Gradišće language


July 5, 2022

The Gradišće language or Gradišće Croatian language (gradišćanski jezik, gradišćanskohrvatski jezik, those who consider it a dialect, use the name narječje) is a language variant of the Croatian language Ča, which is spoken by the Croats of Burgenland. According to surveys, speakers live in Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The estimated number is 70,000, but only less than twenty to thirty thousand of them live in Burgenland. According to the 2001 Austrian censuses, 19,412 people in Burgenland consider Gradišći as their mother tongue. Poor peasant families migrated to the bigger cities in the previous decades as a result of urbanization. Larger communities live in Vienna and Graz. The Croatian name of Burgenland is Gradišće, hence the name of the language. It is also called Burgenland Croatian, in a more Hungarian form, Őrvidéki Croatian, or Várvidéki Croatian. The Croats of Őrvidék were once also called White Croats (Wassercroat), which is why the term White Croatian language also exists. Before the Trianon Peace Treaty, it was officially called the Croatian language of Western Hungary. The term Gradišće is a mirror translation of Burgenland, just like the name Várvidék in Hungarian. The Croats recently started a fight for the recognition of Gradišće as an educational language in Hungary as well. It is currently being taught in schools in Szentpéterfá and some other villages. The Gradišće language is also part of the so-called Central-South Slavic slide system, which is the common Abstand language of Montenegrins, Croats, Bosnians and Serbs, the speakers of the languages ​​understand each other well and easily, but there are bigger differences between the Gradišće and Serbo-Croatian languages.


The ancestors of the Burgenland Croats moved up from present-day southern Croatia and the Adriatic Sea due to the Ottoman-Turkish conquests in the 16th century. These Croats spoke the Ča dialect. Additional groups settled in Lower Austria, but the Germans forcibly assimilated the Croatian minority there. In 1683, during the siege of Vienna, the Tatar cavalry ravaged Lower Austria and a significant part of the remaining Croats there perished. Miklós Jurisics, who heroically defended Kőszeg, who was himself a coastal Croatian, gave many fleeing Croats the opportunity to settle in this region, but Croats even reached Moravia. Landowners in Western Hungary consciously settled Croats even after the Turkish wars, because they proved to be a good workforce. These new settlers, on the other hand, came from Što-speaking areas. In Croatia, until the middle of the 19th century, each area used its own literary language, so the three main dialects (ča, kaj, što) had a separate standard, the same developed for the Croats of Western Hungary. The first book that can be specifically called Gradišće is the songbook of the Lutheran pastor Grgur Mekinić from 1609, Dusevne peszne. Mekinić came from Muraköz, so in his language the Ča language is also mixed with the Kaj language, not only the words, but also the grammatical elements are mixed. The new language was also affected by a strong external influence, in addition to Hungarian and German, Slovenian was also felt, which can still be felt to this day. Several of the Slovene Protestant pastors found refuge from persecution in Hungary, and the first Slovene books were also introduced to the Croats of Western Hungary. However, Protestantism did not take root among them and by the end of the 17th century there was not a single Croatian Protestant left. However, the Slovenian influence continued. The Croats maintained their relationship with the Bishop of Zagreb (the Ča Croats previously belonged exclusively to the bishopric of Zeng), where the official language was Kaj-Croatian. The books from there were used at first