The site about Kajkavian language

So called “Kaikavian” language is a Central European, Slavic language.
Its written and spoken
tradition goes back to medieval “Kaikavian” state originally called Slovenian country with its capital Zagreb.

Slovenie or Windischland, Tothorszag
Croatia or Horvatorzag.

Kaikavian folks sadly suffer under Croatian yoke and its Slavic, Central European identity and language are vanishing due to aggressive croatisation and balkanisation that go hand in hand.


  1. Kaikavian is the original language of Zagreb and the Kaikavian region around it
  2. Kaikavian was the standard literary language in the whole area of Zagreb bishopric until the mid of 19th century
  3. If you speak Kaikavian in Zagreb today, most people will not understand what you are saying, and will ask if you are from Slovenia
  4. Kaikavian literary language is recognized under ISO 639-3 language code kjv, and there is much literature dated from 16th ct. in Central European national libraries written in kjv.
  5. Glottolog entry by respected international linguists for Kaikavian language is here
  6. Kaikavians started to learn todays official language of Croatia some 150 years ago.
    Since then much damage was done and is still being done to their language today by Croatian institutions
  7. Term “Kaikavian” has been coined by Serbo-Croatian philologists end of 19th ct. and has been in use as such but is actually wrong since based on pronoun “kaj” it should encompass also today Slovenes, but it doesn’t.
    It is an expression of political opression from Balkans and shall be replaced with what Kaikavians really are and how they called themselves for more than 1000 years – a folk of Pannonian Slovenes !




Old street sign in Kaikavian literary language in Zagreb – Gospodska vulica1
Below in German Herren Gasse. Picture Akos Doncsecz


According to linguists2, Kaikavian is being used for more than 1000 years by so called Kaikavian folks in what is today northern Croatia. Today most “Kaikavians” regard themselves as Kaikavian Croats. However, they do not learn under Croatian rule about their own separate history, language and tradition.
So most Kaikavian folks and Croats did not know that Kaikavian literary language existed, until few years ago, and many still do not know because it is kind of censored on public TV to talk about that.
Kaikaivans also do not know that their ancestors had their own kingdom and that their original name was Slovenci. These facts are all known to historians, yet they are not included in the public education system of Croatia. Still, some regard themselves as Kaikavians only.
Kaikavian language existed long before there was Croatia, like this is the case with many languages where their development is much older than the idea of national state developed in 19th century. In fact there was ancient Kaikavian state around the time of Charlemagne rule with its main city of Sisek, and in late medieval times there was a kingdom of Slovenje or Slovenski orsag with its main city Zagreb. Its language was called Slovenski language, and not Croatian. Slovenski is the first self-name of today’s Kaikavian language. Croatia at that time was a different country in the south of river Una and Kupa. Croatian then was Čakavian-Ikavian language, written in different scripts: glagoliticistud alphabetum est Chrawaticum and cyrillic script. Kaikavians/Slovenci in their kingdom of Slovenje used only Latin script, and never used these two Croatian scripts.


It is important to know the distinction that the original self-name Slovenski language of Slovenski orsag did not denote  language of todays Slovenia, but the language that Serbo-Croatian philologists started to call “Kaikavian” since the end of 19th century, which was thus accepted by Slavistics, even though it is politically incorrect.
Prof. Vatroslav von Jagič, one of the world’s most prominent Slavic philologists, stated in his “Archiv für slawische Philologie” that there were 3 different languages on different territories, that shared the same name Slovenski: in what is present day Slovenia, Slovakia, and Slovenje (North of Croatia). However, only one of them had it’s capital and state – it was Zagreb and Slovenje. And exactly these Zagreb Slovenes were robbed of their capital, kingdom and language by Croatian invaders from South. How this happened it is written here. 


When did the ancestors of Kaikavians arrive?


Starting from the arrival of Pannonian Slavs at the end of 6th ct.3, there is continuity of culture in the Kaikavian spoken area. Few centuries later we can distinguish the predecessor of todays Kaikavian from what was going develop into neighbouring languages like Cakavian. Thus Kaikavian can be considered as among the oldest languages of Europe. Today Kaikavian area of use stretches from Pitomača in the east to Čabar and Fužine the west. In the south from the village of Krapje to the northern border of Slovenia.Kaikavians are Croatians, but their traditional language is different from todays official language of Croatia, which was introduced in Kaikavian region only 150 years ago. Beside Kaikavian, another Croatian language that differs from todays standard Croatian is Čakavian. Today’s self name for Kaikavian language is Kajkavski – pronounced like Khay-khavs-key.


What makes Kaikavian a language?


The unity of Kaikavian language and its dialects was first proved by most important Croatian linguist Stjepan Ivšič in his groundbreaking work “The language of Croatian Kaikavians” in 1936. Long before that, Kaikavians have developed literary language in which they have been publishing literature since 16th century.
Today, the reality of Kaikavian language is confirmed by prof. emer. dr. sc. Josip Silić4 one of the most prominent contemporary Croatian linguists, as well as by famous publicist and linguist dr. sc. Inoslav Bešker5, and by many other linguists who are unbiased and well-informed about this marginalised language.
Silić clearly states why Kaikavian has different linguistic system from Neostokavian(=offical Croatian) because Kaikavian has different phonology, morphology and syntax. And that Kaikavian has also different accentuation from official Croatian and today’s Slovene was proved by aforementioned Ivšič.
Also vocabulary in Kaikavian language is different from Neostokavian Croatian – often same or much more similar to Slovene.
So all the five elements of Kaikavian language: phonology, morphology, syntax, accentuation and vocabulary differ from Neostokavian/Croatian language.
This is why Kaikavian language is hardly or not intelligible to a Stokavian speaker.


We present here in these pages the details about Kaikavian language and overview of its history.


It is important to understand that Kaikavian dialects are not dialects of official Neostokavian Croatian. Unlike bhs-languages (Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian) that form the Neostokavian dialectal group, Kaikavian does not belong to this group. This is something all linguists agree. Kaikavian dialects share common linguistic characteristics of Kaikavian language, with local or regional differences.


For characteristics of Kaikavian language jump here.


Kaikavian language today in Croatia: institutional & public discrimination


Kaikavian language has been existing throughout centuries. From 16th to the mid of 19th century Kaikavian had the functionality of official and literary language (more details below) in the kingdom that was called originally Slovonski orsag or Slovenje. Through medieval times until the 1800 ct. Kaikavians never called their land Croatia or their language Croatian. They denoted it Slovenje and themselves as Slovenci. In Latin this was Slavonia. The area of Regnum of Slovenje was what they call today Kaikavian speaking area, whereas Croatia (Harvatska/Hervatska) was in the south to Knin. All written sources from these times show this – Kaikavian, Austrian, Hungarian and Croatian sources state this. More about it below.
After the middle of 19th ct. Kaikavian language was removed from public use in Kaikavian region/state by the decision of Croatian parliament in favour of, as officially proclaimed, Yugoslavian language6.
This Yugoslavian language was the Neostokavian dialect imported from Bosnia/Monte Negro. This is also the reason why bhs-languages are mutually intelligible – they are all based on one and same Neostokavian dialect. But not Kaikavian – it  had different historical, cultural and linguistic development. To remove a highly developed and urban language like Kaikavian from public use in 19th ct. was actually a crazy decision seen from cultural and societal point of view. Kaikavians tried to resist by making allies with Hungarians, but could not stand against the ruling Croatian aristocracy that was mostly for the new southern dialect hoping to Neostokavian get areas and properties in the south.


The proclamation of, as initially called, Yugoslavian dialect for new official language of the new Croatia – Cakavian Dalmatia, Stokavian Slavonia (since 18th ct.) and Kaikavian Horvatska marks the start of discrimination of Kaikavian (and Cakavian) language in the new state of Croatia, meaning also in Kaikavian area. This discrimination started in 19th centurty, did not stop even today, and it is worse today than it was before socialist Yugoslavia. The doctrine that Kaikavian is a dialect of official Stokavian Croatian started actually in socialist Yugoslavia, and is carried over without thinking into the new Croatian state by language policy creators. This doctrine has only one goal and reason – to stop Kaikavians from learning and using their language. Initially the doctrine “Away from Austro-Hungarian Empire” introduced new Yugoslavian language for all South Slaves – also meant for Bulgarians and Slovenes. For that, Neostokavian language, the lingua franca among Balkan South Slaves, was chosen as the new official language. Bulgarians did not join, Slovenes managed to resist (they had Prešeren), Kaikavians tried but failed. The Kaikavian “Prešeren” – Miroslav Krleža came some 100 years too late – when all was set and done in favour of Neostokavian language. Kaikavian authors wrote against acceptance of the foreign Neostokavian Croatian language, and lower Kaikavian aristocracy even fought against Ban Jelačič and his Neostokavian colonisators from south. Also Šafarik, who supported Gaj in introducing new orthography, was against dropping valuable Kaikavian language, but it did not help yet. Stokavian hegemony and colonisatio are further on the rise.
Both Kaikavian and Slovenian as Slavic languages from Central Europe were not understood by the Balkan South Slaves. Slovenians defended their language, but Kaikavians around Zagreb could not, and Kaikavian langauge had to retreat as official language in the eyes of Ban Jelačič, Ljudevit Gaj and count Draškovič and many other Illyrists. Of course these three hoped to extend their influence on the areas to be/or then added to new Croatia, and actively worked on that. So why Kaikavian was abolished as official language in Kaikavian state is for narrow political and personal interests like greed, and low level of education in history of Illyrists like Ljudevit Gaj, who spread romantic fantastics.
This led to the situation today where Kaikavian language is seriously endangered and on the verge of disappearing in Croatia, because intergenerational transmission is already broken
Disappearing / glottophagy of Kaikavian language
((Mario Jembrih 2015: ZAKAJ SME DOBILI MEDNARODNEGA ISO KODA ZA KAJKAVSKI KNJIŽEVNI JEZIK. 14. scientific conference “Kaikavian language, literature and culture through  centuries”, Krapina.)) is mostly the result of discriminating language policies that have been created and promoted by Croatian institutions that are governmental or close to government – Croatian Academy of Science (HAZU, former JAZU), Institute of Croatian Language and Linguistics (IHJJ) and Croatian Ministry of Education.
These institutions use the superficial similarity between the name Horvatski that was imposed by Croatian aristocracy instead of name “Slovenski” during less than 2 centuries (1700-1850), and the name Hrvatski that was introduced for today’s Croatian language around 1840 – which was the name for the Balkanian Stokavian language.
So Croatian Aristocracy, Yugoslavian Academy of Sciences and managed to introduce an irrational mess into what is called North Croatia.
Thus HAZU and IHJJ neglect the fact that Horvatski (Kaikavian literary language) and Hrvatski (Southern Neostokavian) were 2 different languages belonging to different dialectal groups and language systems.


Horvatski / Kaikavian language / Central European cultural scope


  • Does not belong to Bosnian-Serbian-Croatian language group / bhs macrolanguage
  • Area of Horvatski jezik : Kaikavian state, after 1848. Kaikavian region
  • It was called like that from around 1700. until 1862. Before 1700. it was named Slovenski language, of Slovenian Orsag – Slovenej. (Today Slovenia Kaikavians called Kranjska and Štajerska).
  • Note for foreign readers: Horvatski is usually translated as “Croatian” – same like Hrvatski.
    Since this is wrong, this is also the main reason many outside of Croatia do not know about Kaikavian language. (i.e. that Horvatski language was actually Kaikavian, and not Balkan Stokavian Croatian like today). Most Croatian language and history scientists cooperate in this falsification, not pointing out this distinction but remaining silent. However, one just needs to compare original sources to see that Horvatski does not equal to Hrvatski which is thus deliberately false translation helping the assimilation of Kaikavian folk in oder to take away their language.

Hrvatski  / Neostokavian language / Balkan cultural scope


  • Part of Neostokavian Bosnian-Serbian-Croatian language group / bhs macrolanguage.
  • Imported into Kaikavian region in 1862. as “Jugoslavenski jezik”6
  • Language area until 1862.: Bosnia and Hercegovina, Monte Negro, Serbia, Vojna Krajina (Balkanese Vlachs)
  • Ludwig von Gay/Ljudevit Gaj admired Monte Negrin Njegoš, and published his texts, proclaiming Monte Negro Neostokavian Iyekavian dialect as ideal Ilirian language. This is how todays Croatian came into existence. Croatian kids today who speak Croatian read Monte Negrinian Njegoš as native, wheras they hardly understand origianl Dubrovnik dialect (which should allegedly be the basis of todays Neostokavian Croatian/Hrvatski :D).


But instead of teaching what international slavistics and linguistics teach, Croatian Ministry of Un-Education & Anti-Culture and Croatian Academy of anti-Science teach some Balkans myths and story-telling.
So is e.g. Kaikavian more similar to todays Slovene than to todays official Croatian – however, his does not matter to HAZU and IHJJ who proclaim it for dialect of Neostokavian language – a blatant linguistic nonsense. Both HAZU and IHJJ are allegedly Croatian scientific institutions, but, on matters like Kaikavian language they ignore internationally valid scientific standards, something which they openly admit in public from time to time.
The language policy makers associated with these institutions even openly admit in public that this what they proclaim is against standards of todays Slavistics (as stated by member of HAZU R. Katičič-citation to be added). They know very well that Neostokavian dialect/new Croatian language was introduced into Kaikavian speaking area only 150 years ago, and before that, Kaikavian language was the official language7.
But you will not find this simple fact in Croatian educational books, where “fantasy facts” are presented instead of facts about Kaikavian language. However, these facts about Kaikavian language can be found in educational books before Yugoslavian/Croatian age, and can be easily checked in books in Kaikavian literary language, and other historical sources like Austrian and Hungarian.
So HAZU, IHJJ and Croatian Ministry of Education go clearly against all linguistic and historical facts. Obviously scientific standards in Croatia were higher in 1936, when the prominent member of HAZU Stjepan Ivšič could freely and clearly distinguish Kaikavian language from official Croatian language, than they are today in 21. century in the still young state of Croatia! In Croatia instead of progressing, many things appear to be actively moved backwards by current policy creators.


How HAZU (Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts), Croatian Institute for Linguistics (IHJJ) and Croatian Ministry of Education actively contribute to discrimination and perform linguicide of Kaikavian language:


  1. HAZU today denies existence of Kaikavian literary language everywhere it can: e.g. see works of its members/associates Moguš and M. Mihaljevič, where the latter does not mention that Kaikavian language ever existed, in an official book of University of Zagreb.

  2. HAZU is publisher of Dictionary of Kaikavian literary language – something they inherited and do not care about today. Dictionary was initiated by Miroslav Krleža, who created his best work in Kaikavian literary language. If it was not for him, it would never have been started. How much HAZU cares today about this dictionary shows us the facts: dictionary is not available to buy, it is not finished, there is no digital version. Its current editor Katičič never wrote a single article on Kaikavian (literary) language nor does he speak Kaikavian language.

  3. HAZU and IHJJ today create language policies in which they deny existence of Kaikavian language, even it the opposite was proven by Ivšič (most important Croatian linguist) and others

  4. In Croatian educational books for primary and high-schools there is no mention about Kaikavian literary language, about its 4 centuries of literature. Instead they speak of “dialect” (narječje/dijalekt).

  5. Croatian educational system teaches the content of language policies set by IHJJ and HAZU. So Kaikavian language is not taught in primary and high schools. Instead students are taught that Kaikavian dialects are dialects of Croatian Neostokavian language, and that Croatian Neostokavian is the only language that always have existed  in Kaikavian speaking area – again a blatant example of nonsense.

  6. Students in schools are not taught about common linguistic elements of Kaikavian language like accentuation, morphology or grammar – which are the elements of Kaikavian literary language. Thus students are not aware that Kaikavian accentuation and vocals exist at all, but regard them as “wrong” dialect of Neostokavian – as taught in the school (with few exceptions which are due to individual effort of very few teachers, who however can not stop the systematic glottophagy).

  7. At universities, Kaikaivan is only studied from dialectological point of view. Also here the doctrine set in socialist Yugoslavia continues: “Kaikavian dialects are dialects of Croatian Neostokavian language” – again, nonsense from scientific perspective.


The message that HAZU, IHJJ and Croatian Ministry of Education spread, that “Kaikavian is a dialect of official Croatian Neostokavian language”, is actually the barbaric programme within which remaining Kaikavian spoken language is being substituted by Neostokavian dialects since 1990.
In other words, it is a programme which performs the aforementioned glottophagy and linguicide of Kaikavian language. Kaikavian, an old Central European language, not intelligible on Balkans, is simply removed and exchanged against the Balkanian lingua franca of former Yugoslavia – the Neostokavian language.
This new Croatian language policy is a clearly discriminating policy which goes against the civilised world and scientific and cultural standards that were achieved in the last 200 years.



Back to Kaikavian language – it is the main vehicle of rich Kaikavian culture, which is tied to one of the oldest cultural traditions in Europe as it emerged in 6th century. This is evident in traditional Kaikavian customs, mythology, songs, unbroken continuity of culture, and of course in the language itself. In all these areas there are significant, old Slavic elements that were preserved in Kaikavian and are not present to such extent in other Slavic languages and cultures, though there are parallels with Russian and Ukrainian languages and culture. As such, Kaikavian language is of precious value for Cultural Diversity in Croatia and also in Europe and whole humanity. It is the mother language of Kaikavians living in Croatia, in the region where Alpine hills traverse into Pannonian valley.


Kaikavian literary language


is the polyfunctional, normed and stylistically differentiated idiom that is based on Zagreb speech8). Kaikavian literary language had the functionality of a standard language from 16th until the mid of 19th century. As such it was used in all areas of life such as business, legal, and religious areas.
Rich literature in Kaikavian literary language along with dictionaries, grammars and orthographies was produced, and is kept in national libraries across the Central Europe.
The 2nd phase of Kaikavian literary language was in the first half of 20th century, where great authors like Krleža, Fran Galovič, Dragutin Domjanič and Ivan Goran Kovačič created some of the best works of modern Kaikaivan literature.


The ISO 639-3 language code for Kaikavian literary language is kjv. It was adopted on the initiative of Kaikavian Renaissance, and was supported by distinguished academics – linguists and ethnologists.


Works in Kaikavian literary language are still being performed in public and understandable to Kaikavians.
Here are samples of Kaikavian literary language through centuries. It is visible from these sources that Kaikavians called themselves Slovenes and their state they called Slovenje still in the 17th century. Again, this was distinct from todays Slovenes, although linguistic and cultural connections existed, still today visible in the language, toponyms and names of the people. Slovenski orsag is in Latin Kingdom of Slavonia – that we see today on Croatian coat of arms. And of course this is not taught in Croatian schools for some strange reasons (denial of Kaikavian history).


Todays Kaikavian language, although not being a standardised language (e.g. like Ryukyuan in Japan also is not standardised), shares with Kaikavian literary language common linguistic characteristics, and is used in Kaikavian region in North Croatia in Kaikavian dialects.


Kaikavian language has its distinct grammar, orthography, and a system of accentuation – called fundamental Kaikavian accentuation10.All of these are linguistic features that differ from standard Croatian languageKaikavian language has its own dialects with its special vocals – diphtongues. Standard Croatian language (just like Bosnian and Serbian) has only 5 vowels, whereas Kaikavian language has at least 7 vowels (Kaikavian dialects can have and usually have more than 7 vowels). As such Kaikavian language is fully functional written and spoken language, even if not used in all areas of life. Written Kaikavian today is used mostly in poetry and stories. It is spoken mostly in informal domains, but also here it is in continuous decline – language loss on lexical, grammar, morphology and accentuation levels has been happening since 1850, and is happening right now.
On lexical level Kaikavian language is much more similar to Slovene, with which it shares many same words  – shown clearly in the table Vocabulary Comparison.
Similar or same words and morphology in Kaikavian and Slovene reflect the fact that Kaikavian and Slovene, although different, have developed closely-linked throughout the centuries, and belong to the same historical line of languages.


Kaikavian speaking area through centuries


Due to its absence from public schools in the last 150 years, Kaikavian is seriously endangered language, suffering loss of words, accents, grammar and morphology. Glottophagy or language eating is happening, where Kaikavian dialects are “eaten” and substituted by Neostokavian dialects of standard Croatian language.
As of begin of 2014. Kaikavians are still not learning their mother language at school. Learning Kaikavian language in public education is not only a cultural need but fundamental human right, as declared by UNESCO. As such it is only a matter of time until Kaikavian will be introduced again into public schools.


Karta Kajkavskega jezíka


As it can be seen on the map, Kaikavian (dark green) is spoken and written from Gorski Kotar in the West to Podravina in the East, as well as in neighbouring areas Kaikavians in Hungary. In North it is spoken in Medjimorye and Zagorye continuing to Posavina in the South.
Ancestors of Kaikavians settled down at the end of 6th century in Lower Pannonia, from Balaton lake in Hungary to the first slopes of southern Alps. Few centuries later, in the 1st half of 9th. century, there is already a proto-Kaiakvian state with prince Ljudevit who ruled from Sisek and fought against Carolingians and Southern Slavs which are associated with Croatia. His state in Carolingian sources was named Pannonia Inferior9.
Beginning of Kaikavian are set around that time, at the end of 9th century. It is after the Avarian rule ceased, and multiple Slavic states formed on, and different variants of language begin to develop. Still ancestors of Kaikavians remained close to ancestors of todays SLovene, connected along the paths of rivers and hills. Then Hungarians came, and for some 2 centuries there is not much info about Kaikavians. But in 12th century, there is again a strong state on the area where Ljudevits state was. Its centre is a little more north this time – the city of Zagreb. The Kaikavian state is named Slovene10 state, Slavonia in Latin or “Slovenje” in Kaikavian, as distinguished from Croatian state or “Harvatska” in the south. The Kaikavian state is mentioned as kingdom, and creates its own money. Just when it started to develop more – the Turks came. In the 15th century, Turks destroyed the underdeveloped Croatia, and its nobility and many of the people fled north to Kaikavian state. The Cakavian Croats were mostly assimilated, but brought the new name Croat or Horvat along, along with Cakavian dialect which also found its way into Kaikavian books. In the 16th century the name Croat started to appear often in Kaikavian kingdom. Before that, there were no Croats in Kaikavian state.
The Kaikavian Kingdom of Slovenje (in Latin Slavonia) or Kaikavian state switched its name to Horvatska at the begin of 18th century, under the influence of Croatian nobility. Kaikavian nobility was substituted by Hungarian or Croatian. Mostly clerics were for original Slovene name, but newcomers – Croatian nobility had to keep their name, if it wanted to keep their aristocratic titles. As nobility their origins were of utter importance to them, and whenever they looked for them, they said they were from Croatia – a land that disappeared under Turks.


At that time there is still no trace of todays official Neostokavian Croatian language in Kaikavian area, although it was brought to the South of Kaikavian area as lingua franca in areas under Turks. There was contact between Kaikavian and Croatian(Čakavian) language, which is evident also in Kaikavian books from 18th ct., where the latter was brought by Croatian refugees. Also there was contact to Ikavian Stokavian in Eastern Slavonia (todays Neostokavian name of Osijek was originally Ikavian Osik still in 19th ct.). Of course, Kaikavian language continued to be connected with its natural and closest language that we call today Slovene in what is today Slovenia. Dialects that are today in Slovenia like Prleški, Prekmurski, dialects around Podčetrtek then belonged to Kaikavian language, as it is shown on these pages, and even today show bigger similarities to Kaikavian language than to todays official Slovene(Kranjski).


As already stated, until the middle of 19th ct. Kaikavian literary langauge was official language in Croatia and was taught in schools. From 18th. ct. till 19th ct. it was known under the name “Horvatski” (which meant then “Croatian” but denoted only what we call today Kaikavian)11 and it was also used in neighbouring, today Slovenian counties like Prekmurje, Prlekija, and even in Austrian Gradišče (Burgenland).
Many still do not know that language used by Croats in Gradišče today is based also a lot on Kaikavian literary language. Kaikavian literary language persisted the longest in Medjimorje, where it was still taught in the 20th century until 1918. Later it was transmitted in speech and in books. But also in Medjimorje Kaikavian was removed from official use with its annexation to Yugoslavia. Despite of all these unfavourable circumstances, Kaikavian language is still alive and continues to be used and developed in 21. century – also in the virtual space. The dogma during Yugoslavian regimes was kept that Kaikavian language is only “a peasant dialect” which is far from reality, because also aristocracy like PatačičOršič and Zrinski, scientists and some of the best Croatian modern writers like KrležaIvan Goran KovačičFran Galovič and Dragutin Domjanič(president of Matica hrvatska) created their best works in their mother tongue – Kaikavian language.


1. lecture at Zagreb University in Kaikavian literary language (then called Horvatski), was held on 6.11.1832. by Matho Smodek. At this time Kaikavian was the main language in Zagreb and North Croatia. In many books, Smodek’s lecture is presented as if it was in held in todays standard Croatian, but it was in Kaikavian literary language.




Kaikavian is Croatian language, but older than today’s standard Croatian, and as such it belongs not only to Kaikavians and Croatia, but also to universal heritage and whole humanity.
Why is Kaikavian the main vehicle of Kaikavian culture?
Without Kaikavian language there would be no unique Kaikavian folks songs from Medjimorje – “Medjimorske popevke, there would be no “Ballads of Petrica Kerempuh” by Krleža, no poems of Ivan Goran Kovačič from Gorski Kotar in his mother tongue Kaikavian and no Kaikavian poems of Fran Galovič from Podravina. Followingly there would be no Kaikavians. The famous band Cinkuši orsingers Teta Liza and Gusti Dragsar could not performtheir great music, and contemporary culture scene in Croatia would be much poorer! Without Kaikavians there would be no Kaikavian Art Naive, the only authentic modern fine art from Croatia that is acknowledged internationally; there would be even no “Illirian Movement”, without which Croatia as we know it would not exist – the movement was started in Kaikavian region by Kaikavians. There would be no Zrinski as we know them, since they adopted Kaikavian language after they had migrated to Kaikavian region (Slovenski orsag) and they supported Kaikavian as they become famous among Kaikavians.
So by knowing Kaikavian language you transmit and develop this unique European tradition of Kaikavians, which is really creative and rich and alive and important, progressing continuously from 6th century!




First written sources in Kaikavian are dated around 1100. (Radho’s Bible12). The name of Kaikavian language went through 2 transitions:


  1. Slovenski. Original self-name, after the medieval  Kaikavian kingdom – S(c)lavonia/Slovenski orsag13. Untill 18th ct. (Croatia/Harvatska was at that time from the south of the Gvozd mountain and was Chakavian/Ikavian speaking).
  2. Horvatski. From 18th. until the mid of 19th ct. The name came due to the shift of noblemen from Croatia who lost all their properties to Turks and fled North to Kaikavian kingdom/Slovenski orsag where they mixed with Kaikavians.
  3. Kajkavski. From the end of 2nd half of 19th ct. Named by Slavic philologists. Pronounced like “Khay-khavs-key”.


Unlike today’s standard Croatian language which belongs to Neo-Stokavian group of languages, Kaikavian language does not belong to Neo-Stokavian group (which consists of Serbian, Montenegro, Bosnian, and Stokavian Croatian dialects – ISO 639-3 code bhs).
Kaikavian is different – it is more similar to Slovene, but has also similar sources like Čakavian (Čakavski), another language spoken in Croatia. Some vernaculars spoken in neighbouring areas in Slovenia are similar to Kaikavian, because until the 18th century they developed together with Kaikavian or under the influence of Kaikavian language. These are Prekmurian, Prlekian, Porabian, vernacular of Halože and vernacular of Podčetrtek. Together with Kaikavian dialects in Croatia they form the dialect continuum from Kaikavian to today’s Slovene. Kaikavian also shares many characteristics in its development with Western-Slavic languages like Slovac or Czech. Although it underwent somehow different development, the connections to Slovac and Polish remained – it still has same diphthongs and many same words, unlike to Stokavian.
Example: Future in Kaikavian “ja bu(de)m pisal” is constructed in the way like in Slovenian, Czech, Slovac and Polish language.
Please notice the similarity between Kaikavian and Polish expression:

The famous words by Ljudevit von Gay:
Išče Horvatska nie zginula – gda mi živemo were actually translated by him from a famous Polish song:
Ješče Polska nie zginela – kiedy my zyjemy.


First part of the sentence is almost identical in Polish and Kaikavian, and this similarity goes much further beyond common similarity of Slavic languages.


Slovak: Kde sa to dá kúpiť? Velkost 40 prosím.
Kaikavian: Gde se to da kupiti? Velikšinu 40 prosim. 


Self-name for Slovak language is Slovenski, and original self-name of Kaikavian language was Slovenski too. Also there is same form for it is not/es ist nicht in Slovak and some North-Kaikavian dialects: to je nie instead of to nieje. Also compare Kaikaviangnesfrom Bednja with gnes in Porabje in Hungary, and dnes in Czech Republic.


Kaikavian language has its own system of accentuation with 3 accents, its vocals/ diphthongs, and its own syntax and grammar by which it differs from Neo-Stokavian group but also from standard Slovene. Kaikavian was not included in current standard Croatian language13, which has its advantages, because thus it managed to preserve its uniqueness and its special characteristics, its originality and authenticity. On the other hand it is bad because as we already stated, Kaikavian is not taught at schools. The term dialectused for Kaikavian language and meant a variety of a language, was introduced in Yugoslavian times only to discredit Kaikavian language during the authoritarian regime and to remove it from teaching in schools.
This is a situation that shall change, since Kaikavians are very fond of its language and customs, they speak and sing in it even 150 years after it was abolished from official and public use, and they would like also others to learn it. Kaikavian is to some extent heterogeneous language due to variety in its dialects and accents. This varieties of Kaikavian accents were unified by Ivšič’s in his Fundamental Kaikavian Accentuation.  Below we present the main characteristics common to all or most Kaikavian dialects, a summary of what you should know about Kaikavian language.




You can download here a presentation about Kaikavian language. It is meant for public schools and universities, or for individual use:Kaikavian – main characteristics of Kakavian language.pdf

  • pronoun KAJ (kej, kuoj) meaning what



  • first written words in Rado-bible the end of 11th century
  • was official and literary language from 16th to mid of 19th century in the area that was first called Slovenski orsag / Slovenje from 11th ct. (Kaikavian Kingdom of Slavonia/regnum Sclavoniaein Latin), since 18th ct. called Horvatski orsag(or Horvatska – which was mostly the Kaikavian speaking area)
  • was used on all levels in public communication: also in legal and business matters
  • from 16th to end of 19th rich development of Kaikavian literature with its centre Zagreb.
  • literature comparable with literature in the same Central-European cultural circle (Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia)
  • Translations from English, French, Latin and German into Kaikavian (e.g. John Milton‘s Paradise Lost)
    Here is an excerpt from Paradise Lost in Kaikavian literary language, as well as excerpts from other works.
  • after the removal of Kaikavian literary language from public institutions in the 2nd half of 19th century, Kaikavian continues to be spoken and writers and poets continue to write in it, but the size of creation of literature becomes considerably smaller


however some of the best literary works in Croatia in 20th century were created in Kaikavian (literary) language, such as “Ballads of Petrica Kerempuh” by Miroslav Krleža




  • preservation of old Common Slavic words or closer sounding to them than Croatian like e.g.:
    Common Slavic: *obédъ, *sosédъ, *sêno, *têlo, *têsto
    Kaikavian lang. :  obed,      sosed,     seno,   telo,   testo 
    Croatian lang. :     objed,     susjed,   sijeno, tijelo, tijesto
  • today is spoken & written in Croatia in Kaikavian region:
    North Croatia, from Gorski Kotar in the West to Podravina in the East.
  • also in some neighbouring areas over the rivers Mura and Drava in Hungary
  • written mostly by writers and poets
  • Kaikavian plays are present in theatres
  • Kaikavian folk songs are performed in public (e.g. pentatonic Medjimorje songs)
  • Kaikavian literary language has got ISO 639-3 code kjv at the begin of 2015
  • this Portal of Kaikavian language,  
  • The biggest Facebook page in Kaikavian dedicated to Kaikavian language & culture that is regional & avant-garde is:
  • A Facebook group with 4.000 members in Kaikavian vernacular of Medjimorje exists (January 2014) Medjimorje dialect has kept most of Kaikavian literary language:
  • In general is Kaikavian underrepresented on the Internet
  • A scientific symposium is held every year in Krapina called “Kaikavian language, literature and culture through centuries” where historic and contemporary Kaikavian literature is discussed.
    But: Kaikavian is not equally present in public education and communication systems like Stokavian Croatian
  • very little of Kaikavian literature is presented in public education system
  • children are not learning Kaikavian at elementary nor at high-school
  • current goal in public education for native Kaikavian speakers is to have basic understanding of e.g. only few songs written in their native vernacular, not to learn to write or speak Kaikavian nor to learn about Kaikavian literary language


Kaikavian is incorrectly mentioned in public education as dialect of Croatian language, which contradicts linguistic reality (since Croatian is defined as standard Croatian language based on Neoštokavian dialect, to which Kaikavian does not belong). Diverse Kaikavian cultural NGOs are working to correct this error.



  • A major campaign by Kaikavian Renaissance started in 2012 to revitalize and reintroduce Kaikavian language as an important asset for Cultural Diversity and as a vehicle of Kaikavian culture and tradition: several ongoing projects initiated, more on the way.




  • Language self-name today is Kajkavski. It went through few transitions from Slovenski over Horvatskito todays Kajkavski(spelled like “khay-kavs-key”)
  • specific 3-accent system: short, circumflex, acute: ̏,   ̑,  ̃ 10
  • accent is often on penultima, possible also on ultima: bregóv, nogáj
  • Ivšič first proved unity of Kaikavian language in his work “Language of Croatian Kaikavians”10 describing 4 main Kaikavian dialect groups based on Kaikavian fundamental accentuation.
  • There is one more Kaikavian dialect of Gorski Kotar, which had a slightly different development from the other four. It can be divided in at least 2 main groups (Eastern and Western Gorski Kotar). It has archaic Kaikavian features.
  • Kaikavian has diphthongs: uo, oa, ie, .., unlike official Croatian and its dialects
  • alternation of phonemes k, g, h in the nominative plural, dative and locative cases does not occur:
    Kai: ruokaruoki, noganogi, svrhasvrhi
    (Croat. rukaruci, noganozi, svrhasvrsi). In other words, phonemesk, g, hdo not change into c, z, s, as they do in Croatian
    • this is because Kaikavian language (like Slovenian too) did not have Second Slavic palatalisation, whereas todays standard Croatian (Neostokavian) had it.
  • prothetic v– before -u and -ovusnica, vugurekvuho, vulica, vuvogel
  • prothetic jbefore vowel: jogenj, joko, Jana, jembrelo, Jambrovič
  • No soft ć nor hard č but only middle hard č
  • Plural masculine in nominative case has short sufix iobloki, brodi, kabli; unlike longer sufix-ovi in Croatian/Serbian/MonteNegrin/Bosnian
  • Only one future tense, like in Slovenian and West-Slavic languages: ja bu(de)m delal
  • Active verbal adjective in singular masculine in the 1st and 3rd person ends with -l unlike standard Croatian -o.
  • kai: ja sem delal vs Cro: ja sam radio
  • Suffix for forming comparative and superlative adjectives is ši/a/e: lep, lepši, najlepši
  • Diminutive sufix for masculine singular is mostly -ekor -ec, (plural -eki,-eci) unlike uniform Croatian (Stokavian) -ić.
  • Supine with verb of motion:
    • idi spat= supine.
    • Lepo mi je dremati = infinitive.
      no supine in Croatian
  • No vocative case (same as nominative) → no palatalisation in declension: vuok idi v krajas opposed to Croatian
  • Plural in masculine genitive case has sufix -ovdečecov, čuonov
  • Plural in genitive case looses sufix: leta → let, krave → krav; sela → sel
  • Preserved distinction between dative, locative and instrumental cases
    • DLI-distinction: D k ženam, L pri ženah, I z ženami
  • Plural 2nd person imperative has often sufix  –ete: budete
  • Same sufix in acusative case for living creatures and things: imam rad Kneza Ljudevita, imaš hamra?
  • Kaikavian has, like German and French, and unlike standard Croatian, open e:  e.g. ve, vezdasedemdevetdeset
  • Thus Kaikavian has at least two vowels, closed and open e, where open ecan have more variations of openness
    • most variations of open exist in Kaikaivan Medjimorye dialect
  • Syllabic /r/is written in Kaikavian literary langauge and today still spoken as -ercvertje, černi, čerleni, tern-ac
    • Not in all dialects though due to glottophagy
  • In Kaikavian, language merger of yers into schwa-like sound became -e, whereas in Stokavian it became -a-
    • Kai: denes, veter, pekel
    • Croatian/bhs lang: danas, vjetar, pakao
  • Preserved Proto-Slavic consonant group *čr-: črešnja
  • Open -e in Proto-Slavic sufix -me: ideme, očeme, živeme instead of suffix –mo.
    • Connection wih West-Slavic languages (e.g. Slovak)
  • Preserved Proto-Slavic form *šč: pušča, ščukati
  • Proto-Slavic forms *stji *skj manifest as  -šč: proščenje, klješča, piščalka, puščati, iščem, trešč(from treska)-> like in oldest Church Slavonic manuscript Kiev Misal
  • Secondary Proto-Slavic group stəj is -stj: listjé, kostjú, smetjé
  • Secondary Proto-Slavic zdəj is zdjgrozdje
  • Palatal rj: zorja, morje, škarje/škoar(i)je, odgovarjati
  • Another important distinction from Croatian standard language is that Kaikavian is neither “ekavian” nor “ijekavian”, nor “ikavian” language. This classification  is valid for languages of Neostokavian group, to which Kaikavian does not belong, but standard Croatian does, so it can not be used for Kaikavian language nor for Kaikavian dialects.
  • Kaikavian has 4 reflexes of Slavic yat (ě) : e, ie, ei, (i):
    • e.g. brieg, breg, breig, (brig)14
    • In Kaikavian, same word can have different yat reflexes in different cases (diete -> deteta !) which makes Stokavian distinction ekavian/yekavian inapplicable for Kaikavian language.
      Such distinction shows only that the linguists (mostly from ex-YU area) who use it, are not familiar with Kaikavian language.
  • Kaikavian language does not belong to (Neo-)Stokavian group of languages (like Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian). It forms a distinct dialectal group different from Stokavian. More similar to Slovenian & West-Slavic languages, with which it shares its early development.
  • Dialects spoken in Slovenia in neighbouring regions Prekmurje, Prlekija, Porabje and Podčetrtek were originaly Kaikavian and are still similar to Kaikavian language, since they developed either in or in close contact with Kaikavian region till the end of 18th century.
  • High degree of word borrowing from German and to a lesser degree from Hungarian and Latin.
    • Examples for German loanwords: flaša(Flasche), cukor(Zucker), hamer (Hammer), tancati(tanzen), feringe (Vorhänge), štienge(Stiege), cug(Zug), špancirati(spazieren), vanjkuš(Wangenkissen), štamperlin(Stamperl), kukarlin(Guckerle), kušnuti(küssen), nor(Narr), farof(Pfarrhof), cirkva(Kirche), meša(Messe)
    • Some Hungarian loanwords: harmica, pelda, jezero(1000), kinč/iti, tovariš
    • Latin: cinkuš, plebanuš, petrožil, bažulek(Basil)
  • Kaikavian has a huge word pool that we cannot present here in its entirety: najže, pelnica, vre, vezda, komaj, tijam, stopram, za‘ran, zorja, zutra, den, pondéljek, torek, srieda, četertek, petek, subóta, nedélja, ober čudaj cvetja večni okrepi živlenja, pozoj, husta


Here are some characteristics that are the same in Kaikavian and Western-Slavic languages like Slovak or Czech.


We would to thank from our heart (serdce) to the people who most contributed to the living Kaikavian word: all Bednjanci, Zagorci, Gorani, Turopoljci, Prigorci, Podravci, Medjimorci, Varaždinci, Jaska, Samoborci, Vivodinski kraj, Moslavina, Posavci, Zagrepčanci, Kaikavian over Mura in Hungaryand to all others who work through their talking and writing in everyday life on the progress of Kaikavian here and now – keep it doing!



  1. Street sings in Kaikavian literary language in Zagreb from times when there was no todays official Stokavian Croatian language in Zagreb and Kaikavian land:
    Please note that v-in vulicais prothetic v-, as you can see above under characteristics of Kaikavian language. Prothetic v- is typical for Kaikavian language and all of its dialects. Neither todays official Slovene nor Croatian have prothetic v-. Names in Kaikavian language on street-sign were positioned above names in German language, which shows the higher status of Kaikavian language. Obviously Kaikavian langauge had much better status in Austro-Hungarian Empire than in later Yugoslavia and todays Croatia. []
  2. Willem Vermeer 2009: The rise and fall of the kaikavian vowel system:Kajkavian must have become identifiable as separate dialect at a remarkably early moment.” Site’s editor comment: Further correspondence with Mr. Vermeer revealed that the predecessor of todays Kaikavian was distinguishable from the dialects continued by Slovenian, Cakavian and Stokavian around 900 CE +/-50. []
  3. Krešimir Filipec 2010: Drvena crkva u Loboru – najstarija franačka misionarska crkva u sjevernoj Hrvatskoj. Site-editor’s comment: Settlement of Pannonian Slavs in todays Kaikavian speaking area in 6th ct. It is archeologically and historically proven that at that time there were no Croats, who appeared in then-Kaikavian state in 10th ct. – only to be soon conquered by Hungarians themselves. Also other sources agree. Željko Tomičić does not speak either anymore about “Croats” in orince Ljudevit’s Pannonia Inferior. Consequently we can not speak of “Pannonian Croatia” before 10th ct. Yet this fantasy-term is taught in Croatian primary and secondary educational system, and still at many academic institutions. After 10th ct. we know that Kaikavian kingdom was called Slovenje or Slovenski orsag – see footnote 12) below []
  4. Josip Silić 1998: Hrvatski standardni jezik i hrvatska narječja (translated into Kaikavian language. Original: KOLO, Godište VIII, No 4, zima 1998) []
  5. Inoslav Bešker 2015: Kajkavski je književni jezik, a ne dijalekt (Kaikaivan is literary language, and not a dialect []
  6. Croatian Parliament, Članak LVIII o narodnom jeziku, 1861: “1. Jezik jugoslavenski trojedne kraljevine izjavljuje se ovim za savkoliki obseg trojedne kraljevine za jedino i izključivo službeni jezik u svih strukah javnoga života”
    English: “Yugoslovene language of the united threepart kingdom is hereby proclaimed for for the whole area of the united threepart kingdom as one and only official language in all disciplines of public life”. In “Hrvatski ban Josip Šokčevič (zbornik radova)” 2000. Zagreb – Vinkovci. p122-123. []
  7. Radoslav Katičić 1992: Novi jezikoslovni ogledi, Školska knjiga, 2. dop. izdanje, Zagreb, p. 89: “Područje mu (štokavskomu standardu) nije obuhvačalo sjeverozapadne krajeve u kojima se upotrebljavao kajkavski standardni jezik.
    in English: “Its area (of Stokavian standard language) did not include the north-western parts, where standard Kaikavian language was used“. []
  8. Lewis, Štebih 2004: Nazivi za vrste riječi u hrvatskome kajkavskome Knjževnom jeziku(link & summary in German, full article in Croatian []
  9. Willem Vermeer 2009: The rise and fall of the kaikavian vowel system:Kajkavian must have become identifiable as separate dialect at a remarkably early moment.” Site’s editor comment: Further correspondence with Mr. Vermeer revealed that the predecessor of todays Kaikavian was distinguishable from the dialects continued by Slovenian, Cakavian and Stokavian around 900 CE +/-50 []
  10. Stanko Andrić, Croatian Institute of History: Slavonija. About Kaikavian kingdom Sclavonia(Slovenski orsag or Slovenje) as successor of Prince Ljudevit’s state. In Croatian. []
  11.  Gerhard Neweklovsky 2006: Die südslawische Region / The South-Slavic area, Sociolinguistics: An International Handbook of the Science of language and society, Vol. 3, 2nd edition, Ed. Ulrich Ammon, 2006. URL: []
  12. Josip Hamm 1952: Glose u Radonovoj bibliji, Slovo: časopis Staroslavenskoga instituta, No.1, Septermber 1952; (link & summary in French, full article in Croatian) There is a text about Rado’s Bible on Croatian Wikipedia, but incorrect/inconsistent (which appears to be a common rule for Croatian Wikipedia, not keeping international academic standards), it says that Rado’s Bible would be 1st source of Croatian language. On the other side it implies under Croatian language the standard Croatian Neo-Štokavian language, so this statement negates itself, because glosses are in Kaikavian language as shown by J. Hamm, and knowing that in Zagreb until the mid of 19th century Kaikavian was the common language (1450-1860 Kaikavian literary language), then this statement on Wikipedia is as serious as stating that Rado’s bible was written by Montenegrinian Njegoš. []
  13. Vienna Literary agreement 1850: Three representatives from Croatia (aristocrat – Kukuljevič and two representatives of bourgeoisie– Mažuranič and VlachDemeter who actively disliked Kaikavian) signed with representative of Slovenia and Serbia (Vuk Karadžič), ignoring the right of Kaikavians on their own language, an agreement  that the “southern dialect” – Neo-Štokavian dialect from east Herzegovina in Bosnia – will be the new common Croato-Serbian language, and thatin this language no other languages will be mixed(like Kaikavian or Čakavian). Thus in Kaikavian Horvatska – North Croatia today – after Latin and German a new language was introduced, but this time imported from outside of Western European tradition to which Kaikavians belonged for more than 1000 years. This agreement from Vienna was put into reality by declared Serbian nationalist Đuro Daničič, who was invited by Yugoslavian Academy of Science and Arts in Zagreb (JAZU, now HAZU) to create first Croat or Serbian dictionary, which Đuro did.  He did not include Kaikavian words in it. Being ignorant of Kaikavian, he falsely thought that Kaikavian language belongs to Slovene. So-called “Croatian Vukovians”, followers of Vuk Karadžič in Croatia further “refined” the new Croatian or Serbian language (as stated above, basically Montenegrin/East-Herzegovinian vernacular) and brought it closer in tune with Vuk Karadžič’ ideas. Terms that were missing were borrowed from Russian or Czech. The reason for active word-borrowing was because Neo-Štokavian was not yet fully developed language like Kaikavian, and it missed words in many domains like medicine, business, sciences, philosophy and arts because of no such existing tradition in these domains – they simply did not develop in this predominantly rural society.Source: []
  14. Ikaivan dialect of Kaikavian language has reflex of yat in “i” and is spoken around Žumberk and Sutla in Zagorje. It is an authentic Kajkavian dialect and it was Kaikavian or in contact with it before its speakers settled down in the area they inhabit today. If they were not Kaikavian speakers, in their speech we would find at least traces of Štokavian or Čakavian accents. But there are no such traces, as already Ivšič showed, they have only Kaikavian accents (except the newer Štokavian accents which are results of Stokavization in the last 100 years).
    and Jozič, Virč, 2009: Kajkavski ikavski govor Hrebine i kajkavski ekavski govor Kupljenova – Fonološke usporednice, Filologija, No. 53. link & summary in English, full article in Croatian []

Kajkavski jezik

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