Language policies in the successor states of former Yugoslavia
Former Yugoslavia followed an internationally acclaimed language policy of constitutional and legal equality of its numerous languages. Anticipating or accompanying the disintegration of this federation, the new states arising on its territory published their constitutions in the period 1990–1993. This paper briefly surveys the basic provisions concerning the official use of languages in each of them and attempts, on the basis of the often scant evidence available, to assess their actual implementation. It is concluded that, whereas language policy in former Yugoslavia was fairly consistent, its successor states display more variety. The inherited spirit of tolerance and language rights still survives in some respects, but there are also clear indications of favouring the linguistic means associated with the “state nation”, at the expense of old and new minorities. The administrative multiplication of the former federation’s largest language, Serbo-Croatian, is likewise noted, as is the general need to complement internal measures of language policy with external ones in preparation for life in tomorrow’s world.
Keywords: language policy, former Yugoslavia, successor states, constitutions, official use of languages and alphabets, equality, language rights, minorities, Serbo-Croatian
Published online: 24 August 2004
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