Join us for a colloquium and refreshments, provided by Lee Scheingold!
What’s In a Language Name?
The Case of Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian
Presented by Dr. Bojan Belić
The Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian languages are located in the South Slavic (more precisely – the Western South Slavic) branch of the Slavic language family branch of the Indo-European language family tree. According to Lewis et al. 2013, the language status of all four of them is best described by the category STATUTORY NATIONAL LANGUAGE, recognized as such – though with various actual labels attached to them – in constitutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia dating back no later than the year 1990. Looking further into the past, however, takes one to the times of the language known by the name of Serbo-Croatian, nowadays not found in any of the afore mentioned constitutions. The fact that Serbo-Croatian does not exist constitutionally any longer allows for thinking about this language’s death, while – conversely – the apparent constitutional emergence of the four languages under observation leads into thinking about their birth. Admittedly, both phenomena of language death and language birth, as presented here, differ somewhat than when they are discussed in relation to language endangerment and new language varieties development, respectively.