Proposed general model for Serbo-Croatian continuum

John Cowan cowan at
Fri Nov 22 00:05:40 CET 2013

Doug Ewell scripsit:

> I agree with all of John's suggestions, but want to point out that we
> need to make sure the subtags in item #1 are compatible with the subtags
> in item #3.
> That is, if we register 'ekavsk' for Serbian now, and decide later to
> register 'ekavsk' for neo-Shtokavian later, it will of course be the
> same subtag with a new Prefix field. If we do that, we have to make sure
> the two meanings of 'ekavsk' are similar enough to justify this, as we
> did with 'pinyin' for Chinese and Tibetan.

An excellent point.  I would say that the application of the subtags
is wider in #3 (overall neo-Shtokavian) than in #1 (Standard Serbian).
That is, "sr-ekavsk" and "sr-ijekavsk" differ only in pronunciation,
which becomes a difference in orthography because Standard Serbian is
written phonemically.  (A loose analogy: if American English were written
phonemically, Easterners would spell "cot" and "caught" differently,
whereas Westerners would spell them the same way.  For spell-checking
and similar purposes, we'd need variant subtags to distinguish the two

However, "sh-ekavsk" and "sh-ijekavsk" differ in a number of ways,
though not enough to block mutual intelligibility.  The pronunciation
distinction is just one of these: it is a handy label but by no means
fully descriptive.  I think this level of polysemy is tolerable.

De plichten van een docent zijn divers,         John Cowan
die van het gehoor ook.                         cowan at
      --Edsger Dijkstra               

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