Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Bugs as a Language Infiltrator

This piece was sent to me recently from a cousin in the Old Country.  The headline, "Srbi u šoku: Djeca govore hrvatski jezik zbog crtićaVećina crtanih filmova u Srbiju dolazi iz Hrvatske," translates as "The Serbs are in shock: Children speak Croatian language because the majority of animated cartoons that are broadcast in Serbia come from Croatia".  One especially irate parent wrote to a station saying his 4 year old son call him "tatek" now instead of "otac" ("daddy" as opposed to "father").  The war in the Balkans is still raging, though at a less violent rate.  Now nefarious agents of the animated sort are serving as conscripts in the battle of ethnic differences.

For those folks without excessive time on their hands to study the minutiae of the Croatia/Serbia/Yugoslavia conflict, I'm here to help.  Way back in the days of the mid 1800's, when the main ethnic groups that constituted what was to be, in the early 1900's, Yugoslavia, the major powers that were, namely the Austrians, Hungarians, and Turks noticed the similarities between the Croatian & Serbian languages.  A meeting, where the Vienna Literary Agreement was concocted, was held in 1850 wherein a combo artifical language of Serbo-Croatian was agreed to. (That must have been a hellacious meeting as only one Slovenian was invited and, as you can tell by the language name, his opinion was minimally included).  But the practioners of this "new" language never seemed to take it firmly into their bosoms, i.e., in some parts of the the areas affected it was called Croatian-Serbian, in others just (still) Serbian or Croatian.  Even though this part of the world was in perpetual change as invasion by various powers was seemingly a daily occurence, the occupants were not eager acceptors of change. (No surprise that the symbol for this part of the world is the magarac).  Any incursion was an effront.

So, these days, with the break-up of the artificially created Yugoslavia (think of the British-concocted Iraq except without the oil resources) permanent (...uhmmm, that is, for the mooment), the language thing is once again a point of pride and of conflict.  If you happen to be in Serbia or in Croatia (or any of the other former republics of the Federal Socialist Republics of Yugoslavia), you'd do well (and be safe) to NEVER use the term Serbo-Croatian in defining the language of that country.  It's either Serbian, Croatian, or Slovenian or...you get the idea.  So, now Bugs and his cartoon pals seem to be hired guns in the ongoing conflict of Slavic differentiation in the The Land of Croats and The Domain of Serbs.  Chillin' will never be a national pastime in either of these places.   Even the philosophy of fjaka takes a backseat to opportunities to moan.

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Unfortunately, I belong to the group of Slovenians who learned Serbo-Croatian at school and everywhere else. Don't get me wrong: Slovenian lives would have been much duller without it, it is just that I can't speak only Croatian or only Serbian and I DON'T even KNOW THE DIFFERENCE between them (apart from the fact, that Croatian is mostly ijekavski and Serbian is mostly ekavski jezik).

That's what bothers me. But it makes my plight easier to know that Serbian children aren't sure, either :-)
So long as everybody can learn to say, "I'm a Hessian without no aggression," this might not be such a bad thing.
Alcessa: "apart from the fact, that Croatian is mostly ijekavski and Serbian is mostly ekavski jezik"... ah, music ot my ears. I haven't heard this distinction since I was in 7th grade back in the Old Country. Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane.

WP: Yep, that's how I remember Yosemite Sam, a character with no aggression..and the death camps during the break-up of Yugoslavia were simply "alternative life recreational facilities"....
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