As of late 2017, Montenegrin was officially declared an ‘ISO’ language code, with the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) recognising Montenegrin as a new language. The National Library of Montenegro were triumphant after a nine-year process to gain language independence and acknowledgement.
There had been a dispute over the status of the Serbian language in independent Montenegro since 2007, a year after the country split from Serbia. This is when it adopted a new constitution that named the official language of the country as Montenegrin. The language has been official in the country’s education system from 2011, although the vast majority of people have continued to use the Serbian language Montenegrin developed from.
The battle continued for such length due to the language not passing initial tests which define a language as being completely different to that of another language. The debate was about Montenegrin being a Serbian variant, as opposed to being identifiable as a unique language. Once Montenegrin was acknowledged as an official language, this removed the stigma. The new language contains similar letters and words of its derivative, but the alphabet now contains 32 letters, compared the Serbian language which contains 30.
The National Library reported their delight at being truly independent, but the language is still in its infancy. We have noticed small projects coming into fruition for the language, in translation and interpretation, but demand is currently very low.
In 2011, at the last consensus, just under half of the population in Montenegro were speaking Montenegrin, with the mass mainly speaking the Serbian. Over time this may change as the language establishes and is integrated into the educational system.
At thebigword we now formally recognise Montenegrin. The language is now available in our systems and we welcome any native-Montenegrin speakers to join our linguist community.