Revison of orthographic norm in the Bosnian language


  • Belkisa Dolić Pedagogical faculty, University of Bihac
  • Fata Huseinbašić Islamic pedagogical faculty, University of Bihac


Bosnian language, Croatian language, Serbian language, orthography, orthographic norm


There are three constitutional nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats who respectively speak Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian languages, and they are all standardized, i.e. guaranteed by the Constitution. However, that was not always the case. Namely, in 1954 (after the so called Novi Sad Agreement) the Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian languages, despite their separate historical, territorial and cultural flows, were incorporated into a hybrid, politically motivated language called Croato-Serbian / Serbo-Croatian. They were part of it until the dissolution of Yugoslavia when former member republics became independent states, and demanded their own standardized languages: Croatia Croatian, Serbia Serbian, and Bosnia and Herzegovina all three – Croatian, Serbian and Bosnian. During the war and in the few following years, standardizing works, which proscribe what is the part of standardized Bosnian language, were published in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The key role in that process was played by Alija Isaković who lists the specificities of the Bosnian language in his dictionary (Rječnik karakteristične leksike u bosanskome jeziku 1993; Rječnik bosanskoga jezika: karakteristična leksika 1995) – the same specificities which were unscientifically overlooked for almost a century, and which were, all the while, a part of the language practices in the vernaculars and literature of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Those specificities will be insisted on by the first orthographic manual of standard Bosnian language, the first orthographic manual for schools, and after some time the first grammar of standard Bosnian language. The same tradition will be, more or less, continued in the dictionaries of the Bosnian language. A sudden shift occurred in 2017 when the second edition of the orthographic manual of Bosnian language was published in which the aforementioned specificities slowly disappear. This work shows where and how it happened with an aim to find out why it happened.