76 Ije- and E-Štokavian

These two dialects are very similar, and they serve as bases for Standard Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian and Montenegrin languages. The reason that you can use Croatian in Serbia is that both Standard Croatian and Standard Serbian are based on similar dialects.

The main difference between ije-štokavian and e-štokavian is yat (ijë, jë, ë) which is always ë in e-štokavian.


The grammar is very similar to the Standard Croatian (the Standard is derived from this dialect, after all). However, there are some frequent forms in ije-štokavian that are not standard, coming from j getting fused with the previous sound (in {..} I have listed standard forms for comparison):

đëca {djëca}
gđë, đe {gdjë}
ćëram {tjëram}

Another feature is simplifying of consonant clusters:

ko, đe, ćerka, čela, tica {tko, gdjë, kćerka, pčela, ptica}

Final -ao is also often simplified:

piso, imo, reko, ko {pisao, imao, rekäo, kao}

In some variants, there are many Turkish words, such as avlija "street", ćilim "carpet", bakšiš "tip (in a restaurant or cafe)" etc.

In many variants, h is either lost or replaced with v (this does not happen to Bosniaks). Frequent examples:

duvan {duhan} "tobacco"
muva {muha} "fly" (an insect)
suv {suh} "dry"

The infinitive often ends on just -t: uzet, vratit...

The stress is very similar to the Standard. In some dialects unstressed i's in the middle of words are frequently omitted; e.g.:

četri {četiri} "4"
profesorca {profesorica} "female professor"

One can find četri occasionally in newspapers (Google for e.g. "četri dana"). You will find that sometimes people spell such words with an apostrophe ('), indicating where sounds were omitted, e.g.:

'ko, 'đe, 'ćerka, 'tica, pis'o, rek'o, čet'ri, vratit' etc.

In some areas, as in I-Štokavian, there is -ni- instead of -nu in past participles and infinitives of ne/nu-verbs and other verbs that have nu-past in the Standard Croatian:

krenem, krenio, krenit {krenem, krenuo, krenuti} perf. "go"
gurnem, gurnio, gurnit {gurnem, gurnuo, gurnuti} perf. "push"

Another difference from the Standard Croatian is use of -iji instead of -ji in common possessive adjectives, for example:

božiji {božji} "god's"
djëčiji {djëčji} "children's"
mačiji {mačji} "feline, cat's"

Such adjectives are quite acceptable as Standard in Bosnia and Serbia.

Another very frequent feature is using što instead of Std. zašto "why", and Std. što is replaced by šta. This is almost the norm in Bosnia.

Characteristic Words

In Bosnia and Serbia, one can often hear the following affectionate words meaning roughly "my friend, buddy" which are frequently inserted in sentences:

bolan "my friend" (to a male, Bosnia)
bóna "my friend" (to a female, Bosnia)
bre "man, my friend" (Serbia)

These three words instantly label someone pronouncing them as being from from Bosnia or Serbia. For example:

Što si se, bolan, prepao? "Why did you, my friend, get scared?" (Bosnia)

There are numerous other local differences in vocabulary. In Serbia, infinitive is frequently replaced with da + present.

Dubrovnik Dialect

In Dubrovnik, ije-štokavian is spoken with some twists. Stress is very similar to the standard one, h is not lost, past participles end on -ō (imō, , rekō vs. Standard imao, dao, rekäo). The most striking feature is that every long ā is pronounced close to ō, so Grād "city = Dubrovnik" is pronounced close to grōd. There are a lot of words of Romanic origin, as well as some specific names, e.g. Dživo, Niko.

Torlak Dialects

In Southern Serbia, there are some dialects that are sometimes included in Štokavian, but are actually a separate group ("Torlak"). They retain final -l (e.g. rekal, nosil vs. Standard rekao, kazao) or change it with -a, as well as forms like najdem, pojdem, otherwise not characteristic of Štokavian (but norms in Čakavian and Kajkavian). Another feature is personal pronoun gu acc.sg.f instead of ju or je.

Here's an example of Bosnian speech from a sitcom:


James said...


Thank you for answering my previous question on pronouncing Hvala as "Fa-la." I spoke Croatian as my first language, but when I started learning English in kindergarten, I slowly lost my ability. I'm working hard to re-learn.

This post really helped me! When I started trying to re-learn Croatian, I was suprised to find out that I pronounced words differently than how they are spelt (Tica, Ko, etc.). This is the first resource that I`ve found that actually explains some of these important differences and I appreciate it!

Just a few quick questions if you have the time:

- Growing up, I always pronounced gdje je as "Di-je". Do you know if it is considered acceptable to pronounce "gdje" as "di"? I thought maybe I was just pronouncing it wrong, but I notice you said it can be pronounced as gđe or đe.

- Also, following what you have written, is it common to pronounce lijep/lijepa as "lip/lipa"?

If I can help you out in some way, please let me know!

Daniel N. said...

You speak I-štokavian, a dialect widely spoken in Dalmatia, some other parts of Croatia and parts of Bosnia-Hercegovina. Take a look at the post before this one.

It's had to say what is acceptable. In everyday use it definitely is...

Anonymous said...

Just curious as to whether the section on the dubrovacki govor will be expanded in the future? And do you know why it is that this dialect is now grouped with ije-stokavian when it was once for so long considered its own dialect? I am sure you are very busy as it is, though, and your hard work is so greatly appreciated! Nowhere else can one find such detailed information on Croatian like this, and for no cost. It is very gracious of you.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant East Herzegovinian, not "ije-shtokavian", as far as the dubrovacki govor.

Daniel N. said...

Well, the main characteristics of "East Herzegovinian" are:

ě > ije, je
"new accentuation"

I tried to simplify things for the general reader.

In most accounts, the Dubrovnik dialect is included in "East Herzegovinian". It has ije/je + "new accentuation" for sure.

I will include more info on the Dubrovnik dialect soon.

br Daniel

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