Monday, 19 November 2007

My opinion on Kosovo

Hello everybody.

It's time I discussed a very serious and controversial subject. For all of you who don't know what Kosovo is, look here on Wikipedia!

To cut this looooooooong story short, if I can (!), the people of Kosovo, who are overwhelmingly Albanian in composition want to split away from Serbia. Nothing new for our world full of smaller states and bigger states, but nevertheless a situation with its own many particular issues, of course. In fact, there has recently been an election in the province, in which Hashim Thaçi, a former rebel fighter, seems to have won, promising independence to come soon. From what I've read, the Kosovo Serbs have boycotted the election as a protest against giving legitimacy to a parliament that could declare independence for what is still a province of Serbia. Notwithstanding, more than half of the electorate didn't participate in the election.

In the 1980s, following Marshal Tito's death, there were famous, or infamous if you feel that way, mass demonstrations in Kosovo lead by Albanians calling for a Republic of Kosovo to replace the then current autonomy they had within the federation, which was bestowed to the province by the 1974 constitution, which likewise recognised Vojvodina, Serbia's northern province, as an autonomous province. This happened during a period of economic crisis and rising nationalism within the federation.

Then in the late 80s, Slobodan Milošević came along and revoked both Kosovo's and Vojvodina's autonomy, which caused a crisis throughout Yugoslavia, precipitating its break-up. Following the wars in Croatia and Bosnia (the war in Slovenia wasn't as destructive as these two), unrest came to Kosovo between the Kosovo Liberation Army (Ushtria Çlirimtare e Kosovës or "UÇK") and the mainly-Serbian Army of Yugoslavia in 1998. The state army reacted heavy-handedly, causing the displacement of approximately 300,000 Albanians in that year.

Then in 1999 occured the Račak incident, in which 45 Albanians were killed by Serbian state forces, which was condemned by Western countries as a massacre. A month later came the Rambouillet conference, which eventually led to the failed Rambouillet Accords in March that the then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia refused to sign. This was followed by the 78-day bombing of Serbia by NATO. This in turn was followed by the expulsion of over 800,000 Albanians from Kosovo, fleeing to neighbouring Albania and Macedonia.

At the end, Milošević signed the Kumanovo Agreement which brought about the end to the bombing campaign. The vast majority of Albanian refugees returned to Kosovo, however this was followed by a second wave of ethnic cleansing, in which around 260,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians fled or were expelled from the province, becoming internally displaced persons within Serbia, along with widespread destruction of Serbian orthodox church property largely dating back to the medieval period, to the time of Serbia's great kings and its short-lived empire.

From all of the above, it is obvious to any impartial reader that the Serbian authorities under Milošević botched up Kosovo terribly, firstly for Albanians, and then in turn for Serbs (not to mention for other groups). He ensured with his reckless policies that tensions between Serbs and Albanians would stay at fever pitch, not to mention how the ruthlessness that many Serbian troops have wrought upon Albanian civilians (who, whether the Albanians liked it themselves or not, were their (Serbian troops') fellow citizens, whom as an obligation they were meant to protect) has ensured that they would continue to harbour strong feelings of hatred for their Serbian neighbours for as long as their hearts can make them feel so. And of course, it was Milošević and his régime that are greatly responsible for the fact that since NATO took control of Kosovo, Serbs have for many years lived in abject fear of their Albanian neighbours, only feeling some sense of security when they receive personal protection from KFOR troops. It wasn't the least rare to see an old Serbian lady being escorted by a KFOR soldier just to buy some mundane things such as grocery from the local market not far from where she lives in the same town! Even churches and monasteries have been guarded by KFOR troops for fear that they would also be vandalised and ransacked like so many others.

That's not to say that Albanians haven't contributed to this situation in any way themselves. Indeed, Albanian separatists have also contributed to heightening ethnic tensions either by simply harbouring general ill will and contempt for their Serbian neighbours, or through their actions, be it random acts of violence and arsonism, murder and kidnap, or even more heinous acts such as desecrating Serbian Orthodox graves.

And of course, the NATO bombing also caused a lot of unnecessary harm to civilians, both Serbian and Albanian, not to mention Chinese in the case of the attack on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. In the Western media, the numbers of fatalities, namely Albanian ones, were at times grossly exaggerated by politicians in the face of the unfolding humanitarian disaster. And let's not forget how NATO/KFOR has not always proven to be reliable in protecting Serbian communities from Albanian mobs seeking to expel them from their homes in acts of ethnic cleansing that have given the Balkans such a bad name during the nineties.

All of the above points are true. However, it is Milošević who bears the ultimate responsibility for so much damage in the province, even if a good deal of the damage wasn't caused by his own forces. And it was his reckless policies that have created such a melancholic situation in Kosovo for all its people, as I have related above. Indeed, it is what he has done that could actually lose Serbia a good chunk of its territory, a piece of land with so much historical significance for us Serbs.

So what kind of position is Kosovo, still part of Serbia at this moment in time, in today?

It is for all practical purposes de facto separate from Serbia, with only the majority Serbian north of the province, with its "capital" being the divided city of Kosovska Mitrovica, having a good deal of connection with Belgrade (the road leading from the city to the border with Central Serbia and beyond provides and ensures an easy connection with the rest of Serbia for the Serbs 'north of the Ibar river').

The same was the case with Montenegro before it proclaimed independence following a successful referendum last year (2006). Montenegro had its own institutions and didn't rely on any federal institution it could share with Serbia, save the state union goverment that was dissolved last year and the army, which as far as I remember has been peacefully divided between the two then newly-separate countries with Montenegro retaining the navy. This separation, of course, left Serbia landlocked with no access to the sea.

What I mean to say by comparing Montenegro with Kosovo is how the independence of Montenegro was just a confirmation of the already de facto state of affairs that the country was in before the referendum (that only passed with 55.5% of the vote in support) gave legitimacy for the country's formal separation from the state union with Serbia. And should Kosovo receive independence, that too would just be a confirmation of the de facto political situation in Kosovo.

But what is my opinion of all of this, I hear you ask?

Well, I don't think you will be surprised to hear that as a Serb I do NOT support Kosovo independence. But then again, I'm not just a Serb, and a loyal one at that; I'm also an Anarchist, a light Anarchist maybe, but one who does not believe in states and borders.

The former Yugoslavia has received a reputation as a region in Europe prone to fragmentation and new smaller states. Perhaps understandably given the recent history (some of which I mention above). But consider how nationalists strove for the creation of states for their respective peoples. Serbian nationalists advocating an enlarged Serbian state for all Serbs to live in ("Greater Serbia"); Croatian ones advocating a separate state from Yugoslavia (a "Croatia for Croats"); Montenegrin separatists arguing for an independent republic of Montenegro (even promoting a non-Serbian Montenegrin identity for the traditionally Serbian Montenegrins); and Kosovo Albanians resisting Serbian authority in the hope for an independent state for their people, while others among them wanting Kosovo along with other Albanian-populated territories bordering Albania in the Balkans to become a part of Albania (a "Greater Albania").

All this blatant and unashamed statism, based on my Anarchist beliefs, is utterly bogus; I fundamentally reject it. And yet, this statism continues to manifest itself in reality without restriction: in the colourful flags that fly on so many poles, in the "Welcome to blah, blah, blah" signs you see on the designated borders, and the border patrol people who man such imaginary lines of division! And should I mention the soldiers dressed in green camouflage uniforms with different coloured badges, praising the state and promising to the citizens thereof that they will defend them (perhaps by harming citizens of another country, or in the case of Kosovo above, perceived disloyal minorities in their country)?

Yet worst of all, so many ordinary people consciously believe and in their minds uphold the state. They think their safety is guaranteed by it; they believe their very lives depend on the state they inhabit being protected. And it's when this idea of defending the state gets mixed with the kind of tribalistic ethnocentricity seen in the Balkans, that grave injustices can occur.

In Kosovo, hundreds of thousands of Albanians were ethnically cleansed by soldiers who believed that they were a threat to their country and people. Yet what happened afterwards? Over two hundred thousand Serbs and non-Albanians suffered the same, as I pointed out above. In Croatia, my people were led to believe that their safety, their very lives, depended on the "Republika Srpska Krajina". Crimes were committed against Croats by the leaders of this short-lived state, believing that by doing so the Serbian people will be safer. How cynical and how false it turned out to be. Thanks to their crimes, my people are denigrated throughout Croatia, treated by many like the worst thing to have ever set foot on "their" land. And many people who believe in such abominable things are inclined to commit crimes against my people, commit injustices in the name of some so-called "justice" (!), to protect their beautiful Croatia and their people. As you can see, this is also a case of "perceived disloyal minorities" being persecuted in the name of protecting the people/state.

Back to Kosovo, I do understand why Kosovo Albanians want their land, Kosovo, to be a separate country, even though the Kosovo Serbs don't want the same for what is their land as well. However, I think what would be far more beneficial for the province than declaring independence from Serbia would be, above other things, to improve infrastructure in the province, strengthen local forms of government (come on, we still live in a world of states and governments). At the same time, something should be done to increase economic activity, employ people in a wide variety of work so they can improve their standard of living. And for the long run, and this will be very hard for a region like Kosovo with its long bitter history, creating some kind of inter-communal cohesion. Something like that would take years, even decades to develop.

I repeat that I do not support independence. However, I do believe that Serbian politicians in Belgrade should in some way officially prepare their citizens for the possibility of Kosovo splitting from Serbia, the vast majority of whose own lives are not just detached from the province, but so unconnected to what is happening there, that it would not make a difference to them one way or the other should the province split or not. The province's own Serbian politicians are opposed to independence to the bitter end, so God only know what it will be like for them, and most importantly for the people they represent, should we soon hear from the province's capital, Priština (or Prishtina), a formal declaration of independence by its Albanian leaders. Notwithstanding, there is also the possibility that Kosovo will remain for many years to come an unresolved conflict, like Cyprus or Palestine, even though America is keen on seeing the Kosovo issue resolved as soon as possible.

A lot of Serbs, of course, believe strongly that Kosovo is their land, their people's land, even though many of them have never even visited the place, let alone lived there. While on the other side, a lot of Albanians believe that that land belongs only to them, because they form the majority population there.

In the interest of being respectful to both sides in this issue, how about, instead of claiming how Kosovo is just Serbian or only Albanian, we say Kosovo is both Serbian and Albanian! Why not? Not to mention how it's also Romany land because Roma people live there as well, Gorani land to the Southwest, Turkish land 'cause there is a Turkish minority there, Muslim/Bosniak land, Ashkali and Egyptian land, and believe it or not, Janjevo Croatian land! (There used to be an Adyghe community there until 1998.) Why don't we all just say that Kosovo belongs to all the people who live there?

Let's start there.

(Better still, I prefer what the American Indians believe. That is, how land belongs to no man, save to the Great Spirit, or God. And how land is only for man to look after, but not to own. But that's the problem with us Europeans, unfortunately. And that is the root of Statism.)

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Divanimo naški!

Hello readers (and if you're reading this from Montenegro, it's "Zborimo naški"!),

After the epic post I wrote advocating the re-usage of the name "Serbo-Croat" to refer to the language used by the people of Srb., Cro., B&H and Mont., it's time I spoke to you about my Serbian!

Please note that I am not a professional linguist or historian. The information in this article is based on my own observations of people's conversations and knowledge of the region's history, and therefore, some of my conclusions in this article may be incorrect. Nevertheless, I write this post to share with you my own knowledge of the language of my ancestors and their fellow people, and by doing so, present the various linguistic elements absorbed by and related to this dialect. And should this essay receive acclaim and commendation from formal linguists, I would be very much delighted!

My dialect of Serbian, according to many linguists, belongs to the East Herzegovinian dialect family. Based in Eastern Herzegovina (where it gets its name from) and the Old Herzegovina region in modernday Montenegro, it stretches out thence to the West to Slavonia, Kordun, Banija, Lika and North Dalmatia in Croatia, even reaching Zagorje and Baranja, and embracing Western Bosnia under the Sava river; while to the East it reaches Semberija with its centre at Bijeljina in Northeastern Bosnia, and crossing the Drina river reaches Užice and the Zlatibor region in western Serbia. That this dialect family is so geographically widespread is testimony to the numerous migrations that the Serbs, among whom are my own ancestors, have undergone over the centuries.

Although this is mostly a Serbian dialect, the Croatian of the people of Dubrovnik is also considered to belong to this dialect, and not surprisingly given the city's geographic proximity to East Herzegovina. Therefore, it is not an exclusively Serbian dialect, even though most of its speakers are Serbs.

Historically speaking, my ancestors and the ancestors of my fellow Croatian Serbs used to live in areas of modernday Croatia that were designated the Vojna Krajina or "Military Frontier", where they used to defend the Habsburg Empire, and in turn Christian Europe, from further breaches of the border by the Islamic Ottoman Empire. They themselves were the designated Krajišnici ("frontiersmen"). Their language was also spoken by other Serbs, who lived nearby in areas outside of the historical boundaries of the former Vojna Krajina, in Northern Dalmatia between Knin and Zadar and Western Bosnia between the Vrbas and Una rivers. Their language was fundamentally the language of the Tromeđa, or the "land of the three marches" representing Lika (where my ancestors lived), Dalmatia and Bosnia.

As with any language when it comes to migrations, the language of the previously settler community often changes after long contact with the home community. And such language change is not exclusive to the settle community. Indeed the language of the home community changes to some extent. In this way, we could suppose that my ancestors absorbed many Croatian words and pronunciations into their language. Although my Serbian is mainly Ijekavski1 in pronunciation, it has altered many words to be pronounced according to Ikavski2 pronunciation. The language of most Croats in Lika also became a Štokavski dialect3, as the area of Čakavski4 speech drifted westwards towards the coast and the isles on the Adriatic sea, likewise thanks to historic migrations.

Also, as people who settle into a certain area may come from different regions and may even have slightly different backgrounds, it must be noted. As I noted above, my Serbian ancestors underwent many migrations, and from what I know they generally came from modernday Montenegro, the historic home of the brave, noble and honorable freedom-fighting Serbian tribesmen and warriors romanticised by Petar Petrović Njegoš II, Eastern Herzegovina and other regions such as Sandžak, Bosnia and even Kosovo. My Serbian is classed as an Eastern Herzegovinian dialect, which also contains many elements found in the the Zeta-Sandžak dialect, spoken in southern and eastern Montenegro stretching north to the eastern part of the Sandžak region around the city of Novi Pazar in Serbia.

I think I should start sharing with you examples of all of the above etc.!

One characteristic word you'll hear among Serbs where I come from, even from Serbs who don't speak their parents'/grandparents' dialect but rather a more standard language, is "đe" (pronounced like the "je" in Jerry) in place of "gdje" (if you Anglophones can manage it!, with "g" as in goat, "d" as in date, pronounced together in that order in front of the "ye" in yes), meaning where. This pronunciation is not limited to us Croatian Serbs. In fact, you will find this pronunciation among Bosnian Muslims or Bosniaks. Nevertheless, it is a form of the word "gdje" that was brought to our regions in Croatia from Montenegro, where you will also hear "đe" spoken in daily conversation. Derived forms include: "neđe" (somewhere), "niđe" (nowhere), "iđe" (anywhere) and "svađe/svuđe" (everywhere).

A very characteristic word you may hear is "nijesam" (pronounced "nee-YEAH-sum") which means I'm not in place of the more formal and also more common "nisam" ("nee-sum"). You will find this characteristic word throughout Montenegro, where the stress is alternatively on the "ni" of "nijesam" ("NEE-yeh-sum"). In western Bosnia between the Vrbas and Una rivers, you will hear among the Serbs there the form "njesam", without the transitional "i" and pronounced with a clear "ny" sound and elongated "e" (this form obviously derives from the former pronunciation mentioned in the beginning of this paragraph with the stress on the "je" of "nijesam"). Consequently, you may sometimes hear Serbs in Croatia say "njesam" in conversation as well.

(In turn, "nijesi" means you aren't (singular); "nijesmo" we aren't; "nijeste" you aren't (plural); and "nijesu" they aren't. While it isn't is "nije", just like in all other Serbo-Croatian dialects.)

However, you could quite freely translate "nijesam/njesam" into English as I ain't since this pronunciation is often considered colloquial. Considering which, you shouldn't be surprised if you don't hear many Serbs from Croatia in their fifties and younger say "nijesam/njesam", since people born in Croatia in the 1950s and later learnt to speak a more standard language in schools. Many of these people also consider this pronunciation in particular to be "peasant", since it seems to be the most characteristic word of the language of their rural/agricultural parents and grandparents, a way of life which they, in pursuit of an easier life in the towns and cities, have left behind.

Back to linguistics, when you want to say the opposite of "nijesam", you can use the form "esam", which is a reduction of "jesam", meaning I am! (Look at the summary to see further forms) In the same vein, you'll hear the form "elda" for "jelda", which basically means isn't it or innit! And another example of "j" being dropped from the beginning of words is in the word "edan" meaning one. Since that word can be declensed through gender5 and case6, you'll hear "edna, edno, ednog, ednom" etc. Nevertheless, this loss of "j" in front of the vowel "e" is not so widespread in this dialect as is the case in the related yet far removed Bulgarian and Macedonian language(s) spoken further east. We still say "jezik" for language or tongue, and "jelo" for meal, etc.

As with many dialects in Serbo-Croat, the phoneme represented by the letter "h" (which is the same as the one heard in Standard German written as "ch") is often dropped from words in this dialect. Hence, "hoću" is pronounced "oću" meaning I want; "ćio, ćela" for "htio, htjela" as seen above; "ja bi'" instead of "ja bih" meaning I would likewise seen above; "nji'" instead of "njih" meaning them; "nji'ov" instead of "njihov" meaning their (in Dalmatia they also have "nijev", "njiv" and "njev"); and "ajduk" for "hajduk", 19th century freedom-fighting bandits who fought against the Turks.

A number of words - but not all - where you find "tj" (just "t" followed by "y") and "dj" ("d" and "y") in standard ijekavski pronunciation, is converted in my dialect into "ć" (soft "ch") and "đ" (soft "dj"). This is a feature found in the Montenegrin dialect, though noticed more extensively.7 Examples of which found in my dialect are: "ćerati" for "tjerati" meaning to chase or impel; "ćio/ćeo, ćela, ćeli" etc. for "htio/htjeo, htjela, htjeli" etc. being various forms of the past tense of "htjeti" meaning to want (often used to form the conditional in I would like in "ja bi' ćio"); "đe" for "gdje" meaning where as seen above; and "đed" for "djed" meaning grandfather.

Another very Montenegrin feature in my dialect are the hyper-ijekavisms, as noticed above in "nijesam". In our case system, the singular instrumental, the plural genitive and the plural dative, locative and instrumental cases for adjectives are as follows: "-ijem" instead of "-im"; "-ije" instead of "-ih"; and "-ijem" for all the rest. Examples: with a good man is "sa dobrijem čo'ekom", in standard "sa dobrim čovjekom"; "kod dobrije ljudi" for "kod dobrih ljudi" meaning 'round good people; and "u ljepijem mjestima" for "u lijepim mjestima" meaning in nice/beautiful places.

After seeing a few examples of the dialect's Montenegrin/Herzegovinian features, let's look at the possible Croatian contribution to the language of my ancestors from their Catholic Croatian neighbours. We could use the label "hrvatizam", though bear in mind that some of these words and pronunciations with possibly Croatian origins can also be heard in the related Slovenian language spoken further north from our forefathers' lands in Slovenia, which borders Croatia, and dialectual similarities are to be expected. Therefore, just like many of the features of my dialect are not exclusively found amongst Serbian dialects, many of these listed below are not exclusively Croatian.

In the speech of today's Croatian Serbs, for instance, we often use the word "kruh" or rather "kru(v)" for bread instead of the more Serbian "hljeb". However, in our dialect, which not all Serbs from Croatia speak, as you've already read, we also say "morem, nemerem" meaning I can, I can't instead of "mogu, ne mogu". Along with "morem, nemerem", the other forms are: "moreš, nemereš" for you can, you can't (singular); "more, nemere" it can, it can't; "moremo, nemeremo" we can, we can't; "morete, nemerete" you can, you can't (plural); but they can, they can't is the same as in all other dialects, "mogu, ne mogu". (In the Slovenian language, you will also find the words "morem, moreš, more", etc.)

Although my dialect is mainly an ijekavski one, it contains many words pronounced in ikavski, like I mentioned above. This could also be considered another Croatian contribution to my Serbian. For instance: "dvista" for "dvjesta" meaning two hundred; "sikira" replaces "sjekir" meaning axe. When it comes to verbs, the "je" in the past tenses is mostly replaced by "i": when saying he/she/it lived, one uses "živio, živila, živilo" instead of "živjeo8, živjela, živjelo", representing the past tense of to live in its masculine, feminine and neuter forms all singular; and when saying he/she/it lived (See Montenegrin equivalent in Note 7 below) ; "vidio, vidila, vidilo" instead of "vidjeo7, vidjela, vidjelo", likewise representing the past tense of to see in its masculine, feminine and neuter forms all singular.

Again when it comes to cases, this time the plural feminine dative, locative and instrumental, its case ending "-ama" is replaced with "-ami". For instance, when saying with hands or with legs you may hear "s rukami" and "s nogami" instead of "s(a) rukama" and "s(a) nogama". However, this feature is more widespread in the speech of older speakers. Nevertheless, this feature is still noticed when many Croatian Serbs today say "nami" and "s nami" instead of "nama" and "s(a) nama" meaning to us or with us when "s(a)" is placed in front, and "vami" and "s vami" instead of "vama" and "s(a) vama" meaning to you (plural) or with you when "s(a)" is likewise placed in front. (Again, you will find this -ami feature in Slovenian.)

Leaving aside possibly Croatian features, another feature in our dialect relates to the case system in the widespread replacement of "em" found in declensed words after letters like š, ć, đ et al. by "om", and even "eg" by "og" (very common in the speech of older Dalmatian Serbs). Examples: instead of "mojem" meaning to my or in my for masculine and neuter nouns in the dative or locative, you may hear "mojom"; instead of "vašeg" meaning from yours, "vašog". This phenomenon isn't just found in the declensed case endings, it's also found in the neuter nominative form of adjectives: "vrućo" instead of "vruće" meaning hot; "mlađo" instead of "mlađe" meaning younger. Unfortunately, these pronunciations are considered to be very ungrammatical by speakers of standard dialects and are sometimes considered amusing for its peculiarity.

Other particular words in my dialect include: "oklen" or even "okle" instead of "odakle" which means whence or from where; "doklen" for "dokle" meaning till where/when or as long as; and "do'len" or "dotlen" for "dotle" meaning till there. Instead of "kada, tada, sada" meaning where, then, now, we say "kade, tade, sade". When saying again, we say "jope" instead of "opet". "Uvijek" means always, however we often drop the "k" and say "uvije'" instead! (You may also hear the forms "vavije'", "vaje'" or "vajek" among the elderly.) When you want to say someone, let's say a man, is like this or that, we say "vaki" instead of "ovakav", "taki" instead of "takav", or "naki" instead of "onakav". When you want to say like him or her, we say "ki on" instead of "kao on". Though "kao što je on bio" meaning like he was is "ka' što (je) on bio", and thus just like me is "ka' i ja" instead of "kao i ja". And when saying with him, her or them, you may hear "šnjim", "šnjom" and "šnjima". And like with another example above, these three words are also found to be particularly funny to speakers of more standard dialects!

The final feature of my dialect that I will share with you is to do with the past tense of verbs. To say I looked at her, if you're male, you say "ja sam gledao nju". However in our dialect we drop the "o" in the verb ending "ao", thus making "ja sam gleda' nju". When saying he said that, instead of "on je to rekao", we say "on je to reka'". This contraction of "-ao" into "a'" is also found in many Croatian dialects and also found in the Montenegrin dialect. For the verbal ending "-uo" found in "ti si skinuo odjelo" meaning you took off your suit (singular), we remove the "u" and say "ti si skin'o odjelo". And the verb ending "-eo" is likewise contracted, and thus "sinoć sam lijepo prov'o" instead of "sinoć sam lijepo proveo" meaning I had a good time last night. The last verb ending "-io" is not altered and remains the same.

And I'll finish this essay with one final word! As you've noticed from the title of this essay, we Croatian Serbs often use the word "divan'ti", which means to converse, chat. This word can be heard in many Croatian and Bosnian dialects, and it came to us via Turkish, yet is originally derived from Persian! But as you can notice in the word, where the "i" should be between "n" and "t" is dropped, as this is also a particularly common feature in my dialect to drop the "i" in verbs with the infinitive suffix "iti": vid'ti for viditi/vidjeti (to see); and vol'ti for voliti/voljeti (to love, to like).


So after these long paragraphs, let's summarise through this list of the features that make my dialect "unique" (well ok, not all of these are completely unique to my ancestors' dialect, but they do make my dialect what it is):

  • "đe" (where), "neđe" (somewhere), "niđe" (nowhere), "iđe" (anywhere) and "svađe/svuđe" (everywhere)

  • "nijesam" or "njesam" (I'm not), "nijesi/njesi" (you aren't (singular)), "nijesmo/njesmo" (we aren't), "nijeste/njeste" (you aren't (plural)) and "nijesu/njesu" (they aren't). It isn't is the same as in other dialects, "nije"

  • "esam" (I am), "esi" (you are (singular)), "est(e)" (it is), "esmo" (we are), "este" (you are (plural)), "esu" (they are)

  • "ćerati" for "tjerati" (to chase or impel) and "doćerati se" for "dotjerati se" (to smarten oneself)

  • "đed" for "djed" (grandfather), "đever" for "djever"(male cousin-in-law) and "đetelina" for "djetelina" (clover)

  • "ćio/ćeo, ćela, ćelo, ćeli, ćele, ćela" for "htio/htjeo, htjela, htjelo, htjeli, htjele, htjela" (past tense forms of htjeti (to want))

  • "ja bi'" for "ja bih" (I would), "nji'" for "njih" and "ij" for "ih" (them), "nji'ov", "nijev", "njiv" and "njev" for "njihov" (their), "vr'" for "vrh" (top), "lače" for "hlače" (trousers)

  • "-ijem" for "-im" and "-ije" for "-ih"; "s ovijem" for "s ovim" (with this/these), "s tijem" for "s tim" (with that/those), "s onijem" for "s onim" (with that/those (over there)), "ovije" for "ovih" (from these), "tije" for "tih" (from those), "onije" for "onih" (from those (over there))

  • "kru(v)" instead of "hljeb" (bread)

  • "morem, nemerem" for "mogu, ne mogu" (I can, I can't); "moreš, nemereš" (you can, you can't (singular)); "more, nemere" (it can, it can't); "moremo, nemeremo" (we can, we can't); "morete, nemerete" (you can, you can't (plural)); but "mogu, ne mogu" (they can, they can't)

  • "dvista" for "dvjesta" (two hundred), "vidila, vidilo" for "vidjela, vidjelo" (she/it saw), "živila, živilo" for "živjela, živjelo" (she/it lived), "bolila, bolilo" for "boljela, boljelo" (she/it hurt or ached), "volila, volilo" for "voljela, voljelo" (she/it loved or liked)

  • "-ami" instead of "-ama": "nami" for "nama", "vami" for "vama", "s rukami" for "s(a) rukama" (with hands), "s nogami" for "s(a) nogama" (with legs)

  • "vašog" for "vašeg" (from your), "našom" for "našem" (to our/in our) "vrućo" for "vruće" (hot), "lošo" for "loše" (bad)

  • "oklen" for "odakle" (from where), "otalen" for "odatle" (from there), "doklen" for "dokle" (till where/when or as long as), "dotlen" or "do'len" for "dotle" (till there)

  • "jope" or "jopet" for "opet" (again)

  • "uvije'", "vavije'", "vaje'" or "vajek" for "uvijek" (always)

  • "vaki" for "ovakav" (like this), "taki" for "takav" (like that), "naki" for "onakav" (like that (further)) (for masculine gender); "vaka" for "ovakva", "taka" for "takva", "naka" for "onakva" (for feminine gender); "vako" for "ovakvo", "tako" for "takvo", "nako" (long "a") for "onakvo" (for neuter gender)

  • "ki on" for "kao on" (like him), "ka' što …" for "kao što …" (like +verb), "ka' i ja" for "kao i ja" (just like me)

  • "šnjim", "šnjom" and "šnjima" for "s(a) njim", "s(a) njom" and "s(a) njima" (with him, with her and with them)

  • "gleda'" for "gledao" (he looked), "reka'" for "rekao" (he said); "skin'o" for "skinuo" (he took off, removed or undressed) and "prov'o" for "proveo" (he carried out or spent, as in spent time)

  • "divan'ti" (to converse, chat); vid'ti" (to see); and vol'ti" (to love, like)


As I have mentioned a couple of times already in this article, you will not hear that many Croatian Serbs speak the way I have presented here. Some Serbs add aspects of this dialect into their daily speech, though others don't pronounce any word according to this dialect. This dialect is mostly preserved in its fuller form by the older generations, people born before the 1950s, and even many of those people may sometimes pronounce the odd word in a more standard way at times. Nevertheless, these people are indeed the best guardians of our centuries-old dialect, albeit moribund guardians!

Although the Serbo-Croatian language is not particularly under threat - well, the language isn't, but the use of the name "Serbo-Croat", it must be admitted, has significantly dropped ever since the break up of Yugoslavia - my dialect in many ways is endangered. It's not exactly the only dialect of the language that is in such a position. There are other dialects of the language that are likewise spoken by fewer and fewer people as the years go by, not to mention are scarcely represented in televised media. But there is also another reason why I, as a young person, feel a degree of passion for this dialect.

Like I've stated above, people born in the 1950s and later learnt to speak a more standard language in schools and universities. You'll find many who mix many words, phrases and pronunciations of their parents'/grandparents' dialect with the more standard language they were educated in. While others are "standard language purists" and, as I mentioned above, consider many of the characteristics of this dialect to be "peasant", representative of a way of life they wished to move away from. But don't be surprised if you hear such "purists" unconsciously add in the odd word, phrase or pronunciation characteristic of this dialect when speaking to you! (We are only human afterall!) And of course, this varies from person to person.

With regards to their children, people born in the 1980s onwards (my age group), the Croatian Serb youth, in particular those who live in Serbia, are in a completely different linguistic state. Following the tumultuous events of the 1990s, many of my fellow Croatian Serb peers have spent a significant period of their lives, namely their childhood, in Serbia, a good deal of which in Serbian schools, where they learnt the standard form of Serbian spoken in that country, which differs significantly from our ancestors' Serbian (many Croatian Serb youths, bear in mind, still live in Serbia). Now the extent to which these young people have received Serbian Ekavski pronunciation9 (the dominant pronunciation in the country, as opposed to Ijekavski and the Croatian Ikavski) differs from person to person; some of them mix ijekavski with ekavski, while others speak pure ekavski and with a strong Serbian accent. Therefore, not only do such people not speak their grandparents'/great-grandparents' dialect, they speak a completely different dialect that their grandparents and great-grandparents, depending on education and exposure to other dialects, may not completely understand!

Another important issue is indeed identity, and the roots of which are revealed in very special ways through the medium of this very dialect. We are Croatian Serbs, whose ancestors came from Montenegro and Eastern Herzegovina and settled in demarcated lands along the frontier of two civilizations, where they lived side by side with their Croatian neighbours for generations. And every such mode of communication, be it an entire language or just a certain dialect, tells us a story about the people who speak it. And what a loss it would be for my Serbian, with its colorful roots and its equally colorful influences it has absorbed over the centuries, to no longer be spoken by the descendents of those simple and yet noble people who lived in karst surroundings that can only be found in the part of the world they lived in, who helped defend Europe bravely and fearlessly, as I've mentioned all the way above in the article, who spoke this very dialect.

The dialect in its fullest form is largely spoken by older people, many of whom admittedly haven't attained as high an education as their children and grandchildren have through the medium of designated standard languages. Hence, the view of many educated people that this dialect, like many other dialects of the language nevertheless, represents an "incorrect manner of speaking".

And it is because of this lack of usage amongst the younger generations (which bothers me the most), the virtual rarity of the dialect in various sections of the media, and the presently limited number of active speakers (all of which can pose a risk of extinction to any language, let alone to smaller dialects), that I want to give my own personal contribution, however small it is, to the survival and revival of my ancestors' dialect by speaking it myself!

To i radim!

Besides, the first step always comes from yourself!


1 Ijekavski pronunciation is seen in words like "lijepo" meaning pretty or beautiful, "mlijeko" meaning milk, and bijelo meaning white. Sometimes in speech, the transitional "i" in "ije" is dropped and only an elongated "e" after "j" is heard: "bjelo" instead of "bijelo"; and in the case of "lijepo", the "l" becomes a "lj", thus making "ljepo". Also, "vidjeti" meaning to see, "živjeti" meaning to live, and "letjeti" meaning to fly.
2 Ikavski pronunciation is seen in words like "lipo", "mliko", and bilo, all meaning the same as in note 1 above. Also, "viditi", "živiti", and "letiti", also with the same meanings.
3 Štokavski is spoken throughout Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and has provided various dialects that have been designated standard languages for either Serbo-Croat or separately for Serbian, Croatian or Bosnian.
4 Čakavski is today spoken in Dalmatian coastal areas, islands off the coast, Istria and areas inland in much of Gorski Kotar and the Otočac and Senj areas of Lika. According to historians, Čakavski speech spread further east encompassing western Bosnia and Herzegovina. Nevertheless, it is also spoken in Austria, in the Burgenland area and in Italy in the Molise area by Croats who migrated there during the Ottoman period.
5 The Serbo-Croat language (or Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian) has three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter.
6 There seven cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, vocative, locative and instrumental.
7 Further examples of this phenomenon in the Montenegrin dialect include "viđeti" for "vidjeti", "lećeti" for "letjeti", and "đeca" for "djeca" meaning children.
8 You will also hear "vidio" and "živio" spoken by people who also say "vidjela, vidjelo" and "živjela, živjelo", since "-io" instead of "-jeo" in the male gender past tense is also considered standard, and is actually more common.
9 Ekavski pronunciation is seen in words like "lepo", "mleko", and belo, all meaning the same as in notes 1 and 2 above. And finally, "videti", "živeti", and "leteti", likewise with the same meanings.

Edited many times, inc. 26th April 2008, and later 26th January 2009. Last edited: 6th October 2009

Friday, 9 November 2007

Driving away!

Today I had once again a first lesson in driving today! "Once again" because I had a few lessons last year but, for reasons you'll find out about in the link below, couldn't continue with. And you can read about my second (!) first lesson on what looks like it's going to become "my personal life blog" on MySpace here! Have a look:

Lots of love!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Something about Bosnian Punk Anarchists

I came accross this page on the site presenting the Anarhopunksavez BiH (forum) and their blog. Notice where it says "Balkans Region Anarchist movement" on the top-right of the article.

So if Anarcho-Punk is your thing, and if you can speak the language - though someone will probably speak English or another language there, pay these guys a visit.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

You can find me somewhere else now...!

Guess what readers. I've joined MySpace recently. This is my profile here: They provide a blog there an' all - but don't worry readers, I'll still be posting here!

With regards to MySpace, it is a vast networking site, as you'll probably know. The main problem I've had with viewing MySpace profiles was due to all the features they add to their profile pages. Such pages not only took just slightly longer than the average page would need to load up, but during which, you'll be confronted by the music that is automatically played! Not to mention the long lists of comments from friends. "Displaying 50 of 'God-knows-how-many' comments!"

Still, perhaps this will prove to be a good avenue for putting myself out there!

You can read the MySpace blog here: I mentioned this blog on the first post! ;-)