Yugoslavia Table of Contents
The three official languages of Yugoslavia were Serbo-Croatian, Slovenian, and Macedonian. Serbo-Croatian has an eastern and a western variant; it is written in the Latin alphabet in Croatia and in the Cyrillic alphabet (see Glossary) in Serbia and Montenegro (see fig. 8). Both alphabets are used in Bosnia and Hercegovina. Ironically, the Croatian literary variant is closer to the language spoken by most Serbs and Montenegrins than to that spoken by most Croats. Like Serbo-Croatian, Slovenian, which uses the Latin alphabet, became a literary language in the nineteenth century. Macedonian, which has elements of both Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian, obtained a standardized Cyrillic-based alphabet and orthography only after World War II.
In order of usage, Yugoslavia's most significant minority languages included Albanian, Hungarian, Turkish, Bulgarian, Romanian, Italian, Vlach, Czechoslovak, Slovak, Ruthenian, and Gypsy. The Constitution guaranteed members of the nationalities the right to use their own language and alphabet, including the right to use it in public affairs and before government agencies. The nationalities also received the option of education in their native language through high school or vocational school (see Education , this ch.). Children attending such schools were required to study one of the three official Yugoslav languages. In 1990 the government of Serbia filled a gap in this guarantee by opening the first Gypsy-language primary school in the world. In the 1970s, the government eliminated the requirement that schoolchildren study a second official Yugoslav language; this change caused a steep drop in the number of Slovenian and Albanian students who learned Serbo-Croatian and threatened to isolate some Slovenian and Albanian communities.
Data as of December 1990