Ask 'em if their language is Montenegrin; their answer may surprise you

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/03/12 09:01 -04:00, original URI:

The other day I was talking about Montenegro in this post.

There are a whole bunch of interesting issues related to Montenegro in software even after you are done chuckling about the silly Outlook bugs.

For example -- what language should the locales use in future versions when they presumably would be added?

It may seem like a no-brainer that it would be Montenegrin, right? Just like folks on Bosnia said it was Bosnian, the folks in Croatia said it was Croatian, and the folks in Serbia said it was Serbian?

But it is not that easy, believe me.

Especially with the Montenegrin language being considered by so many to be a Serbian dialect.

Hell, the current constitution of Montenegro doesn't recognize Montenegrin as a language; it only calls out the Serbian language!

The Wikipedia article on Montenegrin talks about this issue a bit here, including efforts to try and change this which do not have as much popular support as one might expect.

Before one is too bothered by consistency issues, it's not like the folks who want "English" to be the National language in the USA rather than trying to make it "American" or something. I think people can identify with the opinions of some of those in Montenegro more than they realize? :-)

Given the high percentage of people in country who identify themselves as speaking Serbian, and the movement by Mijat Šuković and others to have Montenegrin named as the official language, could that mean that a future version of Windows would need FOUR new locales added, as follows?

Kinda might almost remind you of this post in a weird way. The reasons for wanting a language to be defined separately go well beyond the issues of linguistics, and have throughout the entire region.

Maybe the issue will be decided in country before Microsoft has to do anything (given the fact that otherwise whatever Microsoft does could be used by people actually making an argument one way or other as a way of proving that they are correct. As I said in this post, this definitely not a time that Microsoft wants to make decisions. Following the decisions of others has a lot more appeal here....


This post brought to you by Ц (U+0426, a.k.a. CYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER TSE)

# MBM on 20 Mar 2007 11:55 AM:

I think your only hope is for this to be sorted out in-country. It certainly isn't Microsoft's place, or any company's place, to settle such disputes.

But suppose it's not sorted out in-country soon enough, you need to take a decision, and you decide for four locales. Would there be any real difference between, say, Montenegrin (Cyrillic, Montenegro) and Serbian (Cyrillic, Montenegro) except the name?

I don't know whether the language debate in Montenegro is a debate about the language ("our language is different from theirs") or a debate about the *name* of the language ("it's the same language but we call it something else"). Maybe they don't know themselves?

# Michael S. Kaplan on 20 Mar 2007 1:08 PM:

Well, to some a language implies a lot more -- identity, ethnicity, and a sense of independence and autonomy....

But I agree with you that this is a bad time for a company to set trends.

# User on 23 Mar 2007 11:26 AM:

Especially when there IS Moldovan language (Cyrillic and Latin) in Transdniester (separate from Moldova) and there's NO such language in Windows at all (due to romanian chauvinist programmers?)

# John Cowan on 5 May 2008 11:49 PM:

Does *anyone* actually claim that the language spoken in Montenegro isn't Serbian?  Even those who prefer the term "Montenegrin language" call this an alternative label for Serbian, AFAIK.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 5 May 2008 11:54 PM:

Most would say similar things about Bosnian vs. Croatian vs. Serbian vs. Montenegrin -- this is not just about the linguistic issues, though; the political ones are also contentious....

Cp6nH on 1 Oct 2009 8:11 AM:

Serbian = Croatian =  Bosnian= Montenegrin

They were all the same language 20 years ago. How can a LANGUAGE can be "invented" in 20 years? They were invented faster than Esperanto...

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referenced by

2010/08/09 {Insert a pun about the word Serbian here, I can't think of one}

2010/08/04 My aren't we looking quite Bosnianesque?

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