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Bunjevac Dialect standardization

Bunjevac Ethnolect

Bunjevac dialects in Croatia, Hungary, and Serbia. There is a diversity of Bunjevac dialects in Croatia, Hungary, and Serbia. Institutions of Serbia developed a standardized Bunjevac dialect variety in Serbia. A few Bunjevac leaders and political activists, who are influential in the Bunjevac National Council, are strongly involved in developing a "national" identity of Bunjevci: stimulating folklore activities and searching for political and linguistic support to transform Bunjevac dialect in to a distinct language. The leadership of the Croat Bunjevci and Croatian minority in Serbia, has presented the 'standard of the Bunjevac dialect' as an attempt to abolish the dialect of Bunjevac Croats from the Croatian cultural heritage. Both the Croatian, Hungarian and Serbian authorities do not recognize a distinct Bunjevac/Bunjevci language/nationality. BEC

Bunjevac Ethnolect, Serbia, (2009)

Classification of Bunjevac dialects (ethnolect): A dialect is a regional speech pattern. Bunjevac speech is categorized as a New-Štokavian Young Ikavian dialect of the Serbo-Croatian pluricentric language (Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian: BCMS). And an ethnolect is a variety of a language spoken by a certain ethnic/cultural subgroup and serves as a distinguishing mark of social identity. The term combines the concepts of an ethnic group and a dialect. BEC

"The linguistic and political situation is particularly complex as the majority of those living in the village identify with an ethnic group (Bunjevci) which Croatian nationalists argue to be Croatian, whilst other ethnic Bunjevac activists argue that they constitute an ‘autonomous ethnic group’. Serbian, Croatian and Bunjevac language varieties form part of a mutually intelligible dialect continuum. The issue is particularly relevant at present as the Serbian government has allotted funding for the standardization of the Bunjevac language variety, as well as for school textbooks written in that language variety, a move that has angered some of those who identify as Croatian." Hodges, Andrew (2015).

School textbooks in a standardized Bunjevac dialect variety in Serbia. The Serbian government insisted that schooltextbooks in a Bunjevac dialect appeared in the Cyrillic script for the first class of primary school, despite the fact that the use of the Latin script is dominant in the Bunjevac community. It is noteworthy that schooltextbooks were published (Serbia, 2014), in a variety of the Bunjevac speech (ethnolect), before an official scientific standardization of the Bunjevac dialect variety was finalized (2018). BEC

Bunjevac dialect vs. Bunjevac language: "It appears that the concept of standardization, whatever it may mean to the various parties involved, occupies a central position, or – actually – the central position in the Bunyev language debate, for it looks as though it is only thanks to standardization that a speech variety may gain the label of language." Belić, Bojan (2014). изворни научни чланак УДК 81'27(497.113) Bunyev(s): a linguistic frontier to be? pp.613

According to Aleksandar Raičh and Suzana Kujundžić Ostojić: Bunjevac speech is in Serbia officially recognized as a dialect. "Bunjevački jezik u javnoj upotribi. Dakle, za onaj jezik za koji mi kažemo jezik, a zvanično je priznat ko dijalekat." Bunjevci izmed asimilacije i nacionalne zajednice. Udruženje građana "Bunjevci". 2013. pp. 144.

Dialect Standardization involves four stages

  1. Selection: There are different regional dialects, class dialects, situational varieties. Standardization represents an attempt to curtail, minimize if not eliminate this high degree of variability. The easiest solution seems to be to pick (although not arbitrarily) one of these varieties to be elevated to the status of the standard.
  2. Acceptance: This is done through institutions, agencies, authorities such as schools, ministries, the media, cultural establishments, etc. Dialects, which tend implicitly to get stigmatized as lesser forms, associated with the not too highly regarded people, who are seen as less educated, slovenly, uncouth, etc.
  3. Elaboration: A standard language is often characterized as possessing ‘maximal variation in function, minimal variation in form.
  4. Codification: The norms and rules of grammar, use, dictionaries, spellers, manuals of style, texts, etc. 

Haugen, E. (1972). “Dialect, language, nation”, in J. B. Pride and Janet Holmes (eds), Sociolinguistics (Harmondsworth: Penguin). pp. 97–111. (Originally published in American Anthropologist 68 (1966): pp. 922–935)

Dialects can be classified into two categories: standard and non-standard. A standard dialect is a dialect that is approved and supported by institutions. Likewise, non-standard dialects are those that are not supported by institutions. For example, some dialects of English include American English, Indian English, and Australian English, etc. There are sub-dialects within these dialects as well. There is no globally accepted standard to distinguish the difference between language and a dialect of a language. One of the most common ways of identifying the difference is their mutual intelligibility. If two speakers of two varieties can understand each other, then it is accepted that the two varieties are two dialects; if not, they are considered to be two different languages.

Definition Language: the method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way. Dialect is a particular form of a language which is peculiar to a specific region or social group. Categories Language can be categorized into two main parts: spoken language and written language. Dialects can be categorized into two main parts: standard dialects and non-standard dialects. Mutually Intelligibility Languages of the same language family are often not mutually intelligible. Dialects of the same language are often mutually intelligible.

"In every region there is a linguistic variation. This linguistic variation has to be respected, because it is the identity of people. That is where differentiation between the culture is. Dialect standardization only happens when the people involved have enough or modify their identity to that or affiliation associated with a larger group, standardization is possible and often occurs. Before a standardization process, speaker use their dialects for all of their speech functions. After a standardization process, speaker use the standardized variety for at least some of their speech functions. For example, reading and writing and conversation in formality situations often call for use of standardized variety. Thus, the standardization process is fundamentally a shift in language use patterns." Mark E. Karan, Kerry M. Corbett (2014). The Importance of Identity and Affiliation in Dialect Standardization. pp. 55-61. Dialogue on Dialect Standardization. University North Dakota. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, ISBN (10):1-4438-666-1X.

Language politics and EU integration: "While language previously had been a means to unite Balkan Slavs, it became an instrument of nationalism wielded by politically motivated actors to widen the division among the ethnicities. Language disputes did not destroy Yugoslavia, but they may hinder recovery and modernization. As each Yugoslav successor state strives toward integration into the European Union, political questions concerning language may polarize domestic politics and inhibit regional cooperation, thereby hampering efforts to carry out needed economic and political reforms." Rice, Eric A. (2010) Language politics in Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia - Calhoun: The NPS

© Stichting Bunjevac European Center, 2015