Montenegrin authorities introduce new alphabet

PODGORICA -- The Montenegrin language and literature textbooks will, starting this fall, feature an alphabet of 32, instead of 30 letters, said reports.

A view of the town of Podgorica (file)
A view of the town of Podgorica (file)

The Serbian language is written in Cyrillic, with a Latin variant also in use, while each consists of 30 letters.

Podgorica-based daily Vijesti writes today that two new Montenegrin language letters - "žj" and "šj" - which have thus far been used in non-standard and vernacular pronunciation, will be declared grammatically correct and in line with literary standards.

The letter "đ", meanwhile, "will find broader usage in writing", it has been decided.

Although the new alphabet has been introduced to the Montenegrin language studies, writes the daily, the newly promoted letters are yet to find their way to textbooks covering other subjects.

The article adds that third graders in Montenegro will learn the difference between standard and non-standard language, and notes that children "will still be taught that they must use existing cases".

Meanwhile, in the northern town of Berane, the Serbian Language Education Board called on parents of Serbian speaking students not to buy new Montenegrin language textbooks.

The board, founded by two local NGOs, said that unless an agreement was reached on equal treatment of the Serbian language by the start of the new school year they would organize a boycott of classes.

The board has requested that Serbian speaking children should receive education using textbooks written in the Serbian language, and Cyrillic alphabet.

The authorities in Montenegro decided to this year introduce Montenegrin as the the official language in the country's educational institutions curriculum.

A census conducted in Montenegro earlier this year showed that 43.88 percent of its citizens spoke Serbian as their mother tongue, while 36.97 identified themselves as Montenegrin speakers.

According to statements from officials and parties made in Podgorica on Monday, an agreement was reached on ways to resolve the language controversy.