Re: Readers' Comments

Nikola Stankovic (
Sun, 21 Jul 1996 18:11:57 -0700 (PDT)

Michael, good points and good ideas.

Surely, every nation and individual has a [political, human] right to
declare herself of some nationality and claim to speak a certain language.
As such, I remember examples from the last census in the former SFRY,
which stated that ten or so "Martians" lived in the former SFRY (in
addition to Croats, Muslims, Serbs, Slovenians, Yugoslavs, etc.)

But there is, supposedly, a linguistic, scientific, objective truth
(classification) about the language someone speaks. Or is there?
Linguistics is a social science, so can we speak of objective truths?
And say this classification is arbitrary at times... Who has the right
to request it redesigned?

I, myself, am not a linguist nor an expert on the issue. Perhaps we could
contact several other linguists/slavists on-line to give us an opinion.
Meanwhile, why not, we could discuss this question in our "Letters to the
Editor" on "Nasa Borba Internet". Hereby I invite comments from the
readers, e-mailed to our address on this issue --
while we attempt to contact linguists from various Universities.

Nikola Stankovic

On Sun, 21 Jul 1996, Michael Jerinic wrote:

> Attn. The Editor
> Dear Sir,
> I have recently come across Ilija Marinkovic's excellent article
> "Postoji li i dalje srpskohrvatski?" which provides a saddening
> picture of the current linguistical "trends" in the four ex-republics
> of the former Yugoslavia.
> If linguistical science has any pretences to be a scientific discipline,
> then any serious language scientist-slavist must stand one's grounds,
> against unscrupulous, chauvinistically flavoured assaults on the
> Serbocroatian language by many of today's "experts", such as professor
> H. Batowsky or Dr.Kramarica, mentioned in Mr. Marinkovic's article.
> I would like to go a step further and suggest that by making such
> ridiculous attempts to split one language along ethnic or religious
> lines, or to decree that a dialect shall be known as a language from
> hence forth, the two gentlemen and all their followers clearly
> demonstrate that they all have one thing in common - their judgement has
> lost objectivity and has instead been corrupted by their nationalistic
> affiliations and preferences.
> Perhaps they may have forgotten, being blinded by the fervent
> nationalistic frenzy, that there are many other languages
> spoken by different nations, in many dialectical forms and across
> international boundaries, and still having only one common name?
> The examples they should certainly study carefully are the English,
> German and Russian languages, as being closest to their homes.
> One can readily find some rationale in such attempts to violate
> a language - "we are too similar - so we have to be different in
> something".
> As a linguist I certainly share the opinion of Mr. Marek A. Vasilevski -
> we must resist the sickness and chauvinism spreading into slavistics.
> As an expatriate, I am positively disgusted with this latest wave
> of pseudo-intellectuals, being manipulated by their mad political
> masters.
> May I in the end suggest that if the "Serbocroatian" or "Croatoseriban"
> is loathed by both tribes for not being tribal enough, and is being
> rejected by the third for not being too Bosnian, perhaps they may all
> agree on the diplomatically chosen name "Hrboser", with all of its
> added flavours and connotations. In my mind, that is exactly where it
> is currently heading, under the careful guidance of this newly born
> breed of language nationalists.
> Perhaps, you may consider opening an on-line debate on this subject
> on the Internet?
> With kind regards,
> Michael Jerinic
> email: