Institute for the Serbian Language

The SASA Institute for the Serbian Language is the principal scholarly institution in Serbia engaged in a systematic study of the Serbian language and its history, as well as in the production of capital lexicographic and linguistic-geographic works, such as dictionaries and atlases.

The Institute was established in 1947 as a division of the Serbian Academy of Sciences (subsequently Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts) on the foundations of the Lexicographic Department, founded in 1893 by the Serbian Royal Academy at the initiative of Academician Stojan Novaković. The first director of the Institute was Academician Aleksandar Belić, the most prominent and one of the leading world Slavists of the first half of the 20th century. The Institute was a breeding ground for the scholarly careers of future academicians, such as Irena Grickat, Milka Ivić, Pavle Ivić and Mitar Pešikan.

Currently, the Institute is implementing five projects and one subproject, which are aimed at producing a comprehensive study of the old and present-day Serbian language:

  1. Linguistic Research of the Contemporary Standard Serbian Language and the Production of Rečnik srpskohrvatskog književnog i narodnog jezika (Dictionary of the Standard and Vernacular Serbo-Croatian Language). Since 1959, 19 volumes of the Dictionary have come out (а–петогласник). Judging by the corpus of around six million cards, the Dictionary will comprise more than 30 volumes with at least 500,000 entries.
  2. Study of the Old Serbian Written Heritage and the Compilation of Rečnik crkvenoslovenskog jezika srpske redakcije (Dictionary of the Old Church Slavonic Language of the Serbian Recension). The project evolved from the work on excerpting material from a selection of medieval manuscripts (Euangelia and Apostoloi) for the Dictionary carried out by the Department of Old Slavonic Studies, established in 1969. The Department produced capital editions of the Miroslav Gospel, Apostolos of Matica Srpska and Šišatovac Apostolos, as well as the pilot issue of the Serbian Slavonic Gospel Dictionary.
  3. Etymological Research of the Serbian Language and the Compilation of Etimološki rečnik srpskog jezika (Etymological Dictionary of the Serbian Language). The project was launched by the Department of Etymology, established in 1983, for the purpose of a comprehensive and systematic study of the origins of words in the Serbian language. Since 2003, three volumes of the thesaurus have come out (а‒бј). Priručni etimološki rečnik srpskog jezika (Concise Etymological Dictionary of the Serbian Language) is also being compiled.
  4. Dialectological Research of the Serbian Linguistic Space. The goal of the project, launched in 2002, is to research the dialects of the vernacular in the entire Serbian ethnic and linguistic space. Local idioms are studied and published in monographs, phonological, morphological and other isoglosses are defined, and onomastic and lexical material is collected and studied. The Institute is engaged in the compilation of international linguistic atlases and Srpski dijalektološki atlas (Serbian Dialectological Atlas).
  5. Description and Standardization of the Contemporary Serbian Language. The project was launched in 2006 in order that the contemporary Serbian language might be continuously and systematically studied and described in the totality of its structures and functions using state-of-the-art theoretical apparatus. The results of the project, such as Sintaksa savremenog srpskog jezika: prosta rečenica (The Syntax of the Contemporary Serbian Language: Simple Sentences) and Fonologija srpskog jezika (The Phonology of the Serbian Language), serve as bases for updating the norms of the language.
  6. Application of Linguistic Research in the Compilation of a Digital Glossary. The subproject was started in 2011 as part of the SASA Institute for Ethnography’s project Interdisciplinary Research of the Cultural and Linguistic Heritage of Serbia and the Development of the Multimedia Internet Portal Pojmovnik srpske kulture (Glossary of Serbian Culture). The main goals of the subproject are to create a digital lexicographic corpus, prepare the ground for lexicographic and linguistic-geographic work in a digital environment and produce entries for the Glossary.


The Institute is also home to the Committee for the Standardization of the Serbian Language.

The Institute’s international cooperation is effected through the participation of its associates in the implementation of capital international projects (OLA, OKDA, АLE; Linguistic Bibliography), bilateral projects, study visits and scholar exchange with a number of kindred institutions, as well as through organization of international conferences.

Publishing activities:


Српски дијалектолошки зборник (Serbian Dialectological Journal, since 1905)

Јужнословенски филолог (South Slavic Philologist, since 1913)

Наш језик (Our Language, since 1932);

Лингвистичке актуелности (Linguistic Topicalities, since 2000)


Библиотека Јужнословенског филолога (Book Series of the South Slavic Philologist, since 1970)

Монографије (Monographs, since 2004)

Зборник Института за српски језик САНУ (Collection of Papers of the SASA Institute for the Serbian Language, since 2006)

Special editions published by the Institute include various monograph studies and themed collections of papers.

The number of the Institute’s associates working on all the projects totals 64, including 41 PhD holders.

Address: Knez Mihailova 36, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
Telephone: +381 11 3208221, 2181-383
Fax: +381 11 2183-175