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Kajkavian (kajkavski) dialect is one of the three dialects of Croatian language. The name stems from the interrogatory pronoun "what", which is "kaj" in kajkavian. The dialect is spoken in northwestern part of Croatia, as well as in a few Croatian language oases in Hungary and Romania.
Kajkavian can be classified as a dialect of the Central South Slavic diasystem, generally referred to as the Serbo-Croatian language, but it is an exclusively Croatian dialect and fits into the wider group only due to its mixing with Shtokavian and Chakavian.
Some kajkavian words bear a closer resemblance to other Slavic languages (such as Russian) than they do to Štokavian or Čakavian. For instance gda seems (at first glance) to be unrelated to kada, however, when compared to the Russian когда, the relationship becomes more apparent. Kajkavian kak (how) and tak (so) are exactly like their Russian cognates, as compared to štokavian and čakavian kako and tako. (This vowel loss occurred in most other Slavic languages; Štokavian is a notable exception, whereas the same feature of Macedonian may or may not be a Serbian influence.)
Kajkavian further stands out by lacking phonemes such as 'c' (ц) (instead using the combination of 'ts' as in Hrvatska), 'č' (ч) (instead using 'tš'), 'ć' (ћ), 'đ' (ђ), 'dž' (џ), 'lj' (љ) and 'nj' (њ), as well as the characteristic semi-vowel 'r' (р). Furthermore, Kajkavian includes a vowel the 'ə' which is similar to the Scandinavian 'ř' and missing from Štokavian and Čakavian.
Kajkavian is often seen as transitional to Slovene, with which it shares various features, including the word kaj for "what".
Dialectogical investigations of kajkavian dialect have begun at the end of the 19th century: the first comprehensive monograph was written in Russian by Ukrainian philologist A.M.Lukjaneno in 1905 (Kajkavskoe narečie). Kajkavian dialects have been classified along various criteria: Serbian philologist Aleksandar Belić had divided (1927) kajkavian dialect according the reflexes of Ur-Slavic phonemes /tj/ and /dj/ into three subdialects: eastern, northwestern and southwestern.
However, later investigations have not corroborated Belić's division. Contemporary kajkavian dialectology originates mainly from Croatian philologist Stjepan Ivšić's work "Jezik Hrvata kajkavaca"/The language of kajkavian Croats, 1936, which is based on accentuation characteristics. Due to great diversity of kajkavian speech, primarily in phonetics, phonology and morphology- the kajkavian dialectological atlas is notable for its bewildering proliferation of subdialects: from four identified by Ivšić, via six proposed by Croatian linguist Brozović (widely accepted division) to fifteen, according to a monograph authored by Croatian linguist Lončarić (1995).
Kajkavian literary language
Kajkavian is not only a folk dialect, but has, in the course of history of Croatian language, been the written language (along with the corpus written in Chakavian and Shtokavian). Kajkavian was the last to appear on the scene, mainly due to economic and political reasons. While first Croatian truly vernacular čakavian texts (ie. not mixed with Church Slavonic) go back to the 13th century, štokavian to 14th century, the first kajkavian published work was Pergošić's "Decretum", 1574.
After that, numerous works appeared in Croatian kajkavian literary language: chronicles by Vramec, liturgical works by Rattkay, Habdelić, Mulih; poetry of Katarina Zrinska, dramatic opus of Tituš Brezovački. Kajkavian-based are important lexicographic works like Jambrešić's "Dictionar", 1670, and monumental (2,000 pages and 50,000 words) inter-dialectal (čakavian-štokavian-kajkavian, but based on kajkavian idiom) dictionary "Gazophylacium" by Belostenec (posthumously, 1740). Interestingly enough, Miroslav Krleža's visionary poetic masterpiece, "Balade Petrice Kerempuha", 1936, drew heavily on Belostenec's dictionary. Croatian kajkavian grammars include Kornig's, 1795, Matijević's, 1810 and Đurkovečki's, 1837.
Kajkavian literary language fell into disuse after Croatian national revival, ca. 1830-1850, when leaders of Croatian national unification movement (the majority of them being kajkavian native speakers themselves) adopted the most widespread and developed Croatian štokavian literary language as the idiom for Croatian standard language.
However, after a period of lethargy, the 20th century has witnessed new flourishing of kajkavian literature- this time as Croatian dialectal poetry, main authors being Antun Gustav Matoš , Miroslav Krleža, Ivan Goran Kovačić, Dragutin Domjanić, Nikola Pavić (uncle of Serbian post-modernist fantasy writer Milorad Pavic) etc.
Kajkavian lexical treasure is being published by the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in "Rječnik hrvatskoga kajkavskoga književnoga jezika"/Dictionary of Croatian kajkavian literary language, 8 volumes (1999).
Kak je, tak je; tak je navek bilo, kak bu tak bu, a bu vre nekak kak bu!
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