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post #1 of 100 (permalink) Old December 1st, 2005, 13:47 Thread Starter
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The politics of language

Langauage is a burning issue that can be used to mark both inclusion and exclusion. A good example is the Serbo-Croatian versus Serbian and Croatian. I wonder when does two dialects differ so much that it is possible to call them different languages. Is there such a linguistic point at all or is it purely a political question?

Personally i say serbian and croatian today but said serbo-croatian before. The specific example is not an issue for me i just took it cos it illustrates the question good.
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post #2 of 100 (permalink) Old December 1st, 2005, 14:22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hungaria
Langauage is a burning issue that can be used to mark both inclusion and exclusion. A good example is the Serbo-Croatian versus Serbian and Croatian. I wonder when does two dialects differ so much that it is possible to call them different languages. Is there such a linguistic point at all or is it purely a political question?

Personally i say serbian and croatian today but said serbo-croatian before. The specific example is not an issue for me i just took it cos it illustrates the question good.
there has to be grammatical differences to call it "language". otherwise it's dialects. well, that was to express it the shortest possible way.
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post #3 of 100 (permalink) Old December 1st, 2005, 14:31
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but that can quickly change in the serbian vs croatian case as languages usually are living bodies. a popular joke for linguists in order to define the difference between language and dialects is: "a language is a dialect with an own army". a quite sensitive subject, it is also problematic for linguists. we have a lot of border cases here. serb and croat is one of them, although I consider them still dialects. as contrast, galician, long time considered as dialect, is definitely a proper language.
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post #4 of 100 (permalink) Old December 1st, 2005, 14:45
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also croatia, serbian and bosnian as varieties of the same language are based on the same "newštokavian" language.
however, there is no by all linguistic schools accepted definition of language vs dialect. often for political reasons, this is a very emotional thing.
modern linguists tend to replace the term "dialect" by "variety" though, maybe to make it sound more neutral. a widely used criteria for the defintion is the question if the speakers of two different varieties do understand each other. but this is also problematic as there are some thousand different gradual spectres in that scale. it can also depend of the talent, of socio-cultural background and of the willingness of the given speaker if he understands or not the given speaker of the other variety.
then again, it also is sometimes one-sided, if one thinks for instance of the swiss german case. a swiss would understand a north german in any case while a person from hamburg or bremen will have his difficulties with a strong swiss dialect. interesting though that swiss german is not considered a language while letzeberge/luxembourgish is.
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post #5 of 100 (permalink) Old December 1st, 2005, 17:29
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First, on the issue of Serbian & Croatian. The two languages have a whole bunch of dialects from northwest to southeast. The dialects on the "fringes" can be treated as completely separate but related languages, whereas the dialects in the "middle" are almost the same. Both were standardised on a similar dialect in the 19th century since the idea was to have a common "illyrian" language, therefore they (the linguists or whatever of the day) chose to standardise on a dialect the majority could understand and learn easily. Had Serbian been standardised on an east or south Serbian dialect, it would probably be more similar to Bulgarian today than to Croatian; at the very least we wouldn't be having this discussion. Had Croatian been standardised on a northern Croatian dialect, you'd probably be asking whether there's any difference between Slovenian and Croatian instead. Another choice might have made all 3 languages easily distinguishable, and so on.

But of course there's always politics involved, like in Bosnia where they have 3 official languages. All the people from Bosnia that I've met (mostly Serbs & Muslims) speak the same language. And then there's the idea of a "Montenegrin" language, which is pure politics and utter nonsense. I think generally in the Balkans people are very irrational about the language thing due to nationalism and hatred, really. And then it gets worse when governments purposefully try to differentiate languages for that sake.
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post #6 of 100 (permalink) Old December 2nd, 2005, 04:38
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What's the over/under for # of posts before this topic turns into a slug fest between Croats and Serbs? I have 50 smackers to burn...

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post #7 of 100 (permalink) Old December 2nd, 2005, 06:27
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i say within 5 posts someone will say serbia stole thier language and how the croats were superior or vice versa

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post #8 of 100 (permalink) Old December 2nd, 2005, 08:19
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all this because in anoter thread I said serbo-croat instead of croato-serb...which is what I meant to say

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post #9 of 100 (permalink) Old December 2nd, 2005, 10:32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pila
What's the over/under for # of posts before this topic turns into a slug fest between Croats and Serbs? I have 50 smackers to burn...
I give it max. 20# posts, although the thread is about the language vs dialect / variety question in general
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post #10 of 100 (permalink) Old December 2nd, 2005, 10:45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrix
I think generally in the Balkans people are very irrational about the language thing due to nationalism and hatred, really. And then it gets worse when governments purposefully try to differentiate languages for that sake.
everywhere people are irrational and emotional when it comes to their language. it's a good part of thjeir identity after all. but here, despite all politics and 3 "languages having each their own army", differences between bosnian, croatian and serbian seem to be not big enough to call it separate languages, except for political reasons. come on, they're not even as big as portuguese/brazilian, and they're both still portuguese after 183 years of own armys. it's legitimate though to call a variety "brasilian" or "croatian", but in a linguistic meaning of it they're not separate languages.
how to call the scg/bih/cro language bundle is a way more interesting thing. serbo-croat/croato-serb are obviously not fashionable, how about, to keep it simple, "language bundle of the region formerly known as southern slavia excluding makedonia, slovenia and bulgaria, which is split up now between east, south east, south, central, west and north west europe"?
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post #11 of 100 (permalink) Old December 2nd, 2005, 15:02 Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanyi
"language bundle of the region formerly known as southern slavia excluding makedonia, slovenia and bulgaria, which is split up now between east, south east, south, central, west and north west europe"?
Yes, that sounds like a true Balkan compromise now its only the work left to find an abbrevation for it that all parts can accept.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrix
Had Croatian been standardised on a northern Croatian dialect, you'd probably be asking whether there's any difference between Slovenian and Croatian instead.
Wasnt the differnce between slovenian and croatian quite large even then?
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post #12 of 100 (permalink) Old December 2nd, 2005, 15:36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanyi
everywhere people are irrational and emotional when it comes to their language. it's a good part of thjeir identity after all.
Well, in Ireland English is an official language despite the fact that the Irish have had many quarrels with England and despite the fact that English has pushed their own native language (Irish) to the verge of extinction. Yet the language is not called officially "Germanic Irish", even though the emotions there are pretty strong...also in Austria there is German, not "Austrian", and in the US everyone acknowledges that they speak English, not American, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hungaria
Wasnt the differnce between slovenian and croatian quite large even then?
The difference between north Croatian dialects and Slovenian is not large at all.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kajkavian_dialect
Croatian is very diverse (moreso then Serbian I'd say) and the reason Serbian & Croatian are (or were) almost identical is because of the dialects chosen for standardisation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanyi
"language bundle of the region formerly known as southern slavia excluding makedonia, slovenia and bulgaria, which is split up now between east, south east, south, central, west and north west europe"
We're way ahead of you, sanyi some linguists have suggested and used the name "Central South Slavic diasystem". It's much shorter than your suggestion, but nice try
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diasystem
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post #13 of 100 (permalink) Old December 2nd, 2005, 15:41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hungaria
Wasnt the differnce between slovenian and croatian quite large even then?
the slovenian case is a bit controversial. some theories say it's not a south slavic language, but a west slavic one, others label it under the south slavic branch. the difference is not small though.
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post #14 of 100 (permalink) Old December 2nd, 2005, 15:44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrix

We're way ahead of you, sanyi some linguists have suggested and used the name "Central South Slavic diasystem". It's much shorter than your suggestion, but nice try
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diasystem
well, I have my own methods in structural linguistics sometimes

anyway, I'm more into romanic and finno-ugrian stuff, slavistic serves as entertaining hobby
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post #15 of 100 (permalink) Old December 3rd, 2005, 08:53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanyi
well, I have my own methods in structural linguistics sometimes

anyway, I'm more into romanic and finno-ugrian stuff, slavistic serves as entertaining hobby
that would properly be "finno-ugric", and "slavistic" is actually a bona-fide barbarism

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post #16 of 100 (permalink) Old December 3rd, 2005, 13:22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giureconsulto
that would properly be "finno-ugric", and "slavistic" is actually a bona-fide barbarism
never mind, I am not too familiar with the english terms of those things. and what is barbaric with slavistics?
(after consulting dictionary): I see, slavic / slavonic studies

Last edited by sanyi; December 3rd, 2005 at 20:52.
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post #17 of 100 (permalink) Old December 3rd, 2005, 13:34
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Can we remember to cut personal insults out please.

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post #18 of 100 (permalink) Old December 3rd, 2005, 13:42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natalya
Can we remember to cut personal insults out please.
of course, but there hasn't been one in this thread.
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post #19 of 100 (permalink) Old December 3rd, 2005, 13:54
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Goddam I had fantastic replies, but Natalie removed them, but justifyably so, they were interspersed with obscene language

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post #20 of 100 (permalink) Old December 4th, 2005, 02:19
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There are HUGE differences within the Slovene national tongues, and even more from the northern Croatian dialect.

There IS a massive difference. Slovenes have a hard time understanding each other, let alone understanding Croatian.

To suggest they're 'the same' is plain wrong.

I understand Slovene, proper Slovene, and what people call 'Prek' Slovene from Prekmurje and let me tell you when one person only understands the one and not the other, it might as well be a Greek and a Norwegian. Plus there's other Slovene dialects that are hard to cross-understand also from the Alp regions and the Italian ones.

The Slovene that is very similar to northern or 'Zagorski' Croatian is from Bela Krajina, but that's the only one that's at all similar to Croatian. There are similarities in structure and of course both are Slavic but differences in accent plus some other problems that I won't get into, make it an entirely different tongue.

Great point about the Illyrian movement. Had the Serbian dialect been based on something from southern Serbia and the Croat one on from Karlovac this thread wouldn't even be here.

Would the people who don't know a thing about the region please refrain from using such ignorant remarks as 'irrational' and 'same as' when referring to the region. Learn about the history of the place before you pass judgement.

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