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Original scientific paper

Some characteristics of language and style of the Statute of Vinodol (1288) and the Krk (Vrbnik) statute (1388)

Eduard Hercigonja

Fulltext: croatian, pdf (45 MB) pages 87-125 downloads: 414* cite
APA 6th Edition
Hercigonja, E. (1990). Neke jezično-stilske značajke Vinodolskoga zakona (1288) i Krčkoga (Vrbanskoga) statuta (1388). Slovo, (39-40), 87-125. Retrieved from
MLA 8th Edition
Hercigonja, Eduard. "Neke jezično-stilske značajke Vinodolskoga zakona (1288) i Krčkoga (Vrbanskoga) statuta (1388)." Slovo, vol. , no. 39-40, 1990, pp. 87-125. Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.
Chicago 17th Edition
Hercigonja, Eduard. "Neke jezično-stilske značajke Vinodolskoga zakona (1288) i Krčkoga (Vrbanskoga) statuta (1388)." Slovo , no. 39-40 (1990): 87-125.
Hercigonja, E. (1990). 'Neke jezično-stilske značajke Vinodolskoga zakona (1288) i Krčkoga (Vrbanskoga) statuta (1388)', Slovo, (39-40), pp. 87-125. Available at: (Accessed 26 January 2021)
Hercigonja E. Neke jezično-stilske značajke Vinodolskoga zakona (1288) i Krčkoga (Vrbanskoga) statuta (1388). Slovo [Internet]. 1990 [cited 2021 January 26];(39-40):87-125. Available from:
E. Hercigonja, "Neke jezično-stilske značajke Vinodolskoga zakona (1288) i Krčkoga (Vrbanskoga) statuta (1388)", Slovo, vol., no. 39-40, pp. 87-125, 1990. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 26 January 2021]

Some characteristics of language and style of the Statute of Vinodol (1288) and the Krk (Vrbnik) statute (1388)
In the 1843 in the 3rd book of the journal Kolo edited by the Illyrian poet S. Vraz, A. Mažuranić published the Statute of Vinodol (issued on the 6th Jan. 1288; later S. V.) in the Latin script with the language commentary, notes on ortography and a dictionary. It is after Pravda russkaja (Novgorodskij spisok 1280) the oldest codification of the traditional Slavic (in this case Croatian) common law ("good old customs"). It is published together with the norms of the new donational, feudal legal system which is imposed by the Frankapans, the princes of Krk, on the free Vinodol municipalities which were their "domini terrae naturales". This early monument of the Croatian legal thought has not been preserved in its Glagolitic original form 13th century, but in a more recent copy written in cursive Glagolitic script from the middle of the 16th century (there exists also a so called Trsat copy in the Latin script form the 17th century which is based on this preserved Glagolitic text). Mažuranić's edition which appeared in the atmosphere of euphoric interеst for Croatian history created by the Illiric Movement immediately provoked great interest in the scientific cyrcles (which lasts till the present day): the Russian translation of S. V. by Bodjanski was published as early as 1846, from that time till the last critical edition by J. Bratulić in 1988 S. V. had been published in the original form or in translation (Russian, Polish, French, Italian, English, German) thirteen times.
In his prodromal Literary History of the Croatian and Serbian Peoples (1867) which after bibliographical, chronological descriptions of M. P. Katančić (in manuscript), P. J. Šafařik and Š. Ljubić marks the real beginning of the Croatian literary historiography, young Jagić in an anticipatory, methodologically original approach describes mediaeval legal documents "acta croatia" not only on the level of traditional historic and positivistic registration or evaluation of their texts on a qualitatively new level - the level of literary criticism and esthetic judgement. In his opinion these texts are in some of their parts monuments with marked specific literary and stylistic features. Modern literary mediaeval studies have decidedly affirmed Jagić's methodological procédé accepting it with understandable additions and innovations due to the recent interpretative linguo-sylistic approach as a model for the interpretation of relevant legal texts. With this approach as a starting point the author tries to show on some key examples the function of the style of S. V. and the Krk Statue (later K. S.), the methods and procedures by which the authors of the monuments tried to increase the expressiveness and impressiveness of their statements to elevate - by means of what Jagić as early as 1867 called "legal stylistic" the stylistic level, in accordance with the content and function of the message conveyed by the legal text.
Elocution, the sensitivity for the choice of adequate rethoric elements and figures of speech as "elements of internal structure" is especially obvious in the protocol and the eschatocol of S. V., i. e. in the parts (written otherwise in the form of a document) which allow more freedom and creativity of language and style than the text of legal paragraphs. The writer for example realises a cultivated, dignifies style and solemn intonation of the legal text by functional use of the well-known rethorical and stylistic methods as anaphora, epithet (in the form of absolute superlative, elative), paregmenon, contact synonims, polysyndeton, repetition in enumeration, stylistic archaisms (i. e. introduction of some systematic elements of the Croatian Church Slavonic, the language consecrated by litugical and literary tradition into the Čakavian legal text) etc.
S. V. as well as K. S. shows an obvious predilection of some Croatian writters of late mediaeval Glagolitic and Western Cyrillic legal documents (this is also true for some writters of Latin document) for specific subjektivization of legal expression in legal speech (in the 1st person), by exclamation and dialogue (this can be taken as an attempot to preserve tradition and continution of archetypal Slavonic common legal code).
The use of the 3rd person sg./pl. imperative is one of the autochtonous and specific stylistic characteristics of Croatian legal documents (monastery rules) in all three alphabets these forms however also appear sporadicaly in non-legal texts but only when something is prescribed in them). Although they appear already in the text of the Baška Stone Tablet and the Povlja Charter, these forms are intensly activated in S. V. and K. S. where they become almost a manner, a special feature of their stylematics. Wanting to increase the expressiveness of the statement with afective charge which suggests personal busyness, expresses incentive to fulfill the action, to carry out the sanction directly, the writter uses stylizations as: "...ako bi muž ženi zvergal hoverlicu ili pokrivaču z glave...plati libar 50...od kih gospodin knez imii soldini 40...Da ko žena sverže pokrivaču više rečenu plaća (!). 2. libre dvoru...Ako ubo onde nisu svedoci dobri prisezi..." (par. 27). Alternations of the imperative (plati) and prezent (plaća) and the like in the same context (the principle variatio delectat) which are frequent in S. V. and K. S: are interesting from the point of view of stylistic functionality.
Conditional sentences with ako (CrSl. ašće < Old Church Slavonic ašte) in the protasis and with the imperative (3rd person sg/pl), tense form (present) or modal construction in the apodosis are a recognizable and important syntactic characteristics of the paragraphs of S. V. and K. S. Syntactic formulas realized by the intoduction of the protasis into the apodosis are different in S. V. and K. S. where they have various possible realizations from those in for example paragraphs of the Cyrillo-Methodian Zakonъ sudnyj ljudemъ or Pravda russkaja (where for example in the apodosis the imperative does not occur in the 3rd person). In this paper these differneces are analysed in detail.
The interference of certain elements from Latin diplomatic forms (loan translations of some formulas, translation of certain Latin terms) with traditional Slavic procedures, formulations and terminology of the commen law (cf. e. g. imejuć zdrave svet - salvo habito consilio; narediše i ukazaše - jusserunt und ordinaverunt; taknut u sveto evanelje - tacto libro evangeliorum, etc.) in S. V. is intersting from the cultural-historic as well as legal-historic point of view. At the end of the paper the author gives a broad outline of the diachrony of the Croatian literary language, the functional and stylistic differentiation the result of which is not only high style, the normed Old Church Slavonic of the Croatian type for liturgical and biblical (till the seconf half of the 15th century) as well as nonliturgical texts, but also a special mixed Čakavian-Church Slavonic language expression and stye. It was created and continually cultivated as a special stylization: a nuanced combination of livng, Čakavian spoken word and Old Croatian common law phraseology and terminology with noticable traces (formulas, loan translations) of the Latin diplomatic formulary. This hybrid language as the supraregional, unique medium of the written legal practice (and inspirations) was documented by monuments which originated on the line Kvarner-Vinodol-Central-Dalmatia; beginning with the Baška Stone Tablet, dating from the turn of the 11th/12th centuries, continuing with the Povlja Charter and the inscription on the Povlja Thershold and S. V. to very beginning of the 14th century which marks the beginning of another period when legal txts would be always written in Čakavian freed from Church Slavonic phonological, morphological and lexical systematic traits. The author draws attention to the characteristics of development and differences in language and style of legal texts in the Croatian (Glagolitic) sphere and those in the domain of the Cyrillic literature of the Slavic South and East.

Hrčak ID: 14802



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