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One must demand that that which belongs to the Serbian language be distinguished from that which belongs to the Croatian language, culture, and literature based on linguistic criteria An interview by Vesna ŠURBAT


BELGRADE, August 14 /SRNA/ - The president of the Committee for the Standardization of the Serbian Language, Sreto Tanasić, has told SRNA that literary works written by Serbian writers in Latin script are still registered as Croatian literary works by the UNESCO, and even worse is that such things are happening even in the Serbian National Library.

“Nothing has changed. When the UNESCO registers something, a great procedure is needed to change it. Literary works are still registered this way, which is unfavorable. When the UNESCO decides something, it is very difficult to change it. It would require a great deal of effort by the state of Serbia to change it,” Tanasić said.

Even worse, he says, is that there are literary works in the Serbian National Library written in Latin script and “ijekavica’ /a variant of the Serbian language/ which are registered as Croatian literary works because a few years ago a Library manager did it without asking professionals for an opinion.

“We are still writing in Latin script, and this is registered as someone else’s literature, as someone else’s language,” Tanasić said.

According to him, that which is written in Latin script is registered by the UNESCO as the Croatian literature and language.

“The problem with the Serbian culture is that it is being divided. Of course, it is not ideal to classify literature and other works as Croatian or Serbian only according to the script or “ekavica” because through the 20th century we had many literary, scientific and other works written in Latin script,” Tanasić said.

He has said that there must exist other language criteria, possibly the ethnic affiliation of the author and that certain linguistic criteria also must be included in order to distinguish between that which belongs to the Croatian and that which belongs to the Serbian language.

“If we would say that the Serbian language is only in Cyrillic script, we would surrender a great number of literary works to the Croatian language and the Croatian heritage,” Tanasić said, reminding of a huge number of Serbian literary works in “ijekavica” that were published in Latin script.

He has said that many writers crated Serbian literature in Belgrade, such as Branko Ćopić, but have never given up “ijekavica,” as well as all writers in the area of BiH.

“Also, there are many Serbian writers originating from Montenegro who stick to “ijekavica” and if their literary works are published in Latin script, then this is a problem. We must resolve this issue first in Serbia and the Serbian culture, and then possibly address the UNESCO,” Tanasić said.

He has said that the Serbian language has nurtured both “ekavica” and “ijekavica” since the establishment of the contemporary standard language and that both variants are Serbian.

“We must seek a way to distinguish between that which belongs to the Serbian language and that which belongs to the Croatian standard language, culture and literature, based on linguistic criteria,” Tanasić said.

As far as the situation with Cyrillic script in Serbia is concerned, Tanasić says that it has not significantly changed and that this cannot happen until a law on language and script is adopted which would be harmonized with a provision of the Constitution saying that the Serbian language and Cyrillic script are in official use in Serbia.

“This means that at least that which is official would have to be written in Cyrillic script. Of course, it is also necessary to define the official use of language. We are in a chaotic situation regarding this because the term the “public use of language” is used,” Tanasić said.

He has said that the term the “public use of language” does not exist anywhere in Europe and that there exist only “the private” and “the official” uses of language.

“It should be defined what is the official use of language and then we will have a more favorable situation in the country, at least when it comes to the official use of Cyrillic script,” Tanasić said and added that Serbian Minister of Culture Vladan Vukosavljević said that a law on language and script could be before Parliament by the end of the year. /end/sg