A vignette from my forthcoming article titled Attitudes, Opinions and Proposals Regarding Language and Alphabet Policy in Serbia(n): A Viewpoint from Québec's Charte de la langue française

November 27, 2018

Punitive Bialphabetism and Subliminal Messaging at Work: Latin on Top, Cyrillic on the Bottom


As an unwritten rule, all international brands of cigarettes legally advertise their brands with glittery ads installed in kiosks across Serbia. The common pattern is this: the message advertising seemingly positive aspects of the product (“Less smell. Manje neprijatnih mirisa” [‘Less unpleasant smell’]) is written with Latin letters, including the text in English, whereas the message warning about the dangers of smoking (‘Пушење убије. Дувански дим штети људима у Вашој околини’ [‘Smoking kills. Second-hand smoke harms people in your immediate surroundings’]), mandated by the government, is written in Cyrillic letters. Paradoxically, in its attempt to protect Cyrillic, the government contributes to negative associations that not only consumers but also passersby form about the alphabet, especially being repeatedly exposed to such messages. In addition, note that the Cyrillic message, written in plain, black letters on a plain, white background, is positioned at the bottom, while the message written in Latin letters is written on a blue background that may be associated with a crystal-clear sea water and a blue sky and that is positioned at the top.



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