Friday, 1 August 2014

croatia week: linguistic landmark

Brothers Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius are probably best known for the Cyrillic alphabet and orthography named after them, but the missionaries to the Slavs were also diplomats to the Muslim world and tried to improve relations between the Caliphate and Byzantium and philosophy professors at the university of Constantinople, before undertaking Great Moravia. There, they devised the so-called Glagolitic script, which the Cyrillic script is derived from, in order to give the people a system of writing, derived—like Cyrillic—from their native Greek alphabet but suited to the character of the Slavic language. I am not sure how exactly a way of writing is matching how a language is composed, especially when invented, but you can download the font here.  There are many manuscripts and inscriptions, ancient and retro-revival, all over Croatia, where the system was developed.
The written word, however, did not succeed in standising the Croatian language. Today, a Latin system of writing is employed, devised by Ljudevit Gaj who based his script off of the special letter forms and diacritical marks invented for Czech and Polish, and the language has, bolstered by national and literary identity, taken on a lexical standard, though much mutual-intelligibility is retained among neighbouring languages and dialects. I tried to learn a little bit and I think it accorded us some special attention for the effort, and would like to pick up some more for a return visit. Aside from the usually pleasantries and politely saying I want something, I remember the fun word for waterfall—Slap—and the term for feedback (Fragenbogen)—Upitnik, which sounds like something one would not want to solicit, being all up in another’s business.