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Montenegrin Language

The name used to refer to the South Slavic language as spoken in Montenegro has gone through a number of changes over the years. During the years of communist Yugoslavia, it was referred to as Serbo-Croatian (or Croato-Serbian), as were Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian. During the post-Yugoslav War period there were competing attitudes in regard to the proper designation for the language. Many felt that due to the close cultural ties with Serbia and the Serbian Orthodox Church, Serbian was still valid. Others thought that it was appropriate to officially rename the language “Montenegrin,” based on a certain number of linguistic distinctions (most conspicuously the introduction of two new letters  ś and  ź) and new political realities, especially after Montenegro ceded from the Yugoslav Federation and became independent.

For a number for years during this later period, the circumlocution maternji jezi “mother tongue” was used in order to temporarily skirt this politically-charged issue. However in the new 2007 Constitution, Montenegro officially recognized Crnogorski jezik “Montenegrin language” as the official name of the South Slavic language spoken in Montenegro.

As of present (Oct. 2010) there is no separate language code for Montenegrin available in MARC records. Until a new language code is chosen, the compilers of the SCM suggest the following cataloging approach:

  1. Continue to use the language code srp.
  2. If the item is published in Montenegro and the language of the text clearly presents itself as in Montenegrin or has a distinctive feature such as the above-mentioned letters or the full use of ijekavian forms, use “In Montenegrin $b (Cyrillic) ” or “In Montenegrin $b (roman)” in the 546 language note as appropriate.

  3. Updated: October 29, 2010

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