Fwd: Montenegrin

Milos Rancic millosh at gmail.com
Wed Jun 16 10:27:15 CEST 2010

(Resending my and CE Whitehead's email to the list. I sent to him
email personally by accident.)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: CE Whitehead <cewcathar at hotmail.com>
Date: Tue, Jun 15, 2010 at 17:47
Subject: RE: Montenegrin
To: millosh at gmail.com


Hi!  You sent this to me only?  Did you mean this to go to the list?
If so you need to send your original email to the list!
Then I will reply to you on the list.

In the meantime I've written a quick reply (below).

> From: millosh at gmail.com
> Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2010 11:21:50 +0200
> Subject: Re: Montenegrin
> To: cewcathar at hotmail.com
> Many arguments from both sides are at least not correct and some
> stronger words could be used.
> For example, claim that distinctive Montenegrin phonemes are just
> allophones is not based on any research, but on a claim of Serbian
> professor from Montenegro (Jelica Stojanovic) in a daily newspaper,
> which main field is not phonology but history of Serbian language.
> Such strong claim, however, needs research, not just partisan speech.
> The other side is, also, full of such pseudoscientific claims:
> On Tue, Jun 15, 2010 at 03:38, CE Whitehead <cewcathar at hotmail.com> wrote:
> > I went to the www.montenegro.org site url provided by Peter:
> > "This premise was based on the fact that they can communicate together to a
> > greater or lesser degree. To Vuk Stefanovic-Karadzic, correct meant "widely
> > in use". Everything that did not fit within this "norm" was declared
> > incorrect and non-literate; for example, three sounds unique to the
> > Montenegrin language (that are used in spoken language even today) were left
> > out of this standardization. This created an artificial division between
> > oral and written language. Even today in Montenegro, many older people and
> > village folk still use the original non-standard language, which is
> > generally more expressive and poetic. "
> > This suggests that the orthographic difference has a corresponding
> > dialectical/pronunciation difference.
> This is the classical example of difference between standard language
> and dialect. Moreover, in some parts of Croatia and Serbia dialects
> are so distant, that inhabitants are practically bilingual.
What dialects are inhabitants practically bilingual in?  Croatian and
Serbian?  How do the dialects mesh with political borders -- and are
those that are considered Croatian particularly distinct from those
that are considered Serbian?
> > http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8520466.stm
> > ""Montenegrin is different in many ways," she says. "Take the word for
> > 'milk', for example. In Serbian it's 'mleko', in Croatian 'mljeko' and in
> > Montenegrin 'mlijeko'." "
> > http://www.esiweb.org/index.php?lang=en&id=271
> > Adnan Cirgic is a proponent; he plant to catalogue the differences
> > apparently:
> > 'According to him, the most important difference is the dialectical usage of
> > long e (e in Serbian, je, ije in Montenegrin).
> "Montenegrin from" is standard in Serbian and Croatian, while nobody
> except Montenegrins are pronouncing it. It is incorrect to write
> "mljeko" in Croatian and Serbian (Iyekavian), although it is
> pronounced as is.
Do you mean that in Croatian mljeko is the pronunciation of but not
the way to write this word?
> > "In addition to the 30 letters in Serbian, Montenegrin has three more
> > distinct sounds, of which two are widely used all across the Montenegrin
> > linguistic space. This has also been acknowledged by Serbian linguists.
> > These consonants should therefore find their way into our standard language.
> > Besides, Montenegrin has a handful of other sounds produced by the
> > conversion of the long e which are unknown to Serbian… I am currently
> > working on the differences between Serbian and Montenegrin language. The
> > number of such differences is more than obvious and sufficient to speak
> > about a separate Montenegrin standard.'"
> > Jelica Stojanovic is an opponent who says that the geography is not right to
> > call this dialect Montenegrin:
> > ''Speaking of dialects, the territory of today's Montenegro fits perfectly
> > (and always did!) into the wider continuum of the Serbian language, as its
> > inalienable part – no speech, no dialect nor a single linguistic specificity
> > or a trait ends on the borders of Montenegro, none of it is 'only
> > Montenegrin', nor 'generally Montenegrin', as the non-scientific circles
> > attempt to portray it. As for the traditional and cultural identification
> > and name-giving, the language in Montenegro, ever since it has a name, has
> > been only Serbian.' "
> Using term "Serbian language" in the sense of diasystem is politically
> motivated. It is hard to use any other term in that sense except
> "South Slavic diasystem".
> > Regarding Leif's comment that Montenegro is divided between about 60%
> > Serbian speakers and about 40% Montenegrin -- my understanding is that this
> > number has changed recently; many more used to identify their language as
> > Serbian but decided that since they were Montenegrins they should call it
> > Montenegrin (it's still the same dialect that each speaks . . . )
> >
> > For me the variant subtag is an acceptable solution but this does not give
> > any Montenegrin standard the weighting that Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian
> > standards have  -- at least not in the opinions of some.
> Naming languages is not a matter of linguistics, but a matter of
> politics, as well as coding languages is. Hindi, Urdu (and a number of
> other languages common for India and Pakistan), Serbian, Croatian,
> Bosnian etc. -- are some of the examples. If there is a clear
> political will to name some language in some way, it should be
> respected.
For sure there are some political issues in the increasing tendancy to
break languages into smaller components (for example, to distinguish
North from South Levantine Arabic; Irianian Persian from Dari), and to
not break up or merge other code elements.
> Yes, it is confusing when linguists are arguing around political
> issues, but it is necessary to make that distinction. Arguing around
> Montenegrin looks like arguing about the existence of God or Thing or
> whatever.
> ISO 639 codes are [linguistically] broken and they will stay broken
> until they are trying to make sense in discrete naming of languages.
I think language is fluid; our political ideas of it are fluid; I do
not expect a real 'final fix' but anyway this is unimportant; there
may be some imbalances in our current approach.
> A
> mixed genetic and areal approach, with taking on count all important
> contemporary changes (extremely higher mobility during the last half
> of century, telephones, electronic media, Internet) -- could be a much
> better approach for categorization and tagging languages, or better --
> language systems.
I thought we looked at genetics, differences in pronunciation, use on
the internet and off, existence of a literature, national acceptance.

> In the mean time, the priority should be how not to make more damage
> because of a [broken] bureaucratic approach.
> However, someone already mentioned and I agree with that, Montenegro
> and Montenegrins didn't define their will clearly. All official
> Internet pages are still written in standard Serbian named as
> Montenegrin, while their television practices new Montenegrin.
So Montenegrin is used on television but not really on the web?
Why do you suppose this is so?  Any ideas?

> Thus, my suggestion is to wait for Montenegrin authorities to decide
> what do they want and to tell that to the relevant international
> institutions. And after that to do what do they want.
Hmm -- did you see SIL's/ISO 639-3's response to the request for a
code element -- at ietf-languages?


C. E. Whitehead
cewcathar at hotmail.com

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