Turkisms in the Recent Bosnian Media

Masha Belyavski-Frank, DePauw University

Turkisms have played and continue to play an important role in the colloquial speech of Bosnians. During the 1990's, many Turkisms which heretofore were limited to highly colloquial and/or dialectal speech, have begun to appear in the Bosnian press outside of historical or other limited contexts. While they are most frequent in interviews and anecdotes and are most often found in magazines targeted to youth and to specific audiences where Turkisms are heavily used, such as the Islamic newspaper Liljan, Turkisms are also found in the wider media. While some Turkisms are stylistically highly marked, others are less so, and indeed appear almost as frequently as their Slavic synonyms.

In an examination of a wide range of media, including political newspapers, e.g., Oslobodjenje, Dnevni avaz and Liljan, literary and cultural magazines such as Lica and Izraz, women's magazines such as Zhena 21 and Azra, and the rock magazine Fan, I discuss the usage of Turkisms in different semantic contexts. In addition to semantic and stylistic analysis of Turkisms in context, metholodology includes analysis of the relative frequency of Turkisms and their Slavic counterparts.

For example, in an interview with the singer Amila Bakshic, in her recollection of her first meeting with her husband, she uses the colloquial word raja, which historically meant the non-Muslim subjects under the Turks, and which had pejorative connotations. In urban contexts it has acquired a secondary meaning of 'people', 'group of friends', and is used in an informal, often jocular way compared to the neutral Slavic ljudi 'people'. In this instance, it is not strongly semantically marked, but rather indicates informal speech:

1) Nazvala sam kolegicu Pashu Gackic da je pitam hoce li i ona ici. Veli da nece, ali da ja krenem, da se nishta ne brinem, da su to fantastichna raja, a da je gospodin Remzo Bakshic, koji je to sve organizirao, i koji je tada zhivio u Italiji, jedan divan chovjek. (Azra: 5 april 2000:6)
(I called my colleague Pasha Gackic to ask if she wanted to go. She said that she didn't, but that I should go, that I shouldn't worry about anything, that they were fantastic people, and that Mr. Remzo Bakshic, who had arranged everything, and who was then living in Italy, was a wonderful person.)

In certain contexts, use of Turkism may reflect a political choice, as in the following from an interview in Liljan with a youth whose group performed for Bill Clinton:

2) Selamio sam se sa Billom Clintonom i mislim da me je razumio.
(Liljan: 9-16 avgust 1999:41)
(I greeted [lit. 'said' Selam alejkum to Bill Clinton and I think he understood me.)

It is clear that there is no monolithic usage of Turkisms in the Bosnian media. Even in strictly colloquial contexts, there is a wide range of stylistic usage, which reflects the many dimensions of the evolving Bosnian language.