In the Background of a Dictionary

Anja Nikolić-Hoyt; Zavod za lingvistička istraživanja HAZU
Based upon a long list of examples from Julije Benešić’s Rječnik hrvatskoga književnoga jezika od preporoda do I. G. Kovačića (Dictionary of the Croatian Literary Language from the [Croatian] Revival to Ivan Goran Kovačić), this article discusses the role of the dictionary as a social and historical testimony of the time in which it was created. The historical period (1835-1945) in which the corpus of Benešić’s Dictionary was written is interesting for several reasons. First of all, it was a time characterized by significant changes, including systematization and stabilization of the Neoštokavian standard. This means that Benešić’s Dictionary can bring to light different linguistic and non-linguistic trends in the history of the Croatian language, including the development of its distinctive identity as well as its common past with the Serbian language. Furthermore, today it is possible, taking into account the fact that Benešić’s corpus continues until the mid-twentieth century (i.e. until the establishment of socialism), to attempt to reconstruct the lexical changes that the Croatian literary language went through from the beginning of the socialist regime until its breakdown in the 1990s. But it is also to some degree possible to illuminate the lexical changes that occurred during the period of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH).
Key words
lexicography and lexicology; Dictionary of the Croatian Literary Language; Julije Benešić
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