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2hippietrail Premier message
a) people who love the way language is used by certain writers
b) people who love english and collect books by authors such as Steven Pinker and David Crystal?
c) people who love various languages and collect things such as dictionaries, grammars, language-teaching materials (linguists, philologists, me)
d) people who collect books in various original languages such as Cien años de soledad, Se una notte d'Inverno un viaggiatore, and Die unendliche Geschichte (also me)
... or some combination or the above?
5rosinalippi Premier message
Certainly if toting my massive Monier Monier-Williams dictionary across the country multiple times doesn't bespeak an interest in language, I'm in trouble.
9Robertgreaves Premier message
Seeing as one does not appear to have been set up yet, I'm going to set up a linguistics group, but I must warn that it has a corny name. You should know it when you see it. :P
Member Library: 16,804,451 books
I checked around the highest enrollment groups, and they all seem normal. We must just be really, really awesome. :P
Member Library: 16,805,622 books
I'll go post on the Google Group about this, although I'm kind of sad to see it go. :P
That's a good one.. sounds like a Hardy Boys book to me: "The Secret of Alveolar Ridge"..
And happy(ish) to report that our book count is back to normal. :P
Yes, but we're still very, very impressive ;-)
interesting group, this one. I guess I am a combination of a), b), C), and D).
My library has mostly Italian books (after the ones in English, of course) because I am Italian, of course.
I think we can keep together books on language AND books in foreign languages, that is we do not need a separate group. Feedback???
For now with my limited time I'm sticking to short stories, and I enjoy reading the Thai and then the English. Also, as I read short stories in Thai that have never been translated, I get a serious itch to start translating them, but my limited experience with that (I was on a review committee for an as-yet-unpublished Thai translation of a 600-page book), I have an inkling for how exhausting that can be.
As for other languages, I'm very interested in other SE Asian languages, and theoretically interested in every language.
I did freelance translating for a number of years and there is one thing I wish to tell you: if you feel the itch to translate....DO IT!!!!
That is the first thing a translator must feel, the love for the piece you wish to translate, the pleasure of examining all the possible ways to translate a sentence. You are right, it is a laborious process, exhausting as you say but, oh! how rewarding once it is complete!!!!
I will be one of the first to read your translations, when published and if you will kindly let me know about them. So.....no more hesitation!
Around the same time I read Umberto Eco's Mouse or Rat : Translation As Negotiation which added whole new layers to my -- admittedly vague -- understanding of translation and increased my respect from translators enormously.
So, yes, go and do it.
Might a diff group work?
Should I build such a group?
Can you spot what is missing? A void?
Arabic seems to be the latest trendy language. I was browsing the Language section of Borders the other day, and they had a couple dozen books on Arabic (and this is not a very big city). Chinese has gotten real popular the last couple of years too.
So I'm sticking to what I know (Portuguese, English, French, Italian and Spanish) and perfecting what I started to know enough of to read and write a little in (Russian and German). But I have wild dreams of Japanese all the same...
And Basque, but that is not so trendy and the literature not that extensive. OK and Czech and Icelandic where it is.
Help! Is there a group that helps people with these longings who live on limited budgets (and far from the nearest Metro Area seeing as the internet cannot engage in polyglot conversation with me - yet) ?
kieren_valente: I think Russian is a great choice - there's so much wonderful literature readily available. Cyrillic is no big deal compared to Japanese. I spent many months going through Remembering the Kanji, and even "read" a couple of Japanese books (verrry slowly, looking up words and keeping copious notes). Then I neglected Japanese study for a couple of years and forgot a lot of it. Consistency is important!
Maybe we could start Linguaholics Anonymous...
Arabic is going to be around for a while as a 'trend' - and it's about time that Mare-Ka picked up on the geopolitical reality. However, you are also correct in pointing out that Chinese is on the horizon.
This is not meant to belittle the importance of dialects....far from it! Dialects are VERY important and, alas, are slowly disappearing.....
(What are those two books at the top of that list doing there btw.???)
(And just to tease: http://www.ethnologue.com/show_country.asp?name=IT )
(And I might call it Sardinien)
And that said, I know nothing about Italian, Sicilian or the language of Italy. :)
That said, I know nothing apart from that I find their pages interesting. This being the language group, I would expect others to do too. :)
Ethnologue's parent, SIL, is in the business of translating the Bible into as many languages as possible. This isn't a secret and provides a funding source for preservation work that might otherwise be impossible. The Wikipedia article is perhaps a little too negative on them. But I think you can see the temptation toward splitting rather than lumping.
Not that even that is a bad thing. This being LibraryThing, we've got collectors of polyglot Bibles.
According to Ethnologue the Italian language is Ladin.
I have a book that says the original language is Serbo-Croatian. The list of languages on LT made me choose between Serbian and Croatian. It's possible this is politically as opposed to linguistically related.
(it's probably the most popular Serbo-Croatian, Serbian, or Croatian book on LT. The Dictionary of the Khazars.)
Pavić is an extreme Serbian nationalist, as a review on Dictionary of the Khazars : a Lexicon novel in 100,000 Words points out. So I am pretty sure that one does have a clear answer.
We had a kind of rule saying that books using the Latin alphabet was in Croatian and books in the Cyrilian alphabet was in Serbian, but as that's not necessarily true at all we don't have any rules now - which again means that I'm really no help here! ;)
(I'm really too tired to post)
My point is that Serbo-Croatian has disappeared from the list being split into Serbian and Croatian, and knowing that Tim wants to use the MARC list, it's not likely that he is willing to put S-C on LT - though I think this is a case where it's worth thinking about!
Maybe we should move this to the Recommend Site Improvements group? ;)
aluvalibri - It's probably not the only name that is used for multiple languages. Ethnologue may lean towards the different spelling in order to keep a distinction. But it is confusing to someone who knows of one language, but not the other..
Sicily also was cradle to great civilizations or, better, was civilized by great populations such as (not in order) Arabs, Greeks, Normans.
So, please, do not say again that "an Italian will deny that Sicilians are anything different or special"!
And I am sure you know that in Sicily there still are areas where Greek is spoken.
So, you see, that is even older than Latin...and, besides, dialects are not derived from Italian, but many were there before the Italian language itself, be they derived from Latin or not. For example, the dialect spoken in Bologna comes from a one of the languages spoken by Ostrogoths, and the dialect from Genova (my hometown) is a mixture of French, Arabic and who knows what else.
Dialectology is undoubtedly a fascinating subject, which, in my opinion, deserves attention and study.
And yet, you're denying they have a separate language, which they do. No linguist will tell you anything different; Italian chauvinists, of course, will, just as Russian chauvinists (even, or especially, those with Ukrainian family backgrounds) will say Ukrainian is just a dialect of Russian. It's very hard to be objective about these things, but I hope you're willing to learn.
58toastiemary Premier message
It is true that Serbo-Croatian written in cyrillic script is almost always going to be Serbian. But Serbo-Croatian written in latin script is NOT going to necessarily be Croatian. A huge percentage (at least half I'd say) of books in Serbian are in Latin script. Many books that were published in Serbo-Croatian in Bosnia were also in Latin script.
Yet it seems that at LOC, someone is mechanically changing Serbo-Croatian to Serbian for cyrillic and Croatian for latin. This creates the idiotic situation of a Serbian author published in Serbia being listed as "croatian" language because the book was published in latin script. I am constantly running across this as I enter my older books published in Yugoslavia. It drives me crazy.
In addition, books published in Zagreb pre-1990 may have been Serbian or Croatian (latin). Again, I just entered just such a book, written by a Serbian political scientist, in the eastern variant (Serbian) of S-C, in latin, and it is listed in LOC as Croatian.
That is not to even mention Bosnian, which is also on the Marc list. In Bosnia both scripts are used...
So this is to argue that the Serbo-Croatian term is actually an important and very useful one, especially when we are looking at books published in pre-1991 Yugoslavia. I think LOC made a huge mistake deprecating it. They should have kept it for books published in that period, kind of retiring it for currently published books but keeping it for older books.
I actually had requested that LT include Serbo-Croatian for those books but was told by LT that they only use the MARC list.
As for translations, a rule of thumb would be to go by the origin of the author. If the author is Serbian, the original language would be Serbian. If the author was from Croatia (either Serb or Croat), the language would be Croatian. If the author is from Bosnia, ditto. Not perfect but language is always a bit messy. that's why it's fun.
OnEDIT: it seems the problem might be translation the MARC code into plain language. The MARC code SCR, which stands for Serbo-Croatian-Roman, seems to be translated as Croatian, when in fact that is not always correct. I wonder if LT is doing this...
In the past year, we've studied: Italian, Japanese, French, Cantonese, Polish, Russian, Dutch, American sign language, and German. Due to high demand, we've also done some languages twice - Italian, Japanese, and ASL.
Coming up we're studying Amharic over a vegetarian Ethiopian dinner and Xhosa over a South African dinner.
I'm also hosting a language tasting in Northeast Pennsylvania in January when I'm home for my grandma's 90th bday.
It's good to be around other fellow language lovers! :-) This group rocks!!
As far as the language(s) of former Yugoslavia, Morton Benson's dictionary (pretty much the best I could find) calls it SerboCroatian. If pressed, I would have to say I speak Serbian, but I prefer to call it Serbo-Croatian, and when I was in Sarajevo I called it "your language."
I still have gotten no satisfaction on the whole Serbo-Croatian thing... I suspect that no one outside the former Yugoslav area cares enough about it to fix the mistakes/problems I outlined above.
While I understand and deplore the confusion created by dated, faulty or inconsistent MARC data, it seems to me that any user able to read Croatian or Serbian probably knows enough to determine which variant a given book is written in, whatever the nationality of the author (many Yugoslav writers wrote in multiple variants, as well as dialects). As long as these can be edited manually, I'd prefer to do it myself anyway.
I'm sorry to see there's no "Montenegrin" language option in LT, though. Montenegrin is as distinctive/identifiable as Bosnian, and a "Bosnian language" option is included. Besides, since Montenegro gained independence it would be only logical to recognise their variant too as the national language that it is.
>57 languagehat: languagehat on Sicilian & Italian:
And yet, you're denying they have a separate language, which they do. No linguist will tell you anything different
Sicilian is an Italian dialect, and unless somebody redefined "dialect" when I wasn't looking, that doesn't mean a "separate language". Is Cockney a language separate from English--would anyone phrase it that way? Of course a dialect is a language--the question is what is meant by that "separate".
People generally recognise less of a barrier between a literary form of the language and local dialects, than there exists between different languages. Sicilian is different from the Tuscan literary ideal, but it's far less dissimilar to it than German.
It occurs to me that there are many more true dialects in Europe than in North America, so maybe that answers for some of the confusion when faced with them.
Dai un colpo d'occhio qui pero, Paola, stavo cercando qualcosa sui dialetti del Veneto, e risulta che la situazione li almeno e assai piu complicata di quanto credevo. Esiste una lingua veneta, ma anche un veneziano dialetto dell'italiano, chiamato esso stesso "veneto". Mia nonna, per esempio, parla quest'ultimo, mentre la mia cognata parla istriano, che si vuole una variante della lingua veneta! Dicono che la lingua veneta e le sue varianti hanno una struttura grammaticale diversa dall'italiano--direi per forza, almeno l'istriano ha una struttura slava.
Il siciliano come il napoletano od il emiliano romagnolo sarebbero allora molto piu vicini al toscano che il veneto (la lingua, non il dialetto veneziano), non e vero?
Insomma, un bel casino, tutte 'ste lingue... :)
Where I come from, it's a personal name - are you there, Mona? - which might be a bit awkward.
Funnily enough, it has the same ribald meaning in my native Dalmatian dialect!
Wikipedia in Sicilian;
Wikipedia in Croatian.
Now, I won't deny that the Sicilian is similar to standard Italian, but it's clearly not the same thing. To make sense of it, I had to read it aloud to myself and imagine someone speaking with a strong accent. Once I got the hang of it, it was more "Italian" than what I had expected.
What I'm looking at, though, is the (subjective) difference from the closely related language that I knew already. Now, my Serbian proficiency is far inferior to my Italian, but Croatian looks more familiar to me (allowing for ijekavski spellings) than Sicilian does. (*And see below.) I certainly don't know any linguistic reason for saying that Croatian (not to mention Montenegrin) is a "language," in some way that Sicilian is not.
#44: It's at this point in the discussion that someone usually quotes Max Weinreich. (Go ahead. Don't let me stop you.)
OK, here goes: It seems to me, Lola, that you're taking the saying "A language is a dialect with an army and a navy" as a prescription, rather than an observation: you're defining "language" borders, as opposed to "dialect" borders, to automatically line up with political borders. It's telling that you used "Cockney" as your English example rather than, say, "Australian;" it reminds me of a Slovenian I once met who was surprised that I was an English teacher. "Is that some kind of style choice?" she asked me. It wasn't until much later that I realized: she was confused because I don't teach "American."
* Clarification: I've also traveled in both Sicily and Croatia and, limited "Serbo-Croatian" proficiency notwithstanding, I had an easier time communicating with Croatians than with advanced speakers of Sicilian dialect.
#72> Yorick, Sicily has many dialects, which can all be grouped under the generic/general word "sicilian", but vary according to the area. For example, the Sicilian spoken in, say, Palermo, will be slightly different from what spoken in Catania. Some are more similar to Italian (which is not a dialect but the language of the country, as you know), some less.
Yorick, it just goes to show you linguistics isn't exact science--a lot is mere arbitrary convention, and yes, politics enter into the play all the time. There is no other explanation (and perhaps excuse) for the classification changes that Croato-Serbian has suffered since the demise of Yugoslavia.
There are many paradoxical situations concerning the definition of dialects and "foreign" languages. I understand Serbian without any problem, whereas 90% of my sister-in-law's Istrian is unintelligible to me without a dictionary (not to worry--we communicate nicely in literary Croatian or Dalmatian). And yet, Istrian is (rightfully) considered a Croatian dialect, whereas Serbian is now a "foreign" language.
Dialects and variants become national languages all the time, by circumstances or political choices. Tuscan did.
Once I got the hang of it, it was more "Italian" than what I had expected.
But of course. Many Italian dialects present largely a different pronounciation, along with lexic differences that are easy to predict once you have "the key". Typically, the grammatical backbone is unique and shared, whereas the pronounciation and/or the vocabulary differ to some degree.
As for Montenegrin, it deserves to be a language (option, in LT specifically) by the same logic that "Bosnian" (and Croatian and Serbian) is now. As we both noted, this has nothing to do with how (much more) similar a language may be to some other language than either to their own dialects.
It's telling that you used "Cockney" as your English example rather than, say, "Australian;" it reminds me of a Slovenian I once met who was surprised that I was an English teacher. "Is that some kind of style choice?" she asked me. It wasn't until much later that I realized: she was confused because I don't teach "American."
I don't understand why I reminded you of this person, we exhibit exactly opposite understandings of language. My point was that Sicilian is to Italian as Cockney is to English. As for your example, I consider "American", "Australian", "British", "Canadian" and so on to be variants of English, not dialects.
For example, the Sicilian spoken in, say, Palermo, will be slightly different from what spoken in Catania.
This is one of my major linguistic fascinations, how much diversity there sprouts within minimal distances! In Dalmatia too we can recognise speakers from Split (my hometown), Rijeka, Zadar or Sibenik and so on--and Sibenik is a 30 minute drive away!
Natives of Dubrovnik have a very distinctive language too, in pronounciation similar to the Montenegrin. Then there are the islands--Solta and Brac are a stone's throw away from Split, and the Soltans and the Bracans each have their own dialect.
Once when I was marvelling at the linguistic dichotomy Sibenik/Split (disappearing rapidly, incidentally--the young and their conformism!), my old math teacher, who's also a historian of the city, snorted that that was nothing--in her youth, they could tell apart people living in different quarters of our city! :)
If you think about it, it is wonderful!
I also regret that, in Italy, dialects are slowly disappearing, as less and less people speak them. It is almost as if the newer generations were ashamed of speaking dialect. I myself, although far from being a youth, was never really capable to speak my own dialect (I am from Genova). True, it is quite difficult, a mixture of words of French, Arabic, Spanish origin and who knows what else, but I never did try very hard, I must admit it.
I was in Yugoslavia (that was its name, then) many many years ago, when Tito was still alive. Beautiful country.....I remember stopping in a small coastal village, Senij was the name (please forgive the probably wrong spelling), and marvelling at how peaceful it was and how clear the water of the sea was....That was almost forty years ago...
a small coastal village, Senij was the name
Probably Senj (there's also Sinj, but it's in the hinterland). Senj is pretty--and famous as the nest of uskoks, the pirates (freedom fighters! :)) who beleaguered Venitians and Turks in the Adriatic.
I think your intuition was right about "Croato-Serbian" - it's just too hard to say in English. The fact that I would say "Serbo-Croatian" isn't meant to express any political alignment.
Here's my question: if Sicilian is a "dialect" of Italian, and Scottish (English, not Scots Gaelic) is a "variant" of English, why is Montenegrin a "language"? The similarity between Montenegrin and Serbian is much closer than between, say, Scottish and Californian (not to mention Norwegian and Norwegian -- look at the translations of "the free encyclopedia").
My point is that this splitting of hairs among "variants," "dialects," and "languages" is a totally unscientific one. We should just call it what it is: politics, plain and simple, and not linguistics at all.
I love Paolo Conte.....un gelato al limon.....
My point is that this splitting of hairs among "variants," "dialects," and "languages" is a totally unscientific one.
Yes, well, there are sciences and then there are sciences...
We should just call it what it is: politics, plain and simple, and not linguistics at all.
Exactly. But so what? There are innumerable examples of politics influencing linguistic considerations--it's just what happens constantly through history. I don't think this is necessarily always tragic, nor is it good, if the distinction applies at all--usually it doesn't matter. Who cares that Tuscan and not Romagnolo became the national language of Italy?
Languages exist and change in the real world, they are not controlled experimental organisms in linguistic labs. The influence of politics is just what happens in real life, and if some linguistic "scientists" are bothered by this, to hell with them. :)
Ma lui e uno Zeneize assoluto--faceva venire il basilico CON la terra genoese a New York per farlo crescere tanto quanto possibile simile a quello di casa--per fare il pesto autentico, naturalmente. Ma sai che qualcosa nonostante ci mancava al gusto--e Luca diceva che era la colpa dell'acqua... :)
The similarity between Montenegrin and Serbian is much closer than between, say, Scottish and Californian
Not so, not at all. Montenegrin is a "ijekavian" variant (which btw, makes it more like Croatian than like Serbian)--this is a very striking difference, and one different from the mere difference in pronounciation/accent between "Californian" and Scottish. (What lexic differences obtain between these two "Englishes" are paralleled by lexic differences between any Croato-Serbian variants.)
"Heh," goes Tommy, "Ah'm gaun orr therr tae see aboot this. Wullie must be daft ur sumhin, shoutin' at that f'lla. E'll get is heid done fur im." -- "Aye," I says. "Moan. Mibbe wull kin stoap im daein enihin stupit"
- Alex Hamilton, in Three Glasgow Writers. Cited in The Oxford Companion to the English Language, "Glasgow" (p. 442).
I don't understand your point... Since Croatian and Serbian (and Bosnian and Montenegrin) are phonetic languages, the pronounciation differences reflect the written ones, yes. Um... so?
Other differences include vocabulary, some word endings, grammatical usage preferences, etc.--and of course accent (of which there are myriad nuances, as can be expected).
Btw, rereading our exchange now I feel I should've been clearer on at least two related points... One, the appellation "Serbocroatian/Croatoserbian" is itself a purely political concept, created to bolster the idea of Yugoslav unity. Now, it does base itself on a linguistic fact, which is the high mutual comprehensibility of the variants, but it was political in origin and application. And when the political situation changed, the concept died.
This of course doesn't mean that the variants overnight became impenetrable to each other--only that where the emphasis before had been on similarities and unities, now it's on differences.
But for someone who wishes to learn about the language it is important to acknowledge and understand both. Yes, the variants are mutually comprehensible and highly similar in structure and vocabulary--but they are also sufficiently different that learning to speak one does not guarantee you speaking and writing properly another. Which brings me to my second point, when I said I understood Serbian without any problem, I should have explained this is not likely to be the case with a "naive" Croatian speaker--both my generation (and of course older ones) and me personally (who had lived a while in Belgrade) have had considerably more exposure to Serbian than, I believe, your average Croatian kid these days. (And even I, with that extra exposure, can't say I could write or speak Serbian correctly for long, although I recognise and understand it easily.)
The differences in the vocabulary WOULD pose some problems, all the more because the terms that differ are usually completely unrelated--you cannot guess the meaning from one to another. For example, a Croatian kid who knows "air" as "zrak", has no reason to guess Serbian "vazduh" means the same, especially without context.
The word "Croato-Serbian" (and any of its other constructions) is to me a useful shorthand for "Croatian and/or Serbian", not, as it seems to me you've been using it, as denoting some unique "Serbocroatian language". That language never existed, only the variants did. The languages taught in our schools were called that, but they were then as now specific variants. You say you spoke Serbocroatian, but you actually spoke Serbian--you are simply choosing to call the language by an old, anachronistic name.
I know it can get confusing, so consider other mutually comprehensible languages: Swedish and Norwegian, Czech and Slovak, Bulgarian and Macedonian, Russian and Ukrainian... Similar, but distinctive enough to be easily separated.
OK, I'll sum up, and then I'll shut up, or else they'll have to rename this thread "Language(s) of Former Yugoslavia."
I'm interested in the question of what language is. I'm also interested in the related but distinct question of what a language is. In other words, where do you draw the line between one language and another? According to one way of thinking, each person speaks their own language, distinct from everyone else's, and while that's true to a certain extent, it's also glib and not terribly helpful for our purposes. A more common way of thinking is that two people speak the same language if they understand one another, but that runs into some immediate difficulties, as we've seen above with Scottish/Californian, which can be mutually incomprehensible but are both considered "English," and Spanish/Italian, which are often mutually comprehensible but are universally agreed to be distinct languages. (And that's not to mention pidgins, creoles, bilingual code-switching, etc.)
We could define "speaking the same language" to mean "having some minimum level of comprehensibility," where that minimum level is higher than what Spanish-Italian or Russian-Ukrainian speakers achieve. I think that ignores an important piece of the puzzle, though, and that's the social/political aspect. The border between languages isn't between 95% and 96% understanding; it's between "I can tell from your accent/word choice/spelling that you're not from around here" and "I understand your language, but it's not the same as mine." It's a question of individual perception and cultural interpretation.
Here's where we reach the problem of Croatian/Bosnian/Montenegrin/Serbian. If I understand you right, Lola, you're saying that "the Serbo-Croatian language," as such, is a political invention meant to promote cultural unity among the distinct language groups of Yugoslavia, and so once there was no more Yugoslavia, there was no more need for Serbo-Croatian. Other people (mostly, but not exclusively, Serbs; see Sabreader's choice of language at #59 above) have told me that it's really all the same language, and that since the breakup of Yugoslavia, "Croatian speakers," in particular, have been putting a greater emphasis on linguistic differences in order to underline the political and cultural differences. (One example I've seen cited is the Croatian use of Slavic calques where Serbian speakers use loan words, e.g. rajčica-paradajz, zrakoplov-avion, dizalica-lift, although I don't know when these words became common in Croatian, or if in fact they always have been. As for the ekavian-ijekavian distinction, I always assumed that was a shibboleth comparable to color-colour or potayto-potahto.)
Now, I am clearly an outsider in all of this, but I am an informed outsider, so I believe my point of view may at least be informative, if not accurate. What I've found -- learning to speak "this language" in Kragujevac, and using it with more or less success in Belgrade, Vranje, Sarajevo, and Split -- is that I was generally considered to be a foreigner studying "our language," and not, in Croatia, a foreigner who was studying Serbian but could get by OK with it. Yes, there were clear differences, but sometimes the differences were more distinct within Serbia (particularly in Vranje, which is quite close to Macedonia). It's not like Croatian kids will be taking Montenegrin as their foreign language in school, or Serbs referring to Bosnian dictionaries to translate the lyrics of Bijelo Dugme songs any more than Americans do with the Beatles.
I'm hesitant to make conclusions, but my impression (as I've tried to outline here) is that a lot of the differences are overstated, for political reasons. It's possible that certain commonalities are given a similar treatment by the other camp; I don't know enough to say for sure. Now, just because it's politically motivated doesn't make it wrong; on the contrary, remember, according to the best definition for "a language" that I could think of, politics is actually more important than the degree of mutual comprehensibility. I guess that does make Montenegrin a language, and as you pointed out, if Bosnian is a language then Montenegrin probably should be, too.
But then, if I decide to found my own country, abolish the word "pencil," and replace it with "frindle", could I say that I've created a whole new language? If I get enough people to agree with me, then probably yes.
The Scottish/Californian contrast was your example, and I must say I don't believe these are ever truly mutually incomprehensible. For those with leaden ears, perhaps--but then there's always writing. The accent can affect comprehensibility but it does not affect how a word is written, nor the choice of a word in the first place. I remind you that I spoke of English variants delimited by national borders--languages which are TAUGHT in schools as national lingua francas. Scottish may sound different from Yorkshire(-se? -an?), but as far as I know, the Scots and the, um, Yorkies (this is probably insulting to someone...:)) learn the same British variant of English.
Other people (mostly, but not exclusively, Serbs; see Sabreader's choice of language at #59 above) have told me that it's really all the same language, ...
We're going in circles here. Today, as twenty, fifty, or hundred years ago, people living on the teritory of Yugoslavia, spoke mutually comprehensible, but distinctive languages. You could verify this by reading books published in those variants in periods of interest. No word of "Serbo-Croatian" in 1905 in either Serbia or Croatia.
Now, you'll just have to accept (or not, of course) that 1. there is no absolute measure of a language's distance from another that 2. enables you to state unequivocally whether they are "the same" or not. Are Bulgarian and Macedonian the same language? If yes, why yes, if not, why not? "Politics" is your answer in either case--and the same goes for Croatian etc. variants.
and that since the breakup of Yugoslavia, "Croatian speakers," in particular, have been putting a greater emphasis on linguistic differences in order to underline the political and cultural differences.
Serbian nationalistic drivel, with a soupcon of truth: there is a faction in Croatia's academic circles who'd like to lord it over the language, a la L'Academie Francaise. (But of course, it's perfectly fine when the French do it, quod licet Iovi, yadda yadda yadda). The occasional proposal for this or that loony change makes it to the table; so far all have been defeated. But, disregarding this fringe (which can be troublesome, but is not representative of the people or even the academics as a whole), I don't know that "Croatian speakers" en masse have been insisting on a "greater emphasis" on differences in language as they speak it. This smacks to me of the all too typical Serbian hatred for any expression of Croatian independence (some of it well earned, no doubt). But, really, not every Croatian word is meant as an explicit insult to Serbian self-esteem, and those who think Croats are "inventing" a new language need to read more Croatian literature from all periods.
I don't know when these words became common in Croatian, or if in fact they always have been.
Well, you ought to find out, don't you? I don't mean to sound snippy--just obvious. "Rajcica" and "dizalica" are old words, "zrakoplov", as is easily imagined, is less old--but comfortably predates the Croatian Ustashe and the "purifications" of the language.
As for the ekavian-ijekavian distinction, I always assumed that was a shibboleth comparable to color-colour or potayto-potahto
And yet you claim to have studied--SPOKEN--the language. Again--the "ije"/"e" differences are perfectly noticeable in both writing and speaking, unlike your examples, where one is not heard, and the other isn't seen.
I was generally considered to be a foreigner studying "our language," and not, in Croatia, a foreigner who was studying Serbian but could get by OK with it.
I'm confused as to the point of this anecdote--what did you expect? People in Croatia are used to foreigners speaking Serbian to them when they speak "our" language at all. I'm not sure exactly why it was so, but maybe because it's easier to pronounce, the Serbian (ekavian) variant was most commonly used in guides and such.
It's not like Croatian kids will be taking Montenegrin as their foreign language in school, or Serbs referring to Bosnian dictionaries to translate the lyrics of Bijelo Dugme songs any more than Americans do with the Beatles.
I certainly hope not, but... so what? All the king's men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again.
my impression (as I've tried to outline here) is that a lot of the differences are overstated, for political reasons.
My impression is that we cannot agree over what it MEANS to over- or understate differences. The differences EXIST, and they are important insofar learning to speak Croatian, Serbian and so on is important to one. Obviously, this is of paramount importance first of all to the natives.
according to the best definition for "a language" that I could think of, politics is actually more important than the degree of mutual comprehensibility. I guess that does make Montenegrin a language, and as you pointed out, if Bosnian is a language then Montenegrin probably should be, too.
Hallelujah! We agree--or actually agree we agree--somewhat--on some point--at last! :) Let's not ruin the magic, shall we? Yes, I too feel bad about commandeering this thread, if you wish to continue, please start a thread so we can get out of their way.
But then, if I decide to found my own country, abolish the word "pencil,"
Don't take this wrong, but I think you have been throughout downplaying the differences between these languages--and I can only ascribe this to ignorance. Yes, such high mutual comprehensibility is a striking characteristic, especially to the superficial first glance, but the nuances in structure (vocabulary and grammar), tradition and usage are fascinating all the more. The more you read, the more complicated it will become. But, if you wouldn't disrespect American English by mixing in wantonly Britishisms or vice versa, because they are after all "the same" language, then I think you do understand the same need for respect of the boundaries of our variants.
ETA: just a small correction; if you meant to compare Serbian and Croatian words for "elevator", it would be "lift" and "dizalo" ("dizalica" is "crane", as in construction, and the same in both).
See, I've always liked and admired the fact that Croatian uses Slavic words instead of foreign ones whenever possible.
as a foreigner who's been over much of the former Yugoslavia, and who went to Zagreb speaking Serbian; who after a year there was speaking the Croatian (or more accurately Zagreb) variant/accent/forms, etc.; who then went to Belgrade and spent a time there; who upon returning to Zagreb, shocked my friends who exclaimed, "sabreader is speaking Serbian!!" I can say it is quite complex, and is a combination of linguistic differences and political / national sentiments.
So mutually intelligible, highly so, yes. The same language? -- that comes down to politics, history, borders, and identity. And here the answer is no.
Of course here as elsewhere the hard question is borders. The languages blend into each other geographically, so the border area of Serbia and Bulgaria has a version of Serbian that is very influenced by Bulgarian, for example. In the Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian zones, similar blending into each other of pronunciations, vocabulary, grammatical structures. This seems to be the case anywhere you have related languages which are abuting each other: Polish/Ukrainian/Belarusian/Russian, on a linguistic atlas, blend into each other (and did so much more before the "cleansings" of WWII) so there's not necessarily a very clear line. But the lines that matter are the borders.
And this is true of all languages. We are all familiar with the fact that in France, what today are called "dialects" could just as easily have become full-fledged languages (Burgundian, Norman, Picard) had the political/military situation turned out differently.
Finally on my post 59, my point was more of a pragmatic one with ref. to using Serbo-Croatian, rather than retrospectively going back and mechanically changing scl to croatian and scc to serbian. And going forward, there's really no excuse not to get it right as each book is being catalogued.
Of course Lola is correct, any native speaker can easily tell which book is in which language. But it just seems that by not using the correct languages, the MARC and LOC systems are showing a kind of ignorance that is arrogance. They claim to be the experts on this stuff, they should do it correctly.
True, earliest Croatian literature (emphasis on literature, since writings of a different "genre" in archaic Croatian much predate it) is all in one dialect or another. They say štokavian was chosen as the basis of literary Croatian because it was spoken by a majority, but kajkavian or čakavian could have been used as well.
But then we get back to the debate about Sicilian vs. "italian"...
About the only thing I can think of that applies to any dialect worldwide is this: it is treated like a dialect. Obviously this isn't a "pure" linguistic criterion, if it's that at all. Sicilian, like my Dalmatian (which is one of the čakavian Croatian languages) and any other dialect isn't taught in schools, and people outside a circumscribed locality aren't likely to ever learn it, let alone use it. The modern literature in a dialect tends to be smaller, if it exists at all, which both reflects and reinforces its limited, provincial scope.
And yet there's no linguistic reason why Sicilian or Dalmatian couldn't become Languages (with a capital L)--all it would take is, well, a revolution. Or a so-minded tyranny. :)
The languages blend into each other geographically,
Yes! They lie on a continuum, with Slovenian at one extreme, mutually comprehensible with Northern Croatian kajkavian, which blends into štokavian of the centre, which metamorphoses into Slavonic, the Croatian ekavian, which is similar to Serbian and so on.
the MARC and LOC systems are showing a kind of ignorance that is arrogance.
I stopped downloading books from the LOC because I had to correct their language entries so often--and I don't mean only such recherche fare as the YU-variants; the big league languages. It's like there's an "English" default somewhere.
If that's true, it will be extremely easy to end that war - by just one killing.
I would like to start a group for graduate students who are required to take multiple languages for graduate work -- we can encourage each other when a meltdown is imminent.