Croatian Alphabet and Pronunciation

CroatianCroatian A1

Welcome to our Croatian Course for beginners! Today, we`re going to talk about the croatian alphabet.

The Croatian language is a South Slavic language, and it is the official language of Croatia, Bosnia, and the autonomous region of Vojvodina in Serbia. It is spoken by over 6 million people. In this language, there are three major dialectical groups - Kajkavian, Chakavian, and Shtokavian (formed based on the way a word is spoken in response to the question `what`). The official version of the Croatian language (similarly to Serbian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin languages) is based on the Shtokavian group of dialects.

In the Croatian language, as well as in other South Slavic languages, there are many words from the Old Slavic language (`chelo` - forehead, `oko` - eye, `zhivot` - life, `usta` - mouth, etc.). Besides Old Slavic words, Croatian also contains many words that have come from other Slavic languages, as well as from Greek, Italian, Latin, German, and Turkish. The oldest written records in the Croatian language date back to the 11th century.

Historically, during the time of the former Yugoslavia, there existed the so-called official Serbo-Croatian language, which was a compromise between the two main languages (Croatian and Serbian) dominating in that state. However, due to historical peculiarities and Croatia`s gaining of independence, the literary Croatian language has seen significant development. In modern Croatian, the focus is placed on local dialects and authentic Croatian words that were not previously used as extensively. Nevertheless, the Croatian language remains a South Slavic language and retains all the linguistic features inherent to languages of this group.

Interestingly, until the 15th century, Glagolitic script - the first Slavic alphabet that emerged in the 9th century - was actively used as the alphabet in Croatian lands. Later, after a series of language reforms, a new Croatian alphabet based on the Latin script, called Gaj`s Latin alphabet (Gajica), was developed, taking into account linguistic characteristics, and it is the official alphabet to this day.

Now, let`s consider the sounds and letters used in modern Croatian, as well as their transcription. There are a total of 30 letters. In fact, this is a version of the Cyrillic alphabet - vukovica, written with Latin letters.

As mentioned earlier, Gaj`s Latin alphabet is based on Latin letters. There are only five vowel letters in Croatian:
i [i], a [a], u [u], o [о], e [е]
There are 25 consonant letters:
b [b], c [ts], č [tʃ], ć [tɕ], d [d], dž [dʒ], đ [dʑ], f [f], g [g], h [h], j [j], k [k], l [l], lj [ʎ], m [m], n [n], nj [nj], p [p], r [r], s [s], š [ʃ], t [t], v [ʋ], z [z], ž [ʒ]

Additionally, in words borrowed from other languages, the letters q, w, x, and y may be used.

In colloquial speech, one letter in the Croatian alphabet corresponds to only one sound. There are almost no exceptions. Therefore, for those studying Croatian, it`s essential to note that all vowels in this language are pronounced equally clearly, regardless of whether they are stressed or not. Good luck and see you in the next lessons!