Honors Program

University Honors

Date of Award

5-2015

Thesis Professor(s)

Martha Michieka

Thesis Professor Department

Literature and Language

Thesis Reader(s)

Yousif Elhindi, Michele Crumley

Abstract

After the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991, Bosnia and Herzegovina erupted into ethnic conflict and ultimately genocide. Nearly 100,000 people, mainly Bosniaks, died in the Bosnian War. Two decades later, the violence has ended but the conflict is still present in Bosnia; the societal segregation of the 1995 Dayton Accords, intended only as an immediate solution to the violence, still stands. Population and language distribution are evidence of this segregation. Bosnia’s two entities are home to two different ethnic majorities: Serbs in the Republika Srpska and Bosniaks in the Federation of BiH. In an environment so sensitive that the government recently feared that merely releasing statistics on ethnic populations might cause violence, the languages that represent these populations are important indicators of social presence and power. In order to evaluate the presence of the Serbian and Bosnian languages, as well as the English language, in Bosnia, signage on the main streets in the country’s capitals were photographed in great detail. It was hypothesized that linguistic majority would match ethnic majority on both main streets, and that English would appear frequently in advertisements. The number of photographs in which each language appeared was tallied up in order to determine how often the languages are typically used. Analyses of these results demonstrated that the English language is the second-most ubiquitous on both streets, after Bosnian, and the comparatively small presence of the Serbian language on both streets indicated that the linguistic environment in Bosnia is not conducive to peace and reconciliation.

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Copyright

Copyright by the authors.