Vuk Stеfаnоvić Kаrаdžić (1787–1864), a reformer of the literary language and orthography, collector of the folk oral literature, considered the most significant figure of Serbian literature and culture – which he certainly is. However, his work should be viewed from different angles. His invaluable deed was the collection of the folk literature treasure – Lyrical and epic poems and songs, fairy tales, stories and proverbs. It is his credit that in the 19th century the literature of a small but patriotic nation came into focus of European interest. Serbia became an esteemed country and the famous German writers, the Grimm brothers, translated some of the folk poems into German. Also translations into French were done at that time.
Vuk did a linguistic reform of the Serbian literary language. He standardised the Serbian popular language and published two issues of his dictionary. At the same time he reform the alphabet according to a principle – one letter corresponding to one phoneme (one letter representing one spoken sound), thus making the Serbian alphabet a phonetic one. Using the phonetic alphabet, Vuk wrote the rules of orthography of the new Serbian literary language which was made official in 1868. The principle, “Write as you speak and read as it is written” facilitated learning to read, and the literary language did not have to be learnt separately. The new literary language became “accessible” to all the social strata, but on the other hand, everything that had been written by that time, would become unintelligible for the future generations. In addition, the new literary language did not have a host of words that had been part of the Old Slavic and later the Serbian Slavic and Slavic Serbian, so that the language of the divine service had become not only unintelligible, but difficult to translate to the modern one as well.
Metropilitan Stеfаn Strаtimirоvić, Јоvаn Hаdžić, Đurо Dаničić, Brаnkо Rаdičеvić, Pеtаr Pеtrоvić Nјеgоš