Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic (1787 – 1864) was a Serbian philologist, a Serbian language reformer, a collector of folk sayings and a writer of the first dictionary of the Serbian language. Vuk is the most important person in the Serbian language literature of the first half of the XIX century. He also earned several honorary doctorates.
He participated in the First Serbian Uprising as a scribe and clerk in the Negotin Krajina, and after the breadown of the Uprising he moved to Vienna in 1813. Here he met Jernej Kopitar, censor of Slovenian books, at whose incentive he began to collect Serbian folk songs, Cyrillic reform and the struggle for introducing the national language into Serbian literature. A phonetic spelling was introduced by the Vuk’s reforms in the Serbian language, and the Serbian language pushed aside the Slavo-Serbian language, which at the time was the language of educated people. Therefore, as the most important years of the Vuk’s reforms we consider 1818, 1836, 1839, 1847, and 1852.
Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic (1787-1864) was born in a family where children died, and according to the folk tradition he was named Vuk (Wolf) so the witches would not hurt him. He was born in Tršić in Serbia, then under the Ottoman occupation. He learned writing and reading from his relative Jevta Savic, who was the only literate man in the region. He continued his education in Loznica, and later in Tronoša monastery. Since they did not teach him in the monastery, but forced to tend the cattle, his father returned him home.
Failing to enroll in the Karlovac Gymnasium, he goes to Petrinja. Later he arrives in Belgrade to meet with Dositej Obradovic, his beloved enlightener. Dositej was rude to him, and dissapointed Vuk went to Jadar and starts working as a scribe with Jakov Nenadovic. When the Great School in Belgrade was opened, Vuk became the pupil. He soon got sick and went for treatment in Pest. Later he returns to Serbia and when an uprising collapses, goes to Vienna. In Vienna, he sees censor Jernej Kopitar, who helps him to realize his plans.
He began his work on the reform of language and spelling and the introduction of the national language into literature. Because the problem with the prince Miloš Obrenović, he was forbidden to print books in Serbia, also in Austrian stat. With his work, he gets friends and help in Russia, where he gets a permanent pension in 1826.
Only his daughter Mina Karadzic remained in the family.
Vuk died in Vienna. His bones were transferred to Belgrade in 1897 and with great honor buried in the port of the Cathedral church, next to Dositej Obradovic.