Native toCroatia
Slovenia (Račice, Kozina)
Native speakers
80,000 (2019)[1]
Standard forms
Language codes
ISO 639-3ckm
Croatia Dialects Cakavian.svg
Distribution of Chakavian[image reference needed]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Chakavian or Čakavian (/æˈkɑːviən/, /ə-/, /-ˈkæv-/, Serbo-Croatian Latin: čakavski [tʃǎːkaʋskiː][2] proper name: čakavica or čakavština [tʃakǎːʋʃtina][3] own name: čokovski, čakavski, čekavski) is a South Slavic regiolect or language spoken primarily by Croats along the Adriatic coast, in the historical regions of Dalmatia, Istria, Croatian Littoral and parts of coastal and southern Central Croatia (now collectively referred to as Adriatic Croatia). Chakavian, like Kajkavian, is not spoken in Serbo-Croatian-speaking regions beyond Croatia.

Chakavian was the basis for early literary standards in Croatia. Today, it is spoken almost entirely within Croatia's borders, apart from the Burgenland Croatian in Austria and Hungary and a few villages in southern Slovenia.


Chakavian is one of the oldest written South Slavic varieties that had made a visible appearance in legal documents—as early as 1275 (Istrian land survey) and 1288 (Vinodol codex), the predominantly vernacular Chakavian is recorded, mixed with elements of Church Slavic. Many of these and other early Chakavian texts up to 17th century are written in Glagolitic alphabet.

Initially, the Chakavian dialect covered a much wider area than today, about two-thirds of medieval Croatia: the major part of central and southern Croatia southwards of Kupa and westwards of Una river, western and southwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina, all the islands northwest of Mljet while substratum of Chakavian apparently existed all the way to Dubrovnik.[4] During and after the Ottoman invasion and subsequent warfare (15th–19th centuries), the Chakavian area became significantly reduced. On the Croatian mainland, it has recently been almost completely replaced by Shtokavian. It is therefore now spoken in a much smaller coastal area than indicated above.

As expected, in over nine centuries Chakavian has undergone many phonetic, morphological, and syntactical changes chiefly in the turbulent mainlands, but less in isolated islands. Yet, contemporary dialectologists are particularly interested in it since it has retained the old accentuation system characterized by a Proto-Slavic new rising accent (neoacute) and the old position of stress, and also numerous Proto-Slavic and some Proto-Indo-European archaisms in its vocabulary.[citation needed]

Another feature of Chakavian is the influence of Romance languages in its lexicon (especially from Italian, Dalmatian and Venetian).

Area of use

The use of Chakavian varies by the region where it was historically spoken. It is now mostly reduced in southwestern Croatia along the eastern Adriatic: Adriatic islands, and sporadically in the mainland coast, with rare inland enclaves up to central Croatia, and minor enclaves in Austria and Montenegro. All of those areas were in contact with Italo-Dalmatian and Eastern Romance languages, which heavily influenced it during its development.


The basic phonology of Chakavian, with representation in Gaj's Latin alphabet and IPA, is as follows:

Labial Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar
Nasal m
Plosive p   b
p   b
t   d
t   d
k   ɡ
k   g
Affricate ts    
Fricative f    
s   z
s   z
ʃ   ʒ
š   ž
Approximant ʋ
Trill r
This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. The specific problem is: Add vowels. Please help improve this article if you can. (February 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)


Chakavian dialect in Istria, by D. Brozović .mw-parser-output .legend{page-break-inside:avoid;break-inside:avoid-column}.mw-parser-output .legend-color{display:inline-block;min-width:1.25em;height:1.25em;line-height:1.25;margin:1px 0;text-align:center;border:1px solid black;background-color:transparent;color:black}.mw-parser-output .legend-text{}  Northern Chakavian   Buzet dialect   Central Chakavian   Southern Chakavian   Southwestern Istrian
Chakavian dialect in Istria, by D. Brozović
  Northern Chakavian
  Buzet dialect
  Central Chakavian
  Southern Chakavian
  Southwestern Istrian

The Chakavian dialect is divided along several criteria. According to the reflex of the Common Slavic phoneme yat */ě/, there are four varieties:

  1. Ekavian (northeastern Istria, Rijeka and Bakar, Cres island): */ě/ > /e/
  2. Ikavian–Ekavian (islands Lošinj, Krk, Rab, Pag, Dugi Otok, Ugljan, mainland Vinodol and Pokupje): */ě/ > /i/ or /e/, according to Jakubinskij's law
  3. Ikavian (southwestern Istria, islands Brač, Hvar, Vis, Korčula, Pelješac, Dalmatian coast at Zadar and Split, inland Gacka): */ě/ > /i/
  4. Ijekavian (Lastovo island, Janjina on Pelješac): */ě/ > /je/ or /ije/

Obsolete literature commonly refers to Ikavian–Ekavian dialects as "mixed", which is a misleading term because the yat reflexes were governed by Jakubinskij's law.

According to their tonal (accentual) features, Chakavian dialects are divided into the following groups:

  1. dialects with the "classical" Chakavian three-tone system
  2. dialects with two tonic accents
  3. dialects with four tonic accents similar to that of Shtokavian dialects
  4. dialects with four-tonic Shtokavian system
  5. dialects mixing traits of the first and the second group

Using a combination of accentual and phonological criteria, Croatian dialectologist Dalibor Brozović divided Chakavian into six (sub)dialects:

Name Reflex of Common Slavic yat Distribution
Buzet dialect Ekavian (closed e) Northern Istria around Buzet
Northern Chakavian Ekavian Northeastern Istria, Central Istria around Pazin and Žminj, Labin, Kastav, Rijeka, Cres
Central Chakavian
(Middle Chakavian)
Ikavian–Ekavian Dugi Otok, Kornati, Lošinj, Krk, Rab, Pag, Ugljan (except the southernmost Southern Chakavian village of Kukljica, exhibiting many shared features with Ugljan's otherwise Central Chakavian dialects), Vinodol, Ogulin, Brinje, Otočac, Duga Resa, part of Central and Northeastern Istria
Southern Chakavian Ikavian Korčula, Pelješac, Brač, Hvar, Vis, Šolta, outskirts of Split and Zadar
Southwestern Istrian Ikavian Southwestern and Northeastern ("Vodice oasis") part of Istria
Southeastern Chakavian Ijekavian Lastovo, Janjina on Pelješac, Bigova on the south of Montenegro

There is no unanimous opinion on the set of traits a dialect has to possess to be classified as Chakavian (rather than its admixture with Shtokavian or Kajkavian); the following traits were mostly proposed:

Non-palatal tsakavism

Besides the usual Chakavian (with typical pronoun "ča"), in some Adriatic islands and in eastern Istria another special variant is also spoken which lacks most palatals, with other parallel deviations called "tsakavism" (cakavizam):

The largest area of tsakavism is in eastern Istria at Labin, Rabac and a dozen nearby villages; minor mainland enclaves are the towns Bakar and Trogir. Atavism[definition needed] is also frequent in Adriatic islands: part of Lošinj and nearby islets, Ist, Baška in Krk, Pag town, the western parts of Brač (Milna), Hvar town, and the entire island of Vis with adjacent islets.

The first two features are similar to mazurzenie in Polish, where it is present in many dialects, and tsokanye, occurring in the Old Novgorod dialect.

Chakavian literary language

Since Chakavian was the first South Slavic dialect to emerge from the Church Slavic matrix, both literacy and literature in this dialect abound with numerous texts - from legal and liturgical to literary: lyric and epic poetry, drama, novel in verses, as well as philological works that contain Chakavian vocabulary. Chakavian was the main public and official language in medieval Croatia from 13th to 16th century.

Monuments of literacy began to appear in the 11th and 12th centuries, and artistic literature in the 15th. While there were two zones of Čakavian, northern and southern (both mainly along the Adriatic coast and islands, with centres like Senj, Zadar, Split, Hvar, Korčula), there is enough unity in the idiom to allow us to speak of one Chakavian literary language with minor regional variants.

This language by far surpassed the position of a simple vernacular dialect and strongly influenced other Serbo-Croatian literary dialects, particularly Shtokavian: the first Shtokavian texts such as the Vatican Croatian Prayer Book, dated to 1400, exhibit numerous literary Chakavianisms. The early Shtokavian literary and philological output, mainly from Dubrovnik (1500–1600) up to Džore Držić, was essentially a mixed Shtokavian–Chakavian idiom, mostly similar to the Jekavian Chakavian of Lastovo and Janjina.

Chakavian literature uses many words of Latin, Dalmatian, and Italian origin due to the numerous contacts with these languages.

The most famous early Chakavian author is Marko Marulić in 15th/16th century. Also, the first Croatian dictionary, authored by Faust Vrančić, is mostly Chakavian in its form. The tradition of the Chakavian literary language had declined in the 18th century, but it has helped shape the standard Croatian language in many ways (chiefly in morphology and phonetics), and Chakavian dialectal poetry is still a vital part of Croatian literature.

The most prominent representatives of Chakavian poetry in the 20th century are Mate Balota, Vladimir Nazor and Drago Gervais. In 1938, Balota's collection of poems Dragi kamen was published in Zagreb, while his only novel, Tight Country: A Novel from Istrian Folk Life, was published in 1946. The novel became a cult among Kvarner and Istrian Croats.[5] At the end of the 1980s in Istria there began a special subgenre of pop-rock music "Ča-val" (Cha wave); artists that were part of this scene used the Chakavian dialect in their lyrics, and often fused rock music with traditional Istra-Kvarner music. Notable singers in the Chakavian dialect include Alen Vitasović and Gustafi.

Recent studies

Due to its archaic nature, early medieval development, and corpus of vernacular literacy, the typical Chakavian dialect has attracted numerous dialectologists who have documented its nuances, so that Chakavian was among the best described Slavic dialects, but its atypical tsakavism was partly neglected and less studied. The representative modern work in the field is Čakavisch-deutsches Lexikon, vol. 1.-3, Koeln-Vienna, 1979–1983, by Croatian linguists Hraste and Šimunović and German Olesch.

The Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts is currently engaged in editing a multivolume dictionary of the Chakavian literary language, based on the wealth of literature written in Chakavian. More than forty dictionaries of local Chakavian varieties have been published, the largest among them including more than 20,000 words are from locations such as Split, the Gacka Valley, Brač and Vis islands, the towns of Baška on Krk and Bell on Cres.[citation needed]

Other recent titles include Janne Kalsbeek's work on The Cakavian Dialect of Orbanici near Minim in Istria, as well as Keith Langston's Cakavian Prosody: The Accentual Patterns of the Cakavian Dialects of Croatian.

Location map of dialects in Croatia and areas in BiH with Croat majority. Chakavian in blue.
Location map of dialects in Croatia and areas in BiH with Croat majority. Chakavian in blue.
Distribution of Chakavian, Kajkavian, and Western Shtokavian before 16th century migrations. Chakavian in blue. Modern state borders shown.
Distribution of Chakavian, Kajkavian, and Western Shtokavian before 16th century migrations. Chakavian in blue. Modern state borders shown.

Chakavian media



This article includes a list of general references, but it lacks sufficient corresponding inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (July 2011) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
  1. ^ Chakavian at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021) closed access
  2. ^ "Hrvatski jezični portal (1)". Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  3. ^ "Hrvatski jezični portal (2)". Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  4. ^ Ivo Banac; (1984) The National Question in Yugoslavia: Origins, History, Politics p. 47; Cornell University Press, ISBN 0801416752
  5. ^ "Mirković, Mijo". Croatian Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 21 March 2021. Retrieved 21 March 2021.

General references