Croatian Special Letters Diacritical

Eight Croatian letters that English doesn’t recognize

It is a known fact that Croats use Latin alphabet in their writings, but it is important for a genealogist to know and understand some of Croatian written language’s unique features.

English alphabet has 26 letters, while Croatian has 30. However, four of the English letters are not found in the alphabet used by Croats: X, Y, W and Q. So the total difference between those two alphabets amounts to eight letters, which should be taken into consideration while researching family history records.

The first specific of Croatian alphabet is it’s diacritical letters Č, Ć, Š, Ž and Đ, which had been devised because of presence of some of distinguished sounds in pronounciation of words. (It is important to note here that Croatian alphabet is almost fully phonetic, which means that each written letter represents a sound that typically doesn’t change depending on a position in a word or a sentence.)

Another Croatian specific are digraphs or letters consisting of two signs that are treated as one, inseparable letter. Those letters are LJ, NJ and DŽ and their inseparableness have some interesting consequences for genealogy research. For example, when listed in alphabetical order, surname Ljubić comes after surname Lovrić, and Njirić comes after Novak. So, if you cannot find a surname on a list you think should be there, take this specific into account and you may have success.

Here is the table with all letters of Croatian alphabet in proper order, together with English Alphabet, pronounciation and examples of surnames begining with the respective Croatian letter.

As in English word Example of Croatian
last name (surname)
A A car Anić
B B bat Babić
C C cats Cindrić
Č chalk Čavlović
Ć church Ćurković
D D dig Delić
gin Džajo
Đ jack Đaković
E E let Erceg
F F fit Filipović
G G game Grgić
H H heaven Hrvatin
I I east Ivanković
J J year Josipović
K K cut Kovač
L L love Leko
LJ million Ljubić
M M mice Milas
N N nice Novačić
NJ onion Njirić
O O autmn Oreški
P P pick Petrić
R R Fritz Radić
S S sound Starčević
Š Š shut Šarlija
T T time Tkalec
U U shoot Udovičić
V V verb Vrbanić
Z Z zest Zadravec
Ž pleasure Žugec

Image: Onderwijsgek, Wikimedia Commons