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The Bosnian Civil War

Linguists regard "Serbo-Croat" as a single language, though it is written by Croats using the Latin alphabet and by Serbs using the Cyrillic alphabet [Baugh and Cable 30]. (Albanian is a distinct, unrelated language.)

Nevertheless, Serb, Croat, and other nationalists of the 19th century defined themselves as ethnic groups, and defined national identities for themselves out of a mixture of history and folklore. In the process, historical figures who had actually fought both alongside and against the Turks at various times were redefined as national heroes, inevitably in opposition to other ethnic groups. (As a matter of convenience, Serbs, Croats, and others will here be characterized as ethnic groups as a matter of widespread social self-definition.)

Moreover, the population through the northern Balkans was highly mixed. While some regions, such as central Serbia or central Croatia, had relatively uniform populations, Bosnia in particular was a welter of local ethnic communities, as well as towns or villages in which no one group predominated. In this region it was impossible to create ethnic states that would not include large minorities of other ethnic groups within their borders [Gallagher 588-89]. This was the situation that would ultimately, in the course of the 1990s, add the phrase "ethnic cleansing" to the English language, just as the Balkans had previously contributed the term "balkanization."

By the late 19th century, the Austro-Hungarian empire was following the Turkish empire into decline. Transnational in character, traditionally bound together by dynasty and Catholicism, it was the great loser in the age of nationalism. The empire was a welter of ethnic identities and languages; officers in the Austro-Hungarian navy, for example, had to speak up to six or seven languages in order to communicate effectively with their crews (Preston 12).

A succession of Balkan crises shook Europe in the years afte...

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The Bosnian Civil War. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:37, September 20, 2017, from
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