Language between linguistics and politics: The case of Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian

Professor Vesna Požgaj Hadži (University of Ljubljana)
Friday, May 23, 2014 - 3:30pm
Miller 301

Turbulent social and political circumstances in the Western South Slavic language area caused the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the formation of new
countries in the 1990s, which of course had a major influence on the change of language status and on changes in the languages themselves. This is when linguistic issues became politicized; the communicative function of language was replaced with the symbolic, and those involved in language planning equated language with national identity. The result of these events was the “death” of the prestigious Serbo-Croatian language and the emergence of new standard languages based on the Štokavian dialect (Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian and Montenegrin). In this lecture, after a short description of the linguistic identity of the Serbo-Croatian language, the focus will be on the representation of the linguistic situations and language policies in the newly-formed states after 1991 (in Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro). We conclude that the language policies of the newly-formed states of former Yugoslavia have encountered many problems, including some elementary issues of standardization. Finally, we conclude that the future will not bring convergence and that language policies will depend on the general political situation in the region.

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