Nations Forming Bosnia and Herzegovina and Their Linguistic Identity

Samir Bajrić

Abstract


In 1918, Antoine Meillet, French linguist and a great specialist of the Slavic world, wrote these: “The world tends to have only one civilization, but civilization languages are multiplying” (A. Meillet, Les langues dans l’Europe nouvelle, Paris, Payot, 1918, p. 2). A century later, within a few years, the space to which the political traditions reserve the name Central Europe confirms the validity of visionary thinking linguist said, if only for the multiplication of languages denominations that affects this geographical and cultural area. This part of the Old Continent is home mostly the tradition of Slavic community(ies) and expression(s). Anyone who has studied the history of South Slavic peoples dreams of creating a link between the term “Serbo-Croatian” / “Croatian-Serbian” and the name of Yugoslavia. But it does not involve the ethnonym “Yugoslav” in the sense that the French ethnonym—France being considered as a nation-state—refers to the French nation. The rigorous distinction the peoples inhabiting the Balkan Peninsula establish, as an Austro-Hungarian heritage, between nacionalnost (‘nationality,’ ‘nationhood,’ German: Volksangehörigkeit) and državljanstvo (‘citizenship,’ ‘membership of a State,’ German: Staatsangehörigkeit) faces a French design (Western) where nation and state form roughly a compact reference criterion. Language policies and the social and religious communities that make up Bosnia and Herzegovina today, this strange survivor of the “mosaic of peoples and traditions” that once formed the second Yugoslavia (1945–1992), more complex relationships, both institutional and human, between its constituent peoples.

This paper revives the need to rethink the language concepts (national, official and other), nation and state constitution by subjecting them to the study of (intractable) features created by the Bosnian cohabitation. The names imposed by the Dayton Agreement (1995) and referring to political entities as well as peoples and minorities concerned, such as Bosniak-Croat Federation / Muslim-Croat, Republika Srpska (Serb political entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina), Croats / Bosnian Croats, Serbs / Bosnian Serbs, Bosnians, Bosniaks / Muslims, Bosnian-Muslims, etc., create a broad area where intermingle and overlap language demands and multiethnic / multireligious realities.


Keywords


constituent peoples; official languages; ethnicities; linguistic affiliations; linguistic identities; Croatian; Serbian; Bosnian; languages or languages denominations; linguistic claims

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18290/rh.2015.63.8-7

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Roczniki Humanistyczne · ISSN 0035-7707 | eISSN 2544-5200 | DOI: 10.18290/rh

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