10 Aug 2018

Starbucks or Старбакс -- that is the question 

Popular coffeehouse chain Starbucks will be allowed in Serbia only if it agrees to add a Cyrillic version of its name to the inscription. It might sound like a joke, but Serbia is dead serious about the push for wider usage of its Cyrillic alphabet. 

Lidija Pisker
Lidija Pisker NewsMavens, Balkans
Starbucks or Старбакс -- that is the question  - NewsMavens
Starbucks cups, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

Serbian officials say their intention is to protect the Cyrillic alphabet, not to impose it.

They fear traditional Cyrillic letters will vanish due to globalization, which has made Latin a dominant script. 

The Cyrillic alphabet and the Serbian language are officially recognized by the Constitution of Serbia and children in schools learn Cyrillic alongside Latin letters. 

So it seems Cyrillic is already protected enough. Which makes it clear that the latest requirements are merely a way to push a nationalistic agenda deeper into the public sphere.

Details from the story:

  • Proposed changes to the law on official use of language and scripts specify that Cyrillic as the official script will be used in the overall written and verbal communication of state institutions and companies, local self-government bodies, schools, universities, and media. 
  • The push to promote Cyrillic alphabet will include financial incentives and fines, according to local media. The Latin alphabet will have the status of an auxiliary script.
  • Deputy mayor of Belgrade Goran Vesić told media in June this year he asked Starbucks company to add Cyrillic version of its name to the inscription as a precondition for opening their coffeehouses in Belgrade. 
  • Similarly intended draft law is being prepared in Republika Srpska, one of the two entities in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • If adopted, new legislation in Republika Srpska will make Cyrillic alphabet obligatory in the official correspondence of entity's institutions, local government bodies, companies, and predominantly public-owned media.
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