The South Slavic branch, from which Serbian later separated, emerged after the resettlement of Slavs in Eastern Europe during the sixth century AD.
Literary Serbian is dated from the 12th century – there are several written works from that time. Significant literary Serbian works emerged during the Ottoman period in the mid-15th century.
In 1850, the Shtokavian dialect was established as a basis for a uniform literary language for Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian. Towards the end of the 19th century, official grammar texts and dictionaries of the language, which was referred to as Serbo-Croatian, were published.
After World War I, in 1918 a single entity, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, was created. Because of attempts to introduce a uniform language throughout all the territory of the Kingdom, Serbian and Croatian were officially forged into a single language.
In 1946, the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia was established and in 1954, under the Novi Sad Agreement, Serbo-Croatian was declared as the official language. It remained in force until 1991 when the Social Federal Republic of Yugoslavia disintegrated.
The war, which followed the collapse of the federal republic, had an influence on the languages – the sense of nationalism in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia inspired people to emphasise the differences between their languages.
Serbs made attempts to purify their language by replacing words of Bosnian and Croatian origin with new Serbian ones.