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  • In MemoriamDalibor Brozović
  • Ranko Matasović

Dalibor Brozović, who died on Friday, June 19, 2009, was undoubtedly one of the greatest Croatian linguists of the 20th century, as well as a Slavic scholar of great international reputation. He was born on July 28, 1928, in Sarajevo, and he received most of his primary education in Zenica and Visoko in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 1939 he moved to Zagreb with his family, where he finished high school and then went on to study Slavic languages and Italian in the University of Zagreb. He graduated in 1951 and was subsequently assistant in the Academy of Performing Arts (1952–53) and a lecturer in the University of Ljubljana. When the University of Zadar was re-established, he became an assistant there in 1956. He was made assistant professor in 1958, and full professor of Slavic in the University of Zadar in 1968. He remained there until the end of his university career in 1990. From 1991 until 2001 he was the director of the Miroslav Krleža Lexicographical Institute in Zagreb, and in 1986 he became a member of the Croatian Academy of Science and Arts. He was also a member of the Macedonian and Bosnian Academies, as well as a member of Academia Europea. During his university career he lectured in many European and American universities, and he was a guest professor in the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (1969) and in the University of Regensburg (1971). He was also actively involved in politics, serving as a deputy in Croatian Parliament from 1990 until 1994; from 1990 until 1991 he was the vice-president of Croatia.

It is difficult to overestimate Brozović's influence on contemporary Croatian linguistics. He contributed to several linguistic disciplines, but his influence is most substantial in the domains of Slavic dialectology and sociolinguistics, phonology, and the history of the Croatian language, to which he devoted most of his efforts. His PhD. thesis Dialects in the valley of the River Fojnica was a ground-breaking contribution to South Slavic dialectology, not only proving the existence of the hitherto unrecognized East Bosnian Štokavian dialect, but also because it represented a major advance in the development of a structuralist approach to Slavic dialectology. His subsequent dialectological publications [End Page 3] contained detailed descriptions of several South Slavic idioms of Bosnia and Croatia. It is Brozović's lasting merit that he was able to recover, to a large extent, the original dialectal map of South Slavic dialects before the great migrations of the 16th-17th centuries. He also clearly recognized the specifics of the Western Stokavian dialect, from which the large majority of contemporary dialectal varieties of Croatian subsequently developed. The crown of Brozović's research in the history of Croatian is his paper "Hrvatski jezik, njegovo mjesto unutar južnoslavenskih i slavenskih jezika, njegove povijesne mijene kao jezika hrvatske književnosti" (Croatian language, its place among the South Slavic and Slavic languages, and its historical changes as the language of Croatian literature). Much of Brozović's career was devoted to the defence of the specifics of the Croatian literary language. In this he was never a radical; he clearly acknowledged the common traits shared by all South Slavic varieties, but he insisted on the specifics of the Croatian varieties that abound in the domain of cultural and scientific technology, which are the essential elements of the standard language. In 1967, Brozović was one of the authors of the Declaration on the Name and Position of the Croatian Literary Language, and he persisted in his views even after the Communist regime's oppressive reaction to that document, when linguistic unitarism became the official doctrine of the Communist Party.

Brozović's book Standardni jezik (Zagreb 1970) marked a new era in Croatian linguistics, and it was also very well received abroad. In that book Brozović approached the problem of standard language from the contemporary sociolinguistic point of view, clearly defining the many complex relationships that exist among language varieties and comparing the histories of standardization of the Slavic languages from several points of view. Brozović was also a pioneer of the structuralist approach to phonology. The results of his lifelong research...


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