Croatians are protective of the their Croatian language from foreign influences, the language was under constant change and threats imposed by previous rulers (i.e. Austrian German, Hungarian, Italian and Turkish words were changed and altered to "Slavic" looking/sounding ones).
The Croatian language has three major dialects, identified by three different words for "what" ća, kaj and što. From 1961 to 1991, the official language was Serbo-Croatian. Even under socialism, Croats often referred to their language as Croato-Serbian (instead of Serbo-Croatian) or as Croatian. Croatian and Serbian variants of the language were always recognized as different, often referred as the west and east version, and had different alphabets; Latin alphabet and Serbian Cyrillic.
In the late 19th and 20th century, Serbian and Yugoslav nationalist scholars began to impose policies to change or alter Croatian words into "Serbian" or "South Slavic" ones, which have infuriarated Croats over the purity and preservation of their native language (See Croatian linguistic purism). Under the Habsburgs, Latin was the official language of the Croatian government and Sabor. At the same time, besides Croatian, many Croats used German and Italian in everyday life. A national reawakening in the nineteenth century focused on the establishment of a national language as the official one.
Under socialism, a Yugoslav identity was promoted and symbols of national identity were suppressed. Singing Croatian songs was said to be nationalistic and could lead to a jail term. The Croatian Spring, the only large-scale nationalist movement under Tito's regime, was put down in 1971. It was led by important Croatian communists and was based on economic disagreement with the Serb elite in Belgrade.
The newly independent state has had to recreate a national culture by drawing from history and folk culture. The modern national identity draws on its medieval roots, association with Viennese "high culture," culturally diverse rural traditions, and Roman Catholicism.