The reformer of the Serbian language and orthography, Vuk Stefanović Karadžić (1787-1864), one of the most notable personalities of Serbian culture, the creator of the new orthography and literary language, was born on this day in 1787.
He studied basic literacy in the village with the merchant’s relatives, then at the school in Loznica and the Tronoša monastery. In the “First Serbian Uprising”, he was the clerk of Duke Ćurčija, then a teacher in Belgrade and a customs officer on the Danube near Kladovo.
After the collapse of the uprising in 1813 and his departure for Vienna, he began collecting folk songs and intellectual creations and working in the Serbian language and orthography. He soon published the first collection of folk songs and “Pismenica” (grammar book), and in 1818 “Rječnik” (The Dictionary).
He also wrote historical testimonies, dealt with ethnography, organized research in all later Yugoslav countries, and conducted extensive correspondence.
He fought against the autocracy of Prince Miloš Obrenović and a strong front of opponents of language reform. He edited the almanac “Danica” and tried to acquaint Europe with the Serbian national treasure and past.
With his gigantic work (his work is collected in 39 volumes), Vuk Karadžić gained many supporters, but also bitter opponents. He found friends in the most prominent minds in Europe, made Serbian folk songs, culture, and history famous throughout Europe, and the prestigious University of Jena declared him an honorary doctor.
His reformist ideas prevailed in 1847, when Branko Radičević’s “Poems” was published, proof that works of art could be written in “Vuk’s language”, and Đura Daničić proved that they were justified with his work “War for the Serbian Language and Spelling”.
The whole epoch of developed Serbian romanticism was under Vuk’s influence. After 33 years abroad, his remains were transferred from Vienna to his homeland in 1897 and rest with Dositej Obradović in front of the Cathedral in Belgrade.
The fact that the Representation of the City of Zagreb in 1861 granted Vuk Karadžić the Charter of Honorary Citizen, which gave him “all the rights, freedoms and benefits as every citizen of Zagreb according to the law and the old folk custom” “.
Ivan Broz, a famous literary historian, and linguist from the second half of the 19th century, best explained Vuk’s influence on the Croatian language.
By the decision of the Parliament, the Croats took over Vuk’s model of literary language with all the elements, including the accent system.
Some linguists have been tasked with making the “instruments” of that language and textbooks.
In 1892, Ivan Broz published and printed “Croatian spelling” in the preface of which he stated that “all this could be called Serbian orthography”.
In 1899, the Croatian lexicographer Tomo Maretić published “Grammar and Stylistics of the Croatian or Serbian Language”.
“What Cicero is for Latins, Vuk is for us!” Maretić wrote.
Vuk had a street in Zagreb for more than a century, but it was renamed in 1992 because in that period Croatia severed all historical ties with Serbia and Serbs.