BSC or SCB 1

BSC or SCB 1
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   1 BSC or SCB 1   The intention of this paper is to talk about language developments in the ‘Bosnian’ language or rather Bosnian Serbo -Croat (  BSC  ), or even more appropriately Serbo-Croatian  –  Bosnian variant ( SCB ). The article about the ‘madness’ of war language in Bosnia, the language situation preceding the formal acknowledgement of the ‘Bosnian’ langua ge, was published by the same author earlier 2 . The question of the role of language in a society is a complex one; the political impact of ‘creating’ a new language is not the least important among the factors which define a language. Still, language as either a means of communication or even identification ought to have certain specific features defining it as an independent and sovereign language. Not everybody would agree with this attitude though, so it might be helpful to consider the view taken by Chris Agee, who in a recent collection of poems by poets from Bosnia, makes this observation: “Language is a totem of personal and collective self  -definition.  Nowadays, in any event, Bosnian is the ‘Serbo - Croat’ spoken by all those who keep faith, in some sense, with Bosnia in its historic form. All the poets here, therefore, w rite in Bosnian.” 3  The fall of the Yugoslav Federation brought about the formation of new nation states, and each of these made a conscious effort to develop its own language which, till then, was called either Serbo-Croat or Croato-Serbian ( SC  ) and was spoken in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia. As for the language situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina before the fall of the Yugoslav Federatio n, the official language policy was to use both the ‘western’ and the ‘eastern’ variant which meant a wider choice of language use, a richer language. Since 1992 the situation has changed significantly and the attempted ‘creation’ of a new language stemming from the one previously known as SC is going to be the topic of this paper. The conscious attempts to nurture a distinct language quickly became inseparable from the formulation of official language policy documents which aimed to prescribe received usage in the new language. Since that very year the author left Sarajevo, all the examples presented here will refer 1   The paper requested by and presented at the conference: “Language in the Former Yugoslav Lands” , organised by the Centre for South-East European Studies, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, but not included in their publication. 2   “Language and Identity in Bosnia - Herzegovina”, in Political Discourse in Transition in Europe 1989-1991, ed. P.A. Chilton, M. V. Ilyin & J. L. Mey, John Benjamins, 1998, pp. 251-264. 3  Scar on the Stone  –   Contemporary Poetry from Bosnia, ed. by Chris Agee, Bloodaxe Books 1998, p. 17.   2 only to the language as used in print, not the ‘spoken language’. All the examples are taken from Bosnian newspapers. The new orthographic manual, which both describes and prescribes usage, will also be quoted as the official guideline for ‘correct’ language use.  Hence it seems reasonable to start by examining the Pravopis bosanskoga  jezika  4  (the orthographic manual). According to this book  5 : “U narodnim govorima, knji`evnoj i ukupnoj jezi~koj djelatnosti  Bo{njaka sa~uvana je neprekinuta veza sa slavenskim naslije|em od najranijeg razdoblja.”   (In the folk speech, literary and total language activity of the Bosniaks an uninterrupted connection with the Slav heritage has been retained from the earliest times.) 6  and the reasons for a somewhat belated codification of the Bosnian language are: “... (oni su) samo dru{tvene naravi .”  ((they are) only of social nature.) 7  Since 1960 the orthographic manuals based on Novi Sad agreement were in use and, as the author states: “ Ti priru~nici nisu uva`avali osobenost bo{nja~kog jezi~kog bi}a, razaraju}i ga ne{tedimice …”   (These manuals did not appreciate the specific nature of the Bosniak language corpus, destroying it mercilessly ...) 8  Here, one should pose a different question, a question which does not refer to the substance of ‘Bosnian’ language, but rather to the somewhat unclear use of the terms “Bosnian” and “Bosniak”. The Pravopis  tells us, at the very beginning, that: “ Ovo je prvi pravopis bosanskog jezika. Namijenjen je Bo{njacima, kojima je bosanski jezik maternji (upravo tim imenovanjem jezika  –  a ne 4   Pravopis bosanskoga jezika , Senahid Halilovic, Preporod, Sarajevo, 1996. 5  NB: All the translations in this paper are literal translations so as to retain the complexity of the matter and the definitions in the srcinal. 6  Op. cit. Pravopis , p. 6. 7  Ibid. p. 6. 8  Ibid. p. 6.   3 imenom bo{nja~ki  –   Bo{njaci obuhva}aju svoju ukupnu kulturnu okomicu; i na popisu stanovni{tva 1991. to se potvrdilo: oko 90% Bo{njaka, odnosno 38% `itelja Bosne i Hercegovine izjasnilo se da im je bosanski  jezik maternji), kao i pripadnicima drugih naroda u Bosni i Hercegovini i u svijetu koji bosanski jezik p rihva}aju kao svoj.” (This is the first orthographic manual of Bosnian language. It is written for the Bosniaks whose mother tongue is Bosnian (by naming the language as such  –  and not calling it Bosniak   –  the Bosniaks comprise their own entire cultural vertical; and the 1991 Census confirmed it: about 90% of the Bosniaks, i.e. 38% of the inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina declared that Bosnian is their mother tongue), as well as for other nationals in Bosnia and Herzegovina and those throughout the world who accept Bosnian language as their own.)  9  The same book offers many more explanations and arguments describing “Bosnian language” in terms of “Bosniak culture” in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but since it is not the major topic of this paper it will suffice to mention one, among many similar quotations, this time from the newspapers, which indicates that the term “Bosniak”, though rather vague, may actually be a way of referring to the Moslem ethnic group in Bosnia and Herzegovina and elsewhere. “Hrvati, Srbi i Bo{njaci ponovo su konstitutivni na teritoriji cijele Bosne i Hercegovine.” (Croats, Serbs and Bosniaks are again constitutive on the whole of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.)  10   The dilemma concerning the terms “Bosnian” and “Bosniak” could well be the topic of another paper. However, this calls for another question. Namely, if ‘Bosnian’ is spoken by the Bosniaks, which language do the Bosnian Serbs and Croats speak: ‘Bosnian’, or ‘Croatian’ and ‘Serbian’ respectively? To go back to the questions of ‘Bosnian’ language it is worth turning back to the Pravopis bosanskoga jezika. It informs us that it is based upon the principle of not changing those elements which appeared in the previous orthographic manuals and did not need changing: ”…  zato su prihva}ena rje{enja koja su ovjerena kao uspje{na. Nova su rje{enja, dakle, uvo|ena samo kada je bilo nu`no.”   9  Op. cit. Pravopis, p. 6. 10   “Bosna se vra}a sebi”,  Dani , Internet, 7/4/00, p. 1.   4 (… hence  the solutions which proved successful were accepted. The new solutions were, thus, introduced only when necessary.) 11  Where there were two possible solutions to a problem the author(s) of this Pravopis  inform us that they tried to reduce them to one, the better one, according to their opinion. Does not that sound as an attempt to impoverish the language? The good news about keeping some of the ‘old linguistic traditions’ lies in the fact that both Cyrillic and Roman script are to be used. After the introductory notes, very much like every other orthographic manual, this Pravopis  gives various rules of language use, illustrated by examples taken from literature, mostly fiction. The only odd thing about these is that they include translations from other   languages. 1/ in order to illustrate the use of comma, among other examples the following is offered: (10)  Budu}i da sufizam predstavlja unutarnji izraz islama, njegovo u~enje je u biti ezoteri~ko tuma~enje Kur’ ana.  (T. Burchardt/Ibrahim Izz ad-Din, Uputa prema unutarnjem u~enju islama ,  prev . R. Mahmut}ehaji}) ((10) Since Sufism  represents an inner expression of Islam, its doctrine in its essence is an esoteric interpretation of Koran. (T. Burchardt/Ibrahim Izz ad-Din, Instructions Towards/According the Inner Teachings of Islam) translation R. Mahmut}ehaji})) 12  2/ illustrating the use of colon there is also the following example: (1)   Tri su vrste ljudi: znalac o Bogu, tra`itelj znanja na putu izbavljenja i narod obi~ni koji …  (Ali ibn Ebi-Talib,  Nehd`ul-belaga , prev. R. Mahmut}ehaji} & M. Had`i}) 13 . ((1) There are three kinds of people: those who know about God, those who seek knowledge on their way to redemption and the common people who …(Ali ibn Ebi -Talib,  Nehdyul-belaga 14 ,   translation R. Mahmut}ehaji} & M. Had`i})) 15 . New elements are presented in Chapter vii: the chapter which deals with sounds. However, one of the confusions in this chapter lies in the fact that it is 11  Op cit. Pravopis, p. 7. 12  Ibid. p. 82. 13  Op. cit. Pravopis . p. 84. 14  The translation could not be found in A. [kalji}, Turcizmi u srpskohrvatskom jeziku . 15  Op. cit. Pravopis . p. 84.   5 not always clear whether the author(s) are referring to sounds or to the letters which represent them. The use of the consonant sound represented  by the letter ‘ h’   is the most obvious example of the introduction of new elements in this area. Hence we come across various rules for the use of ‘ h’  , such as: “ Glas h nalazi se u osnovnim i izvedenim rije~ima u kojima mu je u  postanku (etimologiji) mjesto, kao i u rije~ima u kojima je naknadno razvijen (ovakve rije~i popisane su u Pravopisnome rije~niku.)”  (The consonant ‘ h’   appears in basic, as well as in derived words, where it was placed according to its srcin (etymology), but also in the words in which it was introduced later. Such words are listed in the dictionary part of this book.) 16   There are, though, various types of words with consonant ‘ h’   also listed on page 121. On the one hand, there are words where one, as a native speaker, would have always used this consonant, for example: hotel  hotel tih 17   quiet etc. in addition, however, the ones where this consonant was not so common, such as: mahana  defect, uvehnuti 18  wilt etc. But in some words in the standard Bosnian language this Pravopis  states that it is common to use the consonant ‘ h’  ,   adding the remark that: “U s tandardnome bosanskom jeziku ovakve oblike i izvedenice od njih nepravilno je pisati bez glasa h.” 16  Ibid. p. 121. 17  Ibid. p. 121. 18  Ibid. p. 121.
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