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Ljudevit Gaj
Ljudevit Gaj (August 8, 1809, Krapinamarker, Varasd, Austrian Empiremarker April 20, 1872, Zagrebmarker, Austro-Hungary) was a Croatianmarker linguist, politician, journalist and writer. He was the central person of the Croatian national reformation or the Illyrian Movement.

His birth name was Ludwig Gay(according to Djuro Šurmin: Hrvatski preporod, vol I-II, Zagreb, 1903)[152414], [152415] and he used it exclusively in his youth,[152416] as his family was of Burgundian French descent, but Germanised through living for several generations in the Austrian Empiremarker.


He started publishing very early; his 36-page booklet on stately manors in his native district, written in his native German, appeared already in 1826 as Die Schlösser bei Krapina.[152417], [152418]

In 1830 in Buda he printed the book Kratka osnova horvatsko-slavenskog pravopisanja ("Brief Basics of the Croatian-Slavonic Orthography"), which was the first common Croatian orthography book (after the works of Ignjat Đurđević and Pavao Ritter Vitezović). The book was printed bilingually, in Croatian and German. The Croatians used the Latin alphabet, but some of the specific sounds were not uniformly represented. Gaj followed the example of Pavao Ritter Vitezović and the Czech orthography, using one letter of the Latin script for each sound in the language. He used diacritics and the digraph lj and nj.

The book helped Gaj become famous throughout the country. Suddenly he became the leader of young talented intellectuals, led by the same ideas about the Croatian language and people. When in 1834 he succeeded where fifteen years before Đuro Matija Šporer hadn't - to get the agreement from the royal government of Habsburg Monarchy to make a Croatian daily newspaper - he was already seen as the leader. Finally, on January 6, 1835, Novine Horvatske ("The Croatian News") appeared, and on January 10, it got the literary addition Danica Horvatska, Slavonska i Dalmatinska ("The Croatian, Slavonianmarker, and Dalmatian Daystar"). It was a big progress in realising the idea of marking the Croatian literature as unique. The "Novine Horvatske" were printed in Kajkavian dialect until the end of that year, while "Danica" was printed in Shtokavian dialect along with Kajkavian.

In early 1836 the publications' names were changed to Ilirske narodne novine ("The Illyrian People's News") and Danica ilirska ("The Illyrian Morning Star") respectively. This was because historians at the time hypothesised Illyrians had been Slavic and were the direct forefathers of the present-day South Slavs.

Beside the political ideologist, organizer and the leader of the reformation, Ljudevit Gaj was a writer too. The most popular poem of that time was Još Horvatska ni propala ("Croatia is not in ruin yet"), written in 1833.

Gaj's Latin alphabet

The Latin alphabet used in the Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian languages is credited to Gaj's Kratka osnova. The Slovenian alphabet, introduced in the mid 1840s, is also a variation of Gaj's Latin alphabet (the only difference is the lack of the letters ć and đ). Gaj's Latin alphabet was also one of the two official scripts used to write Serbo-Croatian until the dissolution of Yugoslaviamarker.

See also

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