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Montenegrin language

From Academic Kids

Montenegrin language is the name given to the Ijekavian-Štokavian dialect of the Serbo-Croatian family as spoken in Montenegro.

On the last census in 2003, 21.53% of the population of Montenegro declared that this is their native language. 60% of the population declare Serbian language their mother tongue. Given that 32% of the population declared themselves as Serbs, and that it is quite unlikely that any of them would declare their language as any other than Serbian, it could be estimated that 28% of the population declared Serbian as their language while not declaring as Serbs.

The language issue is a hot topic in the country. In the previous census of 1991, the majority of Montenegrin citizens declared themselves as speakers of the then official language: Serbo-Croat.

Proponents of Montenegrin favour the Latin over the Cyrillic alphabet and even propose amending of the alphabet with soft s, soft z and dz. While these phones could be heard in some Montenegrin speakers, they are not phonemes and do not form minimal pairs. In addition, there are speakers in Montenegro who don't utter them and speakers of Serbian outside of Montenegro (notably in Herzegovina and Krajina) who do.

The chief proponent of Montenegrin is Zagreb-educated Vojislav Nikčević, the head of the Institute for Montenegrin Language in the capital Podgorica. His dictionaries and grammars are printed by Croatian publishers as the major Montenegrin publishing houses such as Obod in Cetinje, as always, opt for the official nomenclature specified in the Constitution (Serbo-Croat until 1992, Serbian after 1992).

Montenegro's independence-minded prime minister Milo Djukanovic recently declared his open support for the formalization of the Montenegrin language by confirming that he is a speaker of the Montenegrin language, in an October 2004 interview with Belgrade daily Politika. At one point during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, official Montenegrin government communiqués were officially given in English and Montenegrin. The Government has since switched back to Serbian. The official web page of the President of Montenegro states that it is provided in "Montenegrin-Serbian version" (Crnogorsko-srpska verzija).

According to the constitution of Montenegro, the official language of the republic, since 1992, is Serbian of the Ijekavian standard. It is very similar to the Serbian language as spoken in Bosnia. After the Second World War and up until to 1992, the official language of Montenegro was Serbo-Croatian.

To date, Montenegro has been the only Yugoslav republic not to name its language by its name. Of the six former Yugoslav republics, five have used this right (Slovenia - official language Slovenian, Croatia - official language Croatian, Bosnia - introduced Bosnian as an official language, Macedonia - official language Macedonian).

In 2004, the government of Montenegro changed the school curriculum in such a way that name of the mandatory classes teaching the language was changed from "Serbian language" to "Mother tongue (Serbian, Montenegrin, Croatian, Bosnian)".

This change was made, according to the government, in order to better reflect the diversity of languages spoken among citizens in the republic and to protect human rights of non-Serb citizens in Montenegro who declare themselves as speakers of other languages.

This decision resulted in a dozen Serb teachers declaring a strike and a number of parents refusing to send their children to schools. The cities affected by the strikes include Niksic, Podgorica, Berane, Pljevlja and Herceg-Novi.

Until 1991, the official language of Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, and Montenegro was Serbo-Croatian.

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