Bugarski, Ranko – Europe in Language

ranko bugarski - evropa u jeziku

Bugarski, Ranko  – Europe in Language
2009, pp.246
Price $ 5.50








Ranko bugarski, PhD, full professor at the Unuversity of Belgrade, has published many sholarly writings in the fields of Engish studies, general lingustics, applied linguistic, and socio-linguistics. In this series, the following works of his have been published: Lingvistika o čoveku (What Linguistics tells about Man) 1975, 1983, Jezik u društvu (Language in Society) 1986, Jezik od mira do rata (Language from Peace to War) 1995, Lica jezika – sociolingvističke teme (Facets of Language – Socio-linguistic topics) 2001, 2002, Nova lica jezika – sociolinguističke teme (New Facets of Language – Socio-linguistic topics) 2002, 2009, Žargon – lingvistička studija (Slang  – a study in linguistics) 2003, 2006, and Jezik i kultura (Language and Culture) 2005  and Evropa u jeziku (Europe in Language) 2009.


Part one of Europe in Language contains the following five texts: 1. The European Language Politics Between Diversity and Globalization 2. The European Charter on Regional or Minority Languages. 3. What English Means to Us 4. Theoretical Fundation of Urban Dialectology 5. Half a Century of Linguistics: Reflexions on an Anniversary. Part two contains additional six texts: 6. On Old Language and New Languages, 7. Language Politics and Linguistic Reality in Serbia after 1990, 8. How Suffixes are Born: Grammaticalization in Serbian Slang. 9. Slang as a Factor of Modernization of Serbian Language 10. A New Catch of Slang and Fused Expressions. 11. Hate Speach and Hate Silence. Part Three is ”Selected Bibliography of Socio-Linguistics 2005-2008”.

A review of this book:

Milivoj Alanović, ”Europe in Language. Belgrade: 20th Century Library, ”Krug” Booksellers, 2009, pp 246” in:  Serbian Cultural and Publishing Society Buletin of Philology and Linguistics LIII/2, Novi Sad 2010, pp. 220-226.

Professor Bugarski’s latest book contains texts which deal with socio-linguistic issues and which have been written in the course of the last three years, and the majority of which have been published for the first time in this book, which is discussed in detail in the Bibliographical Note at the end of the book. On the other hand, this book can be viewed as a continuation of three of his books published earlier in this same edition: Facets of Language – Socio-linguistic Topics (2001), New Facets of Language – Socio-linguistic Topics (2002, reprinted in 2009), and Language and Culture (2005).

In the book Europe in Language, three thematic wholes are discernible (a) linguistic reality (b) language politics, and (c) theoretical and applied linguistic research, viewed in the context of global, regional or local, as well as social and individual phenomena. As far as its structural organization is concerned, the book consists of three parts. Part one is of a more general nature, and deals with the European practical linguistic situation, as well as with the issues of formulating and implementing a common European policy. Part two is entirely devoted to our own language, our own linguistic situation and politics, while part three represents an extension of the bibliography of Yugoslav socio-linguistics, printed in installments in Bugarski’s earlier books, this one consisting of 220 listings for the 2005 – 2008, and 36 for the 2002 – 2004 periods.

As it has already been mentioned, the first part of the book is mostly focused on the linguistic reality of Europe, which, as we are learning from the first chapter entitled ”European language politics between diversity and globalization”, is marked – from the point of view of relationships between different languages – by two mutually opposed tendencies: globalization and regionalization. While the direct effect of globalization is, among other things, a linguistic expansionism primarily of the English language, the achievement of European cultural values depends to a large extent on the success of the promotion of a model of interactive relationships among different languages. In that sense, professor Bugarski’s point of departure is a re-examination of relationships between various European languages in recent history. While the outmoded modular model implied co-existence between autonomous languages, the expansionist one was an expression of superiority of major languages, which today primarily means English as a symbol of globalization, “linguistic tyranny” and ”linguicide” perpetrated on little languages (p. 18). In this day and age, an authentically European model is asserting itself, the one of interaction, based on cooperation of speakers on a equal footing as a matter of principle, which promotes Europe as a complex and interactive communication space. Gloomy in essence, the effects of globalization imply general homogenization, but, counterintuitive though it may sound – professor Bugarski is emphatic – one of globalization’s side-effects is a linguistic diversification, made possible on either side territorial borders, which are growing increasingly porous due to constant population migrations, but also by communication itself moving into the virtual realm of cyber-space (Internet, for example).

Even though national languages without an international status are also threatened by the weakening of the European nation-states, the effects of globalization bear mostly on regional and local languages. Thus, it happens, for example, that immigrant, or so called homeland languages gain numerical superiority over the local or minority ones (for ex., in Switzerland: Turkish over Romanche; in Ireland: Polish over Gaelic). On the other hand, major languages, such as, presently, English as a symbol of modern life, are added to minor ones, following a road from somebody’s mother tongue to somebody else’s second, domesticated, and finally official and business language, which in turn pushes a major language toward diversification and polycentricism. Thus, the global English follows a path from Globish, Globalish, or Globalese, all the way to Eurospeak, rushing inexorably, according to certain apocalyptic scenarios, into disintegration, and branching out into an entire family of languages, not unlike what happened to Latin during Dark Ages.

Regardless of the final outcome of globalization, its current effect is multilingualism as a “new linguistic world order” (p. 18). It practically means that globalization stimulates learning other languages, whereby bilingualism, for many people, appears to be a well outdated model. The concepts of multilingualism and multiculturalism, as a basis for a European language policy, can be considered a European acquisition – the author notes – aimed at staving off the invasion of the English language and of the Anglophone, especially American, culture. In that light is to be viewed, as well, the explicitly formulated European language policy which functions on three levels: (a) educational, where it mandates learning at least two foreign languages – model M (mother tongue) + 2, whereby the model English only has been replaced by the current English-plus model; (b) legal and administrative, where it stipulates that the official languages of all EU member-countries be recognized as both official and working languages of EU, basically symbolically, one consequence thereof being the inordinate cost of translation (currently 506 pairs of translators are on the payroll), even if only three language are in effect working languages – English, French, and German; (c) protective in the sense of protecting minority languages according to the Charter on protecting minority and regional languages.

The second chapter of part one, entitled The European Charter on Regional or Minority Languages, focuses on the protection of minority communities and their languages, in which context the author underscores the significance of the European Charter on Minority or Regional languages, adopted by The Council of Europe in 1992, and which was intended to protect endangered languages, and promote mechanisms for prolonging their use. The Charter itself contains two normative sections defining the obligations of member-states towards the EU. After describing the basic structure of the Charter and the procedures of its application, professor Bugarski points out problems this document fails to solve, or that it even creates.

The problems of the Charter are as follows: (a) it establishes no criteria for differentiating a language from a dialect (ex. Sami language and its remote dialects in Scandinavia, or German in Switzerland as an archaic dialect of German); (b) it acknowledges no possibility that the same language be called two different names (such as Catalan and Valencia in Spain); (c) it makes no provisions for legal status changes for majority languages and their relegation to the minority status, if they become outnumbered; (d) it excludes immigrant languages. To these problems should be added certain psychological, legal and financial as well as human resources related problems. Psychological problems arise when speakers of minority languages are hesitant to use them in their dealings with the government, especially if they are unsure of their own ability to do so. Problems of legal and financial nature are related to situations where governments are unable to insure the necessary conditions for the implementation of adopted legislation (for lack of personnel, money, etc.), of where governments predicate the implementation of protective measures called for in the Charter on how large percentage wise is a certain community for which the measures are meant (as is the case in Croatia and Serbia). This not withstanding, Bugarski stresses, the indubitable effects of the Charter’s implementation are (a) increase of general awareness of linguistic heritage; (b) recognition of a language status (for example to Mienkeli in Sweden and Kven in Norway); (c) revitalization of languages (for example, of Celtic languages such as Cornish an Manx). The Charter has thus enhanced the minority group members’ awareness of their rights, while on the other hand, prompting governments to fulfill their obligations

The third chapter of part one, entitled What English Means to Us, sets out to determine how significant the English language for international communication is. Regardless of the fact that the knowledge of English can be associated with only one quarter of world’s population, more influential and powerful, no doubt,  than the rest, the author focuses on the half of that portion of humanity to which English is a foreign language. Professor Bugarski maintains that it only seems paradoxical that, at the height of multilingualism promotion, English should be so much on the rise. It is not so because the native speakers of English expressly desire it, but because it is in the interest of a rising multitude of those to whom it is a second or a foreign language. This way, English becomes a common language of people different in many other regards, and thereby a symbol of some new, more modern way of life. Thus, Bugarski concludes, if we know only one foreign language, it would be good if it were English, but if we know several, English should be one of them. It is why the issue of “corruption” of a language and of “foreign accent” is less important in view of the need and necessity to communicate. This particularly applies to “Euro-English”, i. e. English used in European institutions, which has developed some of its own peculiar vocabulary and terminology, making it a universal means of communication among its non-native speakers and users.

The fourth chapter of part one, entitled Theoretical Foundations of Urban Dialectology promotes the study of urban speech and its varieties. Professor Bugarski reminds us that the urban or social dialectology came into being in the early nineteen-twenties and thirties, pioneered by the Prague Circle, and that in our country it was Milka Ivić who strongly advocated shifting the focus of dialectological research from rural to urban speach, since it is the later that sets the standards anyway. This fundamental shift meant introducing – in addition to the horizontal or territorial dimension – a vertical, i. e., social one in order to obtain more precise information about social distribution of certain linguistic phenomena. This means that it is not enough to establish who speaks how, but also to whom and when, whereby urban dialectology represents an important supplement to the rural one.

As Bugarski notes, urban dialectology has come up against two problems – one ideological and the other methodological. The ideological one arises from abandonning the cliche that good language  can only be found in rural communities, and that the best respondent for a dialectologist is an ”illiterate rural grandma with healthy teeth” (p. 83). Related to this is a methodological problem, which places every researcher before an enormous task, consisting of gathering vast bodies of spontaneous oral discourse from a large number of respondents, varried in their respective levels of education and walks of life. Thus, the issue of how the diversity of all that material is to be approached and processed requires carefull consideration. Understood in this context, dialectology changes its complexion and becomes a branch of socio-linguistic. In this conext, professor Bugarski brings into the picture theoretical and methodological investigations of William Labov, which boil down to the following: (a) the proper subject matter of linguistics should be the laguage of ordinary people who use it in their daily interaction in a broad spectrum of situation; (b) the use of language is always varying according to an interloccutor, a speaking situation and a social context; (c) variations are probabilistic and consquently can be determined and expressed statistically; (d) synchronic variations are linked to diachronic changes in structure an usage if language, which makes them one of the main causes of change.

In the general spirit of the above remarks, the author refers to the study of Novi Sad speach, citing a number of topics as particularly interesting for research: (a) determining whether the Serbs, the Croats, the Montenegrins, the Bosniaks, and others use this language the same way or in different ways; (b) determining the distribution of pronunciation and writing; (c) determining the differences between the ”elite” and ”popular” language output and such; (d) following different variables though different levels of language structure.

A portion of this chapter, which stands apart is the one in which the author considers types of language varieties, from dialects to sociolects and idiolects, passing through vernaculars. These concepts are, by the very nature of things, opposed by the concept of standard language, of which the author says that it is not as much of a pattern and a model to be followed, as it is a criterion. Moreover, professor Bugarski notes in his concluding remarks that a speech community should “rid itself of inherited purist stereotypes on good and bad language as a basis for normative prejudices about what constitutes “correct” and “incorrect” language, because language can be “used well or poorly only in regard to a particular situation” (p. 99).

The fifth chapter of part one, Half a Century of Linguistic: Reflections on an Anniversary, somewhat personal in tone, represents the author’s comment on the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of two books – Syntactic Strictures by Noam Chomsky and Linguistics Across Cultures by Robert Lado, both published in 1957, symbolizing, each in its own way, two dominant approaches to language study. The first book is credited with asserting the import of syntax, while the second has promoted applied research, whereby they jointly paved the way for a synthesis between theoretical and applied examination of the phenomenon of language. As the author points out, Chomsky’s book established transformational and generative grammar, promoted rigid formalism, and triggered a chain reaction of important events in theoretical linguistics, while Lado’s book marked the beginning of empirical work on languages as expressions of culture, work motivated by the need to construct a foreign language teaching methodology by means of contrastive analysis, analysis of mistakes, of texts, as well as by related techniques, which all helped strengthen the foundation of applied linguistic. In that very spirit, Professor Bugarski discusses further in this chapter the mutual connectedness of linguistics, syntax, culture, and structure, symbolically sublimated in the concept of “generative structuralism”, pointing out, in connection with it, that the concept of structure is the key linguistic idea of the 20th century, and that it deserves renewed interest and emphasis.

Part two of professor Bugarski’s book is devoted to the domestic language situation, and in its first chapter, entitled On the Old Language and on New Ones, the author discusses the fate of the Serbo-Croatian language and its successors. According to him, the relationship between Serbo-Croatian and Serbian, Croatian, and Bosniak (when this text was being written, Montenegrin was only a remote possibility), can also be considered in terms of polycentricism and diversification. Wile Serbo-Croatian – being the “old” one – subsists as a linguistic and communication theory category, its successors, being the “new” ones have mainly politico-symbolic status. Considering them, however, in terms of unity of the whole and its parts, the author maintains that neither is Serbo-Croatian all that old, nor are the successors, Serbian and Croatian especially, all that new. “Thus” – the author concludes –  “Serbo-Croatian is today a single linguistically defined language in the form of three politically defined languages” (p. 123).

The second chapter of part two entitled Linguistic Policy and Linguistic Reality in post-1990 Serbia, deals with linguistic reality and policy in Serbia of which Bugarski says that that it – regretfully – fails to cope with its own linguistic realities. While the European language policy maintains and directs linguistic development, ours steers it toward diminishing adequacy through Articles of our Constitutions of 1974, 1990 and 2006, specifically regarding the use of Serbian language and its two dialects, as well as the use of its two alphabets. Even though the Serbian language, in comparison with Croatian and Bosniak, has not changed very much from its pre-war state in terms of how it is used in Serbia, particularly on the political scene, the author takes a look at the issue of a linguistic culture (or barbarism) that is characterized by a promotion of hate speech, in which context he particularly dwells on the issue of the use of Cyrillic and on populist abuses of that issue. It is in the light of evolutionary tendencies of language itself that one should view and understand the author’s interest in slang, which he considers to be a miniature model of language (p. 146) in which language phenomena, apt to elude the “vigilant gaze” of the standard, are easier to observe.  The momentousness of this issue and the need for a systematic scholarly study thereof are attested to by three articles in which the author lists slang expressions, suffixes, fused expressions, and generating patterns

The first group of related topics within this chapter, entitled How are Suffixes Born: Grammaticalization in Serbian Slang is focused on the formation of slang nouns by adding suffixes to them. The next two items in this group, entitled Slang as a Modernizing factor in Serbian language and New Catch of Slang and Fused Expressions, support the author’s idea of slang as a factor of modernization of the Serbian language. In that sense, Professor Bugarski corroborates that by citing and explaining the most characteristic foreign and domestic slang or standard suffixes adopted by slang of the variety -ing (as in listing), -er (as in droger [druggie]), -os (as in narkos), -ka (as in ćorka [slammer]) giving a list og newly recorded slang expression, classifed  by suffix into 64 different types. In addition to these, he lists productive patterns for creating fused expressions, five of them in all, according to which parts of different words are fused together.

This list of fused expressions amounts to 191, which added to earlier lists makes for a total of 660 so far. Clearly within its thematic framework, part two of this book ends with an interview professor Bugarski gave to a reprter of Vreme under the title Hate Speach and Hate Silence, in which the professor, glancing at the verbal culture of our holders of highest political ofiices, concludes: ”Such beahavior leads me to recommend hate silence as a counterpart of hate speech, in the sense of hatred expressed by eloquent silence, in moments when it has become painfully clear that something has to be said, that some intolerable moral impropriety has to be condemned”(p. 215)

Part three of the book, Selected Bibliography of Socio-Linguistics 2005 – 2008, represents an inventory of socio-linguistic publications from 2005 to 2008. Nevertheless, the author begins this section with a list of publications in the period 2002 – 2004, which came out after his previous book was already ready for printing. This makes for a total of 256 items in this book.

All in all, this latest book by professor Ranko Bugarski, Europe in Language, is a natural outgrowth and extension of his earlier research in which he points out to an organic link that exists between language and languages, on one hand, and the vast area of social life and its trends and manifestations, on the other, not only locally or regionally, but on a larger European or even global scale.

In that sense, this book represents, not only a compelling socio-linguistic manual and treasure trove of many useful data, but it offers us a unique linguistic agenda. As a result of his own grasp of the linguistic situation in Europe, the author makes seven recommendations to us that can be summed up as follows: “Enriching one’s own personality and environment by opening oneself towards the other, the different, instead of distrusting it as something alien and dangerous” (p. 55).

Milivoj Alanović

Novi Sad University

Scool of Arts and Sciences

Department of Serbian Language And Linguistics

Novi Sad