Description and Standardization of modern Serbian Language

Description and Standardization of the Contemporary Serbian Language

This is the fifth and the most recent project of the Institute for the Serbian Language of SASA, launched in 2006 upon the initiative of the Committee for the Standardization of the Serbian Language with the support of the SASA Department of the Serbian Language and Literature. The aim of the project is to enable the Institute to undertake, in an organized way, using the achievements of modern linguistics in Serbia and worldwide, the description of the modern Serbian language, which would help modernize and update the relevant linguistic norm. This should be implemented by publishing monographs, articles, master’s and PhD theses, and scrutinizing research results at conferences. The research results, along with the outputs of other projects dealing with the study of the modern Serbian language, and works created under the auspices of the Committee for the Standardization of the Serbian Language, have enabled the constant modernization of the Serbian language standard. The project was started by Academician Predrag Piper, and two years later, on his proposal, Sreto Tanasić was appointed as the project manager.

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Since the outset, the project team included the staff of the Institute for Serbian Language of SASA and a number of associates from several faculties: Sreto Tanasić, Đorđe Otašević, Olga Sabo, Marina Nikolić and Vesna Đorđević have belonged to the Institute’s staff, whereas the external associates who have been permanently or temporarily involved in the project have included: Predrag Piper, Miroslav Nikolić, Rajna Dragićević, Ljudmila Popović, Biljana Marić (Vicentić) – Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade; Dojčil Vojvodić, Snežana Gudurić and Dragoljub Petrović – Faculty of Philosophy, University of Novi Sad; Mitra Reljić – Faculty of Philosophy in Kosovska Mitrovica; and Gordana Dimković Telebaković – Faculty of Transportation, University of Belgrade (English language studies); and Sofija Mićić – Faculty of Medicine University of Belgrade (English language studies).

Although the project was established only a decade ago, during this ten-year period, significant results have been achieved, as confirmed by the reports carefully drafted for the Institute and the SASA Department of Language and Literature, as well as the ministry responsible for science. This is also evidenced by the ranks of the project team members in the national research evaluation system – which are mostly very high and the highest. This has remained so over the past six years, i.e. during the current funding cycle of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia. All team members have been publishing research papers, and some of them have also sought to complete their PhD theses: one associate employed by the Institute defended her PhD thesis (Marina Nikolić) and one has completed her dissertation (Vesna Đorđević). Furthermore, two external associates defended their PhD theses (Biljana Marić and Mita Reljić). Several successful scholarship holders, supported by the ministry responsible for science during their PhD studies, have also been involved in the project. In addition, all project team members have presented their papers at national and international conferences – each year, at least some of the associates were given this opportunity. It is noteworthy that project team members took part in two conferences organized in Serbia by the Committee on Syntax at the International Congress of Slavists: Slavic Syntaxes, Matica Srpska, Novi Sad, 27–29 October 2005; and Grammar and Vocabulary in the Slavic Languages (2011). Several team members presented their papers at two conferences dedicated to language policy, Belgrade (2013 and 2015), associated with the main topic of the project and held at the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.

Over the past six years (2011–2016), more than three hundred papers that can be categorized according to the national research evaluation standards have been published; more than one-half are highly ranked, as presented in the table:

M11 M12 M13 M14 M21 M22 M23 M24 M41 M42 M43 M44 M45 M51 M52 M53
/ 5 25 91 / 1 9 39 7 20 3 17 34 27 28 25


It is noteworthy that a number of the team members are not involved in the project on a full-time basis, but their project activities are limited to periods ranging between four and eight research months. Accordingly, the presented figures include only the papers published within the scope of this particular project. The majority of the published works are small-scale studies, but there are also monographic studies, monographs and other types of books, as evidenced by the website of the Institute for the Serbian Language of SASA and the annual reports. Over the past ten years, the project team have published about sixty books and monographs. The most important results include the extensive studies published in the series Prilozi gramatici srpskog jezika [Contributions to the Grammar of the Serbian Language], initiated and supported by the Committee for the Standardization of the Serbian Language. A noteworthy example is the study Sintaksa savremenoga srpskog jezika: prosta rečenica [Syntax of the Modern Serbian Language: the simple sentence], edited by Academician Milka Ivić and published by the Institute for the Serbian Language of SASA, Beogradska knjiga and Matica Srpska (2005). Its authors included several members of the team who undertook the project Description and Standardization of the Contemporary Serbian Language, started the following year. The project yielded another two studies published in the same series: Leksikologija srpskog jezika [Lexicology of the Serbian Language] by Rajna Dragićević (2007 and 2010) and Fonologija srpskoga jezika [Phonology of the Serbian Language] by Dragoljub Petrović and Snežana Gudurić. An associate (Miroslav Nikolić) was included in the project with the task of writing the study Morfologije srpskog jezika [The Morphologies of the Serbian Language] for this series. So far, he has published several monographic studies and papers on this subject. Some of the works created within this project are unique in our country. The notable examples include Srpski jezik između velikih i malih jezika [The Serbian Language between Great and Small Languages] by Predrag Piper, Asocijativni rečnik srpskoga jezika [The Associative Dictionary of the Serbian Language] by Predrag Piper, Rajna Dragićević and Marija Stefanović, and Jezička slika stvarnosti. Kognitivni aspekt kontrastivne analize [The Linguistic Image of Reality. The Cognitive Aspect of Contrast Analysis] by Ljudmila Popović. Some of the books published within this project are the only books dedicated to certain issues related to the Serbian language, e.g. Sintaksa pasiva u savremenom srpskom jeziku [The Syntax of the Passive Voice in the Modern Serbian Language] by Sreto Tanasić, or Kategorija stepena u srpskom jeziku: složena rečenica (Category of Degree in the Serbian Language: Complex Sentence) by Marina Nikolić. It is also within this project that Đorđe Otašević, who studies the emergence of new words in the modern Serbian language, has published several boks. There are no other researchers who study the mentioned issues in this way. In this context, a monograph, special in many ways, should be singled out: Srpski jezik na Kosovu i Metohiji danas (sociolingvistički i lingvokulturološki aspekt) [The Serbian Language in Kosovo and Metohija Today (sociolinguistic and linguo-cultural aspect)] by Mitra Reljić, was written as part of the project and published in 2015. It would be difficult to demonstrate the truth about the Serbian linguistic and cultural reality in Kosovo and Metohija in such a great detail and support it by strong arguments had not Mitra Reljić presented it based on the abundant evidence collected while living all these years in Kosovo and Metohija. It is also noteworthy that many studies and a number of books are dedicated to the comparison of the Serbian language and other languages, either Slavic or non-Slavic, which is important because such studies enable us to analyze the Serbian language from different perspectives.

The research results achieved within the scope of the project, together with the results of similar projects conducted in other institutions and some major works created under the auspices of the Committee for the Standardization of the Serbian Language, would be useful when preparing a great SASA grammar of the Serbian language, if such an undertaking were planned and organized, as well as other grammar manuals of different types and other instruments of the standard language.

The end of this project period is marked by another extensive collective study – the book Sintaksa složene rečenice srpskom jeziku [The Syntax of the Complex Sentence in the Serbian Language], edited by Academician Predrag Piper is about to be published, again by the Institute for the Serbian Language of SASA and Matica Srpska. We will merely quote a few sentences from a reviewer’s report on this book: “The monograph The Syntax of the Complex Sentence in the Serbian Language is a result of the long-standing work of a group of authors, most of whom have had the experience of fruitful cooperation on joint projects, and all of whom have published a number of monographs on the syntax. It primarily draws on the book The Syntax of the Serbian Language: the simple sentence, edited by Milka Ivić (2005), conceptually, theoretically and methodologically, as well as in terms of designing and presenting research on some issues covered in the book, and even in terms of technical editing. The crucial authors include the students and direct associates of Academician Milka Ivić and their younger associates who share the same or similar views on the principles of research into syntax. At the same time, The Syntax of the Complex Sentence in the Serbian Languag brings a number of theoretical and thematic novelties firmly based on the common starting positions. The conceptual reliance on The Normative Grammar of the Serbian Language by P. Piper and I. Klajn is also apparent and is the most explicitly expressed in the introductory chapter of the book” (excerpt from the review written by Academician Milorad Radovanović).