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Language & Identity in the Balkans Ch 6 Bosnian: A three-humped camel?

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Presentation on theme: "Language & Identity in the Balkans Ch 6 Bosnian: A three-humped camel?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Language & Identity in the Balkans Ch 6 Bosnian: A three-humped camel?

2 6.0 Introduction 1991 conference organized in hopes to bring peace to the Balkans -- at the end of opening statements both Croat and Bosnian delegates demanded simultaneous translation of the Serbian proceedings; laughter and chaos erupted… Bosnian language emerged suddenly during 1992-5 war in BH Serbs and Croats do not recognize this language, and it is not based on any historical or dialectal reality 1995 Dayton peace talks: Serbs, Croats, and Bosnians all got translations, and this was the first international recognition of Bosnian

3 6.0 Introduction 1995 Dayton Peace Accord: Serbs, Croats, and Bosnians all got translations, and this was the first international recognition of Bosnian

4 6.1 History is on our side: The origins of the Bosnian language 16th-20th c Bosnian Muslim writers used Arabic script, but otherwise the record of a Bosnian language is very sparse, including only –1615 travelog of a haj –1631 Bosnian-Turkish dictionary –1890 Austro-Hungarian sponsored grammar of Bosnian (calculated to counterbalance Serb strength) -- but this was really a grammar of Serbo-Croatian, which is what the author wanted to call it (later insisted on anonymity) Only Islamicized slavs identify their language as Bosnian -- Croats & Serbs in BH reject this identity

5 6.2 It’s all in the name: Bosnian or Bosniac Serbs and Croats don’t recognize a third separate language in BH at all, and they particularly reject the term “Bosnian” “Bosnian” refers to a place (and is preferred by Bosnian linguists and Bosniacs because it strengthens their ties to their territory); “Bosniac” is associated with a people, the Muslim Slavs Bosnian language is the official name, and the language draws features from Bosniac community, but alienates Bosnian Serbs & Croats

6 6.3 The peculiarities of the new Bosnian standard “the codifiers of the new Bosnian language have infused some elements more typical of rural Bosniac dialects than of the capital city; they have blended these elements with their Central Stokavian lexicon, walking a tightrope between words perceived as ‘Croatian’ and those considered to be ‘Serbian’”

7 6.3.1 The dialectal base New Bosnian standard is based on Neo-stokavian ijekavian (same dialect as Vuk and Croat Ilyrians chose) Before 1992 Serbs, Croats, and Bosniacs lived in ethnically mixed cities; Islamicized Slavs historically city- dwellers Bosniac speech marked by more use of velar h (even where not etymologically justified) and Turkish/Arabic loanwords Serbs and Bosniacs did speak differently, even when they were living side by side

8 6.3.2 Bosnian is no mixture of Serbian and Croatian Since 1974, a Bosnian variant (Croatian phonology, Serbian lexicon) has been developing, a process hastened by 1992-5 war –1974-1992: Bosnian development within unified language –1992-present: Bosnian breaks away from unified language

9 6.3.2 Bosnian is no mixture of Serbian and Croatian, cont’d. Bosnians reject the notion that BH is just a place where Serbian and Croatian intersect –Attempt to explain uniquely Bosnian elements of word stock –Addition of Turkish/Arabic words

10 6.4 The first Symposium on the Bosnian language 1998 -- linguists, philosophers, journalists, pedagogues, journalists, policymakers discuss status and future of Bosnian language –2 groups: prescriptivists (activist planning) & descriptivists (tolerant avoidance of differentiation from Serbian or Croatian) –Bosnian was running behind the standardization of Serbian and Croatian, due to high illiteracy and massive displacement during the war, as well as lack of funding and expertise

11 Outcomes of Symposium Institute for Language in Sarajevo renamed: Institute for the Bosnian language (and strengthened) Publication projects for dictionaries, grammars, and orthographies –1991 & 2001 Orthographies for schools Emphasis on Islamic words –2000 Grammar 2002 Charter on the Bosnian Language (nationalist)

12 6.5 Closing ranks: A new charter for a new century 2002 Charter on the Bosnian Language declares that Bosnian is the name of the language, but this name is not intended to threaten the rights of any other people in Bosnia, nor to suggest political aims But the term “Bosnian” remains controversial -- Republika Srpska and Bosnian Serbs reject it, but the former did mention “the language of the Bosniacs” in its 2002 constitution More effort spent on arguing over name than on codifying the language (which would establish its place, alongside Serbian & Croatian)

13 6.6 Conclusions BH has failed to integrate its ethnic groups into a viable and cohesive nation -- all groups are minorities in some areas, and many do not relish ethnic diversity Future of Bosnian is very much dependent upon future of Serbian & Croatian, linguists under pressure to justify differentiation Islamic East will be a source for specialized lexicon, but Neo-stokavian grammar will persist There is an attempt to build a multicultural school curriculum, but it seems unlikely to succeed.

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