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Understanding spelling conflicts. A case study of new standard languages in the former Yugoslavia in the European context


This project will produce a descriptive model of orthographic controversies of four newly standardized South Slavonic languages since the 1990s, which will take into account other European languages with recent history of spelling reforms/changes. It is the first interdisciplinary and multiple comparative study, integrating top-down and bottom-up analysis of language standardization. It will provide a model for future studies and so launch me as a world-leader in sociolinguistics and language policy & planning of spelling codification.

Since the beginning of mass education, standard languages have been undergoing spelling reforms/changes producing conflicts to a greater or lesser extent. The most recent were in Czech, Dutch, French, German and Portuguese in the 1990s. The conflicts related to writing among South Slavs have a long history that continues even today, causing discrimination and violence. In the last decade, 3 spelling reforms occurred (Montenegrin 2009, Croatian 2013, Bosnian 2018), creating (inter)national spelling conflicts, which gives an excellent comparative frame and timely opportunity for this study.

My experience as a practicing Croatian orthographer has given me first-hand insights in the complexity of language codification. To understand better the relation between spelling and identity and to mitigate future conflicts, this study takes a comprehensive comparative approach that combines analysis of: A. speakers’ attitudes, B. media coverage (a discourse, argument and metaphor analysis of the relevant articles), C. the methodology and process of orthographic codification and D. socio-political context (stakeholders, legislation and procedures in a context).

Call for proposal

See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

MSCA-IF-EF-ST - Standard EF


University Park
NG7 2RD Nottingham
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 224 933,76