Thursday, October 1, 2015

How Dalmatian Names Became Slav

(Taken from the journal “Modern Italy”, Volume 2, Issue 17, 1919.)

Those who are accustomed to read books and articles and reviews and newspaper letters written by Yugo-Slavophil propagandists must have been bewildered at the manner of spelling adopted in the case of the well-known Dalmatian cities. For instance a certain Review published in London speaks of Spalato as Split and Ragusa as Dubrovnik. What a cacophonous travesty of the musical and historic Italian names. But I know why it is done and how it came to be popularised. It was ordered by Austria.

I have before me a copy of a document recently found in the archives of the Hydrographic Institute at Pola. It is a document issued by the Austrian General Staff in July, 1916, and is numbered K.N.R. 13486. The document lays down the following rules:
“All the commands, the military authorities and their dependants together with the civil authorities, will use Croat names instead of the Italian names hitherto used in referring to places in Dalmatia: Zadar instead of Zara, Tijesno instead of Stretto, Trogir instead of Trau, Split instead of Spalato, Omis instead of Almissa, Dubrovnik instead of Ragusa, Ston instead of Stagno, Kotor instead of Cattaro, Budva instead of Budua, Perast instead of Perasto, Sibenik instead of Sebenico, Skradine instead of Scardona, Solin instead of Salona, Vis instead of Lissa, Opuzen instead of Fort'Opus, Cavtat instead of Ragusa Vecchia, Ercegnovi instead of Castelnuovo, Tivat instead of Teodo, Risan instead of Risano. The Command Headquarters hitherto called Cattaro will be called Kotor. For the naming of the other districts of Dalmatia a list of official names will contain the necessary explanations. To avoid confusion and misunderstanding the names which have up to the present been used will be printed in brackets up to June 30th, 1917. After that these names within brackets shall be omitted.”

(Signed) Conrad.
By this official declaration even the Austrian authorities acknowledge that up to 1916 the people of Dalmatia had not thought of Croatising their place-names and that they could not recognise the Croat names unless the Italian names accompanied them.