[lg policy] Serbia Proposes Law Changes to Halt Cyrillic’s Decline

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Fri Aug 3 13:40:01 EDT 2018


 Serbia Proposes Law Changes to Halt Cyrillic’s Decline

Amid fears that the national script is losing out to Latin letters,
Serbia’s Culture Ministry is proposing changing the law to better protect
its use.
Maja Zivanovic
BIRN
Belgrade

Photo: Pxhere

Against a background of fears that Latin letters are taking over, Serbia’s
Ministry of Culture has proposed toughening the law on the use of the
Cyrillic script, creating a Council for the Serbian Language – and imposing
fines for those who do not respect Serbia’s “mother script”.

“The situation is worrying due to the dominant use of Latin in all
segments. This is due to the spirit of the times, to historical
circumstances and to a decades-long globalization process that has made the
Latin script the world’s dominant script,” the ministry said in written
response to BIRN.

It added that the modern media and the internet had “imposed Latin as a
letter of universal communication, which influences young people
unconsciously to turn to Latin characters”.

Serbia’s 2006 constitution calls Cyrillic the country’s official alphabet,
which means that all communications between public institutions, but also
between them and the public, must be in Cyrillic.

The only exception to this rule is official communications with national
minorities.

Cyrillic is used almost universally in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria
and Macedonia [except in mainly ethnic Albanian areas] and in Montenegro
and Bosnia’s mainly Serbian entity, Republika Srpska.

Serbian Culture Minister Vladan Vukosavljevic warned
<http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/serbia-defending-cyrillic-alphabet-media-06-05-2017>in
June 2017 that the use of the Cyrillic alphabet was in danger in Serbia
because of globalisation.

He announced then that his ministry and the government would introduce
changes to the law defend the ancient script.

In June, the Serbian capital, Belgrade, adopted
<http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/serbian-capital-introduce-benefits-for-cyrillic-friendly-companies-06-29-2018>a
decision to reward companies that promote the use of Cyrillic.

The ministry explained to BIRN that proposed changes would precisely define
the term “official use” of language and script, noting the obligation to
use Cyrillic in all communications between state authorities and local
government, schools and faculties, in print and electronic media, as well
as in enterprises and institutions.

It would have to be used also in transactions between legal entities where
at least one party is a domestic legal entity, and on all markings of
enterprises and similar entities, including “the company name,
headquarters, activity, the names of goods and services, instructions for
use, information on the characteristics of goods and services, warranty
conditions, offers, invoices, accounts and certificates”.

The amendments, it added, also envisage the establishment of the Council
for the Serbian Language, which will coordinate activities related to
implementing the Law on Official Use of Languages and Alphabets and the
implementation of language policy.

The ministry said the Council will analyze and give opinions on the state
of the official language and script in Serbia and in the Serbian-language
area, provide suggestions about creating and implementing language policy,
submit proposals for the development of the official language and script as
well as make suggestions for the regulation of other issues in the field.

Fines are proposed for those responsible in institutions, organizations or
companies that “act contrary to the provisions of the Law”.

The ministry said the proposal to amend the Law on Official Use of
Languages and Alphabets would soon be in regular parliamentary procedure
and put to MPs.

It insisted that it was not “a culturally responsible position” to be
indifferent about the use of Cyrillic or Latin – and complained that some
people had come to “use the Latin script as a symbol of [their] openness
and European affiliation”.

“Do they know that the EU is a community of peoples with their
peculiarities, and that the Cyrillic alphabet is one of the equal scripts
in it [the EU]?” it asked.

“If we accept that it is not important, Cyrillic is in danger, because it
won’t be used, which will lead to its disappearance … The language and
script are what we are,” it concluded.

*Read more:*
*Serbian Capital to Reward Companies Using Cyrillic*
<http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/serbian-capital-introduce-benefits-for-cyrillic-friendly-companies-06-29-2018>
*Serbia to ‘Fight to Save’ Cyrillic Alphabet*
<http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/serbia-defending-cyrillic-alphabet-media-06-05-2017>


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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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