8 August 1809|
Krapina, Kingdom Croatia, (Austrian Empire)
|Died||20 April 1872
Zagreb, Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, Austria-Hungary
|Residence||Zagreb, Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, Austria-Hungary|
|Citizenship||Austrian Empire then Austria-Hungary|
|Known for||Gaj's Latin alphabet, Illyrian Movement|
Ljudevit Gaj (Croatian: [ʎûdeʋit ɡâːj]; born Ludwig Gay; 8 August 1809 – 20 April 1872) was a Croatian linguist, politician, journalist and writer. He was one of the central figures of the pan-Slavist Illyrian Movement.
He was born in Krapina (then in the Varaždin County, Kingdom of Croatia, (Austrian Empire-)), on August 8, 1809. His father Johann Gay was a German immigrant from Hungarian Slovakia, and his mother was Juliana née Schmidt, the daughter of a German immigrant arriving in the 1770s. The Gays were originally of Burgundian Huguenot origin. They arrived to Batizovce in present-day Slovakia in 16th or 17th century. Thence they become serfs of Mariassy de Markusfalva and Batizfalva families in 18th century. As there was a lot of ethnic Germans in that area, the Gays were soon Germanised. Ljudevit's father originates from a branch that moved to the village of Markušovce.
Orthography and other work
In Buda in 1830 Gaj's Latin alphabet was published  ("Brief Basics of the Croatian-Slavonic Orthography"), which was the first common Croatian orthography book (after the works of Ignjat Đurđević and Pavao Ritter Vitezović). The book was printed bilingually, in Croatian and German. The Croatians used the Latin alphabet, but some of the specific sounds were not uniformly represented. Gaj followed the example of Pavao Ritter Vitezović and the Czech orthography, using one letter of the Latin script for each sound in the language. He used diacritics and the digraphs lj and nj.
The book helped Gaj achieve nationwide fame. In 1834 he succeeded where fifteen years before Đuro Matija Šporer had failed, i.e. obtaining an agreement from the royal government of the Habsburg Monarchy to publish a Croatian daily newspaper. He was known as an intellectual leader thereafter. On 6 January 1835, Novine Horvatske ("The Croatian News") appeared, and on 10 January the literary supplement Danicza horvatzka, slavonzka y dalmatinzka ("The Croatian, Slavonian, and Dalmatian Daystar"). The "Novine Horvatske" were printed in Kajkavian dialect until the end of that year, while "Danica" was printed in Shtokavian dialect along with Kajkavian.
In early 1836 the publications' names were changed to Ilirske narodne novine ("The Illyrian People's News") and Danica ilirska ("The Illyrian Morning Star") respectively. This was because historians at the time hypothesised Illyrians had been Slavic and were the direct forefathers of the present-day South Slavs.
In addition to his intellectual work, Gaj was also a poet. His most popular poem was "Još Hrvatska ni propala" ("Croatia is not in ruin yet"), which was written in 1833.
The Latin alphabet used in the Croatian language is credited to Gaj's Kratka osnova Hrvatskog pravopisa. The Latin alphabet (gajica) is also used for Serbian when written in Latin, the Cyrillic counterpart is called vukovica, after contemporary linguist Vuk Karadžić. The Slovenian alphabet, introduced in the mid-1840s, is also a variation of Gaj's Latin alphabet (the only difference is the lack of the letters ć and đ).
In 2008, a total of 211 streets in Croatia were named after Ljudevit Gaj, making him the fourth most common person eponym of streets in the country.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ljudevit Gaj.|
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- Kratka osnova horvatsko-slavenskoga pravopisanja, poleg mudroljubneh, narodneh i prigospodarneh temeljov i zrokov
- Kratka osnova horvatsko-slavenskoga pravopisaňa
- "Krapinski Vjesnik". Godina VI. Broj 58. Studeni 2009. ISSN 1334-9317
- Letica, Slaven (29 November 2008). Bach, Nenad, ed. "If Streets Could Talk. Kad bi ulice imale dar govora". Croatian World Network. ISSN 1847-3911. Retrieved 2014-12-31.