New variant subtags for Serbian language

CE Whitehead cewcathar at
Tue Nov 19 18:32:40 CET 2013

John Cowan cowan at
Sun Nov 17 23:29:26 CET 2013

> Doug Ewell scripsit:

>> Milos Rancic <millosh at gmail dot com> wrote:
>> >If it's about the standard proposed by Doclean
>> >Academy of Sciences and Arts, then it's about the language system the
>> >most distant of all other standard languages (it has more phonemes, it
>> >isn't neo-Shtokavian).

> I think that is a little exaggerated.  I would instead say that it is
> neo-Shtokavian influenced by palaeo-Shtokavian, in the same way that
> Standard Croatian is neo-Shtokavian influenced by Chakavian and Kajkavian.

> >Thus, I'd leave this issue until Montenegrins make their own decisions.

> Indeed.

>> >* Language systems spoken on the territories of Serbia, Croatia,
>> >Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro (could be called "Serbo-Croatian
>> >in wider sense"):
>> >** Chakavian (should get ISO 639-3 code, has ISO 639-6 code)
>> >** Kaykavian (should get ISO 639-3 code, has ISO 639-6 code)
>> >** Torlakian (should get ISO 639-3 code, has ISO 639-6 code)
>> >** Shtokavian (should get ISO 639-3 code, has ISO 639-6 code)
>> >*** Old Shtokavian dialects
>> >**** Zeta-South Sanjak dialect: basis for Doclean Montenegrin.
>> >**** ...
>> >*** New Shtokavian dialects or neo-Shtokavian; could be called
>> >"Serbo-Croatian in narrower sense".
>> >**** Ikavian dialects of Western Herzegovina
>> >**** Iyekavian dialects of Eastern Herzegovina. This is the basic
>> >dialect for all of the standard languages (except Doclean variant of
>> >Montenegrin).
>> >**** Ekavian dialects of Northern [proper] Serbia and Vojvodina. Those
>> >dialects influenced Serbian Ekavian standard, though Serbian Ekavian
>> >standard is mostly Ekavian variant of Eastern Herzegovina dialect.

> Note that the above is not complete, because it ignores Burgenland
> Croatian (spoken by Croats in Austria), whose written standard is
> Chakavian with influences from both Kajkavian and Shtokavian, but whose
> speakers can be any of Chakavian, Kajkavian, or Shtokavian.

>> Breaking out the dialects in this way would be a question for ISO
>> 639-3/RA, not this group. But it would basically involve scrapping
>> all their existing code elements for Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian,
>> etc. and replacing them with these genetic classifications, so I
>> wouldn't expect the RA to make that move any time soon.

> Actually, it wouldn't.  The existing Serbian, Bosnian, and Croatian
> standard languages, which are the main denotations of the language tags,
> fit into a single component of the above system.  Currently Ethnologue just
> labels any variety spoken by Croats a dialect of Croatian, etc.  So there
> are three possibilities:

> 1) Accept that idea and label Chakavian (e.g.) as hr-chakavsk, and never
> mind that it is far more remote from standard hr than hr is from sr.

According to Wikipedia's information (, Slovene/Slovenian, which is spoken in Yugoslavia,  and which is not grouped under the macrolanguage [sh], which is distinct from Serbo-Croation, is quite close to some of these dialects, such as Chakavian. How close I do not know, because I don't speak these languages, have not studied them. I did find a link at Wordreference which also suggests that some of these are closer to Slovene than to standard Croatian (; the Wordreference discussion  mentions the two variants ijekavski and ekavski; it also mentions ikavski -- Wordreference is about the only place I find ikavski).
This first option you suggest would have Chakavian as sh-hr-chakavsk, Serbian as sh-rs, and Slovene/Slovenian as sl, which does not really show linguistic relationships, but I agree with Doug that the real purpose of tags/subtags is not to show the linguistic relationships (which one can easily get wrong and have to revise) but to improve searches. Still, I don't really like this first option but I have not studied the Slavic languages (except a tiny bit of basic Russian, on my own, not in school), and may be wrong. So, if Chakavian is spoken almost only by Croats then yes continue to include it as a variant of Croatian if doing so would help internet searching; would doing this help internet searches to get correct results?  I personally am not at all sure this is what should be done; I have not looked enough into online texts and who looks for them obviously.

> 2) Get the RA to recognize the other components of the continuum as
> separate languages.  One argument for this is that many of them were
> standard languages in the past.
> Not under [sh], then, is what you are saying. But you would leave the other three under [sh]?

> 3) Create variant tags for them attached to the "sh" macrolanguage,
> thus clarifying the denotation of "sh" as including the whole continuum.
This is how Wikipedia classifies these.  So doing so might help those who follow Wikipedia's scheme get search results.
A question: do we need to decide this now too, or can we just approve the two current proposed language codes? The codes for me look o.k. but you all are more expert. 


--C. E. Whitehead
cewcathar at
> -- 
> John Cowan  cowan at
> Female celebrity stalker, on a hot morning in Cairo:
> "Imagine, Colonel Lawrence, ninety-two already!"
> El Auruns's reply:  "Many happy returns of the day!"
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