from Ideology to Aggression
Serbs All and Everywhere (1849)
An article detailing the linguistic and ethnic
'predominance' of the Serbs in most South Slavic lands
Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic (1787-1864) was a linguist and writer who travelled throughout the
Balkan lands studying the various languages and dialects and collecting folk songs. He
wrote widely on linguistic subjects and problems, and published many grammar books and a
dictionary. He is rightfully considered the founder of modern Serbian language reform and
Serbian culture in general.
One of the main themes of his work is that all speakers of the Stokavian dialect are
Serbian (even though most Croatians speak a form of this dialect as well). This line of
thinking is seen quite frequently in Karadzic's work, and influenced Serbian attitudes
toward other Balkan nations. The article "Serbs All and Everywhere", first
published in the book "Treasurebox for the History, Language and Customs of Serbians
of All Three Faiths" in 1849, is a typical example of Karadzic's views on the
language and ethnicity of Serbia's neighbors. He also tries to negate the existence of any
significant number of Croats, distorting historic and linguistic facts to prove his
arguments. At this time, the Croats, along with the Bulgarians, were seen as the biggest
obstacle to Serbian dominance on the Balkans. In this way Karadzic, either consciously or
unconsciously, fits into the scheme of Greater Serbian ideology quite well.
* * *
It is known for certain that Serbs now live in present-day Serbia (between the Drina and
Timok rivers, and between the Danube and the Sar mountains), in Metohija (from Kosovo over
the Sar mountains, where Dusan's capital Prizren, the Serbian patriarchate of Pec, and the
Decani monastery are located), in Bosnia,Herzegovina, Zeta, Montenegro, Banat, Backa,
Srijem, the western Danube region from Osijek to Sentandrija, Slavonia, Croatia (Turkish
and Austrian), Dalmatia, and in the entire Adriatic littoral from Trieste to Bojana. I
said at the start that it is known for certain because it is still not known how
many Serbs are in Albania and Macedonia. Along the Cetina river (in Montenegro) I was
talking with two men from Dibra, who were telling me that in those places there are many
Serbian villages, in which Serbian is spoken the way they speak it, that is, across
between Serbian and Bulgarian, but always closer to Serbian than Bulgarian.
In the aforementioned places there are at least 5 million people who speak the same
language, but by religion they can be split into three groups: it can be estimated roughly
that about 3 million are Greek Orthodox, and of this 1 million in Serbia (with Metohija),
1 million in the Austrian provinces (Banat, Backa, Srijem, western Danube, Slavonia,
Croatia, Dalmatia and Boka), and 1 million in Bosnia, Herzegovina, Zeta and Montenegro; of
the remaining 2 million it can be said that about two-thirds are Muslim (in Bosnia,
Herzegovina, Zeta etc) and one-third are Roman Catholic (in the Austrian provinces, and in
Bosnia, Herzegovina and the Bar nahija). Only the first 3 million call themselves Serbs,
but the rest will not accept the name. Those of the Islam faith think that they are real
Turks, and call themselves that, although only one in a hundred can even speak Turkish.
Those of the Catholic faith use the name of the place in which they live: for example
Slavonian, Bosnian (or Bosniak), Dalmatian, Dubrovnian, etc., or, as is common among
writers they use ancient names such as Illyrian or Illyrianist. However, in Backa they are
called Bunjevacs, in Srijem, Slavonia and Croatia they are called Sokacs, and around
Dubrovnik and in Boka they are called Latins. Bunjevacs possibly get their name from the
Herzegovinian river Buna, from where these people, as it is told, migrated some time ago;
the Sokacs may be called so out of a sense of irony (from the Italian word sciocco), but
today they say: "I'm a Sokac", or "Sokica"
as with Bunjevac, Bunjevka.
All of the wiser people among the Orthodox and Catholic Serbs recognize that they are one
people and strive to totally uproot or at least lessen the hatred because of different
religions as much as they can. Even so, those of the Catholic faith still have a hard time
calling themselves Serbians, but they will adjust to this in their own time, because if
they don't want to be Serbs, then they have no national name at all. To say that one is
Slavonian, another Dalmatian, still another Dubrovnian is useless, because all these are
place names and do not describe any nation. To say that they are Slavs is too general, as
Russian, Poles, Czechs and all other Slavic peoples fall under that name. To say that they
are Croats, I would say that in truth only the Cakavian speakers could use this name. They
are the descendants of Constantine Porfirogenitus' Croats whose language is a little
different from Serbian, but still closer to Serbian than any other Slavic dialect. Today's
Croatians in the Zagreb, Varazdin and Krizevci districts, whose land was called Croatia
after the Battle of Mohacs in 1526 (and was until then called upper Slavonia), speak a
language which is a crossover from Slovenian into Serbian. I don't know how the name
Croatian can be used for our Catholic brothers who live in Banat, Backa, Srijem, Slavonia,
Bosnia, Herzegovina or in Dubrovnik, who speak the same language as the Serbs.
According to the Byzantine emperor and historian Constantine Porfirogenitus (d. 959),
Croatians settled in our area from somewhere in the Carpathians in the first half of the
7th century (when the Serbs settled in Macedonia and Illyria). Having come here they
divided into two groups, one settling in today's Croatian boundaries, as well Turkish
Croatia and Dalmatia, and the other group stayed in Pannonia between the Drava and Sava.
The borders of this first (Dalmatian) Croatia were as follows: along the sea to the Cetina
river in the South, in Hercegovina at Imotski, in Bosnia at Livno, along the river Vrbas
to Jajce, and its capital was in Biograd near Zadar and later in Bihac; for Pannonian
Croatia it is known that their capital was in Sisak, but the borders of this district are
harder to determine than that of the first.
In Dalmatia (except for the littoral and the islands), on the dry land that was once the
heart of Croatia, there is today nobody who by language differs from the Serbs. However,
on the islands and in the littoral, where the people hardly mixed with those from the
slightly different from Serbian, and I believe that these coastal people and islanders are
the remainders or descendants of the old Croats.
From all this it is apparent that all the South Slavs, except the Bulgarians, can be
divided into 3 language groups: first are the Serbs, who say sto or sta (what) (and are
thus called Stokavians) and at the end of the past-perfect verb forms say 'o' instead of
(therefore called Cakavians) and on the end of the past-perfect verb forms say 'l' instead
of 'o', but otherwise do not differ greatly from the Serbs; and the third are the
Slovenians, or as we call them, Kranjci, who say kaj instead of sto (Kajkavians), who by
language differ more from the Serbs and Croats than do the Serbs and Croats from each
other, but they are still closer to them than to any other Slavic people. Among today's
Slovenes can be counted today's Croats from the districts of Zagreb, Varazdin
and Krizevci, whose language is gradually becoming Serbian; but where did these people
come from to where they are now? If what Porfirogenitus said is true, that the Pannonian
Croats were between the Drava and Sava, and that their capital was in Sisak, it would
follow that they would be Cakavians and not Kajkavians.
As for the numbers of these dialects among the South Slavs, I would say that the
Stokavians are at least three times as numerous as the Kajkavians and Cakavians combined,
and that there are certainly more Kajkavians than Cakavians.
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