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New Language Hopes to Become Slavic Lingua Franca

The brainchild of a Czech linguist and a Croatian anthropologist, the language aims to build bridges between Slavic people.  

17 May 2017

A new linguistic project is living proof that constructed languages are more than just historical relics of the past millennium. Vojtech Merunka, a Czech linguist and professor at the Faculty of Technology in Prague, and Croatian anthropologist Emil Hersak have teamed up to create a pan-Slavic language that would help connect up to a third of Europe’s population, Total Croatia News writes, citing Croatian newspaper Jutarnji Vijesti.

 

“Neoslavonic (Interslavic) is a ‘zonal constructed language’ intended to facilitate communication among the speakers and writers of the modern day Slavic languages,” reads the project’s website.

 

The new language also hopes to solve some practical problems, like those caused by English serving as an intermediary for Google’s online translation system, which leads to more translation mistakes than it should.

 

You say caj, I say herbata. Image via slavorum_org/Instagram.

 

Merunka also mentioned a subjective factor that motivated him to create the language: he noticed that speakers of different Slavic languages tend to use English when they get together, despite similarities between their mother tongues, and that bothered him, wrote Total Croatia News.

 

 

  • The project will be presented at the first Conference of Inter Slavic Language, which will take place in the Czech town of Stare Mesto near Zlin on the Czech-Slovak border on 1 June.

 

  • Last month, a group of linguists, intellectuals, activists, and other civil society figures from across the Balkans made public the Declaration on the Common Language, which argues that Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin are actually versions of a single polycentric language.

 

  • However, the declaration was not universally welcomed in a region where national identity, which is often contingent on language, has been a minefield for centuries.

 

  • The Czech Republic found itself lost in translation when it tried to rebrand itself as Czechia, an abbreviation of its name that has so far failed to gain popularity among English speakers. 

 

  • The project’s website lists “Belorussian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Kashubian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Polish, Russian, Rusyn, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Sorbian (i.e. Lusatian, Wendish), Ukrainian and their various dialects” as the modern-day Slavic languages that will have Neoslavonic as their go-between. 

Compiled by Ioana Caloianu

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