Croatian (BCS): Ustaše i korijenski pravopis

Mac_Linguist

Senior Member
English and Macedonian
Could someone give me a brief overview of the history behind root-based spelling in Croatian ("Korijenski pravopis") and the language policies of the Independent State of Croatia?

I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask.

Anyway, thank you in advance.
 
  • sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    You are referring to the Croatian Fascist state from the times of the Second World War.

    I could write something about this, but I wouldn't - this topic indeed is 'hot' and I wouldn't touch it.
    As Neo-Fascists in Germany still use Nazi symbology, Neo-Fascists elsewhere might do so equally, that's all I'm saying.
     

    Mac_Linguist

    Senior Member
    English and Macedonian
    You are referring to the Croatian Fascist state from the times of the Second World War.

    I could write something about this, but I wouldn't - this topic indeed is 'hot' and I wouldn't touch it.
    As Neo-Fascists in Germany still use Nazi symbology, Neo-Fascists elsewhere might do so equally, that's all I'm saying.

    I was just interested in how they regulated the Croatian language and how their idea of what was correct usage differs from today's standards. But thank you anyway.
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    Could someone give me a brief overview of the history behind root-based spelling in Croatian ("Korijenski pravopis") and the language policies of the Independent State of Croatia?

    I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask.

    Anyway, thank you in advance.

    You are right that this is a very controversial topic, but then, I normally don't run away from those, so here's my two cents... :D

    First, let's establish some historical context. The Ustasha regime that ruled the "Independent" State of Croatia was a Nazi-installed (and, in any issues that Hitler found even remotely relevant, tightly Nazi-controlled) clique of nationalist extremists who were in a position where they had to (1) pretend to be an independent state while the country was occupied by Germans and Italians who did whatever they pleased, and (2) pose as a proud nationalist movement in a nation with a blatantly Slavic language and culture while being puppets of a foreign regime that considered Slavs in general as an inferior race fit only for slavery or extermination. As one might easily expect in such a situation, the policies of this regime were, to put it mildly, a schizophrenic mess, and their language policy was certainly not an exception.

    By the time this regime was installed by the Nazis in 1941, the standard Croatian language had already been established for decades in pretty much the same form in which it is used nowadays -- basically, a variant of the Serbo-Croatian standard that was devised as a joint project by Croatian and Serbian linguists in the 19th century. Croatian and Serbian variants of this standard have moderate differences in vocabulary and some very minor differences in grammar and orthography, and they are easily mutually intelligible. In the Kingdom of Yugoslavia that existed before WW2, Croatian language was not officially recognized as separate from Serbian, but these two variants still existed as separate de facto standards, much like in Tito's Yugoslavia after the war.

    Now, since chauvinistic hatred of Serbs was one of the pillars of Ustasha ideology, their goal was to forcibly change the Croatian language and falsify its history so that it would appear separate and different from Serbian as much as possible. Furthermore, they also tried hard to push an entirely fantastic view of ancient Croatian history with the goal of making Croats appear vastly different and separate from other Slavs. With this, they wanted not only to support their anti-Serbian chauvinism, but also reconcile their ideology with the pathological hatred of the Slavs by their Nazi overlords. Supposedly, Croats were an ancient "Aryan" (on occasions, they would even claim Germanic!) people that somehow just happened to pick a Slavic language on their way here. This nonsense had a certain revival during the resurgence of Croatian nationalism in the 1990s, about which I wrote in a recent thread.

    The regime instituted a policy of extreme linguistic purism, trying to revive numerous archaic words and coining a bunch of mostly horrible (and sometimes hilarious) sounding, but supposedly "pure Croatian" words to replace all sorts of foreign borrowings, especially those that they saw as Serbian-influenced. (Ironically, this amounted to creating a language composed almost exclusively of Slavic roots.) They also officially replaced the traditional, mostly phonemic Croatian orthography with a new morphophonemic system (very badly designed, in my opinion). Overall, even if we ignore the historical context and the nature of the regime that produced it, this "pure" Croatian prescribed by the Ustashas was, in my opinion, an extremely ugly idiom unsuitable for any aesthetically pleasing use. Its only redeeming quality was the occasional hilarity of some of their coinings -- I still laugh when I think of words like munjara for "power plant", or munjovoz for "streetcar". :D

    These policies didn't really have much influence in practice even during the war years. The Ustasha regime had trouble keeping even basic control of most of its territory in the bloody chaos that ravaged Yugoslavia during WW2, and I'm pretty sure that few of its people were literate enough to even understand these new policies, preferring instead to occupy themselves with military affairs and/or atrocities against Serbs, Jews, insubordinate Croats, etc. A typical Ustasha bureaucratic document would look like a horrible semi-literate piece of writing sprinkled with some purist Ustasha coinings. Needless to say, producing anything of literary value was impossible under such a regime, which was far more murderous and totalitarian than just about any other Axis regime except for the Nazis themselves.

    In the long run, whatever the Ustasha language policy achieved in practice was undone by the Communist regime that followed, except that one could perhaps find a few words that they coined or revived that remained in use after the war. Unfortunately, their policies continue to inspire the current generation of Croatian nationalist purists, who have done lots of damage to the Croatian language in practice since 1991, but that's a different topic.
     

    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    I was just interested in how they regulated the Croatian language and how their idea of what was correct usage differs from today's standards. But thank you anyway.

    It is always better when a well-informed member of the speech community concerned with such questions answers - rather than someone standing outside this speech community (like me) even though I did extensive research the Ustaša regime at university (and yes, I also came across the 'Aryan' hypothesis - it would be impossible not to, when reading Ustaša pamphlets). Especially if the topic is as hot as this one.
    Which Athaulf has now done (and very well at that).
     
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