Abe Opincar wrote on Facebook:

My FB pal, John Emerson, read that Bela Bartok’s mother was of “Bunjevcian descent but considered herself Hungarian.” Unfamiliar with the term, “Bunjevcian,” Emerson turned to Wikipedia for clarity. What he found was the sort of ethnological maze that overwhelms folks unfamiliar with the Balkans, and confuses even Balkans themselves…

Wikipedia says:

Bunjevci (Serbo-Croatian: Bunjevci / Буњевци, pronounced [bǔɲeːʋtsi, bǔː-]; singular masculine: Bunjevac / Буњевац, feminine: Bunjevka / Буњевка) are a South Slavic ethnic group living mostly in the Bačka region of Serbia (province of Vojvodina), southern Hungary (Bács-Kiskun County, particularly in the Baja region), and in Croatia (e.g. Senj and surroundings, East-Slavonia, West-Srijem: Ilok, Vukovar, Županja, Vinkovci). They presumably originate from western Herzegovina, whence they migrated to Dalmatia, and from there to Lika and Bačka in the 17th century. Bunjevci who remained in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as those in modern Croatia today maintain that designation chiefly as a regional identity, and declare as ethnic Croats. Those who emigrated to Hungary were largely assimilated, and assumed Hungarian or Croatian designation. Bunjevci are mainly Roman Catholic, and speak the Štokavian dialect of the Slavic language Serbo-Croatian (pluricentric language) with Ikavian pronunciation with certain archaic characteristics. In the 18th and 19th century they made up a significant part of the population of Northern Bačka, but the majority assimilated with other larger minority groups in the Balkan region. […]

In Hungarian their name is bunyevácok, while in German Bunjewatzen. According to Petar Skok they also called themselves in Bačka as Šokci (sing. Šokac), while Hungarians in Szeged also called them as Dalmát (Dalmatians; Dalmatini), which they also used for themselves in Hungary. In addition, the term meant Catholic (Croat) population from Livanjsko field up to Montenegro which was mostly considered by the neighbor Serbian Orthodox population, while at Peroj in Istria it was a pejorative name for Croats as well pobunjevčit pejoratively meant “become Catholic”. In the 20th century hinterland of Novi Vinodolski, called as Krmpote, the Primorje (Littoral or Coastal) Bunjevci were economically less powerful rural population and hence it had an attribution of “otherness” with negative connotation by urban citizens. Compared to Sveti Juraj they were more powerful and refused to call themselves Bunjevci because of such broad connotation and rather used “Planinari” (Mountaineers), and the citizens name “Seljari” had negative and mockery connotation by Bunjevci. In the territory from Krmpote to Sv. Marija Magdalena in North Dalmatia there also existed multilayered regional identities Primorci and Podgorci, local Krmpoćani, while the subethnic term Bunjevci loses identity on the boundary with Velebit Podgorje. […]

The etymological derivation of their ethnonym is unknown. There are several theories about the origin of their name. The most common is that the name derives from the river Buna in central Herzegovina, their hypothesized ancestral homeland before their migrations. However, although preserved in Littoral and mostly in Podunavlje branch folk oral tradition, linguists generally dismissed such derivation. Another theory is that the name comes from the term Bunja, a traditional stone house in Dalmatia similar to Kažun in Istria, meaning people who live in such type of houses, from personal name Bunj deriving from Bunislav or Bonifacije, Romanian personal name Bun from Bonus from which derives toponym Bunić near Gospić, and pejorative nickname Obonjavci which is recorded since 1199 in Zadar probably meaning soldiers without order and discipline.

It makes your head spin! (We’ve mentioned the Bunjevci a couple of times at LH, in Triplex Confinium and “Bosnian” in Novi Pazar.)


  1. Oddly, I was just in Sombor, in the Bačka region of Serbia, this week. I had no idea it was historically part of a place called “Bačka”, locals I talked to never mentioned that name. The people I interacted in for the most part seemed proudly “Serbian” as their primary identity. The potted histories in the pamphlets in my hotel did not mention Bunjevci either. Sombor is a pleasant town, with charming Habsburg-era municipal buildings, tree lined streets, some surprisingly good restaurants and the occasional Yugo or Zhiguli still putting down the street. But like a lot of Balkan and Central European towns, I got the impression it is better to tread carefully around discussions of recent history and nationality. The fact that several once beautiful old Catholic churches in the region appeared to be in disrepair and abandoned provided a weird discordant note to the carefully maintained Orthodox churches and Serbian-marked historical buildings.

  2. PlasticPaddy says

    Re the name, it seems to me it could be from a verb like kovacs from *kovati. So what about *bunjevati “to rebel”–would seem to fit people who fled Turkish rule…

  3. Kazun, related to casa, means little house, I read. Some other great names are here::

    >The local Hvar version of a stone field shelter is called a trim (pronounced treem)…

    >All up and down the Croatian coast similar stone shelters can be seen. Over by Šibenik and Zadar, they have square versions as well as round ones, and they’re known as bunja. In Istria, they’re known as kazun, and on Krk, they’re called komarda. This type of stone field shelter is, in fact, very widespread all the way around the Mediterranean, and as far north as Scotland and Ireland. Stone buildings really last!

    Another page gives another detail – “built with drystone technique, without any mortar.” Lending credence to its suggestion that a bunja/kazun is a “small field shelter” rather than a residence. This undercuts the idea an ethnic group would be named for them. It’d be like calling yourselves the barn-folk, or worse, the outhousers.

    But maybe someone will have more info. I wonder what the etymology of bunja is.

  4. It’d be like calling yourselves the barn-folk, or worse, the outhousers.

    Perhaps the ethnic group of Arthur “Two Sheds” Jackson.

  5. Two sheds? That were luxury, that were! We lived in a shoebox in’t middle of ‘t road.

  6. John Cowan says

    Two sheds? That were luxury, that were!

    It would be luxury, had he had them, but as he had not, it was not; the mere intention to have is not equivalent to having.

    We lived in a shoebox in’t middle of ‘t road.

    Ye didna.

  7. John Emerson says

    I went through the Wiki several times . The two constants seemed to be that Bunjevski are Catholics speaking a South Slavic language (not necessarily Croatian but often called Croatian). They could be anywhere but often were in places dominated by non- Bunjevski, either non-Catholic or non Slavic or both. Finally, identification as Bunjevski was weak and many identified themselves as something else, e g Hungarians.

    I saw no evidence that there was a Bunjevski homeland. It was more like a type of person.

    My final conclusion was that the Bunjevski were very close to the line separating ethnic groups that actually exist from ethnic groups that don’t, really.

  8. John Emerson says

    I also suspect that the Wiki article was written by more than one person and not well edited, and that perhaps an ESL author or even machine translation was involved.

  9. The talk page for the WP article tries very hard to keep from devolving into nationalist yelling, with mixed success.

    From Why Bunjevci did not Become A Nation: A Case Study (here):

    ‘Bunjevci are people of Norman origin.’ ‘Bunjevci are indigenous pre-Slavic population of the Roman province Transdanubia, at the time called Dardans.’ ‘Bunjevci are Ilirs. They are catholici Valachi alias Bunievczi.’ ‘The core of Bunjevci people are old Roman inhabitants.’ ‘Bunjevci are Morlachs or Vallachs from Dalmatia and Herzegovina, who were Slavenized and accepted the Catholic faith.’ ‘Bunjevci originated from Bosnia and were members of the Bosnian Church, so called Bogumils, led to Vojvodina by Franciscan monks under the condition of accepting Catholicism.’ ‘Bunjevci are Serbs from Bosnia, converted by force to Catholicism, who then migrated to Vojvodina.’ ‘Bunjevci have always been Catholics, they are a Croat tribe, dispersed in Herzegovina, Dalmatia and Vojvodina.’ ‘Bunjevci are the fourth South Slav nation, besides Slovenes, Croats and Serbs.’ These are some of the ‘theories’ about the origin of Bunjevci, a small ethnic group situated in the northwest of present-day Vojvodina, a province of Serbia. Disputes over the status of Bunjevci have a long history. They date back to the 19th century, the time when nationalist movements were spreading across the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but their ‘national status’ has remained ambiguous ever since. The nationalist mobilizations sweeping through the former Yugoslavia during the 1990s have revived an almost century-old debate on the national status of the group. It has been argued that Bunjevci belong to the Croatian nation; that they are ethnic Serbs; and, conversely, that they constitute the ‘fourth South Slav nation’ of the country. The dispute has become considerably politicized, especially since the Yugoslav authorities included the category of ‘Bunjevac’ into the census in 1991, and the question on ethnic group affiliation was reanimated also in the census of April 2002. The paper examines the reasons for the group’s ambiguous status in contemporary political discourse.

  10. Re: Obonjavci. Similar enough in sound to Russian обоняние (sense of smell), which comes from об-вонь the latter being “bad smell” in modern Russian, but “smell” in general historically, apparently of some IE pedigree. Maybe obonjavci means “smelly”. (Because internet: joke)

    Буняк is a reasonably common Ukrainian name (from Podolia, Volyn, that sort of thing; mathematician Bunyakovsky managed to get 2 suffixes, which is just par for the course: Poniatowski, Razumovsky…). It has an entry in Brockhaus and Efron with this explanation not without some interest (deepl with my little help)

    the hero of Little Russian fairy tales, whose name recalls the Polovtsian khan Bunyak, who ravaged the Russian regions at the end of the 11th century. In the localities of the Dnieper the same person is also mentioned in the historical legends and songs recorded by Kolberg: “Pokucie” (I, 345-346). The Little Russian legend about B. according to Halansky (“Great Russian epic tales”, pp. 36-37), was formed under the direct influence of Caucasian and, probably, Circassian tales and customs.

  11. Christopher Culver says

    Your experience is typical, Vanya, though in that case many people are likely quite aware of things but refusing to acknowledge them. But as someone who spends nearly every summer cycling through the rural Western Balkans, I find there has been an enormous amount of cultural homogenization in the last decades. The scholarly literature from as late as the 1980s or even 1990s denotes certain villages as still having many active speakers of a minority language or using certain regionalisms. Yet when you inquire at the village shop or to local people who invited you in, the locals have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. They’ll claim that their village always spoke only the majority language in the (clearly television and YouTube-influenced) way they do now. It’s not that they’re hiding it out of shame or ethnic enmities either, either. It is just ignorance, as you discover if you manage to meet like the one person in the village who is interested in local history.

  12. [bǔɲeːʋtsi, bǔː-]


    Just like that? Without any devoicing?

    What do you hear here?

  13. Bunjevci as a nation are a product of the Hungarian divide et impera policies in the Austro-Hungarian times. And here’s how. {apologies for the longish post}

    The Hungarian government generally tried to deny that they had Slovenian (who they called Wends) and Croatian (who they called Bunjevci & Šokci – these are regional names like Geordie in England) populations in their southern counties. Why? Well it’s not a good idea to ackonwledge that there is a compact population of “foreigners” straddling your border when you are trying to create a nation state.

    The Hungarian govt propaganda went so far that they try to create separate languages based on local dialects. These languages were only used in the first few classes of school, to be replaced by Hungarian in higher classes, as part of a Magyarisation process.

    Anyway, after the Treaty of Trianon, these areas were incorporated into the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.

    The so called Wends are now free to call themselves Slovenes. They live in the region of Prekmurje in the Republic of Slovenia. With Šokci & Bunjevci, the situation is different: They lived on the other side of the Danube, and they ended up in the Serbian-controlled “Autonomous Province” of Vojvodina.

    During Yugoslavia (1918-1990) they usually self-identified as Croats, but after 1990, they were subjected to atrocities, including forced deportation in some cases. Since then, the Serbian government has adopted the divide et impera strategy of the old Hungarian Kingdom and has tried to encourage and create new national identities. So, for the Croats of Vojvodina, they have encouraged them through financing and other means (job preferences, etc) to declare themselves as Bunjevci or Šokci, as the case may be. The Serbian govt propaganda has influenced some Bunjevci, but not the Šokci.

    It’s a bit like saying the Geordies and the Brummies in England don’t speak English and are a distinct nation different from the English. And that they all come from the same Saxon stock.

    The Serbian govt tried the same thing with the population of Kosovo after 1990, where they created two or three more nationalities, as part of the same divide et impera policy. One of these was the “Egyptians”!

    In contrast, the Burgenland Croats who live in Austria are free to self-identify as Croats, despite having their own regional names (like Štoji) and despite having a standard literary language that is different to standard literary Croatian.

  14. Yet when you inquire at the village shop or to local people who invited you in, the locals have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. They’ll claim that their village always spoke only the majority language in the (clearly television and YouTube-influenced) way they do now. It’s not that they’re hiding it out of shame or ethnic enmities either, either. It is just ignorance, as you discover if you manage to meet like the one person in the village who is interested in local history.

    The same applies to northern Greece, which used to be full of different linguistic and ethnic groups (cf. macédoine). Villages that spoke a Slavic language a century ago now claim to have been pure Greek since ancient times.

  15. Christopher Culver says

    Is the distinction of an “Egyptian” ethnicity in Kosovo really a Serb plot? Even within the Republic of Albania, the local “Gypsy” population is commonly referred by local media as “Roma and Egyptian”, because some of these groups are really insistent on being called Egyptian and don’t want to be called Roma.

  16. Is it a plot?

    The government of that well-known supporter of human rights, Slobodan Milošević, used to put out announcements how they are the first to recognise and protect the Egyptians of Kosovo.


  17. David Marjanović says

    East Frisian was similarly forgotten very quickly.

    Is the distinction of an “Egyptian” ethnicity in Kosovo really a Serb plot?

    My dad – ambiguously Serb, definitely not Croat – seems to have no concept of anything in history and current politics ever happening either by chance or by people’s own free will. No, everything benefits somebody, so logically it must have been engineered by the future beneficiaries.

    So, to this particular question, I think his answer would be “why wouldn’t it be?”.

  18. The same applies to northern Greece, which used to be full of different linguistic and ethnic groups (cf. macédoine).

    That reminds me of:

    Tutejszy (Polish pronunciation: [tuˈtɛjʂɨ]; Belarusian: Тутэйшы, romanized: Tutejšy; Ukrainian: Тутешній, romanized: Tuteshniy; Lithuanian: Tuteišiai; Latvian: Tuteiši) was a self-identification of Eastern European rural populations, who did not have a clear national identity.[1] The term means “from here”, “local” or “natives”.[1][2] This was mostly in mixed-lingual Eastern European areas, including Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, and Latvia, in particular, in Polesia and Podlachia.


  19. @David Marjanović: There was actually a concerted campaign (starting surprisingly early in the nineteenth century), to Prussianize Ostfriesland.

    And somehow, I find “ambiguously Serb” just intrinsically funny sounding.

  20. It’s like being gender-fluid, only along the axis of Serbo-Croatianity.

  21. Yugofluid.

  22. (If I have already shared this story with the Hattery I apologize; and yes, it might fit better in the “”Bosnian” in Novi Pazar” thread):

    About two decades ago, at a Canadian University “de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme”, as a certain writer might have put it, foreign students would occasionally have a bake sale, offering various home-made “national” culinary specialties. One day a group of students from Bosnia-Herzegovina had a stand where they were selling their food from (VERY good cookies, as I recall): I began chatting with them and, playing dumb, I asked (since I was well aware that they would probably not react well to having their language called “Serbo-Croatian”) what the language of Bosnia-Herzegovina was.

    Their answer? “Slavic”.

    Well, they were neither lying nor wrong…

  23. That’s hilarious, and if you’ve told it before, I’ve entirely forgotten.

  24. Slavic is an endonim: dated, but familiar.

    Compare Slovenia, Slovakia, Slavonia and co.
    So for me this answer sounds more like (but not entirely so) “Arabic” instead of “Urban Coastal Tunisian Arabic”. (I am just describing my instinctive reaction, not making any point in the context of the debate in the other thred. The point here is: still an endonym).

  25. Are you suggesting that Bosnians call their language “Slavic” among themselves?

  26. David Marjanović says

    There was actually a concerted campaign (starting surprisingly early in the nineteenth century), to Prussianize Ostfriesland.

    I didn’t even know that; I mean the extinction of the actual East Frisian language in Ostfriesland and Groningen from the 15th to the 18th century* and its replacement by Very Low German Indeed.

    * minus the island of Wangeroog(e) in the sea, extinct in 1953, and the Catholic island of Saterland in a bog, “several thousand adult speakers” but “not learned by children” according to Wikipedia.

  27. I said: “dated, but familiar”, “not entirely so”.

    Speakers of many languages of the world do not call their langauge in any particular way. Just ‘ours’. Among themselves people never ask this sort of questions. They ask “does this guy speak […]?”. Russians usually use “Russian”. Sometimes they use по-нашему. What I am saying: this particular Slavic speaker, if he were playing a game where he can’t use the word “Russian” (OR speaking to someone who has heard about Slavs but not Russia… a time traveller), would consider “Slavic” and to an extent it would be spontaneous. Compare “Christian” vs. “Orthodox”. Compared to “Christian”, “Slavic” is uncommon. But it is still an identity rather than an abstraction.

  28. Speakers of many languages of the world do not call their langauge in any particular way.

    True as a general statement, but definitely not true of inhabitants of Former Yugoslavia. There can be few people on earth who have had more occasion to debate and reflect on the name(s) of their language(s).

  29. Oldy but goody (with more explanations in subsequent comments).

  30. All right.

    “Nauk karstianski za narod slovinski, by Matija Divković, the first Bosnian printed book. Published in Venice, 1611”

    From Proto-Slavic *slověnьskъ. Originally this word was simply the Ikavian variant of slòvēnskī, slòvjēnskī, but it was later borrowed into the other dialects and developed narrower meanings, analogously to the development of Slovene slovénski and Slovak slovenský from “Slavic” to “Slovene”, “Slovak”.

    (archaic) pertaining to the central western South Slavic people, the speakers of Serbo-Croatian, including the people today known as Croats, Serbs, Bosniaks, Montenegrins, etc.
    (archaic) Serbo-Croatian (pertaining to the Serbo-Croatian language)
    (archaic, in masculine, substantive) the Serbo-Croatian language
    (archaic) Slavic, in the wider sense

    Etymology 2
    (in masculine, substantive) the Slovincian language

  31. I forgot about Slovincian! In Slovenčina it’s called Severoslovanská slovinčina or Severná slovinčina. In Slovenščina it’s called Slovinščina.

  32. Russian: My freind (several of them, actually) visited Kiev in 2014
    A drunkard asked money for vodka. My freind refused to give it and the guy said; ‘ты что, не русский?’.


  33. I forgot about Slovincian! In Slovenčina it’s called Severoslovanská slovinčina or Severná slovinčina. In Slovenščina it’s called Slovinščina.

    Me too:(
    I once compiled a table: names of -slav-/-slov- entities in main Slavic langauges….
    Russian names for Slavic, Slovak, Slovenian, Slavonian…
    [….]ian names for …
    Slovak names for…
    Slovene names for …

    It featured Slovincian too, but I forgot it:(

  34. David Marjanović says


    How downright clumsy. In enlightened places like western Europe and the US, you let people apply, then you look at their names or listen to their accent, and then you tell them the apartment is unfortunately no longer available.

  35. drasvi: is that use of “Slavic” meant to imply, “we’re broad-minded, we’ll take Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians…”?

  36. It means “No Caucasians or Central Asians need apply.”

  37. Right, but framed as inclusive. Like the bumpersticker, “I like all kinds of music: both Country and Western.”

  38. PlasticPaddy says

    @dm, hat
    You might like this video:

  39. @Y: I make no claim that this is the original version of that joke, but it is certainly the most famous example.

  40. @Etienne

    Doesn’t surprise me.

    Here in Australia, it is common for the pre-WW2 immigrants to say that they speak Yugoslav (or Slav for short).

    Identity is a multi-layered thing.

    I tend to consider myself Dalmatian when I’m in Croatia, Western Australian or Croatian-Australian when I’m in Australia, and Australian when I’m anywhere else.

    The Slav languages are so closely related that in 19th century philology, it was a common view that there is only one Slavic language with 4 dialects: Russian, Polish, Bohemian and Illyric.

  41. @drasvi

    Wikipedia bias warning:

    Nauk krstijanski belongs to the so-called Franciscan literary tradition, which is part of the Croatian literary corpus. It looks like it’s being coopted as part of the Bosniak language.

    I recall reading a part of it to a church-going cousin of mine who, nonplussed, said “yeah? That’s what we sing at church.”

    Divković was born and worked in what was then the Ottoman sanjak of Bosnia, and worked in the Franciscan province of Bosnia Argentina. The territory of Bosnia Argentina included not just today’s Bosnia and Hercegovina, bur also large parts of today’s Republic of Croatia.

    That is the extent to which Nauk krstjanski is Bosnian. It’s a bit like saying that the first Warwickshire printed book is Shakespeare’s First Folio.

  42. It happened organically, but its still kind of funny that with two threads getting most of the posts today, we’re discussing Bosnia in the one that doesn’t have Bosnian in the title.

  43. My freind in 90s was walking in night. A drunk and agressive looking man approached him: “Are you an Azer?” (derogatory for Azeri) “No, I am a Jew” he answered mechanically. “Ah!! A Jew! That’s great! I thought you are an Azer!” – the man smiled.
    My friend immediately hated himself. “Why did I answer at all? And if I were an Azer, then what?”

    Thinking about this, his great grandfather was a Jew from today’s Azerbajjan. His (great grandfather’s father) even stole grandmother of my friend’s grandmother.

  44. Normally: you click “click to edit”, your comment becomes a form with editable content, and there are “save”, “cancel”, “delete” buttons below. You edit it and click “save”.

    (a responce to V, who seems to have deleted his/her comments, accidentally or not).

  45. David Marjanović says

    You might like this video:

    The acoustics are so bad I don’t get the joke.

  46. PlasticPaddy says

    Sorry. The Australian accent can be a bit hard for others. The seller/renter meant ” no agents” but the newspaper printed ” no Asians”

  47. It is one of Great Mysteries of English: how do English speakers discuss rent. Rent (from). Rent (to). It rents:/
    Russian advertisments are sdam “I-will-rent” (lit. I will give over) and snimu, sometimes snimem, “I (we)-will-rent” (lit.: “take off”). They now have become names of respective cathegories in newspaper classifieds.
    And I failed to translate these two:/

  48. Are you suggesting that Bosnians call their language “Slavic” among themselves

    Etienne’s anecdote is two decades old. These days “Bosanski” is the term used by the Muslim population.

  49. I think they knew the term back then as well. The question is why they did not use it.

    Not informative?*
    They wanted a cover term for all communities?
    They were Croats or even Serbs?

    * compare again the example about “Tunisian” and “Arabic”: “Arabic” is imprecise, but “Tunisian” is useless for those who want to know what is spoken in Tunisia. “Local Arabic variety(es)” is correct and informative at once.

    “Local Arabic varieties, Berber in a couple of places, sometimes French and basically anything, because we have tourists, relatives, watch TV and browse the Internet: see, we are speaking in English now” would be even more precise.

  50. zyxt, I was browsing “Bosnian language” in hope to find anything about colloquial pre-war names. But it has this illustration and the illustration has slovinski, so I looked it up in Wiktionary and Wiktionary confirms that a name “Slavic language” is a thing, even if dated, not just for me, but for people of the region.

    Nauk krstijanski belongs to the so-called Franciscan literary tradition, which is part of the Croatian literary corpus. It looks like it’s being coopted as part of the Bosniak language.

    If we agree that the situation is complicated, no way we can avoid overlaps. Jewish Kafka wrote in German in Prague. Sacher-Masoch did that in Lviv. Nabokov wrote in English and Nava’i is “Uzbek poet” in Uzbekistan and Turkic poet for other Turkic speakers.(Al-Khwarizmi is an Uzbek scientist in Uzbekistan too).

    I imagine, one reason to call it “Bosnian” is “iz iezika diačkoga u pravi i istiniti iezikЬ bosanski” (here, second picture). The Internet says there is also »slovinski kako se u Bosni govori«.

  51. There was actually a concerted campaign (starting surprisingly early in the nineteenth century), to Prussianize Ostfriesland.
    What are your sources for that? The first Prussian rule (1744 -1806) is generally remembered as a time when Ostfriesland could keep its old institutions and traditions and had its own administration, mostly left alone by the central Prussian government. In the sources I know, it’s the subsequent French/Dutch rule under Napoleon and the Hanoverian rule after the congress of Vienna (until the annexation of Hanover by Prussia in 1866) that are described as weakening and abolishing the old Frisian liberties, traditions and institutions.

  52. Lars Mathiesen says

    @drasvi, I’m sure they cope. In Danish, the landlord lejer ud and the occupant lejer, and Danish classifieds have Udlejes or Til leje on the landlord side, and nobody expects an answer to a classified looking for a place to rent, so I don’t have a firm idea what the headings would be — but værelse søges or fremleje søges would probably be it.

  53. @drasvi

    By prewar names, do you mean before 1992? If so, the language in Bosnia and Hercegovina was officially labelled as “srpskohrvatski/ hrvatskosrpski”. It had different names in other republics.

    There is a post from me in the thread about Bosnians in Sanjak about the historical names used for the Croatian language. One of these was ‘Slovinski’.

    One of the most famous works is the 18th century “Razgovor ugodni naroda Slovinskoga” (= Pleasant discourse of /on/ the Slavic people) by Andrija Kačić Miošić a Franciscan from Dalmatia, written in my native dialect of Croatian.

    The Franciscans were the only Catholic order and the only Catholic priests allowed to work in Ottoman Europe. This map of the Franciscan Province of Silver Bosnia (Bosna Argentina) shows its extent. It’s much larger than modern day Bosnia & Hercegovina.

    The title of the work has been used as evidence by Bosniaks that there was a Bosnian language in the past. But the content of the work itself is Catholic doctrine and it includes church hymns which are undoubtedly part of the Croatian heritage, used by the Croats to this day. I’d be surprised if anybody who claims to be speaking the Bosnian language today would accept the content of that book as belonging to their heritage – but do let me know if i’m wrong. Btw, either Nauk krstjanski, or another of these Franciscan books, states that it’s written in Serbian letters. This was nothing more than a synonym for the cyrillic alphabet, but it’s something that the Serb side has tried to use to deny its Croatianness.

  54. @drasvi

    During Austro-Hungarian rule under the administration if Benjamin Kallay, there was a short lived attempt to impose “Bosnian” as the name of language in Bosnia and Hercegovina.

    A grammar for the use of schools was issued anonymously. It’s readily available on the internet if you google “bosanska gramatika”. From memory, it used contemporary Croatian spelling with contemporary Serbian plural noun case endings.

    The Serbs largely ignored it, preferring to call their language Serbian. It was a case of Hungarian divide et impera policy that didn’t last long in that case.

    Muslims in Bosnia and Hercegovina only adopted the Bosniak name in c 1992 for their nation and language.

  55. @Hans: I’m not sure where I read about this, but this is the story as best I remember it. Ostfriesland still had a significant amount of thinly inhabited unimproved moorland in the eighteenth century, and when the Frederick the Great inherited the territory, he encouraged colonization of these regions. The colonists were a mixture of local Frisians and Prussians who were encouraged to move from the East. Making these territories suitable for farming required investment in improved irrigation infrastructure and some dikes, which the Prussians (and the Hanoverians after them) invested in. These colonization efforts added a modest Prussian component to the local population, but they initially had little effect on the urban areas of Ostfriesland. However, after the conquest of the left bank of the Rhine by the French, there was an effort by Prussia to further Germanize the territory, to create a clearer cultural distinction between the Frisians and the Dutch (who were seen to be completely within the French orbit). This effort, which was probably underway until Jena–Auerstedt, tried to leverage the presence of the Prussian colonists who had been living in Ostfriesland for a matter of decades, as well as other measures that were partially outgrowths of the movement of Prussian troops into the area. I am not sure how successful the efforts were at the time, but when Bismarck conquered the territory again in 1866, some historians saw the moves he made as a fairly direct continuation of the Prussianization efforts from sixty-some years earlier.

  56. A lot of people in Northern Greece are happy to speak Bulgarian to you, though 🙂 They might even have known your grandparents.

    Seriously — our old house is a hotel now.

  57. John Cowan says

    how do English speakers discuss rent

    For commercial space and some kinds of residential space where there is a written lease for a fixed period of time (often renewable), leasing is what the tenant does, letting is what the landlord does. Rent is applicable not only to this case, but also where there is no lease; in that case, both landlord and tenant speak of renting, but it’s less of a problem, because would-be tenants don’t normally advertise: they read For Rent signs or ads, hire an agency that knows where space for rent might be found, or talk to their friends. In the UK, leases are apparently more common, and the signs and classified ads say For Lease or To Let.

    My family used to be tenants at will (without a lease, either side can terminate the tenancy at any time), but now we are proprietary lessors: that is, we are shareholders in a corporation that owns 25 buildings including ours (just one is more typical in NYC, and condominium ownership is more common elsewhere in the U.S.)

  58. That’s quaint. What happened with my great-grandfather was the Greek troops told him to fuck off with whatever he could carry.

  59. John Cowan says

    I don’t say that never happens in the U.S. But, y’know, here contract trumps status, most of the time.

  60. In Australia, the signs generally say For Lease.

    When i was a kid, i remember some signs used to say To Let. They’d get vandalised by people writing an I in between To & Let. Maybe that’s why you don’t see many To Let signs any more.

  61. David Marjanović says

    I’ve seen a few TO LET signs in Scotland, and none with the other wordings. I think they were all behind closed windows, now that I think of it…

    German of course uses the prefix system: mieten is what the tenant does, vermieten what the landlord* does, with ver- as in teilen “divide, share”, verteilen “distribute”. Signs say zu vermieten.

    * Seems to be always a very large corporation or the city. The city of Vienna is the world’s largest homeowner.

  62. It means “No Caucasians or Central Asians need apply.”

    LH is correct.

    How downright clumsy. In enlightened places like western Europe and the US, you let people apply, then you look at their names or listen to their accent, and then you tell them the apartment is unfortunately no longer available.

    In the picture it is sdam, (because the picture is posted by Caucasians trying to rent a flat). Some 20 years ago, before the city administration began fighting with kiosks, so called “seashell garages” (гараж-ракушка), wild flowers and other activity “from below”, entrances to buildings and also street light poles were used as bulleting boards.

    On doors dvorniks (also competitors, children and anyone who does not like them) removed them once in a while, so there was a hundred spots of glue and 2-3-10 new notices. Light poles were covered by them.
    Usually they were “snimu”. Like:

    Порядочная семья из 3-х человек (славяне) снимет квартиру в вашем доме. Порядок и чистоту гарантируем.
    Николай, Оля.
    * (***) ***-**-**

    That is, in English:
    “A respectable family of 3 persons (Slavs) will [would] rent a flat in your house. Order and cleanliness we-guarrantee [are guarranteed]. Nikolay, Olya.”

    Applicants themselves usually described themselves as Slavs in advertisments.

    But likely it started with landlords. It bothers me that I was not able to trace the development. Why “Slavs”?

  63. “Nikolay, Olya” is not because we are fucking polite (else one name would suffice and it would be written after the phone number: “* (***) ***-**-** (Olya)”).

    It means: not “Damir”*. Or God forbid, “Ahmad”.

    *I know, it is also a South Slavic name, not connected to any realigion: D Marjanović in genetic papers posed here is Damir Marjanović from Bosnia, but Wikipedia mentions many Serb, Slovene, Montenegrin and Croat Damirs. Here it is popular among Turkic speakers.

    Actually our xenophobes – at least politicized ones – like Tatars because Tatars culturally are similar to Russians – but I haven’t seen a “Tatar family” in advertisments.

  64. January First-of-May says

    Порядочная семья из 3-х человек (славяне) снимет квартиру в вашем доме. Порядок и чистоту гарантируем.

    As opposed to the semi-memetic non-Slavic version…

    Русский сэмья из дэсять человек снимет однокомнатный квартир. Порядок-шморядок – мамой клянусь!

    [Discounting the multiple misspellings and/or mis-agreements: “Russian family of 10 people would rent a one-bedroom apartment. Order-schmorder, we swear by mother!”]

    (Quoted from memory, and it’s been at least a decade since I’ve seen the text, so I’m not very confident of some of the details. In particular, I think there were a few other sentences, but I can’t recall them.)

  65. A presumably Tajik girl (early teens) to my friend in Telegram: прости, дорогая. телфон глючит

    I was pleased to find that I hear it in my head with famous quasi-Caucasian accent: “Прасти, дарагой! Тэлефон глючит!” just because of one famous word “dear” and one typo.

  66. Jen in Edinburgh says

    I’ve only ever seen the looking-for-a-place-to-rent signs in shop windows in the kind of villages where spare houses mostly become holiday lets, and I think they generally start ‘House Wanted’.

    Of course I don’t go looking for them, so if there’s a set formula online I wouldn’t know, but I don’t think they’re common – it’s usually the people with the property who advertise.

  67. Actually our xenophobes – at least politicized ones – like Tatars because Tatars culturally are similar to Russians

    Just as back in the 19th century “Slavophiles” couldn’t stand Poles. These things are never logical or consistent.

  68. David Marjanović says


    Oh, dämir? Iron, like Turkish demir? Common in last names: Gökdemir “blue iron”, Demirtaş “Eisenstein”…

    I bet the Slavic one is just coincidentally similar and should be taken literally as “give peace”. Which is funny, because where I as opposed to my name come from, that’s one way to tell children to be quiet.

    These things are never logical or consistent.

    In Vienna the xenophobic party allied itself with the Serbs against the Turks 20 years ago.

  69. @Brett: The colonisation efforts are well kown, not only in the peat bogs – I grew up in Rhauderfehn, which was founded at that time as part of the colonisation effort -, but also winning new land on the costs by creating polder land. But these were generally seen favourably, the same as successful initiatives to create a herring fishery against Dutch resistance and Prussian protection allowing especially the city of Emden to profit from the collapse of Dutch trade after the occupation of the Netherlands by France.
    There were some efforts to integrate Ostfriesland stronger into the Prussian state, like the introduction of the Landrecht in 1791, but even this was done by adaptation of East Frisian provincial law in negotiations with the estates, and when those ended in 1797, parts of the Frisian traditional law was still applied.
    At the time, there doesn’t seem to have been any big movement against belonging to Prussia; to the contrary, there was a fear that Prussia would want to trade the isolated territory against other land or for diplomatic favour, and there was at least one official petition to the Prussian King by the estates, in 1801, to promise that Ostfriesland would stay in Union with Prussia, which was granted by an official letter.
    As I said above, it was mostly under French / Dutch rule and under Hanoverian rule that Ostfriesland lost its old traditions and liberties; the most disappointing thing from the Ostfrisian point of view that the Prussians did was that they agreed to hand the territory over to Hanover at Vienna, and that they didn’t restore Ostfriesland as a separate province after they annexed Hanover in 1866 (although at that time, it seems the main debate in Ostfriesland was whether it should stay with the province of Hanover or to be joined with the province of Westphalia).
    My source for the details, besides “stuff I remember to have read or heard at some point”, is Franz Kurowski “Die Friesen. Das Volk am Meer”, Pawlak Verlag 1987. The book treats the post-Hanoverian period only very cursorily, but my impression is that by that point, there was no specific political pressure on Ostfriesland's identity anymore, just the usual pressures from a standardized education system and economic integration. AFAIK, the influx of outside colonists in the 18th and 19th century was also limited; by far the biggest inflows of outsiders that changed the composition of the population happened after the middle of 20th century (refugees from the lost Eastern parts of Germany after WW II, people, frequently from the Ruhr area, buying homes for retirement starting in the 1980s).

  70. “Damir is a common male given name in South Slavic languages, and occasionally in Central Asia and Turkic regions of Russia. It is of Slavic origin, with da meaning “give”/”take”, and mir, meaning “peace”. It can also be a variation of a Turkish name “Demir”, which means “iron”. DAMIR is also an acronym for “Да здравствует мировая революция”, meaning “Long live the world revolution”.”

    …says Wikipedia. I can’t remember other examples of da- names:/ Until I have seen one I do not belive in da- “give”.
    But it is always possible that a Turkic name resonated with Slavs and was borrowed in this specific form under influence of Slavic names – and conversely, that this name in this form became common among Russian Turkic speakers because of Vladimir. Then it is a collective work.

    As for the revolution I can say nothing. I have met an Orlen (October Revolution LENin) while Melor Sturua (Marx Engels Lenin October Revolution) is a famous journalist.
    When my grandmother was young, they joked about revolutionary girl name Kuvalda (“slegdehammer”).

  71. PlasticPaddy says

    @Brett, Hans
    Als das Land mit der Annexion des Königreichs Hannover durch Preußen 1866 wieder preußisch wurde, stieß dies in Ostfriesland auf Begeisterung.
    The context for the enthusiasm for the return of Prussian rule was economic stagnation and high levels of emigration during the previous years as part of the kingdom of Hannover.

  72. (continuation) “What is dazdrapérma?” is a joke I heard from my freind when it was still USSR (“Long Live the First of May”). A more subtle joke from the same freind was:

    — Чего пролетариату нечего терять?
    — Кроме своих цепей!

    Imitating an exam question (and the only natural answer to such a question). “What do the proletarians have nothing to lose?” “But their chains!” (< "The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains")

  73. @Paddy: Exactly. The Prussians are seen as the bad guys in many German regions, but in Ostfriesland for once they got many things right and were popular.

  74. @LH, the anti-immigration movement (since 90s, when Gastarbeiters* from other republic first arrived in Moscow) offers these two visions of apocalypse:

    (1) people sacrificing rams on a city square
    (2) people dancing лезгинка in Moscow

    The latter is rather an idiomatic reference to the apocalypse than the movement specifically. Both are very common. Thus, googling for баранов на площади gives me “Абдулатипов призвал не танцевать лезгинку и не резать баранов на Красной площади” on the site islam.ru. He is the head of Dagestan and refers to both images at once. His arguments are somewhat frightening:

    «У нас в ауле никто на улице лезгинку не танцует. Представьте себе, вы выходите и начинаете – ребята, так не делают вообще. Танцевать можно, только если у тебя диагноз: дурь. А когда есть дурь, повод не нужен».

    When I saw schoolboys dancing under my window to tunes usually performed by Celtic bands, I was highly pleased. I do not think anyone is dancing lezginka, I think the head of Dagestan just overheard the phrase. “Dancing lezginka” is (I guess…) not bad per se. But since 90s Russian youth is fighting with Caucasian youth. Lezginka means Caucasians (who, unlike Central Asians, are Russian citizens!) won and can impose their rules. As for rams, numerous Central Asians that anti-migration movement is concerned with are less likely to organize anything, while North Caucasians are citizens.

    But these people believe that problems arise from cultural incompatibility rather than anything else. Tatars are said to have good manners and “respect local culture”, that is not to sacrifice rams on city squares. In reality their culture is similar. You can’t easily tell if your freind is a Russian or Tatar, other by his/her name and sometimes eyes and cheekbones (for those Tatars who have slanted – or how do you translate раскосые – eyes). So I would say, it is logical.

    * the word was popular in 90s, “migrants” is more common today and the movement is, actually, “anti-migration”: presumably wanting to turn animals into plants:) –

  75. Eyes: two famous Tatars of 2000: a tennis player Marat Safin and a pop-singer Alsu.
    Safin, WP. Alsu, a photo on a site named razmer-grudi.ru. Razmer grudi means “breast size” if anyone curious. I have no idea why such a site, but her photo in WP is less eastern. She’s a half-Bashkir.

    Safin’s face is absolutely European, Alsu looks “exotic” from anywhere but Tatarstan.

  76. @drasvi.

    Here are some Da- names, with the meaning “give” or “gift”, from Šimunović’s “Rječnik osobnih imena”:

    Dajmir, Dajimra
    Damir, Damira
    Danimir, Danimira, Danimirka
    Danislav, Danislava, Danislavka
    Danojla, Danojlo
    Darin, Darina, Darinka
    Darislav, Daroslav, Darislava
    Darjan, Darjana
    Darka, Darko
    Darovan, Darovana
    Daslav, Daslava

  77. Daslav-Danislav looks like the right scheme.

    Danislav is attested in Old Russian too.

  78. Actually, I do not understand Tatar Damir too. Tatar iron is timer, Oghuz iron dəmir/demir.
    Both languages practice vowel harmony (though loanwords may not have it).

    – from Oghuz Turkic in Russian spelling? An intermediate language?
    – from Oghuz in some other spelling, with hypercorrection (disharmony)?
    – from Oghuz as Dəmir, then adapting it to Russian phonology, than making Tatar spelling and pronunciation consistent with Russian?
    – a different word from Persian or Arabic?

  79. My Old Turkish dictionary has tamïr ‘blood vessel’ (you can see it on p. 530 here), for what that’s worth.

  80. Andrej Bjelaković says

    FYLOSC has damar meaning blood vessel (rarely used, in my experience, bit bookish/poetic)

  81. Damar is labelled as a regionalism of Turkish origin in the Croatian Encyclopaedic Dictionary. It has 2 meanings: 1 nerve; 2 pulse.

    Matica Srpska’s Dictionary of the Serbian Language does not have it at all, and neither does the Dictionary of the Bosnian Language published by the Sarajevo Language Institute.

    I’ve only ever come across the word (in the plural form damari) in the works of the famous herbalist Sadik Sadiković. Sadiković uses the term ‘damari’ as an affliction for which he gives a herbal remedy.

  82. Nerves!

  83. Andrej Bjelaković says

    The old six volume Matica srpska dictionary does have it, with examples from Andrić, Milan Grol, Jakša Kušan and Janko Đonović.

    I can’t remember where I saw it first…

  84. Andrej Bjelaković: “six volume Matica srpska dictionary…”

    This was to be the crowning achievement of the Novi Sad agreement, ie. the forced attempt to unify the Croatian and Serbian literary languages.

    The “Dictionary of the Serbocroatian Literary Language” was to be issued in cyrillic by Matica srpska while the “Dictionary of the Croatoserbian Literary Language” was to be issued at the same time in the latin alphabet by the Matica hrvatska.

    Publication started in 1967 when the first two volumes (A-K) came out. For various reasons, the Croatian Matica ended its involvement in the project.

    The latin-alphabet edition of the dictionary was nicknamed Adok (literally: A to K), because that’s where it ended. The Serbs kept on going with the project and published the final 6th volume in 1976.

  85. I’ve heard this joke about Tatars.

    “What’s the difference between Russians and Tatars?”

    “Russians don’t go to church and Tatars don’t go to mosque”

  86. From Catch-22:

    “I thought you didn’t believe in God.”

    “I don’t,” she sobbed, bursting violently into tears. “But the God I don’t believe in is a good God, a just God, a merciful God. He’s not the mean and stupid God you make him out to be.”


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