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The three official languages of Yugoslavia were
Serbo-Croatian, Slovenian, and Macedonian. Serbo-Croatian has an
eastern and a western variant; it is written in the Latin
alphabet in Croatia and in the
Cyrillic alphabet (see Glossary)
in Serbia and Montenegro
fig. 8). Both alphabets are used in
Bosnia and Hercegovina. Ironically, the Croatian literary variant
is closer to the language spoken by most Serbs and Montenegrins
than to that spoken by most Croats. Like Serbo-Croatian,
Slovenian, which uses the Latin alphabet, became a literary
language in the nineteenth century. Macedonian, which has
elements of both Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian, obtained a
standardized Cyrillic-based alphabet and orthography only after
World War II.
In order of usage, Yugoslavia's most significant minority
languages included Albanian, Hungarian, Turkish, Bulgarian,
Romanian, Italian, Vlach, Czechoslovak, Slovak, Ruthenian, and
Gypsy. The Constitution guaranteed members of the nationalities
the right to use their own language and alphabet, including the
right to use it in public affairs and before government agencies.
The nationalities also received the option of education in their
native language through high school or vocational school
, this ch.). Children attending such schools were
required to study one of the three official Yugoslav languages.
In 1990 the government of Serbia filled a gap in this guarantee
by opening the first Gypsy-language primary school in the world.
In the 1970s, the government eliminated the requirement that
schoolchildren study a second official Yugoslav language; this
change caused a steep drop in the number of Slovenian and
Albanian students who learned Serbo-Croatian and threatened to
isolate some Slovenian and Albanian communities.
Data as of December 1990