Does every nation in Montenegro speak in other language?

Last night, beginning at 18h00, the Centre for Civic Education (CCE) hosted first round of debate titled “Does every nation in Montenegro speak in other language?”. The debate is part of series of four regional expert conferences under the joint title LANGUAGES AND NATIONALISMS, which will be held in 2016 in Podgorica, Sarajevo, Belgrade and Split.

Within the opening remarks at the conference, moderator Hanka Vajzović PhD, linguist and MP in the Parliament of B&H, pointed out that conference will focus on the situation in Montenegro, but that this is a prevailing topic in other neighbouring countries as well. By reflecting on common framework of all planned conferences, she stated that these territories definitely share various forms of nationalism and serious, almost aggressive persistence on the adaptation of all language. “There will be those who will defend nationalism, but what occurred during the nineties is not measured with the level of affection for one’s own, but the level of intolerance in relation to the other”, reminded Vajzović.

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Rajka Glušica PhD, linguist and professor at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Montenegro, pointed out that science has the answer to everything and that the “linguistic policy is closely related to general ideology which reigns the society along with the general policy which reigns in that state and society, as it has been proven though out the history.” Moreover, she clarified: “Linguistic policies that are being conducted in post-Yugoslav states are in fact nationalistic ones… We hoped that the extent of that nationalism will diminish over time, but it would appear that we were completely wrong and that it actually spreads even more”. Glušica underlined that Montenegrin Government advocates such policy, regardless of the fact if «they may not know that this is a nationalistic language policy, or that such a nationalistic policy suits them.» In this respect, and by commenting the newly established Faculty for Montenegrin Language and Literature in Cetinje, she assessed that its foundation is “highly dangerous because the students will learn about nationalistic myths, thus we will have narrow-minded people because every education institution must be based on science, not myths”.

Nađa Bobičić, PhD student of cultural studies at the Faculty of Political Sciences of the University of Belgrade, spoke about new linguistic norms and how these affect the formation of linguistic classes, thereby focusing on the discourse of young people. “When I think of linguistic norm, I think of all the identities that have been excluded out of that norm – from young people, through women, LGBT people and that these identities are not as separate as they used to be, that they are intertwined on one hand, and on the other they dilute class differences and class issues”, emphasised Bobičić.

Writer Balša Brković reminded that he is a part of a generation which grew along with Krleža’s note that Serbian-Croatian language is undoubtedly the same one, but that every nation has the right to call it in their own name. “It seems to me that this is the most natural position, because you have the reality of a language which never got its title, which would be generally accepted. Every title was an unsustainable ideological creation. Each of those titles was the result of some political agreement”. He also pointed out on the use of language for the purposes of manipulation by nationalists in order to portray someone as a traitor.

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Bojan Glavašević, PhD student in the Semiotics at the Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb, reflected on the position of language in former Yugoslavia and how that issue developed during the process of disintegration, especially in terms of the use of language as a weapon or its extended power. “Indeed, this is the case, once the speakers of dialects acquire the armed forces, simultaneously we get a new name for the language. Political objectivity is another issue – that moment when you delineate part of the globe and point your flag, it becomes a fact, to politically and objectively say: certain language is spoken here, thus becomes part of the political reality”, stressed Glavašević. He believes that the formation of six languages in this region is absolutely reasonable, but he also raised the issue of practice, by referring to the example of Americans, namely if they speak English, does it imply that they do not have their own language.

Slavica Perović PhD, sociolinguist, spoke about the position of Montenegrin language seven years after the codification and simultaneously underlined that it was unnecessary to tamper with the essence of language. “We were considering the introduction of two new vocals based on substandard procedure, archaic tone and new form which was really not necessary, and we just felt that, in the sense of ideology, that Montenegrin language by changing its name encompassed the necessary function”, added Perović. By reflecting on the process of standardisation, she raised the issue as to how the substandard of iotified form became the standard. “Regional and local accents gained the right of citizenship in media, the border between the informal and informal register was lost, as a consequence of same”, Perović concluded.

Josip Baotić PhD and professor from B&H indicated on the validity of norms and repercussion which they imply, thereby recalling the nineties-linguist-nationalist policy, used to incite hatred among the nations. “By reducing the power of communication, we only jeopardised the position of our languages, all of them”, noted Baotić. «After the disintegration of a unique country, we shut down significant nationalist institutions and formed the ethnic ones instead», Baotić underlined.

Yesterdays’ conference was attended by nearly 60 interested experts from academic community, media, NGO sector, culture and etc.

Today, on 22 April, starting at 18h00, second round of debate will be organised in the CCE, titled ” What’s the essence of increasing linguistic differences?”.

Project LANGUAGES AND NATIONALISMS is a result of two years long expert missions and partnership of Belgrade Association Krokodil, Association Kurs from Split, Centre for Civic Education (CCE) from Podgorica and PEN Centre of B&H from Sarajevo. It was supported by Allianz Kulturstiftung and Forum ZFD.

Svetlana Pešić, programme associate