Exploring Croatian Language – The Southwestern Kajkavian Dialect

Lauren Simmonds

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We’ve explored many of the dialects, subdialects and indeed languages in their own right as some linguists consider them to be which are spoken across modern Croatia. From the Dubrovnik subdialect (Ragusan) in the extreme south of Dalmatia to Northwestern Kajkavian in areas like Zagorje, the ways in which people speak in this country deviate from what we know as standard Croatian language enormously. That goes without even mentioning much about old DalmatianZaratin, once widely spoken in and around Zadar, Istriot, or Istro-Venetian

With so much variation of what standard Croatian is, you won’t be surprised to learn that there are dialects in dialects, and then subdialects thrown in the mix as well. While Kajkavian is a dialect, one of the main ones making up standard Croatian, it has numerous dialects of its own, including the Northwestern dialect, and the Eastern one. In this article, I’ll talk about the Southwestern Kajkavian dialect, which was, like many others, once much more widely spoken than it is today.

Where can the Southwestern Kajkavian dialect be heard?

Delving back into the not so distant past, the Southwestern Kajkavian dialect could be heard being spoken across the old area of the wider Zagreb County, with the exception of its very outskirts where Prigorski was primarily spoken. It has several subdialects of its own which certain linguists consider to instead be dialects in their own right.

Fast-forward to the modern day, it is still spoken in the area of Posavina from Zagreb and to the area in which Jekavian (the southern dialect) is primarily spoken in the areas of western Slavonia and along the modern-day Croatian border with neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina. Heading further up north, the spoken Southwestern Kajkavian dialect extends to the area of Moslavina, where it borders the Eastern Kajkavian dialect.

Outside of Croatian borders

While of course not the same, the dialects spoken in Austria’s Gradisce (Burgenland) and Romania’s Karasevo are believed to originate from Southwestern Kajkavian. Karasevo in particular is known for its Croatian residents (the Krashovani).


For more on the Croatian language, including history, dialects, subdialects and even extinct languages, make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle section. An article on language (even on how to swear in Croatian) is published every Monday.


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