Talk:Croatian-language grammar books

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very radical edit[edit]

User:Mir Harven has turned a passage on its head:

"This is seen from a modern perspective, including works that referred not only to 'Croatian language' but to 'Slavic language', 'Illyrian language', 'Serbo-Croatian language', etc."

was changed to:

"The enumerated grammar books give description and prescription of Croatian language as it evolved throughout history. Needless to say, they do not belong to the heritage of Serbian language nor Bosnian language historical phonetics, phonology, morphology and syntax, no do they are treated as a part of Serbian or Bosniak philological heritage."

The grammar of that last phrase is slightly wrong ("no do they are treated as..."?), but I don't think there is any chance I am misconstruing: the article now asserts that this is a uniquely Croatian heritage.

I'm not very knowledgable in Slavic languages, so for all I know, he could be right, but I doubt it: the edit looks to me like possible nationalist POV. It's really hard for me to believe that we are specifically sure that, for example, these 19th-century books on "Serbo-Croatian" or on Slavic languages in general are specifically more relevant to modern-day Croatian than modern-day Serbian. In particular, I would expect an analogous list for Serbian (or, presumably, Bosniak, of which I know even less), would look very similar, at least until very modern times. -- Jmabel 21:41, Jul 16, 2004 (UTC)

Mir Harven's additional passage (added after I wrote this), that begins, "That it should be so is obvious..." only tends to add to my suspicions. Unless he (I'm assuming he; if this is a she, apologies for my presumption) is familiar with each of those works whose titles make no explicit mention of Croatian rather than Serbian language, how can he know that they were oriented more toward Croatian than Serbian language? -- Jmabel 04:37, Jul 17, 2004 (UTC)
I try very hard to avoid edit wars, so I am giving at least 24 hours for a response before I revert, but I am very inclined to revert these edits. -- Jmabel 04:39, Jul 17, 2004 (UTC)
The commit is essentially correct -- this list includes works that have formed the Croatian language, as in, the language spoken in Croatia, before there was a connection with Serbian, as well as the time when unification started (in the 19th century). The lists for Serbian and Bosnian wouldn't necessarily look the same because, to my knowledge, Vuk Karadžić was the first Serbian linguist that reformed the language to be less similar to Church Slavonic and more similar to Croatian (and, to avoid an impression of bias, subsequently Ljudevit Gaj and others in Croatia reformed their language to be more similar to Serbian).
It's possible that in vernacular, both groups of central-south Slavs spoke a language that could be considered to have all of these grammar books as their heritage. But then, all Slavs spoke more or less the same language in the centuries after the Great Migrations, so if we just went a few centuries back with the list, one could also include many Church Slavonic grammar books. It's just a matter of picking the desired scope. --Shallot 12:14, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)

How's the present wording sound? --Shallot 12:30, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Closer, but still:

"Notable cover term is Serbo-Croatian which still persists, more due to political than to purely linguistic reasons."

It is at least equally possible to argue that there are "political" rather than "purely linguistic" reasons for claiming that Serbian and Croation are separate languages rather than dialects of a single language.

Yes, of course. However, the title of this page already indicates that we picked the scope of Croatian without Serbian or Bosnian.
A simple question that illustrates why "Serbo-Croatian" isn't a straightforward answer to the issue is "why is it never Croato-Serbian"? Besides, we already have a reasonably lengthy discussion of everything at the linked language pages and their talk pages... --Shallot 23:49, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)
"For instance, a diachronical difference is the structure of declension, or the now extinct third future tense that is equal to the future in Russian (but non-existent in Serbian). Synchronically, the number of Croatian wovels ["vowels", I presume, I'll correct - JM] differ from the number of Serbian or Bosnian, and the morphology prescriptions are also different."

I can't comment on the factuality of this, but I would point out that the number of distinct vowel sounds hardly makes a separate language. California English lacks several vowels found in New York English, but they are generally not even thought of as distinct dialects, just different accents in speaking American English. (For examples on N.Y. vs. Cal., consider "cot" and "caught" or "Mary", "marry", and "merry": five distinct vowels in New York, only two in California.)

I myself am of the view that this is simply a matter of "a dialect with an army". I don't object to both views being in the article, attributed to competent authorities. I do object to the view I'm less inclined to accept being presented as fact in the narrative voice of the article.

Yes, the sociolinguistic aspect is very real, and not particularly less important than the genetic or structural ones. At this point of time in history, it happens to be the aspect that defines the official languages, and this takes precedence. This is an encyclopedia, it should describe the reality, not try to shape it. --Shallot 23:49, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Here's an appropriate citation for the view I tend to uphold. Do you have something comparable for the one now in the article?

"Serbo-Croatian is the term generally accepted to denote the principal idiom of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes... In spite of many statements to the contrary, Serbian and Croatian are one and the same language, the chief difference eing that the Serbs proper usually write their speech in the Cyrillic alphabet..., while the Croats generally use Latin characters modified by diacritic points to indicate phonetic values... It should be noted that the Serbs use both the southern and eastern dialects as their literary language, whereas the Croats use only the sourthern idiom." - John Dyneley Prince, 1928, in the preface to his Practical Grammar of the Serbo-Croatian language (re-published by Hafner, NYC, 1960, which is the edition I have). If it would be useful for me to quote more extensively what he has to say about the different dialects, let me know, but roughly the preceding is what I'm concerned to get into the article if we are going to discuss the matter in this article. -- Jmabel 22:25, Jul 17, 2004 (UTC)
Well, that sounds like a typical 1928 standpoint. What would the same author say about other languages without armies, so to speak? :) You can find various views in the related talk pages and external link sections, and in the books listed at Croatian language#Current events (I only recently added that list). --Shallot 23:49, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I am really trying to avoid an edit war here, which is very difficult because Mir Harven is not participating in discussion, just editing the article. I added mention of the John Dyneley Prince book to the article (refraining from adding the quotation above pending further discussion). Mir Harven deleted it, commenting, "(del'ed because: 1. these are pre-20th cent. grammars, 2. they describe Croatian rather than Croato-Serbian hybrid; 3. there are much more important Cro. grammars in 20th cent. than one foreign primer)". Responding to these points:

  1. There is nothing in the topic of the article to confine it to pre-20th-century grammars. We should be adding more modern grammars to the article.
  2. Unless I am very mistaken, few of the books listed are narrowly specific to Croatian. For example, the Juraj Križanić book is described as "A general Slavic grammar based on data concerning the Slavic languages which were available to the author. Characteristics of the Croatian literary language were marked, so that it contains a standard 17th-century Croatian grammar. Published in Tobolsk." This is no more (or less) specific to Croatian than the Prince book.
  3. The Prince book is a useful English-language book. Should we be confining that article only to discussing only books written in languages that most of our readers can't read? When I added the book, I commented "Adding the one (20th century) Croatian grammar I'm familiar with. More (and more recent) would be good."

This is not a topic that I feel much stake in, but I feel a lot of stake in the neutrality and intellectual honesty of Wikipedia, and I feel that is being violated here. -- Jmabel 17:57, Jul 18, 2004 (UTC)


I've replaced in translation in English the words Illyrian and Slovinian with Croatian.
In those dictionaries, the case was that, that Croatian was used as synonym for Illyrian.
Then, I've made a translation according to the modern language name.
Why I did it? E.g., in Mikalja's Croatian-Italian-Latin dictionary, he calls Croatian "Illyricus" in Latin. As synonym in Croatian, he titles his language as "Slovinski" (slovinian). His Latin translation of "Slovinian" is "Illyricus", but in the same dictionary, he says "Illyricus"=Croata, Hervat".
On the other hand, in that same dictionary, he calls Italian language as "Latin", but in his text in Croatian says "Latinski aliti Talijanski" (Latin or Italian).
In that same dictionary, he calls Latin language as "dijacki" (students') language.
That's why we don't call his dictionary as "Slovinian-Latin-Students'", but "Croatian-Italian-Latin". Kubura 08:51, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

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