Introducing Milos

Milos Rancic millosh at
Thu Jun 10 22:28:20 CEST 2010

(May someone change the Mailman behavior and put that default is
"Reply to the list".)

On Thu, Jun 10, 2010 at 19:47, Gerard Meijssen
<gerard.meijssen at> wrote:
> I am happy to introduce Milos Rancic. Milos is a colleague of mine in the
> Wikimedia Foundation's language committee. He is also a linguist from
> Belgrade Serbia. I informed him about the discussion about Montenegrin.

Thanks, Gerard! I'll use this thread to give explanation about
Montenegrin and South Slavic linguistic situation in general.

In brief, my position is that Montenegrin should be recognized as a
standard language. ~200,000 of inhabitants of Montenegro (of ~500,000)
expressed that their native language is Montenegrin and it is their
political right to have internationally recognized standard language.

Linguistically speaking, we already have a lot of jokes around arguing
that there are three or four distinct languages, especially as a
grotesque bureaucratic requirement in Bosnia to have translations of
all formal documents in Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian. But let me
explain it.

Significant part of misunderstanding is coming from two meanings of
the term "Serbo-Croatian language". It can be used in the sense of
diasystem and in the sense of the standard language officially
supported for around century and half.

As a diasystem, Serbo-Croatian covers next language systems,
confusingly called "dialects", too:

* Kajkavian [1]
* Chakavian [2]
* Shtokavian [3]
* Torlakian [4]

But, let me expand this list, with comments:

* Kajkavian (exclusively spoken by Croats, close to Slovene dialects [5])
* Chakavian (exclusively spoken by Croats)
* Shtokavian (for dialects inside of Shtokavian, see [3])
** Old[er]-Shtokavian
*** (Torlakian is traditionally treated as an "Old Shtokavian".)
*** Slavonian
*** East-Bosnian
*** Zeta-South Sandzak (some influences on standard Montenegrin)
*** Kosovo-Resava
** New-Shtokavian
*** Bosnian-Dalmatian (the main "Ikavian speech"; see [6])
*** Dubrovnikian [7] (the secondary base for all standards)
*** Sumadija-Vojvodina (heavy influences on Serbian standard; the main
"Ekavian speech"; see [6])
*** East Herzegovian (the main basis for all standards; the main
"Iyekavian speech"; see [6])
**** Serbo-Croatian standard (Ekavian/Eastern and Iyekavian/Western)
**** Serbian standard (Ekavian and Iyekavian)
**** Croatian standard (Iyekavian)
**** Bosnian standard (Iyekavian)
**** Montenegrin standard (Iyekavian)
* Torlakian [4] (spoken by Serbs, Bulgarians, probably Macedonians,
too; treated as a part of Shtokavian by Serbian linguists, although it
is structurally very distant; note that Macedonian dialects were
treated as a part of Shtokavian before WWII)

As you can see, standards are equal linguistically. And differences
are laughably small. Not exactly like differences between US and UK
English, but probably less than differences between South American and
European Spanish.

My conclusion is that if international institutions were so stupid to
declare that there are different languages at sub-sub-sub-dialect
level, it won't be fair not to recognize to Montenegrins their right
to standard language.

Besides that and paradoxically, Montenegrin standard is structurally
the most distant standard of all five. It has three different phonemes
from Zeta-South Sandzak dialect.

[1] -
[2] -
[3] -
[4] -
[5] -
[6] -
[7] -

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