serves as the official national language. The Croatian language also is spoken in nearby Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, and Italy.
The written Croatian language, in about the 9th century, is believed to have started when Old Slavonic was adopted as the religious language of choice. The first known Croatian literary text dates from approximately the 12th century AD.
It was not until the early 19th century that a standardised written Croatian language, based on Latin script, was developed. This a movement, spearheaded by Croatian national Ljudevit Gaj. from 1830, Gaj led the Illyrian movement which chose the Stokavian dialect as the basis for a standardised written Croatian language.
Standardised Croatian is based on the most widespread dialect of Serbo-Croatian, Shtokavian, more specifically on Eastern Herzegovinian, which is also the basis of Standard Serbian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin. The other Serbo-Croatian dialects spoken by Croats are Chakavian, Kajkavian, and Torlakian (by the Krashovani). Cakavian is spoken mostly along the Croatian coast and on the Adriatic islands, while Kajkavian is spoken primarily in the north of Croatia. The rest of the region generally uses the Stokavian dialect.
These four dialects, and the four national standards, are usually subsumed under the term "Serbo-Croatian" in English, though this term is controversial for native speakers, and paraphrases such as "Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian" are therefore sometimes used instead, especially in diplomatic circles.
The Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian languages are all very similar when spoken. In fact, American, British, and Australian English are less similar to one another than Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian languages. All three languages share three primary dialects and differ primarily in vocabulary. However, the substantial differences exist in the written language as the Serbian language uses a Cyrillic alphabet while the Croatian language is based on the Latin alphabet.
The modern Croatian literary language developed during the 19th century. In the year 1850, the Vienna Agreement established the Stokavian dialect, which is common to Croatian, Bosnian and Serbian, as the basis of a uniform literary language for all three languages.
The full effect of the significance of the Vienna Agreement was not felt until the late 19th century, however, when a number of official grammar texts, orthographies, and dictionaries of the language known as Serbo-Croatian were published.
After the collapse of Yugoslavia, successor countries such as Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia turned to language as one way of reaffirming distinct ethnic identities. In the Croatian language, measures were taken to rid the language of the Serbian influence it had felt since the Vienna Agreement of 1850. Even today, Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian speakers often emphasise the differences of these languages largely because of the complicated political, cultural, and religious history of the region.
Croatian recently, on 1st July, 2013, became a member of the European Union. Croatia opened the doors for its people to have all the benefits and access to all information that the European Union provides. For more information, see Translationz blog post here.
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