Languages and Nationalisms

It was a purely political decision on all sides to institutionalize four separate languages (Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian and Montenegrin) in the context of a language group in which differences among standards are so slight that no translations are actually needed. The languages that replaced the Serbo-Croatian/Croat-Serbian language helped to strengthen the newly formed national identities after independence was proclaimed following the violent break-up of Yugoslavia. This was also readily recognized and accepted by many Western countries, disregarding the fact that such a decision effectively turned linguistics into a political tool par excellence.

The project entitled LANGUAGES AND NATIONALISMS is based on the mutual recognition of the project partners (PEN centre in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kurs cultural association in Croatia, Centre for Civic Education in Montenegro, and the association KROKODIL in Serbia) and the production partner (forumZFD in Serbia) that in central parts of the region of former Yugoslavia, linguistic science has been subject to intense political misuse on the local, regional and international levels for the past 25 years and is in need of new definitions.

It is for this reason that, following and inspired by the seminal book ‘Language and nationalism’ (2010) written by the Croatian linguist Snježana Kordić, the five organisations from the region of former Yugoslavia decided to join forces to organise a series of expert debates in the countries where this polycentric language is spoken.

The plan is to reach new conclusions concerning the language that we often call “Naš” (Ours) – for want of an acceptable, more neutral term. We aim to investigate how the so-called regional languages are reflected in political questions and vice versa.

The project is an attempt to gather information on the betrayal of linguistics over the past 25 years, and to identify problems and obstacles that prevented linguists at large from dealing with their expertise while at the same time avoiding the direct influence of politics.

Other activities