L'anthologie of Global Inestabilidad Transpuesta - Нестабилност/Nestabilnost in Language - Serbia (Part 40)

Transposing emblem by Jelena Sekulić
Нестабилност/Nestabilnost is probably the first thought that comes to mind when the Balkans are mentioned. It has become, over the years, the personal trait of the Serbian people and Serbian language. A fuming political situation, religious conflicts and economic issues are reflected in the linguistic area, mirroring the constant changes that are sometimes difficult to comprehend. The Serbian language has two dialects, it can be written in two scripts (Latin and Cyrillic) and this duality has caused many sorts of нестабилности. Nestabilnost in Serbian linguistics comes from different sources that have their roots in the inability to accept the fact that language is constantly changing and cannot keep one form for a long time because it develops and evolves with its people without any loss of its core and has to be nurtured and cherished as a treasure of the utmost importance.
Belgrade, Serbia - Delijska Fountain on Prince Michael street
Since the twelfth century, the Serbian language, Serbian literature and the Serbian people have been adapting to the ever-changing circumstances that life on the crossroads imposes. The oldest document written in the modified Cyrillic Serbian of Church Slavonic is Miroslav’s Gospel (1186). The written language remained more or less the same for the next six centuries until the 18th century when it started moving out of churches and slowly emerged among the Serbian people or, to be more precise, when the language of the people started to dominate over the written language that very few understood and used. It is not a surprising situation if you bear in mind that the Serbian people lived under Turkish rule for more than four hundred years and that monasteries were the only places where language could be preserved and studied. In such a closed environment, it could not prosper and evolve. Only after regaining freedom in the second half of the 19th century did Serbian get its chance to adapt to its people. Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic (Вук Стефановић Караџић) was one of the most important people in the fight for the language of the people and he introduced Adelung’s rule “Write as you speak and read as it is written.” Introducing the language of the people in schools, public institutions and creating literature in such a language was a sacrilege at the time. The language that kept its form under foreign rule for such a long time was being transformed in this age of freedom and many scholars could not accept it. The process was described in Djuro Danicic’s essay War for the Serbian Language and its Orthography, and it was a war indeed. But this very change, the turmoil it caused, the ensuing nestabilnost, was the spark that lit the very heart of literary creation.
Belgrade, Serbia - Kneza Milosa road
Language was no longer the privilege of the few. It became the right of every person, and this new energy gave birth to unique literature manifesting itself as fireworks of essays, poems, novels, literary debates, translations and much more. This liberated variant of the Serbian language became susceptible to changes in all areas, from morphology and syntax to orthography and lexicology. Freedom meant experiencing influences from many different sides.
Belgrade, Serbia - Old man reading a newspaper
The influence of foreign languages has been extensive. The Serbian lexicon was expanded tremendously by many words of Turkish origin due to the long period of Turkish rule, but over time, the quantity of words has been reduced to one third of the original volume. Most words from Turkish took Serbian forms and no one can identify them as words from another language today (дуван, торба, кревет, јастук - tobacco, bag, bed, pillow). The plasticity of language did its job and assimilated new expressions. Although the influence of Turkish remains on the lexical level, it has caused much of today’s turbulence connected with the letter “х/h” which is recognized as a foreign element in some places and subject to strong hostility as non-Serbian. Whereas it is a very important part of some grammatical endings (such as some cases and verb forms: genitive plural ‘многих правила/ mnogih pravila’, or conditional forms ‘ја бих то урадио/ ja bih to uradio’...), it is used in some words in which it doesn’t belong by origin and makes them sound artificial (хрђа/ hrđa, хрвати се/ hrvati se- rust, wrestle). It is even used as a very important element for distinguishing Serbian from a related language created after the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The letter “х/h” has engendered much confusion and debate, showing how a letter can trigger very strong feelings that surpass linguistic borders.
Belgrade, Serbia - Suburb district of Zemun
Some of the most recent changes are exceptionally interesting because they have outgrown the lexical level. The Serbian language, like many other languages, is importing words from English, especially in the field of computer science and technology. Some of them have been assimilated and they function in their new Serbian gowns perfectly well. For example, the word кликнути/ kliknuti is the adaptation for “to click” and there are no substitutes for it so using computers is impossible without words taken from English. But English words have started entering Serbian vocabulary at such a speed that it has become difficult to embrace them and put them into the molds of their new habitat. So, for the first time nobody knows how to properly apply the rule “write as you speak and read as it is written.”
Belgrade, Serbia - Young people
If the words are transliterated from English and written as they are pronounced, sometimes they don’t fit properly into their new surroundings. Компјутерски вируси и малвер/ Kompjuterski virusi i malver – Computer viruses and malware - this example shows one of the possible solutions (a successful one) but spelling rules are complete chaos. If you would like to use ‘pop-up window’ in a written sentence then there are a few solutions: поп ап, поп-ап, поп-уп, искачући прозор/ pop ap, pop-ap, pop-up, iskačući prozor (in the first three the letter is the translation of the pronounciation). If you are trying to write or translate a text on modern technology, there are no rules you can completely rely on and the only thing that is guaranteed is a headache. You can easily imagine the disputes in the linguistic world that have arisen on account of this issue.
Pancevo, Serbia - Roma girls at main square
Finally, the most evident nestabilnost is in using Latin script. Cyrillic script is the official script in Serbia and in the Republic of Srpska and all the official documents are in Cyrillic. We prefer it, we see it as a part of our tradition and we think of it as more Serbian because it has been used for more than eight centuries. Even the neighbouring nations see it as exclusively Serbian and they refuse to allow its usage in the regions that were mainly inhabited by Serbian people. Due to the booming expansion of all sorts of gadgets that are used for surfing the internet, it seems that people are using Latin script more often. Most computer programs and mobile phone apps are translated into Serbian and they have both Cyrillic and Latin options but it happens that people choose Latin versions more. Most websites in Serbian are written in Latin script and a lot of effort is made to create more websites in Cyrillic script, and people are encouraged to use it more often on the internet. The Serbian language may have suceeded in surviving four centuries of foreign rule, numerous political systems, wars, structural changes, but it seems that internet entertainment is winning over historical, linguistic and cultural heritage.
Novi Sad, Serbia - Monument to victims of raid in Novi Sad in January 1942
It can be easily stated that Serbian has reached the point which shows that it has to take a firm stand and decide which direction it wants to go because indecisiveness might take more away from its identity than choosing the wrong path. Whether it chooses to be more rigid, more stubborn, or more flexible and adjustable, the adopted path will be a way out of this suffocating nestabilnosti.

Jelena Sekulić

Template of the Emblem of Instability in postcards at 1080 Wyckoff


Photo 1: Belgrade, Serbia - Floods by Balon

Photo 2: Belgrade, Serbia - Delijska Fountain on Prince Michael street by Fotokon

Photo 3: Belgrade, Serbia - Kneza Milosa road by Golden Brown

Photo 4: Belgrade, Serbia - Old man reading a newspaper by Balkans Cat

Photo 5: Belgrade, Serbia - Suburb district of Zemun by Balkans Cat

Photo 6: Belgrade, Serbia - Young people by Balkans Cat

Photo 7: Pancevo, Serbia - Roma girls at main square by Balkans Cat

Photo 8: Novi Sad, Serbia - Monument to victims of raid in Novi Sad in January 1942 by Igor Stevanovic

Template of the Emblem of Instability in postcards at 1080 Wyckoff

Parts of the Emblem of Instability

Alvisi, Andrea. Political and Social Instability: The Brexit Mess. May 2017.

Bahras. Unstable Air Pollution - Unstable Solutions: Mongolia. June 2017.

Bichen, Svetlana Novoselova. Mental and Cultural Instability: Russia and Turkey. February 2017.

Caetano, Raphael. Instabilidade emocional: Brazil. February 2017.

Çakır, Peren. On the Road in Search of Stability: Argentina and Turkey. June 2017.

Cordido, Verónica. Instability, a Stable Reality: Venezuela and America. April 2017.

Dastan, S.A. The Stability of Instability: Turkey and Syria. March 2017.

D'Adam, Anton. Psychosocial Instability in Argentina and America: El granero del mundo and The Manifest Destiny. January 2017.

Delibasheva, Emilia. Political Instability: Electoral Coups in America and Bulgaria. December 2016.

Ellie. Angry Folk: Korea. June 2017.

Friedrich, Angelika. Introduction: The Emblem of Instability. September 2016.

Fondevik, Vigdis. Unstable Nature: Norway and Denmark. October 2016.

Halimi, Sophia. Modern Instabilité: Youth and Employment in France and China. March 2017.

Hernandez, Jonay Quintero. Embracing Instability - Spain. February 2017.

Kelvin, Sera. The Stability in Expecting Emotional Instability: Brazil. April 2017.

Korneeva, Ekaterina. Instability... or Flexibility? July 2017.

Larrosa, Mariela. The Very Stable Spanish Instability. April 2017.

Lobos, José. Political Instability: Guatemala. May 2017.

Mankevich, Tatsiana. The Absence of Linguistic Stabilнасцi: Does the Belarusian Language Have a Future? December 2016.

Meschi, Isabelle. Linguistic Instabilité and Instabilità: France and Italy. November 2016.

Mitra, Ashutosh. The Instability of Change: India. January 2016.

Moussly, Sahar. The Instability of Tyranny: Syria and the Syrian Diaspora. December 2016.

Nastou, Eliza. Psychological Αστάθεια and Inestabilidad during the Economic Crisis: Greece and Spain. December 2016.

Nevosadova, Jirina. Whatever Happens, It Is Experience. May 2017.

Partykowska, Natalia. Niestabilność and адсутнасць стабільнасці in the Arts: Polish and Belarusian Theater. January 2017.

Persio, P.L.F. Social Instabilità and Instabiliteit: Italy and the Netherlands. November 2016.

Pranevich, Liubou. Cultural Instability: Belarus and Poland. March 2017.

Protić, Aleksandar. Demographic Instability: Serbia. July 2017.

Romano, Mavi. Unstable Identities: Ecuador and Europe. October 2016.

Shunit. Economic Instability: Guinea and Gambia. April 2017.

Shalunova, Marina. Language Instability: Russia. June 2017

Sitorus, Rina. Instabilitas Toleransi: Indonesia. May 2017.

Skrypka, Vladyslav. National нестійкість: Ukraine. July 2017.

Staniulis, Justas. Nestabilumas of Gediminas Hill and the Threat to the Symbol of the State: Lithuania. July 2017.

Sousa, Antonia. Social and Economic Instabilidade: Portugal. January 2017.

Vuka. My Intimate Imbalanced Inclination. March 2017.

Walton, Éva. Historical and Psychological Bizonytalanság within Hungarian Culture. January 2017.

Yücel, Sabahattin. The Instability of Turkish Education and its Effect on Culture and Language: Turkey. July 2017.

Zadrożna-Nowak, Amelia. Economic Instability: Poles at Home and the Polish Diaspora. November 2016.

Zakharova, Anastasiya. Instability in Relationships: Russia. April 2017.

To follow: emblems by Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Egyptian, Irish, Syrian writers and translators

Further reading

Azazeal, Alex. Отражение Spiegelt Reflection. 2014.

Friedrich, Angelika. The Emblem of Instability. September 2016.

Friedrich, Angelika. Sub-Under-U-метро-Bahn-Ground-Way. 2014.

Gergiev, Vladimir. Street - Straße - Улица. 2014

Metivier, Anthony. Kunstart. 2014.

Smirnov, Yuri. Art de streetулица. 2013.

Whittlesey, Henry, et al. Transposing Emblem - Junk Culture - Müll Trashed Мусор (Part I). August 2016.

Whittlesey, Henry, et al. Transposing Emblem - Junk Culture - Müll Trashed Мусор (Part II). August 2016.

Whittlesey, Henry, et al. Transposing Emblem - Junk Culture - Müll Trashed Мусор (Part III). September 2016.

Whittlesey, Henry. Forward to Next Transposing Emblem. January 2016.

Whittlesey, Henry. Changes to Transposing Emblems. November 2015.

Whittlesey, Henry. Excerpt of new emblem transpoзиция on trash. September 2015.

Whittlesey, Henry. Müll trashed мусор. 2013

Visit www.transposing.net for more information about transposition.
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