Monday, March 8, 2010

A new study of language in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Tolimir-Hölzl, Nataša. (2009). Bosnien und Herzegowina: Sprachliche Divergenz auf dem Prüfstand. München: Kubon-Sagner. STUDIES ON LANGUAGE AND CULTURE IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE (SLCCEE), vol. 5


Linguistically, the past two decades in Bosnia and Herzegovina were characterized by the implementation of three official languages, "Bosnian", "Croatian" and "Serbian", which replaced the formerly used "Serbo-Croatian". What initially looked like a merely terminological change for ideological reasons has developed into a gradually growing language change along ethnic lines, which was also largely influenced by the neighbouring countries Croatia and Serbia, thus turning language planning in Bosnia and Herzegowina into a transnational issue.

In this study, slight changes in the language use of the first post-war school generation were measured. However, it turned out that there is a great difference between the standardization, acceptance and actual use of the three languages in question. It has become evident that these linguistic changes are not spreading out equally, but are only affecting the language use and speech of the majority members in certain regions. As a consequence, members of linguistic minorities tend to move or adapt, which leads to the establishment of separate linguistic regions rather than to the state planned equal trilingualism that was intended to support 'multilingual’ encounters by allowing everyone to learn and use his/ her recently defined and prescribed language anywhere within Bosnia.

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