Thursday, April 06, 2006
Serbs use the Cyrillic and Latin scripts more or less interchangeably. As far as I know, this makes Serbian the only language with two completely redundant writing systems (as opposed to something like Japanese, which has several complementary writing systems that serve different purposes, or Turkish, which abandoned one system in favor of another). I've been told that people tend to stick to one alphabet or the other. For instance, the newspaper Politika is in Cyrillic, while Danas is in Latinica. But that's not strictly the case. I was confused for a while by a grocery store called CBA Наша Радња ("Our Store") because CBA in Cyrillic corresponds to SVA in Latin. I thought the store was called "SVA" until I travelled to Budapest and saw that the Hungarian stores are called CBA as well. Today I even saw one word written in a combination of scripts: an advertisement for an upcoming party called FИTNES (Fitness, I guess). But maybe they were just trying to be cool.
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Estavisti has this to say about the relationship between Cyrillic script and nationalism. I agree with him, I guess, but then I have my misgivings. If Cyrillic is ideally suited for Serbian, then isn't it also ideally suited for Croatian? (Croatian and Serbian are essentially the same language, but Croats use the Roman alphabet exclusively.) So by insisting on Cyrillic, Serbs are creating a further distinction between two different dialects of Serbo-Croatian.
Of course a language is a dialect with an army and a navy, and the purpose of separating Serbian and Croatian languages is to insist on the differences between Serbian and Croatian people. In a sense, using Cyrillic is the Serbian counterpart to the Croatian practice of "re-translating" borrowed words like paradajz and lift into Slavic forms like rajčica and dizalica. This results in an increasing number of "Croatian" words that are not commonly used in Serbia.
I've heard Serbs tell joking/complaining stories about Croats who pretended not to understand the word kafa (coffee; Croatian kava). Why would it be any different for Serbia to outlaw latinica?
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У сваком случају, мени се свиђа. И тако је лако рачунаром! Пишем брже него што могу да читам!