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Zdravljica by France Prešeren, first version in the Bohorič alphabet

The Bohorič alphabet (Slovene: bohoričica) was an orthography used for the Slovenian between the 16th and 19th centuries. Its name is derived from Adam Bohorič, who codified the alphabet in his 1584 book Articae Horulae Succisivae.

The Bohorič alphabet was first used by Primož Trubar, the author of the first printed book in Slovenian. However, Trubar did not follow strict rules and often used alternate spellings for the same word.

The alphabet consists of 25 letters (including 3 digraphs) in the following order:

a b d e f g h i j k l m n o p r ſ ſh s sh t u v z zh

The Bohorič alphabet differs from the modern Slovene alphabet in the following letters:

Bohorič alphabet
majuscule minuscule IPA modern Slovenian
Z z /ts/ c
ZH zh /tʃ/ č
S, Ş ſ /s/ s
SH, ŞH ſh /ʃ/ š
S s /z/ z
SH sh /ʒ/ ž

(In these cases, the values of the Bohorič letters somewhat resemble German.)

In the early Bohorič alphabet, some letters shared majuscule forms:

  • I was the majuscule form of i and j
  • V was the majuscule form of u and v
  • S was the majuscule form of s and ſ
  • SH was the majuscule form of sh and ſh

Problems

The Bohorič alphabet was quite successful, but it suffered from a number of flaws:

  • Slovenian has eight vowels, but the Bohorič alphabet only has five vowel characters (this flaw is shared by modern Slovenian orthography).
  • The combination "sh" could be read as two separate letters or as a digraph (although this is relevant for only a handful of words, such as shujšati 'to lose weight').
  • It did not distinguish vowel length (nor does modern Slovenian orthography).
  • It did not distinguish tone (nor does modern Slovenian orthography).

A debate over orthographic reform (known in Slovenian as the abecedna vojna 'the alphabet war') took place in the 1830s. After experiments with the Metelko and Dajnko alphabets, around 1850 Slovenians began using the Gaj alphabet already in use in Croatian (and modeled on Czech and Polish).

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