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by their historic tie to the Bosnian historical region, traditional majority adherence to Islam since the 15th and 16th centuries, common culture and Bosnian language.
English speakers frequently refer to Bosniaks as Bosnian Muslims or simply as Bosnians, though the latter term can also denote all inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina (regardless of ethnic origin) or apply to citizenship in the country.
Bosnensis), is originally a name defining the inhabitants of the medieval Bosnian state".
Social anthropologist Tone Bringa develops that "Neither Bosniak, nor Croat, nor Serb identities can be fully understood with reference only to Islam or Christianity respectively, but have to be considered in a specific Bosnian context that has resulted in a shared history and locality among Bosnians of Islamic as well as Christian backgrounds." Bosniaks are generally defined as the South Slavic nation on the territory of the former Yugoslavia whose members identify themselves with Bosnia and Herzegovina as their ethnic state and are part of such a common nation, and of whom the majority are Muslim by religion.
Nevertheless, leaders and intellectuals of the Bosniak community may have various perceptions of what it means to be Bosniak.
Although Montenegro's Slavic Muslims form one ethnic community with a shared culture and history, this community is divided on whether to register as Bosniaks (i.e.
adopt Bosniak national identity) or as Muslims by nationality.
The effects of this phenomenon can best be seen in the censuses.
For instance, the 2003 Montenegrin census recorded 48,184 people who registered as Bosniaks and 28,714 who registered as Muslim by nationality.
According to the English medievalist William Miller in the work Essays on the Latin Orient (1921), the Slavic settlers in Bosnia "adapted the Latin designation [...] Basante, to their own idiom by calling the stream Bosna and themselves Bosniaks [...]".
According to philologist Anton Mayer the name Bosna could essentially be derived from Illyrian Bass-an-as(-ā) which would be a diversion of the Proto-Indo-European root *bhoĝ-, meaning "the running water".
Similarly, the 2002 Slovenian census recorded 8,062 people who registered as Bosnians, presumably highlighting (in large part) the decision of many secular Bosniaks to primarily identify themselves in that way (a situation somewhat comparable to the Yugoslav option during the socialist period).