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Language and Identity in the BalkansSerbo-Croatian and Its Disintegration$

Robert D. Greenberg

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199208753

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199208753.001.0001

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(p.183) Appendix A Text of the 1850 Literary Agreement

(p.183) Appendix A Text of the 1850 Literary Agreement

Source:
Language and Identity in the Balkans
Publisher:
Oxford University Press

We, the undersigned, aware that one people needs to have one literature, and in that connection with dismay witnessing how our literature is splintered, not only by alphabets, but still by orthographic rules as well, have convened these past days to discuss how we could agree and unify in our literature as much as is now possible. And so we have:

(1) Unanimously recognized that it is not worthwhile through the mixing of dialects to construct a new idiom, which does not exist among the people; rather it is better to choose one of the vernacular dialects for the literary language. All this is (a) because it is impossible to write whereby everyone would be able to read in their own dialect; (b) because any such a mixing [of dialects], as a creation of man, would be worse than any of the popular dialects at all, which are God’s work; and (c) because other peoples, such as the Germans and Italians, have also not constructed a new idiom out of their own dialects; rather, they chose one of their popular dialects, and use it for the writing of books.

(2) We have unanimously recognized that it is most proper and best to designate the southern dialect as literary, and this is (a) because most of the people speak that way; (b) because it is the closest to the old Slavic language, and therefore to all other Slavic languages; (c) since nearly all the folk poems are created in this dialect; (d) since all the old Dubrovnik literature is written in this dialect; (e) since most of the literary figures of both the Eastern and Western faiths already write in this way (although not all mind all the rules). Therefore, we have agreed that in those places where in this dialect there are two syllables ije will be written, while where there is one syllable, then je or e or i will be written, each where necessary, for example bijelo, bjelina, mreža, donio. And in order for everyone to be able to know more easily where there are two and where there is one syllable in this dialect, and where it is necessary to write je, where e, and where i, all the rest of us have asked Mr. Vuk Stef. Karadžić to write the primary rules for this, which are appended below.

If there is anyone who for whatever reason prefers not to write in this dialect, we think that it would be most practical for the people and literary unity, that such (p.184) persons write using one of the other two popular dialects of their choice, so long as they do not mix them or create a language which is not found among the people.

(3) We have found it good and necessary for literary figures of the Eastern faith to write x, everywhere that it belongs etymologically, just as the adherents to the Western faith write h, and as our people of both faiths speak in many places in our southern regions.

(4) We have all recognized that it is not necessary to write a final h for nouns in the genitive plural, since in this case the h is neither etymological, nor is it found in either the mainstream popular speech, or the old Slavic language, nor does it have a place in the other contemporary Slavic languages. We have noted that there will be writers, who will say that precisely for these reasons it would be worthwhile to write this h in order to distinguish this case from the other cases, or even that it would be worthwhile to show these differences with some other means rather than h. But since, on the one hand, with many words the forms of this case are [already] distinctive (e.g., zemalja, otaca, lakata, trgovaca, etc.), and since, on the other hand, we have other cases with identical forms, which we do not in any way distinguish in writing, and such things are widely known among other peoples as well—we have all concluded that neither h, nor any other symbol is to be written in the above‐mentioned place, except when it would not be possible to understand from the context that a word is in the genitive plural, in which case the accents will be marked (something that will be necessary for us to do in other similar instances).

(5) We have all unanimously concluded that before r, functioning on its own as a syllable, neither a nor e should be written; rather, r should stand by itself (e.g., prst). And this is (a) because the people speak this way; (b) because writers of the Eastern faith all write this way (except for one or two); (c) because the Czechs also write this way; (d) since many Slavic books using glagolitic letters are written this way; and (e) since it has now been proven that also in the old Slavic language it was not necessary to write the jers [(reduced vowels)], with either r or l, since both these letters in these positions represented vowels, just as in Sanskrit.

This is what we have thus far completed. If God grants that these thoughts of ours are accepted by the people, we are convinced that great obstacles will be removed from the path of our literature, and that we will advance significantly towards a true unity. Therefore, we ask all writers who genuinely wish their own people happiness and advancement to adhere to our thoughts herein, and to write their works accordingly.

  • Vienna, 28 March 1850

  • Ivan Kukuljević

  • Dr. Dimitrije Demeter

  • I. Mažuranić

  • Vuk Stef. Karadžić

  • (p.185)
  • Vinko Pacel

  • Franjo Miklošić

  • Stjepan Pejaković

  • Gj. Daničić1

Dolje potpisani znajući da jedan narod treba jednu književnost da ima, i po tom sa žalosti gledajući, kako nam je književnost raskomadana, ne samo po bukvici, nego još i po pravopisu, sastajali smo se ovijeh dana, da se razgovorimo, kako bismo se što se za sad što više može u književnosti složili i ujedinili. I tako smo:

(1) Jednoglasice priznali, da ne valja miješajući narječja graditi novo, kojega u narodu nema, nego da je bolje od narodnijeh narječja izabrati jedno, da bude književni jezik; a to sve a) zato, što nije moguće pisati tako, da bi svak mogao čitati po svojeme narječju, b) zato, što bi svaka ovakova mješavina, kaono ti ljudsko djelo, bila gora od kojega mu drago narodnoga narječja, koja su djela božija, a c) i zato, što ni ostali narodi, kao n.p. Nijemci i Talijani, nijesu od svojijeh narječja gradili novijeh, nego su jedno od narodnijeh izabrali, te njim knjige pišu.

(2) Jednoglasice smo priznali, da je najpravije i najbolje primiti južno narječje, da bude književno, i to a) zato, što najviše naroda tako govori, b) što je ono najbliže staromu slavenskom jeziku, a po tome i svijema ostalijem jezicima slavenskijem, c) što su gotovo sve narodne pjesme u njemu spjevane, d) što je sva stara dubrovačka književnost u njemu spisana, e) što najviše književnika i istočnoga i zapadnoga vjerozakona već tako piše (samo što svi ne paze na sva pravila). Po tom smo se složili, da se na onijem mjestima, gdje su po ovome narječju dva sloga (syllaba), piše ije, a gdje je jedan slog, ondje da se piše je ili e ili i, kako gdje treba, n.p. bijelo, bjelina, mreža, donio. A da bi svaki lakše mogao saznati, gdje su po ovome narječju dva sloga, gdje li je jedan i gdje treba pisati je, gdje li e gdje li i, zamolili smo svi ostali g. Vuka Stef. Karadžića, da bi napisao o tome glavna pravila, koja su dolje priložena.

Ako li kogod iz kojega mu drago uzroka ne bi htio pisati ovijem narječjem, mi mislimo, da bi za narod i za književno jedinstvo najprobitačnije bilo, da piše jednijem od ostala dva narodna narječja, kojijem mu je volja, ali samo da ih ne miješa i ne gradi jezika, kojega u narodu nema.

(3) Našli smo za dobro i za potrebno, da bi i književnici istočnoga vjerozakona pisali x svuda, gdje mu je po etimol[o]giji mjesto, kao što oni vjerozakona zapadnoga pišu h, i kao što narod naš obadva vjerozakona na mnogo mjesta po južnijem krajevima govori.

(4) Svi smo priznali, da h u samostavnijeh imena na kraju u r[o]d mn. ne treba pisati, jer mu ondje ni po etimologiji, ni po općenome narodnom govoru, ni po starome slavenskom jeziku, ni po ostalijem današnijem jezicima slavenskijem nije mjesto. Mi smo se opominjali, da će se naći književnika, koji će (p.186) reći, da bi ovo h samo zato valjalo pisati, da se ovaj padež razlikuje od ostalijeh, ili najposlije, da bi ove razlike radi mjesto h valjalo pisati kakav drugi znak. Ali jedno zato, što se u mnogijeh riječi ovaj padež po sebi razlikuje (n.p. zemalja, otaca, lakata, trgovaca itd.), a drugo, što u nas ima i drugijeh padeža jednakijeh, pa ih u pisanju nikako ne raz[l]ikujemo, i što ovakovijeh stvari ima mnogo i u drugijeh naroda—mi smo svi pristali na to, da se ni h niti ikakav drugi znak na pomenutome mjestu ne piše, osim samo kad se iz smisla ne bi moglo razumjeti, da riječ stoji u rod. mn., da se naznače akcenti (koje će nam valjati činiti i u ostalijem ovakvijem događajima).

(5) Svi smo jednoglasice pristali, da se pred r, gdje ono samo sobom slog čini, ne piše ni a ni e, već samo r neka stoji (n.p. prst) i to a) zato, [što] narod tako govori, b) što književnici istočnoga vjerozakona svi tako pišu (osim jednoga, dvojice), c) što i Česi tako pišu, d) što su i mnoge slavenske knjige glagoljskijem slovima tako pisane, e) što se sad dokazuje, da ni u starome slavenskom jeziku na ovakijem mjestima nije trebalo pisati jerova ni kod r ni kod l, jer su oba ova slova na ovakijem mjestima bila samoglasna, kao i u Sanskritu.

Ovo smo dakle za sad svršili. Ako da Bog, te se ove misli naše u narodu prime, mi smo uvjereni, da će se velike smetnje knjževnosti našoj s puta ukloniti, da ćemo se k pravome jedinstvu mnogo približiti. Zato molimo sve književnike, koji upravo žele sreću i napredak narodu svojemu, da bi na ove misli naše pristali, i po njima djela svoja pisali.

  • U Beču, 28. ožujka p.n. 1850

  • Ivan Kukuljević

  • Dr. Dimitrije Demeter

  • I. Mažuranić

  • Vuk Stef. Karadžić

  • Vinko Pacel

  • Franjo Miklošić

  • Stjepan Pejaković

  • Gj. Daničić

Notes:

(1) This translation is my own. The original text was reprinted in simić 1991: 346-8