Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Long live Crnogorski

I must admit I am envious of the linguistic capabilities of many of the citizens of the republics that used to make up Yugoslavia who, on top of already mastering "Serbian", "Croatian" and "Bosnian" - languages that I was taught back in the early 1990s as variants of "Serbo-Croat" -  and being able to understand and function in Slovenian, in a single day, on the 27th of July, became proficient in yet another, little known language, Crnogorski - Montenegrin.

Jelena Susanj from Matica Crnogorska
holding a book on the Montenegrin language
Thanks to the dilligent efforts of Montenegro's Skupština, the country's students who were taught a language that comprised Serbian, Montenegrin, Croatian and Bosnian as its regional variants, will from now on be instructed in Montenegrin (Crnogorski). This is the newest chapter in a long history of language politics in the small post-YUgoslav republic. In 2004, in a clumsy yet potentially positive and inclusive move, the government changed the name of the language taught in the official school curriculum from "Serbian" to "Mother tongue (Serbian, Montenegrin, Croatian, Bosnian)". Three years later, Montenegrin became the official language of Montenegro with the ratification of the October 2007 constitution. In January 2008, the government of Montenegro formed the Council for the Codification of the Montenegrin Language with the aim to standardize the Montenegrin language according to international norms. Even until very recently, the official web page of the President of Montenegro stated it was provided in a "Montenegrin–Serbian version" (Crnogorsko-srpska verzija).

While the Western Balkans look towards the EU and the realization of their long-promised integration to the European architecture, it is clear that the logic of nation-building is still sweeping over the last elements of shared culture and experience the peoples of the region still have, including the means of communicating with each other - their shared language ...

As for me ... I am about to make room in my bookshelves for the first ever Montenegrin-Serbian-Croatian-Bosnian dictionary - it should be coming out soon ...

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