Milan Rešetar (February 1, 1860 – January 14, 1942) was a Serbian (a self-identified Serb Catholic from the Republic of Ragusa, today by some Croat researchers considered Croatian), linguist, historian and literary critic.
Rešetar was born in Dubrovnik. After the gymnasium in Dubrovnik, he studied classical philology and Slavic languages in Vienna and Graz. He worked as a high-school professor in Koper, Zadar and Split, and later a professor of Slavic studies on the universities of Vienna and Zagreb). He also edited the Croatian edition of "List drevnih zakona" magazine. Rešetar was a student of Vatroslav Jagić. He was a notable member of the Serb Catholic movement in Dubrovnik. After retirement, he moved to Florence where he died 1942.
The main areas of his works included dialectology and accentology of South Slavic languages, as well as philologically impeccable editions of 15th to 18th century writers for the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts edition "Stari pisci hrvatski"/Old Croatian Writers".
He was one of founders of South Slavic dialectology, investigating features of Štokavian dialects (Der Štokawische Dialect, Vienna, 1907) and Čakavian dialects, and also wrote a monography about Molise Croatian dialect. Milan Rešetar was the most conscientious and diligent commentator on The Mountain Wreath. He was also engaged in the field of numismatics (Dubrovačka numizmatika, 1924-1925), inheriting the interest and coin collection from his father Pavle, the last commander in Kotor during Petar II Petrović-Njegoš's lifetime. The collection is kept at The National Museum in Prague.
He wrote in Serbian, Croatian, German, and Italian.
His most important works in Serbian include:"Čakavština i njene nekadašnje i sadašnje granice" (Čakavian Dialect, its Past and Present Boundaries)
"Štokavski dijalekat" (Štokavian Dialect)
"Nikša Zvijezdić" of Serbian Chancellery in Dubrovnik fame (1431-1455)
"Najstariji dubrovački govor" (The Oldest Dialect of Dubrovnik)
"Najstarija dubrovačka proza" (The Oldest Literature of Dubrovnik).
His works in this area are, with a few exceptions, superseded by later areal linguistics and historical dialectology research. On the other hand, Rešetar's editions of the Renaissance and Baroque poets and playwrights are still the standard printed issues; only modern computerized textology analyses, done in the Institute for Croatian language and linguistics, have begun to question some aspects of his transliteration choices on the graphemics level. The big part of his work in this area remains highly regarded and confirmed by contemporary textology.
His scientific attitudes towards the Ijekavian Štokavian dialect of Dubrovnik were driven by his own ethnic affiliation—like many other prominent members of the intelligentsia in Dubrovnik of his time, Rešetar identified himself as a Serb Catholic.
Convinced that the Croats and the Serbs are one nation in two names, Rešetar held that Croatian and Serbian are one and the same language, and in that conviction he published two versions of its grammar - one with examples in Latin script and examples in Cyrillic script: Elementar-Grammatik der kroatischen (serbischen) Sprache and Elementar-Grammatik der serbischen (kroatischen) Sprache (1916).
He also wrote in German a lengthy book entitled Die serbokroatischen Kolonien süditaliens which was published in Vienna in 1911.
This volume concerns itself with the highly-interesting Croatian enclave in Molise of the province of Naples, the three communities of Montemitro, San Felice del Molise, and Aquaviva-Collecroce. Remote from the lines from which the greater events of history moved in the Middle Ages, the three communities have remained singularly conservative of ancestral type in habit and speech. Even at the present they lie remote from the travel routes and scarcely touched by the modern life of Italy save in so far as the Government reaches out to them hands collecting taxes and drawing their youth into military service. The moot point of the period at which this Molise colony was founded and the circumstances under which it came to fixity is carefully discussed with a full apparatus of historical record. Upon the same point the author, with great skill in the interpretation of speech record, masses the weight of his philological acumen in the linguistic section of the work. He succeeds in orienting the Molise dialect upon the great body of Slavic speech and shows where the migration was derived; and, by a critical examination of speech forms, is able to identify the period quite independently of the formal record of documents. It affords a most interesting example of the contribution of philology to the art of a historian.