The Discursive Creation of the ‘Montenegrin Language’ and Montenegrin Linguistic Nationalism in the 21st Century

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Abstract

The Serbo-Croatian language was but one of the casualties of the wars of the Yugoslav secession, as it was discursively forcefully split into first two, then three, and recently four allegedly separate languages. The first line of division was promoted by Serbian and Croatian nationalist linguists during the early nineties, soon to be followed by the invention of a standalone Bosnian language, even though contemporary linguistics agrees that Serbo-Croatian, with its regional varieties (as a standardized polycentric language), is a single language. Coming late into the fray, nationally-minded linguists from Montenegro achieved the state-driven proclamation of Montenegrin as a separate language to be in official use within the state only in 2007. Backed by the state, a coterie of nationalist literary theorists and linguists started discursively promoting Montenegrin in academic and public spaces, mostly via the dubious quasi-academic journal titled Lingua Montenegrina. This article explores the manners in which Montenegrin nationalist linguists discursively created what they dub to be a language entirely separate from all variants of Serbo-Croatian, which are mostly contained in encomiastic texts about key nationalists, attempts to classify several allophones and phonemes as well as to assert the purported primordial character of the language.

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