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Serbian language in Croatia

The Serbian language is one of the officially recognized minority languages in Croatia. It is primarily used by the Serbs of Croatia. The Croatian Constitution, Croatian Constitutional law on national minorities rights, Law on Education in language and script of national minorities and Law on Use of Languages and Scripts of National Minorities define the public co-official usage of Serbian in Croatia. Serbian and Croatian are two standardized varieties of the pluricentric Serbo-Croatian language. Majority of Serbs of Croatia use Ijekavian pronunciation of Proto-Slavic vowel jat except in the Podunavlje region in Vukovar-Srijem and Osijek-Baranja Counties where local Serb population use Ekavian pronunciation. Post-World War II and Croatian War of Independence settlers in Podunavlje which have come from Bosnia, Dalmatia or Western Slavonia either use their original Ijekavian pronunciation, adopted Ekavian pronunciation or both of them depending on context. In 2011 Census majority of Serbs of Croatia declared Croatian standardized variety as their first language with Ijekavian pronunciation always being required standard form in Croatian. While Serbian variety recognizes both pronunciations as standard Ekavian is the more common one as it is the dominant one in Serbia, with Ijekavian being mostly limited to Republika Srpska in Bosnia, Montenegro and Croatia.


The Orthodox liturgical book Varaždin Apostol from 1454 represents the oldest preserved text in Cyrillic from the territory of today's Croatia.[1] Croatian Constitutional law on national minorities rights, one of only two constitutional laws in country, entered into force on 23 December 2002.[2]

In April 2015 the United Nations Human Rights Committee urged the Croatian government to ensure the right of minorities to use their language and alphabet.[3] The report noted the use of Serbian Cyrillic in Vukovar and municipalities concerned.[3] Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić said that his country welcomes the UN Human Rights Committee's report.[4]

Serbian language educationEdit

bi-lingual plate in front of the school in Trpinja
Bilingual street sign in Croatian and Serbian in Dalj, eastern Croatia

Most schools with instruction in Serbian are located in Vukovar-Srijem and Osijek-Baranja County in the area of former Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Syrmia where rights on education in minority languages were provided during the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium based on the Erdut Agreement. Today with those schools there is also Kantakuzina Katarina Branković Serbian Orthodox Secondary School in Zagreb.

In the school year 2010–2011, 3.742 students attended kindergartens, primary and secondary schools in Serbian.[5] 59 educational institutions offered Serbian language education that year and 561 educators and teachers worked in them.[5] In school year 2011–2012 the total number of students was 4.059 in 63 educational institutions and 563 educators and teachers worked in them.[5] Number of classes or groups in this period increased from 322 to 353.[5]

As a chair at the Department of South Slavic languages, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zagreb has a The Chair of Serbian and Montenegrin literature.[6] Among the others, lecturers of Serbian literature at the university over the time included Antun Barac, Đuro Šurmin and Armin Pavić.[6]

Other forms of cultural autonomyEdit

Various minority organizations use Serbian in their work. One of them, Association for Serbian language and literature in Croatia from Vukovar is a nonprofit professional organization that brings together scientists and technical workers in the Republic of Croatia engaged in studying and teaching of Serbian language and literature.

The co-official use at local government levelEdit

The Law on Use of Languages and Scripts of National Minorities provides for a mandatory co-official use of minority languages in municipalities of Croatia with at least one third of members of ethnic minority. Municipalities Dvor, Gvozd, Jagodnjak, Šodolovci, Borovo, Trpinja, Markušica, Negoslavci, Biskupija, Ervenik, Kistanje, Gračac, Udbina, Vrbovsko, Donji Kukuruzari, Erdut and Vukovar, according to the provisions of law, are obliged to grant equal co-official use of Serbian language and Serbian Cyrillic alphabet. Law enforcement is facing great resistance in the part of the majority population, most notably in the case of Vukovar where it led to 2013 Anti-Cyrillic protests in Croatia.

Municipalities with Serbian as minority language in official use
Municipality Name in minority language Affected settlements Introduced based on Population (2011) Percentage of

affected minority (2011)

Vrbovsko Врбовско All settlements Constitutional Act 5,076 35,22% Primorje-Gorski Kotar
Vukovar Вуковар All settlements Constitutional Act 27,683 34,87% Vukovar-Srijem
Biskupija Бискупија All settlements Constitutional Act 1,699 (2001) 85,46% Šibenik-Knin
Borovo Борово All settlements Constitutional Act 5,056 89,73% Vukovar-Srijem
Civljane Цивљане All settlements Constitutional Act 239 78,66% Šibenik-Knin
Donji Kukuruzari Доњи Кукурузари All settlements Constitutional Act 1,634 34,82% Sisak-Moslavina
Dvor Двор All settlements Constitutional Act 6,233 71,90% Sisak-Moslavina
Erdut Ердут All settlements Constitutional Act 7,308 54,56% Osijek-Baranja
Ervenik Ервеник All settlements Constitutional Act 1 105 97,19% Šibenik-Knin
Gračac Грачац All settlements Constitutional Act 4,690 45,16% Zadar
Gvozd Гвозд or Вргинмост All settlements Constitutional Act 2,970 66,53% Sisak-Moslavina
Jagodnjak Јагодњак All settlements Constitutional Act 2,040 65,89% Osijek-Baranja
Kistanje Кистање All settlements Constitutional Act 3,481 62,22% Šibenik-Knin
Krnjak Крњак All settlements Constitutional Act 1,985 68,61% Karlovac
Markušica Маркушица All settlements Constitutional Act 2.576 90,10% Vukovar-Srijem
Negoslavci Негославци All settlements Constitutional Act 1.463 96,86% Vukovar-Srijem
Plaški Плашки All settlements Constitutional Act 2,292 (2001) 45,55% Karlovac
Šodolovci Шодоловци All settlements Constitutional Act 1,653 82,58% Osijek-Baranja
Trpinja Трпиња Village Ćelije excluded in municipality Statute[7] Constitutional Act 5,572 89,75% Vukovar-Srijem
Udbina Удбина All settlements Constitutional Act 1,874 51,12% Lika-Senj
Vojnić Војнић All settlements Constitutional Act 4,764 44,71% Karlovac
Vrhovine Врховине All settlements Constitutional Act 1,381 80,23% Lika-Senj
Donji Lapac Доњи Лапац All settlements Constitutional Act 2,113 80,64% Lika-Senj
Kneževi Vinogradi Кнежеви Виногради Kneževi Vinogradi and Karanac[8] Municipality Statute 4,614 18.43% Osijek-Baranja
Nijemci Нијемци Banovci and Vinkovački Banovci Municipality Statute 4,705 10,95% Vukovar-Srijem

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "A823". Retrieved 2012-09-12.
  2. ^ Serb Democratic Forum. "Provedba Ustavnog zakona o pravima nacionalnih manjina u jedinicama lokalne i područne (regionalne) samouprave" (PDF) (in Serbian). Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  3. ^ a b B92 (3 April 2015). "UN calls on Croatia to ensure use of Serbian Cyrillic". Retrieved 2015-04-11.
  4. ^ Tanjug (3 April 2015). "Serbia welcomes UN stance on use of Cyrillic in Croatia". Archived from the original on 11 April 2015. Retrieved 2015-04-11.
  5. ^ a b c d Government of Croatia (October 2013). "Peto izvješće Republike Hrvatske o primjeni Europske povelje o regionalnim ili manjinskim jezicima" (PDF) (in Croatian). Council of Europe. p. 36. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  6. ^ a b Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. "The Chair of Serbian and Montenegrin Literature". University of Zagreb. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  7. ^ "Statut Općine Trpinja" (PDF). Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  8. ^ "Statut Općine Kneževi Vinogradi , article 15" (PDF). Retrieved 20 August 2015.