Montenegrin, Official status and speakers' preference

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Summary

Montenegrin (crnogorski/црногорски) is the standardized variety of the Serbo-Croatian used by Montenegrins and the official language of Montenegro. Standard Montenegrin is based on the most widespread dialect of Serbo-Croatian, Shtokavian, more specifically on Eastern Herzegovinian, which is also the basis of Standard Croatian, Serbian, and Bosnian.

Details

The language remains an ongoing issue in Montenegro.

In the previous census of 1991, the vast majority of Montenegrin citizens, 510,320 or 82.97%, declared themselves speakers of the then official language: Serbo-Croatian. The 1981 population census also recorded a Serbo-Croatian-speaking majority. However in the first Communist censuses, the vast majority of the population declared Serbian their native language. Such is also the case with the first recorded population census in Montenegro in 1909, when approximately 95% of the population of the Principality of Montenegro declared Serbian their native language. According to the Constitution of Montenegro, the official language of the republic since 1992 is Serbian of the Ijekavian standard.

After World War II and until 1992, the official language of Montenegro was Serbo-Croatian. Before that, in the previous Montenegrin realm, Serbian was the language in usage. The Serbian language was the officially used language in Communist Montenegro until after the 1950 Novi Sad Agreement that defined the Serbo-Croatian language, and "Serbo-Croatian" was introduced into the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Montenegro in 1974. In the late 1990s and early 21st century, organizations promoting Montenegrin as a distinct language appeared, and since 2004 the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro regime introduced the term to usage. The new constitution, adopted on 19 October 2007, deemed Montenegrin to be the official language of Montenegro.

The most recent population census conducted in Montenegro was in 2011. According to it, 36.97% of the population (229,251) declared Montenegrin their native language, and 42.88% (265,895) declared Serbian their native language.

Mijat Šuković, a prominent Montenegrin lawyer, wrote a draft version of the constitution which passed the parliament's constitutional committee. Šuković suggested Montenegrin as the official language of Montenegro. The Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe, had a generally positive attitude towards the draft of the constitution but did not address the language and church issues, calling them symbolic. The new constitution was ratified on 19 October 2007, declaring Montenegrin as the official language of Montenegro, as well as recognising Albanian, Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian.

The ruling Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro and Socialdemocratic Party of Montenegro stand for nothing but plainly renaming the country's official language into Montenegrin, meeting opposition from the Socialist People's Party of Montenegro, the People's Party, the Democratic Serb Party, the Bosniak Party, the Movement for Changes as well as the Serb List coalition led by the Serb People's Party. However, a referendum was not needed, as a two-thirds majority of the parliament voted for the Constitution, including the ruling coalition, Movement for Changes, the Bosniaks and the Liberals, while the pro-Serbian parties voted against it and the Albanian minority parties abstained from voting. The Constitution was ratified and adopted on 19 October 2007, recognizing Montenegrin as the official language of Montenegro.

According to the latest poll of 1,001 Montenegrin citizens conducted by Matica crnogorska in mid-2010:

  • 41.6% Serbian
  • 38.2% Montenegrin
  • 12.3% - Serbian, Montenegrin, Bosnian, Croatian and Serbo-Croatian are one and the same
  • 4.4% Serbo-Croatian
  • 1.9% Bosnian
  • 1.7% Croatian

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External Links

  • WikipediaLanguage on Montenegrina

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