Education PYPA 2011 Courses Language and Ideology


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Language and Ideology

Language and Ideology

Course: Language and Ideology
Instructor: Snježana Kordić

Why does language in opposition to other topics raise people on their feet, disturb them and make them ready for conflicts? Language is a constant source of conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro – today, as well as 10, 20 or 40 years ago. A notion occurred between old and young, educated and uneducated people; through all social classes from politicians to railway workers that their language is endangered by the other nation. And therefore, survival of their own nation and every individual is in question. At the same time, a widespread opinion exists that a nation cannot survive without having its own language which is not shared with any other nation. Although, this notion is false and being denied by various examples of different nations, domestic environments have very few people who would point out to these examples. Politicians, media and most intellectuals have contributed to an atmosphere were reasonable and pacific discussion about language is almost impossible. The intension to objectively approach the topic of language is seen as an attack and received by an eruption of emotions. National elites use the issue of language as a smoldering fire which at any moment can fan into a serious conflagration.

Having this in mind, only by getting an insight into facts and distributing this knowledge further to broader population layers we will be able to remove a serious potential for conflict from the language issue. With this goal, the course will be based on epistemology of the linguistic science, and present an insight into the basic socio-linguistic notions which often are mentioned in the public space without explaining key facts. The course will also illuminate basic events linked to language, about which many heard but only in the version suitable for the national mythos. The course selection takes into account another exceptional feature of our domestic environments: Namely, it is characteristic that, as soon as a discussion about language is started, notions like the nation, identity, culture, and history are brought into the discussion. In so doing, an ignorant, dilettantish, and populist approach towards these notions is being used. Therefore, these notions will also present an important issue during the course. Considering this, the course will present an interdisciplinary approach, since besides linguistic epistemology, it will use cognitions from sociology, anthropology, psychology, and historiography.


Work Methodology: Lectures combined with questioning and open dialogue; individual work through Internet research; work in pairs; group work; short reports; discussion; round-table discussions; role-play; argumentation, structuring, and analyzing of audio-video and written materials.

Course Goals: Broadening of knowledge; exercising critical thinking, reasonable and pacific argumentation; strengthening abilities to publicly advocate scientifically proven apprehensions.