The dialect of Bednja

Bednja municipality is located in the far northwest of the Republic of Croatia, in the area of Varaždin County. The settlements belonging to the municipality are: Bednja, Pleš, Šaša, Vrbno, Trakošćan, Benkovec, Rinkovec, Prebukovje... Apart from the fairytale castle of Trakoščan, Bednja is known for its specific speech. The very preservation of Bednja's dialect itself is mostly owed to the traffic isolation of the area, the consequences of which are low migration and little influence of the surrounding settlements. Bednja’s speech is considered the oldest Croatian Kaikavian dialect. It is very complicated because of its unique accent, interesting voice changes, diphthongs and a multitude of vocals. One of the hallmarks is the adaptability of this dialect to make new words its own. During the Austro-Hungarian Empire, this was accomplished so that many German and Hungarian words were domesticated. At that time, unlike today, the influence of the Croatian literary language was negligible because almost all the inhabitants were serfs. Today, the domesticated words of the Croatian literary language bring about the biggest lexical change in speech. For the most part, it is a change of a word to Bednja's accent. With the change in the lifestyle of the people of Bednja, the dialect itself gradually changed. Thus, some concepts related to agriculture have disappeared, while new ones related to technology and science have emerged. Speech is largely homogeneous in the municipality with two exceptions. Residents of the Rinkovec settlement use slightly different emphasis on words than other places, while those in the Cvetlin settlement have some differences in vocabulary compared to other settlements. The person who certainly needs to be mentioned when talking about the dialect of Bednja is professor and dialectologist Josip Jedvaj. His study of Bednja’s speech published in the Croatian Dialectical Proceedings is the most comprehensive and accurate study of Bednja’s dialect published to date. In the future, it is planned to develop a Bednja’s dictionary at the Institute of Croatian Language and Linguistics that will comprise a complete scientific approach.