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date: 26 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on the use of languages by Europe’s nation-states in the twentieth century, particularly after 1989. The ethnolinguistically homogeneous nation-state became the norm of legitimate statehood in Europe. At the level of rhetoric, the Soviet Union was an exception, but it was replaced by ethnolinguistic national polities. The idea of the normative isomorphism (tight spatial and symbolic overlapping) of language, nation, and state still obtains in Europe, as exemplified by the parallel breakups of Yugoslavia and its Serbo-Croatian language, so that each successor state (with the exception of Kosovo) has its own national language. The widespread normative insistence that languages should make nations and polities, and nation-states should make languages, is limited to Europe and parts of Asia, prevented elsewhere by the imposition of colonial languages. Interestingly, should the European Union persist in its official polyglotism, the normative thrust of ethnolinguistic nationalism may be blunted in the future.

Keywords: Einzelsprache, Central Europe, Czechoslovakia, ethnolinguistic nation-state, ethnolinguistic nationalism, European Union, nationalism, normative isomorphism, Yugoslavia

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