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Peter Houtzagers, Slavic Department,

University of Groningen

contact: h.p.houtzagers "at"



What and why

This web page contains sound fragments from two sites that belong to the dialect area traditionally called 'Burgenland Croatian' (gradišćanskohrvatski), one in the extreme north and one in the extreme south (see the map):

(1) the dialect of the Moravian Croats (abbreviated "MC"; indicated by the black triangles symbol for Moravian Croats on the map);

(2) the Croatian dialect of Petrovo Selo near Szombathely in Hungary (abbreviated "PS"; the southeasternmost black triangle symbol for the stoji on the map).


map of the Burgenland Croatian dialects

The fragments have been taken from sound files recorded during my fieldwork in the summer of 2008. The reason for publishing these sound fragments on the internet is that there is no consensus among Croatian dialectologists as to whether these dialect have a tone opposition. Regarding the dialect of the Moravian Croats, there is also no consensus as to whether there is a length opposition in the first posttonic syllable.In my opinion, these oppositions are present, but they are not always easy to hear. I arranged the sound fragments in a specific way that will be explained below, hoping that it would make it easier for the listener to distinguish the tones and lengths. In any case, the availability of the fragments on the internet will make it possible for more colleagues and other interested people to form their own opinion on the matter of the accentual distinctions in the dialects.

This web page was announced in an article of which I am the author and that appeared in Scando-Slavica 55 (2009) pp. 147-165: "On the dialect of the Moravian Croats". In that article you will find a description of the main characteristics of the dialect of the Moravian Croats within the context of Burgenland Croatian. Information on the dialect of Petrovo Selo can be found in my article "The Croatian dialect of Petrovo Selo near Szombathely", Studia Slavica Academiae Scientiarium Hungaricae 56/2 (2011).

Accentual distinctions and their notation on this web page

The dialects have a length distinction on stressed vowels (short vs. long) and a tonal distinction (rising vs.falling) on long stressed vowels. In other words there is a three-way distinction (troakcenatski sistem) in stressed syllables:

(a) short,

(b) long and falling,

(c) long and rising.

The diacritics that are most commonly used in Croatian dialectology for indicating tone and length in such cases are (in Unicode terms, see

(a) double grave,

(b) inverted breve,

(c) tilde.


Because it is complicated to get the double grave and the inverted breve right on the internet (the examples above are in jpg format), I have chosen to use the well-known French accent signs on this page:

(a) grave (accent grave)

(b) circumflex (accent circonflexe)

(c) acute (accent aigu)

Examples: à, â, á.

There is a five vowel system. The long mid vowels are realized as opening diphthongs and will be written as such. Summarizing, we have a system in which short à, è, ò, ì, ù are opposed to long falling â,, , î, û and long rising á, , , í, ú.

In addition, the dialects have a syllabic r. I am not certain yet whether length and tone are distinctive on syllabic r and in my notation I provisionally assume that they are not. Stress on syllabic r is indicated by a preceding grave, e.g. b`rže 'quicker'.

The traditional diacritic for indicating unstressed length is the macron (horizontal dash): ā, ī, ū. Since for these combinations there do exist html codes, I shall use the macron on this page. Unstressed distinctive length occurs only in the first posttonic syllable in the dialect of the Moravian Croats, in the first pretonic in the dialect of Petrovo Selo. The macron will be written only on monophthongs, because on diphthongs it would be redundant. Summarizing, in the first posttonic/pretonic syllable short a, e, o, i, u are opposed to long ā, ie, uo, ī, ū.


Each sound file consists of a number of attestations of the same word.* For instance, file MC1 contains 11 different realizations of the word Hrvâti 'Croat' (nominative plural), pronounced by 3 different speakers, file MC2 contains 9 different realizations of hrvátski 'Croatian', pronounced by 4 different speakers. When listening to file MC1, one gets an acoustic picture of the limits between which â varies within different circumstances of sentence intonation. When after that one listens to file MC2, one gets an acoustic picture of the variation of á, and it hopefully becomes clear that, in all their variety, â and á are not the same.

The realizations of the forms in question are usually preceded and sometimes followed by some text, so that the listener can get an impression of such factors as the sentence intonation, speed, pitch, loudness, prominence, etc., which can influence the actual acoustic form.

*Different forms of inflected words have been taken together only when there is no reason to assume that they show accentual differences. For the posttonic length opposition it was much more difficult to find a sufficient number of attestations of exactly the same word-form in my material and I was forced to put together different lexemes. I did my best to combine comparable word-forms, e.g. forms from different nouns but with the same grammatical ending, the same number of syllables, etc.

Remark on the phonetic realization of the tone distinction

In descriptions of Čakavian dialects, discussions about whether or not a given dialect has a tone distinction have often been obscured by the expectation of many dialectologists that, if there is a such a distinction, the rising tone should sound more or less like the "Čakavian acute" described by Belić 1909 and Ivšić 1911. This "Čakavian acute" is characterized by a sudden jump to a higher level of pitch and loudness. For many dialectologists, the question whether or not there was a tonal opposition was reduced to the question whether or not one could hear a "Čakavian acute" of the type described here (for an analysis of this misunderstanding and its possible consequences see Vermeer 1982: 304-309). However, the rising tone in Čakavian dialects often has little in common with the "Čakavian acute". In most Čakavian dialects with a tone distinction the rising tone is better characterized as "level" than as "rising" (see Langston 2006). This also holds for the dialect of the Moravian Croats and that of Petrovo Selo.

Belić, A, 1909, "Zamětki po čakavskim govoram", Izvestija Otdelenija russkogo jazyka i slovesnosti Akademii nauk  XIV-2, 181-266.

Ivšić, Stj., 1911, "Prilog za slavenski akcenat", RadJAZU 187, 133-207.
Langston, Keith, 2006, Čakavian prosody, Bloomington.
Vermeer, Willem, 1982, "On the principal sources for the study of Čakavian dialects with neocircumflex in adjective and e-presents", Studies in Slavic and General Linguistics 2, 279-341.

Sound files

The most comfortable way to listen to the files is to use the control buttons of the embedded players below. Windows Media Player (6.4 or higher) must be installed on your computer. It can be downloaded free of charge from the Internet.

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If you wish to use another audio programme or download the sound files, you can click on "sound file". The downloadable files are in mp3 format.

The dialect of the Moravian Croats  

Files MC 1-15: the three-way tone and length opposition in stressed syllables

MC1. Long and falling a: Hrvâti (nominative plural) 'Croat' sound file

MC2. Long and rising a: hrvátski 'Croatian' sound file

MC3. Short a: hlàpac 'boy, lad' sound file

MC4. Long and falling ie: ziêli 'took' (l-participle masculine plural) sound file

MC5. Long and rising ie: liéto 'year' sound file

MC6. Short e: žèna 'woman, wife' sound file

MC7. Long and falling uo: vinuôgrad 'vineyard' sound file

MC8. Long and rising uo: duóma 'at home' sound file

MC9. Short o: dòšāf, dòšli, etc. 'arrived' (l-participle masculine singular and plural) sound file

MC10. Long and falling i: pîsāf (l-participle masuline singular), pîsat (infinitive) 'write' sound file

MC11. Long and rising i: píše (present), napísan (past participle masculine singular short form) 'write' sound file

MC12. Short i: hodìli (l-participle masculine plural) 'went' sound file

MC13. Long and falling u: ljûdi (nominative plural) 'people' sound file

MC14. Long and rising u: ljúdi (genitive plural) 'people' sound file

MC15. Short u: drùgi 'other' sound file

Files MC16-25: the two-way length opposition in the first posttonic syllable

MC16. Long posttonic a: odàšāf 'leave', nàšāf 'find', ìšāf 'go', dòšāf 'come' (all l-participles masculine singular) sound file

MC17. Short posttonic a: puótkaf 'meet' , udiélaf 'make, do', plákaf 'cry', utiékaf 'flee', táncaf 'dance' (all l-participles masculine singular) sound file

MC18. Long posttonic ie: pedèsiet 'fifty', šezdèsiet 'sixty', sedamdèsiet 'seventy', devedèsiet 'ninety' sound file

MC19. Short posttonic e: dèset 'ten', dvàjset 'twenty', tridèset 'thirty' sound file

MC20. Long posttonic uo: žîvuot 'life', vòluom 'ox' (instrumental singular) sound file

MC21. Short posttonic o: genitive plural ending -of in grònof 'crown', pàurof 'farmer', snòpof 'sheaf', hlìbof 'loaf, gospodìnof 'priest', flòšof 'bottle', hìžof 'house' sound file

MC22. Long posttonic i: člòvīk 'person' sound file

MC23. Short posttonic i: infinitive ending -it in sèlit 'move from one dwellng-place to another', cîpit 'graft', stàvit 'put', namòčit 'wet', mîsit 'knead', hìtit 'throw', hòdit 'go' sound file

MC24. Long posttonic u: tìsūć 'thousand' (genitive plural) sound file

MC25. Short posttonic u: infinitive ending -ut in tiêgnut 'pull', spomiênut 'remember', vig`rnut 'dig out', v`rnut se 'return', vìpnut 'switch off', prìgnut se 'bend over', kùknut 'look', zvìgnut '?lift' sound file

The dialect of Petrovo Selo near Szombathely 

This part of this page is under construction. Until now I only uploaded examples for the opposition falling vs. rising on long stressed vowels.

Files PS1-15: the three-way tone and length opposition in stressed syllables

PS1. Long and falling a: zlâto 'gold', znâte 'you know' sound file

PS2. Long and rising a: pláti 'he pays'sound file

PS3. Short a: (available soon) sound file

PS4. Long and falling ie: piêč 'oven' sound file

PS5. Long and rising ie: niéde 'does not go' sound file

PS6. Short e: (available soon) sound file

PS7. Long and falling uo: buôlta 'shop' sound file

PS8. Long and rising uo: duóbre 'good', duójdu 'they arrive' sound file

PS9. Short o: (available soon) sound file

PS10. Long and falling i: bolîl 'hurt', kosîl 'mow', etc. (all past tense masc. sing.) sound file

PS11. Long and rising i: críkva 'church' sound file

PS12. Short i: (available soon) sound file

PS13. Long and falling u: ljûdi (nominative plural) 'people' sound file

PS14. Long and rising u: ljúdi (genitive plural) 'people' sound file

PS15. Short u: (available soon) sound file

Files PS16-25: the two-way length opposition in the first pretonic syllable


PS16. Long pretonic a: (available soon) sound file

PS17. Short pretonic a: (available soon) sound file

PS18. Long pretonic ie: (available soon) sound file

PS19. Short pretonic e: (available soon) sound file

PS20. Long pretonic uo: (available soon) sound file

PS21. Short pretonic o: (available soon) sound file

PS22. Long pretonic i: (available soon) sound file

PS23. Short pretonic i: (available soon) sound file

PS24. Long pretonic u: (available soon) sound file

PS25. Short pretonic u: (available soon) sound file


The pictures on this page were taken from Медынцева, А.А.: Древнерусские надписи новгородского Софийского собора,1977, Москва. Both graffiti date from between 1050 and 1112.

Last modified: May 23, 2012