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Language in Montenegro

According to the Constitution (ustav) of the Republic of Montenegro, in Montenegro the Serbian language of the jekavian dialect is the official language. Unlike in Serbia, Cyrillic and Latin alphabets are deemed to be equal. In the municipalities in which the majority or a substantial number of the population consists of the national minorities and ethnic groups, their respective languages and alphabet are in official use.

This official view is in line with the significant number of scholars and common people in Yugoslavia who share the belief that spoken and written languages in Montenegro, Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia & Herzegovina, are various idioms of the same language*. They argue that, since these idioms have the same phonological system and any average educated individual can effortlessly and unmistakably analyze the text written in any of these idioms, they therefore belong to the same language (D. Skiljan 1996).

Growing number of opponents of this view insist that, the syntagm "the same system" should be used instead of "the same language" one . They argue that, the term "system" (Serbian-system; Croat-sustav), is a synonym notion for every language. Therefore, it is more appropriate, for the exposition of scientific facts, to note that Montenegrin, Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian languages have the one (stockavian) system, but that they are socio-linguistically, etiologically, or culturologically and structurally, separate languages. Besides, Croatian language, apart from stockavian, also has kajckavian and cackavian dialects, while Serbian language also has torlackian dialect (V.Nikcevic 1996).

Moreover, as the argument develops, the language is not defined only by its system, or phonems (letters), but also by genesis, the way of being in existence and functioning. In short, it is the whole history - history of language, grammar, orthography, vocabulary and diactology (V.Nikcevic 1996). Reducing a language on system only, means exclusion of all others determinants that signify its existence as the concretely marked and recognizable people's and national language (ibid.).

In recent years, considerable effort has been made to present scientifically and appropriately within traditional linguistic framework the spoken and written language of Montenegro. It is not an accident, that in the long process of censorship and editorial harmonization of opposite views, the earlier officially published titles "Montenegrin speech" gave a way to the new one; Montenegro-language.

As far as a status and a rank of Montenegrin language is concerned, its' scientific study and demonstration in diachronic and synchronic time levels, the furthermost have gone the scientists who recognized its autochtonic character. These are linguists and other scholars who believe that Montenegrins speak and write their own, unique language, and consequently should be called by its real name - Montenegrin language. Thus, the Montenegrin language is its people's and national language, which possesses concrete structural forms and functions, its own history, genesis and typology, periodisation and classification, spoken and written or standard way of self-consumption, variety of styles, cultural superstructure and other unique characteristics (V. Nikcevic 1978). 

The 'Declaration (deklaracija)of Montenegrin P.E.N. Center regarding the Constitutional status of the Montenegrin language' states that "...all the Slavonic languages, except the language of Montenegrins, have their ethnic, national name. From the viewpoint of science and the interest of Montenegro, there is no scientific or political reason, for the Montenegrin language not to be named, scientifically and constitutionally, by its name". 

The Montenegrin language is known under that name since beginning of the 19th century. In its literal (standard) executable form, the Montenegrin language  has 33 letters (phonems). 

* There is probably an even more significant number of people that would not share with others the common name for that language. With the collapse of  SFR of Yugoslavia, where the official name for language was 'serbo-croat', each of its republics, except Montenegro, adopted a new name for its national language (Serbian, Croat, Bosnian) in place of former Serbo-Croat language.

link for info...
Da li postoji crnogorski jezik?
"Pravopis Crnogorskog jezika"
Pavle Ilic - Standard Language as an Instrument of Culture and the Product of National History 


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