Special lecture by R. Alexander & E. Elias-Bursać, October 13, 2016

Ronelle Alexander, Professor, Slavic Languages, UC Berkeley
Ellen Elias-Bursać, Independent Scholar

Writing a Textbook for a Newly Fractured Language: Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian

When Yugoslavia broke apart, its major official language – Serbo-Croatian – ceased to exist. The replacement of Yugoslavia by several separate ethnically-based states (Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, etc.), also entailed the replacement of the single language (Serbo-Croatian) by separate ethnically-based languages (Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian).

This created a difficult challenge for language teachers. Should one continue to teach a language that no longer exists? If – as one must – teach the presently existing language(s), how should one go about it? It is economically impossible to teach three separate courses (most schools are lucky if they have the resources to offer even one), and politically inadvisable to promote one at the expense of the other two. Further, while the extent to which the three new languages share a common core (that which used to be called Serbo-Croatian) might suggest they could still continue to be taught as a single language, the fact that the differences among them carry strong symbolic importance among the speech communities in question must be addressed.

A pedagogic solution to this problem is provided by Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian: A Textbook with Exercises and Basic Grammar (2006, 2d edition 2010). The authors of this textbook discuss the process of writing this textbook, the various problems it posed, and the reasoning behind the solutions they arrived at.

Thursday, October 13

4 – 5 pm

B-37 Dwinelle Hall


With questions, contact victoria@berkeley.edu or 510.877.4002 x19