In addition to nationalist and religious affiliation, languages were one of the main stumbling blocks in the entire ex-Yugoslavia world. In the recent past, they managed to disunite friends and entire families and it seems like they still do. However, it seems like it is all for nothing.
Some of the most prominent linguists from four republics of the former Yugoslavia commented how Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian and Montenegrin languages do not exist individually and that they are only names for one standard, mutual language.
The proof is simple – all those people mutually understand each other, and these linguists proved that through a debate on the topic “Ideology of the correct language”, where they provided some statements that support this claim.
“Over the past few decades, the story goes around about the theft of language, advocated for by nationalists from all four countries with one same argument – “I had that language first, and you stole it from me”. The story about language thus stopped being linguistic and gave rise to the question of the role of language in the creation of a nation, in strengthening and spreading of nationalism,” said Snježana Kordić, a linguist from Osijek.
As absurd divisions of language, these linguists mentioned schools which conduct classes in different languages for students who easily understand each other on the playground. They also mentioned book translations, subtitles for films and shows, as well as the creation of new words which are an object of derision, especially in Croatia.
Ksenija Rakočević, a philologist from Montenegro, hoped that the linguists in her country, where the Montenegrin language exists since 2007 only, will learn from the mistakes of their neighbors. However, their innovations were radical – they invented new letters.
“Montenegrin language is defined as autochthonous – it means it has no similarities with other languages, including Croatian, Bosnian, and the least, Serbian. Linguists should not be dealing with politics, but today they go to places where the money is – to selling myths. Nationalism is inseparable from finances, and nationalists in linguistics are being given wind in the back by the government,” said Rakočević.