Gaj's Latin alphabet

Gaj's Latin alphabet is the form of the Latin script used for writing Serbo-Croatian and all of its standard varieties: Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, and Montenegrin. It was devised by Croatian linguist Ljudevit Gaj in 1835, based on Jan Hus's Czech alphabet. A slightly reduced version is used as the script of the Slovene language, and a slightly expanded version is used as a script of the modern standard Montenegrin language. A modified version is used for the romanization of the Macedonian language.


The alphabet consists of thirty upper and lower case letters:
Gaj's original alphabet contained the digraph, which Serbian linguist Đuro Daničić later replaced with the letter.
The letters do not have names, and consonants are normally pronounced as such when spelling is necessary. When clarity is needed, they are pronounced similar to the German alphabet: a, be, ce, če, će, de, dže, đe, e, ef, ge, ha, i, je, ka, el, elj, em, en, enj, o, pe, er, es, eš, te, u, ve, ze, že. These rules for pronunciation of individual letters are common as far as the 22 letters that match the ISO basic Latin alphabet are concerned. The use of others is mostly limited to the context of linguistics, while in mathematics, is commonly pronounced jot, as in German. The missing four letters are pronounced as follows: as ku or kju, as dublve, duplo v or duplo ve, as iks, as ipsilon.
Letters,, and represent the sounds , , and , but often are transcribed as /ʃ/, /ʒ/, /tʃ/ and /dʒ/.


Note that the digraphs , lj, and nj are considered to be single letters:
The Croatian Latin alphabet was mostly designed by Ljudevit Gaj, who modelled it after Czech and Polish, and invented, and, according to similar solutions in Hungarian. In 1830 in Buda, he published the book Kratka osnova horvatsko-slavenskog pravopisanja, which was the first common Croatian orthography book. It was not the first ever Croatian orthography work, as it was preceded by works of Rajmund Đamanjić, Ignjat Đurđević and Pavao Ritter Vitezović. Croats had previously used the Latin script, but some of the specific sounds were not uniformly represented. Versions of the Hungarian alphabet were most commonly used, but others were too, in an often confused, inconsistent fashion.
Gaj followed the example of Pavao Ritter Vitezović and the Czech orthography, making one letter of the Latin script for each sound in the language. His alphabet mapped completely on Serbian Cyrillic which had been standardized by Vuk Karadžić a few years before.
Đuro Daničić suggested in his Rječnik hrvatskoga ili srpskoga jezika published in 1880 that Gaj's digraphs,, and should be replaced by single letters :,, and respectively. The original Gaj alphabet was eventually revised, but only the digraph has been replaced with Daničić's, while, and have been kept.


In the 1990s, there was a general confusion about the proper character encoding to use to write text in Latin Croatian on computers.
The preferred character encoding for Croatian today is either the ISO 8859-2, or the Unicode encoding UTF-8. However,, one can still find programs as well as databases that use CP1250, CP852 or even CROSCII.
Digraphs, and in their upper case, title case and lower case forms have dedicated UNICODE code points as shown in the table below, However, these are included chiefly for backwards compatibility ; modern texts use a sequence of characters.
SequenceUNICODE pointUNICODE glyph

Usage for Slovene

Since the early 1840s, Gaj's alphabet was increasingly used for the Slovene language. In the beginning, it was most commonly used by Slovene authors who treated Slovene as a variant of Serbo-Croatian, but it was later accepted by a large spectrum of Slovene-writing authors. The breakthrough came in 1845, when the Slovene conservative leader Janez Bleiweis started using Gaj's script in his journal Kmetijske in rokodelske novice, which was read by a wide public in the countryside. By 1850, Gaj's alphabet became the only official Slovene alphabet, replacing three other writing systems which circulated in the Slovene Lands since the 1830s: the traditional bohoričica and the two innovative proposals by the Peter Dajnko and Franc Serafin Metelko.
The Slovene version of Gaj's alphabet differs from the Serbo-Croatian one in several ways:
Slovene orthography is comparatively less phonetic than Serbo-Croatian. For instance, letter can be pronounced in four ways, and letter in two. Also, it does not record consonant voicing assimilation: compare e.g. Slovene and Serbo-Croatian .

Usage in Macedonian

of Macedonian is done according to Gaj's Latin alphabet but is slightly modified. Gaj's ć and đ are not used at all, with and ǵ introduced instead. The rest of the letters of the alphabet are used to represent the equivalent Cyrillic letters. Also, Macedonian uses the letter dz, which is not part of the Serbo-Croatian phonemic inventory. However, the backs of record sleeves published in the former Yugoslavia, by non-Macedonian publishers, used ć and đ, like other places.