Banning Vernacular Serbian in Tributary Ottoman Serbia

Activity: Talk or presentation typesPresentation


The talk was delivered in the panel on National Languages and Memory, within the framework of the 33rd Annual Conference of the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism, which took place from 9th to 11th April 2024 at the University of Edinburgh, and was devoted to the subject of Nationalism and Memory. See:

Abstract: Between 1832 and 1868 the vernacular-based standard of Serbian was repeatedly banned in Tributary (Ottoman) Serbia in favor of Slaveno-Serbian. Meanwhile, across the autonomous state’s northern frontier on the Danube, in the Austrian Empire, this vernacular Serbian language gained popularity, also in education and at the level of local administration. This development took place mainly in the ethnically Serbian areas of the Military Frontier, which largely overlapped with the Patriarchate of Karlowatz (Karlovci). At present, the story of these bans of vernacular Serbian in Ottoman Serbia tends to be overlooked, due to the rise – in the last third of the 19th century – of the linguistically-based Serbian nationalism steeped in this very vernacular. This type of nationalism (together with the denial of the Ottoman past) underpins today’s Serbian national master narrative, preventing the analysis of Tributary Serbia’s language politics that championed Slaveno-Serbian in official administrative and educational use.
Period9 Apr 202411 Apr 2024
Held atASEN (Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism), United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Tributary Serbia
  • Ottoman Empire
  • Slaveno-Serbian language
  • modern Serbian
  • official language
  • language politics