May 10, 2017

Serbs aren't the only ones who play politics with Serbo-Croatian

But, other people don't like to admit that.

Getting my ire up on this?

A map of second languages in European Union member states. The most common second language in Slovenia is listed as "Croatian."

NOT "Serbo-Croatian."


And yes, Jakub Marian, that's what it is. Calling "Croatian" a "variety" still doesn't make it a separate language. Per many language scholars, the Croatian and Serbian varieties of Serbo-Croatian are closer than Dutch and German. His disclaimer that he's going by EU data listings is passing the buck. 
Wiki gets the big picture right on its entry for Serbo-Croatian. More on that below. 

Suffice this quote to start us:
The linguistic debate in this region is more about politics than about linguistics per se.
I suspect that Marian, a Czech, also knows that.

First, back to his buck-passing.

The EU is passing the buck because Croatia, like Slovenia, is a member of the EU and Serbia of course is not.

As I told him, the parallel would be not to say that "English" is the most common second language in Spain, but rather, "British English." Or "American English."

Second, his map doesn't list Croatia as an EU member, or at a minimum, an EU member for which second-language data were available.

Why? The hyper-skeptic me and the cynic me agree that this is probably because, per the EU's own standards, "Serbian" would then be the most common second language in Croatia, and post-breakup, no Croatian is going to admit that.

And, although they are separate entities, their politics have an overlap.

The "they" is not Serbia and Croatia, but rather the EU and NATO.

Croatia, and Slovenia, are both members of NATO as well as the EU. Serbia (of course) is not.

That's despite Croatia, as well as Serbia, having Bosnia-bloody hands, among other things.

Back to Wikipedia, which has this as its first key point of Serbo-Croatian as one language.
It can be written in Serbian Cyrillic or Gaj's Latin alphabet, whose thirty letters mutually map one-to-one, and the orthography is highly phonemic in all standards.
Simple enough. Culturally, the alphabets — and Croatian Catholicism vs. Serbian Orthodoxy — may divide the two. Still one language.

Let's look further at Wiki's article (which is extensively footnoted):
Daniel Bunčić concludes that it is a pluricentric language, with four standard variants spoken in Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The mutual intelligibility between their speakers "exceeds that between the standard variants of English, French, German, or Spanish". Other linguists have argued that the differences between the variants of Serbo-Croatian are less significant than those between the variants of English, German, Dutch, and Hindi–Urdu.
So, that not just ties into my "British English" and "American English" comment, it trumps it! (Oh, and on the original Wiki page, in that last sentence, speaking of footnotes? There's one for each of the four languages after Serbo-Croatian.

That said, what is a "pluricentric language"?

Glad you asked.

Wiki has an article there too.

Now, at the link, Wiki does note that Serbian and Croatian varieties may be becoming more "autonomic" due to the political separation.

However, that's still different than two entirely separate languages.

Therefore, the likes of Brittanica (other than it also noting politics is involved) is also wrong.


Marian has responded by telling me to not be a dick.

Lemme see.

If he had first responded one way or the other to my British English vs American English analogy, maybe I'd never have written this post.

He then ignores my "politics" comment.

As for Croatia not being shown on his map? He says it's based on 2012 EU data.

So, he's running an outdated map. (And outdated it may well be, based on migration from the Middle East.) And without a link.

Next, he says let people call their languages what they want. That's fine for an imprecise take; however, he bills himself as a linguist. That's not fine in this case. Not in my book.

Finally, he says it's not the first time he's had to debate alleged idiots about his "maps," plural.


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