59.3 Nationalist interventions into Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian in the 1990s and today

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 11:15 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Danko SIPKA , School of International Letters and Cultures, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
The present paper analyzed new Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (ethnic standards of Serbo-Croatian) words introduced in the early 1990s partially as a part of the wave of ethnic nationalism. The first source of data was a corpus of approximately 44000 new words used as the material basis for Šipka (2002), collected from various newspaper corpora in 1999. The status of these new words is then annalysed using the newspaper corpora from the late 2000s. This case study of 1990s lexical changes in the three variants of Serbo-Croatian points to the role that conflicting ethnic identities play in shaping the lexicon. While ethnic identity cannot be disregarded as a factor of external language history, its omnipresence in the political realm does not translate into an equipotent role in the sphere of language functioning. Multiple other layers of identity and various other historical currents (such as technological, socio-cultural, lifestyle changes, etc.) also shape the lexicon. In the overall picture of the 1990s, lexical changes and ethnic identities are just one of many contributing factors. Moreover, as demonstrated in the analysis of Bosniak lexemes, the intention of using new words to create ethnic identities is not implemented in the practice of real-life texts. The new words, contrary to the original political intention, turn into markers of conservatism within one ethnic group rather than a distinctive feature of that particular ethnic group toward the others. At a more general level, the results presented in this paper offer additional evidence for a high complexity of the interplay of societal and linguistic factors, thoroughly elaborated in Fasold (1984).

Fasold, R 1984 The Sociolinguistics of Society, Oxford: Basil Blackwell

Šipka, D. 2002 A Dictionary of New Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian Words, Springfield: Dunwoody Press.