Edited by Roberta Medda-Windischer and Andrea Carlà
[Language Problems and Language Planning 46:2] 2022
► pp. 146–170
With the break-up of Yugoslavia, and following the ideology of nationalism and the aspired match between state, nation, and language, Serbo-Croatian fragmented into four languages: Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian. The paper deals with the legal aspects of the fragmentation of Serbo-Croatian in the four countries concerned, exploring the impacts of provisions relating to the official language on the status of the languages in question and their speakers. The central argument is that by fully ignoring mutual intelligibility (or even the same linguistic foundation) between the four languages, the legal provisions are inadequate to deal with this specific linguistic situation; in essence, they are intolerant and exclusive (thus underpinning ethnic divisions in the region), and they also lead to some trivial situations such as ‘translation’ in official communications. The paper pleads for a more sophisticated approach, which while acknowledging the symbolic aspects of language and existing ethnic diversity, at the same time is able to accommodate the linguistic reality.