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Tomislav Maretić

Tomo Maretić: Gramatika i stilistika hrvatskoga ili srpskoga književnog jezika

Tomislav Maretić (October 13, 1854, Verőce (now Viroviticamarker), Kingdom of Hungary — January 15, 1938, Zagrebmarker, Kingdom of Yugoslaviamarker) was a renowned Croatian linguist and lexicographer.


He attended primary school in present-day Virovitica and the gymnasium in Varaždinmarker, Požega and Zagreb. After graduating simultaneously Slavic studies and Classical Philology at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Zagrebmarker in a three-year program, he passes his teacher exam for high-school teaching of Ancient Greek and Latin as primary, and Croatian as a secondary course. In 1877 he works as a probationary, and since 1880 as an assistant teacher in Velika gimnazija in Zagreb. He received his Ph.D. in 1884 in Slavic studies and philosophy with the thesis O nekim pojavama kvantitete i akcenta u jeziku hrvatskom ili srpskom ('On some changes of quantity and accent in Croatian or Serbian language'). He further specialized in postdoctoral studies in the neogrammarian centers of Leipzigmarker and Praguemarker.

He was appointed professor extraordinarius for "Slavic philology with particular emphasis on Croatian and Serbian history of language and literature" in 1886 (since 1890 ordinary professor and JAZUmarker member). In 1892 at the electional list of Magyar unionist party he was elected as a representative of Gospić, and since 1900 of Slunjmarker kotar. In the period 1915 - 1918 he served as the president of JAZU, and twice as the head of he philological-historical class of the academy, first from 1906-1913, then a second time from 1919-1928.


As a gymnasium student he published short literary works (signing as Tomislav). In the 1880s he focused on Croatian orthography and alphabet issues, having published a few papers on it (the study "Historija hrvatskoga pravopisa latinskijem slovima") in which he was laying foundations for the acceptance of phonologically-based orthography. At the end of 19th century he published two grammars: the "academic" ("Gramatika i stilistika hrvatskoga ili srpskoga književnog jezika") and gymnasium ("Gramatika hrvatskoga jezika za niže razrede srednjih škola", both in 1899) version, in which he completely directed grammatical (morphosyntactic) norm of the Croatian literary language towards the stylized Neoštokavian idiom, that was also used as base for literary Serbian. At the same time, those two grammars represent the final confrontation with the conception of standard language advocated by Zagreb philological school. Beside Ivan Broz, he was among the first Štokavian purists.

In 1907 he became editor of the massive dictionary compiled by the Academy, and until his death (from the lexeme maslo up to the lexeme pršutina) he has edited approximately 5 500 pages which makes him one of the most prolific Croatian lexicographers. He studied the language of Slavonianmarker and Dalmatian writers and folk epics. He translated works from Polish, Latin and Ancient Greek, and some of the most well-known Croatian translations of the world's literature classics (Mickiewicz, Ovid, Virgil, Homer), used in schools to this day, are his work. In order to translate the classics he formed accentual hexameter which renowned etymologist Petar Skok called "Maretić's life's work". By his beliefs Maretić is a Vukovian, the advocate of the cult of Vuk Karadžić in Croats, Croatian and Serbian linguistic unity and phonological orthography, idealizer of the "pure people's language" and of exclusively (Neo-)Štokavian basis of the Croatian standard language.

By analyzing Maretić's linguistic activity with a century-long detachment, a few points tend to crystallize: Maretić's credit for the scientific (according to the contemporary insights) analysis of Neoštokavian dialect system, writing the best grammar of standard language completely in accordance with that system, and numerous translations and editing of the Academy's dictionary have indebted Croatian culture for years to come. Therefore, it's ironical to say that Maretić's contributions (which are essential ingredients of the modern Croatian standard language) are simultaneously a part of Croatian literary language, but, looking from the perspective of Maretić's language viewpoints - have been completely discarded. Namely, the school of Croatian Vukovians, with Maretić as a foremost proponent, had several central points of advocation, three of which can be selected:
  1. Štokavian purism, i.e. complete negation and suppression of the three-dialectal dimension of Croatian language
  2. historal-linguistic nihilism, i.e. adoration of the works of Vuk Karadžić and discarding the written record of he whole Croatian literary history, both the older works, and those contemporary to Maretić
  3. fight against one of the most prominent features of Croatian literary language, namely the formative (morphological) openness and language purism manifested in the formation of Croatian counterparts for Graeco-Roman internationalisms
Those three elements alone, much more than individual orthographical or accentological solutions, distinguish standard Serbian from standard Croatian - and since Maretić was language unitarist, those three characteristics were obstacles he strove to eliminate as much as he could. History eventually showed that he ultimately failed in his purification attempts, as the rest of Croatian Vukovians did, but nevertheless neither have his opponents completely succeeded: his Serbo-Croatian grammar is still considered by most of the linguists the best Croatian grammar ever published, and the influence of Broz-Iveković's dictionary (1901) and Broz's orthography (1892), all written in ardent Vukovian tradition, cannot be overestimated.

Notable works

  • Lekcionarij Bernarda Spljećanina, JAZU, 208 pp., Zagreb, 1885
  • Nov prilog za istoriju akcentuacije hrvatske ili srpske, JAZU, 225 pp., Zagreb, 1885
  • O narodnim imenima i prezimenima u Hrvata i Srba, JAZU, 150 pp., Zagreb, 1886
  • Veznici u slovenskijem jezicima, JAZU, 299 pp., Zagreb, 1887
  • Slaveni u davnini, Matica hrvatska, 256 pp., Zagreb, 1889
  • Kosovski junaci i događaji u narodnoj epici, JAZU, 115 pp., Zagreb, 1889
  • Istorija hrvatskoga pravopisa latinskijem slovima, JAZU, 406 pp., Zagreb, 1889
  • Slavenski nominalni akcenat s obzirom na litavski, grčki i staroindijski, JAZU, 64 pp., Zagreb,1890
  • Život i književni rad Franje Miklošića, JAZU, 113 pp., Zagreb, 1892
  • Gramatika hrvatskoga jezika za niže razrede srednjih škola, Kugli, 270 pp., Zagreb, 1899
  • Gramatika i stilistika hrvatskoga ili srpskoga književnog jezika, Kugli, 700 pp., Zagreb, 1899
  • I. S. Turgenjev u hrvatskim i srpskim prijevodima, JAZU, 113 pp., Zagreb, 1904
  • Rječnik hrvatskoga ili srpskoga jezika, edited in multiple occasions more than 5 300 pages
  • Metrika narodnih naših pjesama, JAZU, 200 pp., Zagreb, 1907
  • Naša narodna epika, JAZU, 263 pp., Zagreb, 1909
  • Jezik slavonskijeh pisaca, JAZU, 88 pp., 1910
  • Jezik dalmatinskijeh pisaca XVIII. vijeka, JAZU, 92 pp., Zagreb, 1916
  • Hrvatski ili srpski «jezični savjetnik», Jugoslavenska njiva, 509 pp., Zagreb, 1923
  • Metrika muslimanske narodne epike, JAZU, 138 pp., Zagreb, 1936



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