language & identity in the balkans

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Language & Identity in the Balkans. Chapter 1: Introduction. 1.0 Overview. Dramatic changes in the status of what used to be called Serbo-Croatian - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • Language & Identity in the BalkansChapter 1: Introduction

  • 1.0 OverviewDramatic changes in the status of what used to be called Serbo-CroatianThis study addresses specific controversies surrounding the codification of the four successor languages to Serbo-Croatian: Serbian, Montenegrin, Croatian, and BosnianExamines link between national image, personal & group identity, and the spoken word

  • What do you know about the Former Yugoslavia?What republics did it contain?What were the titular languages of the republics?What other languages were present?What are the successor states?

  • 1.1 Goals & methodologyWorks on the subject of Serbo-Croatian published in former Yugoslavia are subjective & lack scholarly rigorExperts from outside Yugoslavia have focused only on individual successor languages, without attempting to incorporate data from the entire Serbo-Croatian speech territory

  • 1.1 Goals & methodology, contd.Outline of bookCh 2: history of joint literary languageSuccessor languages:Ch 3: SerbianCh 4: MontenegrinCh 5: CroatianCh 6: BosnianCh 7: Conclusion -- language controversies of the past continue to destabilize standardization process

  • 1.1 Goals & methodology, contd.We will examine: codification instruments (dictionaries, grammars, etc. -- these have political rather than linguistic significance)work by indigenous scholars (focus on main controversies)blueprints for new successor languagespopular press (to gauge wider implications of emergence of successor languages)

  • 1.1 Goals & methodology, contd.Main themes:Trends in process of birth & re-birth within former Serbo-Croatian territoryHow language planners attempt to differentiate among various languagesPolitical motivations and social forces that brought about linguistic transformations among 20M people who once spoke a unified langaugeRelationship between language, ethnicity, nationalism

  • 1.2 Language as a marker of ethnic identityEthnicity (Fishman 1989):Collective, intergenerational cultural continuityLinks to ones own peopleShared ancestral origins and the gifts, responsibilities, rights, and obligations deriving therefrom

  • 1.2 Language as a marker of ethnic identity, contd.In former Yugoslavia:Administrative boundaries have never corresponded with ethnic ones Ethnic distribution looks like a jigsaw puzzleEthnic terms have been fluid, members have switched allegiance, ethnic labels have changed (esp Muslim > Bosniac)

  • 1.2 Language as a marker of ethnic identity, contd.Ethnicity (Edwards 1985):Based on both objective and subjective considerationsObjective: language, race, geography, religion, ancestry Subjective: ethnic belonging is voluntary, mutable, and a reflection of belief, sense of groupness (but must relate to something real in the past)BUT: Are these really objective?

  • 1.2 Language as a marker of ethnic identity, contd.Two flaws in Edwards definition as a description of Yugoslav identities:Religion and ancestry have been insufficient in determining group identityLanguage has proven to be neither an objective factor nor an immutable oneHow can language be a subjective factor?

  • 1.2 Language as a marker of ethnic identity, contd.Croats are Catholic, Serbs & Montenegrins are Orthodox Christians, but they all speak mutually intelligible dialectsLanguage as a flag1944 Establishment of Macedonian literary language1995-96 Codification of Bosnian language

  • 1.2 Language as a marker of ethnic identity, contd.Language is NOT an objective marker of ethnic identity in former YugoslaviaThey all speak the same language, but cannot agree on what to call it, what dialects should be official, or what orthography to useLanguage choices are subjective and politically motivated

  • 1.3 Language in the context of Balkan nationalismBalkan peoples began national revivals in 19th & early 20th cHerders principle that a nation required its own language was enthusiastically received in Eastern Europe1850 Literary Agreement by Serb and Croat intellectuals asserted that Catholic, Orthodox, and Muslim Central Southern Slavs were one people with a single language

  • 1.3 Language in the context of Balkan nationalism, contd.The two Yugoslav states (1918-41 & 1945-91) recognized these same people as 2, 3, or 4 separate peoples (who still spoke the same language)This fact violated the belief that a group with national pretensions was incomplete without its own language -- groups sought to correct this after 1991How could this be corrected?

  • 1.3 Language in the context of Balkan nationalism, contd.Titos regime suppressed nationalism and thus denied the right of each people to its own languageOnly Macedonians and Slovenes were recognized to have their own languagesEveryone else was supposed to use Serbo-Croatian, which was also the language of the army and diplomacy

  • 1.3 Language in the context of Balkan nationalism, contd.1960s Croats began openly calling their language CroatianBosnia-Herzegovina used a variant different from standard S-C and Latin letters1986 Serbian Memorandum expressed distress at the lack of protection for Serbian outside Serbia proper

  • 1.3 Language in the context of Balkan nationalism, contd.1968 Kosovo Albanians abandoned their native Gheg dialect in favor of the Tosk standard used in Albania, and Serbs regarded this as a move toward a unified Albanian state1990s Croatians initiated a campaign to purge Serbian words and replace them with Croatian onesIn 1990s Serbs living in Croatia attempted to use Cyrillic as a marker of identity

  • 1.3 Language in the context of Balkan nationalism, contd.Language planners set up barriers for communication instead of facilitating mutual intelligibilityLanguage birth in Balkans results in part from explosive nationalist policies in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, MontenegroBut the unity of the language was threatened before this as well

  • 1.4 Serbo-Croatian: A dying tongue?Language death for S-C is not conventional, since it was not brought on by the death of the last speaker or language shiftMaybe S-C never really existed, but was just a collection of diverse dialects

  • 1.4 Serbo-Croatian: A dying tongue?, contd.Languages can differentiateAbstand: by naturally drifting apart (e.g., English and German)Ausbau: through the active intervention of language planners, linguists, and policy makers (e.g., Hindi & Urdu, Scandinavian)Dialects in Bulgarian and Macedonian area drifted apart via Abstand, but their literary languages are the products of Ausbau

  • 1.4 Serbo-Croatian: A dying tongue?, contd.Mutual intelligibility is NOT the determining factor in language differentiationAs of 1991-2 Serbo-Croatian officially ceased to exist in the Yugoslav successor statesThe splitting of the language occurred along ethnic lines, rather than geographic or political boundaries, and was neither orderly nor planned

  • 1.4 Serbo-Croatian: A dying tongue?, contd.Today:Serbs and Croats do not accept the existence of Bosnian languageSerbs and some Montenegrins do not accept the existence of MontenegrinSerbs living in Croatia do not accept Croatian language reforms (despite speaking a similar dialect)Bosniacs accept neither Serbian nor Croatian

  • 1.4 Serbo-Croatian: A dying tongue?, contd.Linguistics has been highly politicized in the Balkans (even before break-up of Yugoslavia)In ex-Yugoslavia, linguists have been major actors on the political stage


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