The Servian language forms, together with the Russian and Bulgarian, the eastern stem of the Slavic languages. In the wider sense of the word, in which it is frequently called the Illyrian or Illyrico-Servian, it comprises the languages of the Serbs proper, the Croats, and the Sloventzi or Vinds. The first of these dialects is spoken by the Serbs in the principality of Servia and in Hungary (in which country they are called Rascians), by the Bosnians, Herzegovinians, Montenegrins, Slavonians, and Dalmatians; the second in the Austrian province of Croatia; the third in the Austrian provinces of Styria, Carinthia, and Carniola. Those Serbs who belong to the Greek church use the Cyrillic alphabet, while those belonging to the Roman Catholic church (comprising chiefly the Dalmatians, Croats, and Sloventzi) have adopted the Roman alphabet. Among the Dalmatians, in former times, the Glagolitic alphabet was in use. (See Glago-litic.) Altogether, according to an estimate of Schafarik, the Servian language is spoken by about 7,250,000 persons, of whom more than 4,500,000 live under Austrian, more than 2,500,000 under Turkish, and about 100,000 under Russian rule. - There are in the Servian language four declensions of substantives and two of adjectives; the dual number has become extinct; the instrumental and the locative cases are found as in other Slavic idioms.
The comparative of the adjective is formed by annexing a syllable, generally yi; the superlative by prefixing a syllable to the comparative (nay). The verb, which is inflected after three conjugations, lacks a subjunctive, which is supplied by circumlocution, and a passive, which is expressed by means of a special participle. The tenses are the present, the future, the imperfect (with iterative signification), and the preterite. Of the prepositions, some govern the genitive, others the dative or accusative, and the accusative and locative, others the accusative and instrumental, others the genitive and instrumental. The Servian surpasses all the other Slavic idioms in euphony, and has often been called the Italian of the Slavic family of languages. The language of the eastern Serbs has received many Turcisms, but they have not affected its essential structure. The best grammatical work on these languages is the Servian grammar (in the Servian language) by Vuk Ste-fanovitch Karajitch, of which Jacob Grimm published a German translation (Berlin, 1824) with an excellent introduction.
Other scientific grammatical treatises are those of Danicic, Srpska grammatika (3d ed., Belgrade, 1863) and Srpska sintaksa (1868). A grammar of the Croat language was published by Berlic (Agram, 1842), and another in Latin by Bud-mani (Vienna, 1867); one of the Dalmatian by Babukic (German translation by Fröhlich, Vienna, 1839). Of the language of the Sloventzi we have a grammar from Kopitar (Laybach, 1808). A dictionary of the Servian language has been published by Karajitch; an Illyrian-German and German-lllyrian dictionary by Richter and Ballmann (2 vols., Vienna, 1839-'40); a German-lllyrian by Mazuranic and Uza-revic (Agram, 1842); and a Croat by Drob-nitsch (Gratz, 1852). An extensive Serbo-Croat dictionary is now (1875) in course of preparation by the South Slavic academy of sciences in Agram. - The Serbs who belong to the Greek church had no literature in their own language until the middle of the 18th century. Their writers used the Old or Church Slavic, which however was generally mixed with the popular dialect.
The most ancient remnants of this style reach back to the 11th century, and consist principally of documents, diplomas, acts of government, etc, a collection of which was published at Belgrade in 1840. Among the most ancient writers of Servia are Stephen, the first king of Servia (crowned in 1217), who wrote the history of his father; his brother, Archbishop Sava (died 1237), who wrote monastic rules and other works; Do-mentian (about 1263), who wrote biographies of saints; and especially Archbishop Daniel (1291-1338), the author of the chief work on the ancient history of Servia, called Rodoslov ("Genealogical Register"). Count Pucic has collected and published the records, deeds, and laws of the period in his Monumenta Serbica (Vienna, 1858) and Srbski spomenici (Belgrade, 1858-62). Of great importance also are the statutes of King Stephen Dushan (1336-'56). The Gospels were printed in Belgrade in 1552. During the following two centuries the only work of note was a "History of Servia," from the origin of the people until the reign of the emperor Leopold I. of Germany, by Branko-vitch (1645-1711). A partial revival began in 1758, when a Slavic press was founded at Venice. The archimandrite J. Raitch (1726-1801) gained a lasting reputation by his "History of the Slavs" (4 vols., Vienna, 1792 '5). But the first who undertook to write a work in the popular dialect was Dosithei Obrado-vitch (1739-1811), a monk, who for 25 years had travelled all over Europe, and at his death was senator and instructor of the children of Czerny George. His complete works were published at Belgrade in 1833 in 9 vols.
Demetrius Davidovitch from 1814 to 1822 edited at Vienna the first Servian newspaper, and Vuk Stefanovitch Karajitch (1787-1864) fixed the present Servian alphabet, and reduced the language to certain general rules and principles. His collection of the Servian popular songs (4 vols., Vienna, 1814-'33) drew the attention of foreign nations to their beauty. In Germany, a general interest in them was excited by Goethe, Talvi (Volkslieder der Serben, 2 vols., Halle, 1825-'6), J. Grimm, and others; and many translations have since been published. In England some of the songs have been made known by Bowring and Robert Bul-wer ("Owen Meredith"). Among the best modern Servian writers are Simeon Milutino-vitch, author of a national epic, Serbianka (Leipsic, 1826), describing the Servian war of 1812, and of a history of Servia during the years 1813-'14 (Leipsic, 1837), and Archbishop Mushitzki of Carlovitz, whose works were published at Pesth in 1838. The chief seats of Servian literature are Pesth, Neusatz, and Belgrade. The last named city now has several newspapers, and a university in which law, philosophy, and the sciences are taught. There is also a Servian society of savants, formed in 1847, and reorganized in 1863 with the title of Srpsko utcheno drustvo.
Collections of the popular poetry of Montenegro have been published by Tchubar Tchoikovitch. - Among the Roman Catholic Serbs, the Dalmatians had as early as the 12th century an interesting literature. An old chronicle of 1161, written in Slavic by a priest of Dioclea, is still partly extant in the original, and wholly in a Latin translation. Toward the close of the 15th century the city of Ragusa became an Illyrian Athens, and produced many distinguished authors, especially poets. The Ra-gusan and Dalmatian dialects which appear in their literary productions were very similar to the Servian as purified by Karajitch, and through the study of these ancient poets and the labors of L. Gaj, editor of an "Illyrian National Gazette" at Agram, the literary language of almost all the Serbs is now very much the same, though still written partly with the Cyrillic instead of the Roman alphabet. In the beginning of 1868, 14 political, 5 literary, 2 agricultural, 3 pedagogic, and 2 religious periodicals were published in the Servian language. - A good account of the history of Servian literature, in English, is given in Talvi's "Historical View of the Languages and Literature-of the Slavic Nations" (New York, 1850). See also Schafarik, Geschichte der südslawischen Literatur (Vienna, 1863-'4).