Понедельник, 2 августаИнститут «Высшая школа журналистики и массовых коммуникаций» СПбГУ

Globalization processes in the Serbian media language

This research was funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia (Contract no. 451–03‑9/2021–14/ 200140)

Problem statement

The style of media text, which is conditioned not only by linguistic laws but also by non-linguistic factors, is the subject of media stylistics, a discipline that relies on the methodology of functional stylistics, but is closely related to praxeological, sociological, psychological and cultural media studies [Duskaeva 2014: 304]. The non-linguistic factors that shape the media language include globalization processes, as a broader social phenomenon, which is manifested in many spheres of human activity.

Along with globalization processes, which intensified during the second half of the 20th century and still continue to develop, the need to understand global changes has been also developing [Chumakov 2010: 26]. Globalization processes have become more visible and continue to evolve, and humanity must take responsibility for the nature and consequences of globalization1. The mass media as a global source of identity construction “such as newspapers, magazines, television and the film industry that produce and distribute texts on a large scale in the context of capitalist modernity” play a significant role in creating cultural hegemony [Barker 2004: 117]. It is the development of the media (telephone, radio, television, internet) that has contributed to the connection and assimilation of different cultures, which has resulted in the creation of a planetary, mass culture [Chumakov 2010: 57]. On the other hand, one of the products of globalization and digitalization is the strengthening of the media influence [Madzar 2015: 220].

Scientific context

The social phenomenon of globalization includes internationalization, liberalization, universalization and Westernization [Scholte 2008: 1473]. Globalization is also defined as modernization in the form of Americanization, that is as “imperialism of McDonald’s, Hollywood and CNN” [Scholte 2005: 19]. The understanding of Westernization as Americanization and McDonaldization has been increasingly dominant in contemporary studies [Ritzer & Stillman, 2003].

We are witnessing the fact that “the digital age has undoubtedly expanded the information and communication scope and redefined the journalistic profession” [Dojchinovich, Ljajich, Dojchinovich 2020: 192]. Information imperialism imposes symbolic values on the mass audience, so the media influence is realized “in the sphere of ideological consciousness and the imposition of totalitarian perception” [Jevtovich, Aracki 2015: 264].

Previous research of the Serbian media language underlining the fact that information is a commodity. Globalization processes in the media are a consequence of social and economic changes, because of expansion of global corporate systems [Ljajich 2019: 124]. The tabloidization of the press is a consequence of the general commercialization and imperative of market values [Vulich, Mitrovich 2017: 165], so information is adapted to mass distribution, as a part of capitalist production and trade [Reljich 2003: 50].

Also, research of Serbian media emphasized vulgarization of language and the trivialization of news of social significance, which are written in the soft news style [Vulich, Mitrovich 2017: 168], so shocking news and sensationalist approach are in the foreground, while objective information becomes less important [Vulich, Mitrovich 2017: 165]. In addition to the flourishment of the tabloids, one of the achievements of globalization is the disappearance of the analytical, quality press and the relativization of responsibility for the public word [Vulich, Mitrovich 2017: 175]. Instead of important news Serbian media offer fake news and large amount of useless information [Maksimovich, Petrovich 2017: 213]. Researchers also underline growing popularity of cheap entertainment offered by television [Aracki 2013: 369], because television enables manipulation of information more than other media so that it becomes more attractive although less credible [Jakovljevich, Shchekich 2019: 65].

A group of authors underlines the fact that developing critical literacy and media literacy through the education system can contribute to making younger generations less susceptible to media manipulation [Pirshl, Popovska 2012; Milashinovich, Jevtovich 2017; Spasich 2019b]. That is very important because the young consumers of the mass media are most susceptible to the manipulation and spread of global culture2 and educators bear a part of the responsibility for the formation of global consciousness [Chumakov 2010: 81].

One of the effects of McDonaldization of the media language is the lack of shows that promote native and standard speech, by which the Serbian media neglect “scientific knowledge that even the youngest will learn the standard language if they switch to it with awareness of native speech” [Pirshl, Popovska 2012: 329–334].

Fake news, which is fictional digital news that aims at spreading moral panic in crisis situations, is a trend in expansion, which we can fight only by developing critical literacy and media literacy through the education system [Milashinovich, Jevtovich 2017: 508]. Raising awareness of the negative aspects of globalization processes on the language of print within the teaching of journalistic stylistics, along with introducing the specifics of electronic publications and contemporary journalistic forms of expression on the Internet would contribute to the development of cultural awareness and thus to the strengthening of national identity of the young [Spasich 2019b: 584].

Definition of research approaches

Since the study of the mass media is a broad, multidisciplinary scientific field, in this paper we will look at the impact of globalization on the Serbian media language first of all from the perspective of media linguistics and media stylistics, but also media sociology, media philosophy, rhetoric and communicology. Descriptive and comparative method is used in the paper. Within the qualitative study, the results of previous research on the impact of globalization on the Serbian media language were collected. The new synthesis of scientific information was created by the systematization and generalization of scientific information created on the basis of a review of works of Serbian scientific environment.

Analysis of the materials

Cultural globalization is most evident in the media language, the speech of the young and the language of popular culture. Preservation of the national language and national culture in general implies critical reflection on the justification of the use of foreign words and foreign language patterns, with the introduction of foreign elements when it is really necessary because we cannot forge a name from domestic creative elements for a new phenomenon. The Serbian media language reflects the general social trend of approaching European and world trends, which in addition to numerous positive effects (exchange of ideas, free market, technological progress) carries with it the risk of neglecting the elements of national cultural heritage.

The issue of the alphabet on which Serbian media are printed is of great importance. In the Republic of Serbia, the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets are used at the same time, but the Cyrillic alphabet “has an indisputable symbolic function in the Serbian tradition and therefore its favor in official, public, educational and cultural activities is justified” [Peshikan, Jerkovich, Pizhurica 2011: 15]. A cursory review of the Serbian daily press indicates the dominance of the Latin alphabet, even though the Serbian official alphabet is Cyrillic. The women’s press in Serbia is also published in the Latin alphabet, with the exception of Bazar [Stojshin, Chikich 2017: 852].

Most studies of the globalization processes in the Serbian media language analyze the use of anglicisms in newspapers. Newspapers nurture their own terminology, which in informative genres often has a touch of formality [Kozina, Duskaeva, Salimovskii 2011: 352]. While in the past international terms in the Serbian language originated from Greek and Latin, recently there is a general trend of adopting English terms, which is justified when there is no domestic term for a phenomenon. Britishisms and Americanisms enter the Serbian language precisely through the mass media, daily newspapers, professional magazines and contemporary forms of communication [Bojovich 2011: 413].

The process of linguistic borrowing implies different degrees of adaptation, and adaptation is performed until the linguistic element is integrated into the language system of the recipient [Filipovich 1986: 68]. In the Serbian daily press, journalists use words and expressions from the English language, in their original form or adapted, but without graphic emphasis.

Previous research on the language of the Serbian press has shown that anglicisms are most frequent in texts about popular culture addressed to younger readers, sports daily press, women’s press, automotive magazines and newspaper advertisements. Unadapted anglicisms are a feature of entertainment news and texts about popular culture, which are addressed to younger readers. In addition, in the electronic editions of printed dailies, weeklies and magazines in Serbia, a large number of inconsistent orthographic solutions appear, most often created under the influence of English spelling. The inconsistency in terms of the adaptation of anglicisms is most obvious in cases when two principles of transmitting the same word from the English language appear on the same newspaper page [Tirtova 2017: 285]. The introduction of linguistic elements from English as the international language of sports into the language of the Serbian sports daily  press can be direct, with zero orthographic adaptation of the nicknames of football teams, sometimes through reshaping, and most often it is about translation [Budinchich 2020: 656]. In the Serbian women’s press, anglicisms are most prevalent in licensed editions, that is in titles and subheadings as well as in advertisements [Stojshin, Chikich 2017: 853]. Translators are primarily responsible for introducing justified and unjustified anglicisms into the language of women’s magazines in Serbia, because most Serbian women’s magazines are actually a licensed version of foreign publications [Janjich 2010: 319]. The largest number of raw, unadapted anglicisms can be seen in the newer women’s press thematically oriented towards fashion and entertainment [Janjich, Chutura 2012: 105]. The reason for the unjustified and excessive use of newer anglicisms such as print and accessory in women’s press and television shows on interior design and fashion is primarily a status aspiration [Chutura, Chirković-Miladinovich 2012: 166]. When it comes to the specialized press, most anglicisms are found in automotive magazines, where a large number of nominal phrases appear for modern technical names of automobile equipment and car characteristics, which “most often have the form of inflected transcribed borrowings” [Durbaba 2013: 250]. In the language of newspaper advertisements, there is a fashionable adoption of words from the English language, most often unjustified, which contributes to the hybridization of the Serbian language [Zhugich 2015: 254]. A reader who browses Serbian newspapers must have at least the third level of knowledge of the English language in order to understand the language of newspaper advertisements [Zhugich 2015: 261].

Also, the tendency to take the English film titles in their original form instead of translating them has been growing from decade to decade [Panich-Kavgich 2010: 91].

It is often about adopting foreign newspaper texts and a translation that is not linguistically and stylistically refined. The strategy of acculturation is a set of translation procedures in transmitting news from around the world, which includes stylistic harmonization and adaptation to the target audience [Erakovich 2018: 118].

Mere adoption of English words that are introduced into Serbian media texts, along with violations of the language norm that is noticeable in the media, also affects the speech of young people [Vuletich 2011: 171].

One of the reasons for the easy adoption of English words is the narrowness of the lexical fund, so it can be concluded that journalists who adopt information from anglophone sources are not skilled enough to find a domestic translation equivalent or properly adapt retrieved terms, adapting them to the recipient’s language [Durbaba 2017: 358]. International contacts lead to lexical borrowing, and the mass media accelerate and intensify this process, so that today, consciously or unconsciously, under the influence of the media, we adopt hybrid creative constructions, i. e. derivatives or compounds created by combining domestic and foreign creative elements [Mirnich 2008: 268]. Internationalization and digitalization lead to adopting words from anglophone sources not only in journalism, but also in the theory of journalism [Korkonosenko 2017].

Linguistic media globalization is reflected in “mechanical repetition of matrices that are thought to lead to modernization”, so the lexical level of the Serbian media language is characterized by repetition of terms such as stabilization, consolidation, campaign, constructive, coalitionism, partnership, integration, tender, transparency, transition, regulation, investment, investor, and even the tautology of investment lending [Stanojevich 2008: 146–149]. Serbian journalists use internationalisms in a different meaning from the one they have in the Serbian language, combining them with the elements of street speech, which leads to a difficult reception of the message and insults the original linguistic feeling [Obradovich 2008: 142].

Expressions such as Europe has no alternative or elections have no alternative also belong to globalization language topos [Stanojevich 2008: 147]. In addition to the language of politics, criminological language also enters the speech of the wider masses through the media, and then becomes a part of the general lexical fund [Bojovich 2011: 409].

Anglophone culture is perceived as prestigious, so due to the mixing of the Serbian and English language code, “changes have affected the levels of writing, pronunciation, morphology and syntax, noting that in recent decades adaptation has been made without systems and adaptations to Serbian language standards” [Vuletich 2011: 175].

A small number of researches deal with the influence of globalization processes on the grammar of the Serbian media language [Danilovich, Dimitrijevich 2012; Obradovich 2008; Tanasich 2012]. At the morphological level, in the language of the daily press, foreign suffixes are adopted. Thus, the suffix -er in examples from the Serbian daily press appears mostly in lexemes of English origin, which often represent borrowings from the field of computing, but also in pseudo-anglicisms with foreign bases, which mainly belong to the sphere of jargon [Danilovich, Dimitrijevich 2012: 241]. Modernization in the sense of westernization affects all levels of language structure, so the influence of English syntax (word order in a sentence, use of passive, use of possessive genitive, use of verb nouns instead of developed sentences, use of possessive words, etc.)” [Obradovich 2008: 142] is also manifested on the syntactic level in the media language. The media language is characterized by more frequent use of passive constructions in relation to the overview of the language standard [Tanasich 2012: 137].

Several studies highlight the informal style of the Serbian media, which involves the use of non-standard vocabulary and slang, the transformation of a personal name of an important person, the use of semantically incomplete lexemes, conversational phraseology and syntactic structures characteristic of the informal style [Golubovich 2009; Bilbija 2014; Spasich 2019a].

More than a decade ago, the frequent use of non-standard vocabulary and the uncontrolled use of slang in serious columns has been noticed in the Serbian daily press [Golubovich 2009: 152] and this tendency is growing. Some tabloids have become recognizable by their informal style, so in the daily “Kurir” “non-standard vocabulary is the standard”, and in addition it is not placed under quotation marks [Golubovich 2009: 152]. Analysis of news headlines of online editions of Serbian language newspapers in Serbia and The Republika Srpska from the perspective of critical discourse analysis indicates the trivialization of quality news and the strategy of building closeness, through the use of semantically incomplete lexemes, naming important personalities only by a personal name without specifying a function or a lexeme that sounds like a nickname, as well as through the use of slang and syntactic structures characteristic of the informal style [Bilbija 2014: 27–30]. The occasional transformation of a personal name of a celebrity to discredit that person and damage their reputation is not only a feature of the Serbian press but has also been studied in the Bulgarian media [Bondzholova 2020]. The elements of the informal style include conversational phraseology, which is often found in informative genres in the Serbian press. Colloquial expressions based on metaphors in the author’s (journalist’s) speech are inappropriate for reporting on important socio-political topics [Spasich 2019a: 262].

The causes of the penetration of non-standard vocabulary and other elements of conversational style in the language of the press should be sought in social changes in Serbia, but also in social movements in the world and the influence of new media on the accelerated shifting of stylistic boundaries [Golubovich 2009: 156].

Research results

Analysis of previous Serbian research on the impact of globalization on the Serbian media language shows that most attention has been paid to the use of anglicisms in the press, while a smaller number of studies deal with structural changes in the Serbian language under the influence of English as a global language, the dominance of the Latin alphabet and elements of informal style.

Globalization does not necessarily imply cultural homogenization, because “the global, the regional, the national, the provincial, the local and the household aspects of social space can intertwine in innumerable different combinations” [Scholte 2008: 1495]. The effects of cultural globalization, which is perhaps most visible in the media sphere, can be mitigated if the elements of national cultural heritage are carefully preserved. The use of the Cyrillic in the Serbian media, the use of anglicisms only when they are really necessary, and a critical attitude towards the adoption of foreign language patterns can mitigate the negative consequences of McDonaldization in the media sphere. Globally and locally, they become relative terms within the sub-concept of glocalization, because although “capitalist modernity involves an element of global cultural homogenization” in the whole world “mechanisms of fragmentation, heterogenization and hybridity are also at work” [Barker 2004: 78].

The most difficult task set before the philologist is to notice the contemporary tendencies in the media, correct them and contribute to the modernization of journalistic practice [Tsvetova 2020]. Numerous Serbian works point to the fact that the media language is constantly changing in the language called Anglo-Serbian by Prćić [Prchich 2005]. Anglo-Serbian language is no longer spoken only by the young, but it is spread through the media and becomes a feature of the speech of all age groups among Serbian speakers [Babich 2010: 330].

When we read a newspaper text, we have a direct encounter with language culture, and especially with the language norm [Jovanovich 2017: 47]. A review of Serbian research indicates socially conditioned deviations from the language norm in terms of adaptation of anglicisms, use of foreign language patterns and excessive use of non-standard vocabulary, use of conversational phraseology and other elements of informal style in reporting on important social topics. The language of market-oriented media is the subject of a large number of Serbian researches, the analysis of which indicates the need to devise a “strategy for saving our own language” [Nedeljković 2012: 56]. The media that propagate healthy national values with a wise selection of information and values adopted from foreign cultures can contribute to resisting the pseudo-culture of Westernism [Petrovich 2017: 119].


The media shape the attitudes of public opinion, but also the language of their consumers, so the choice of the script in which the media is printed, the choice of vocabulary and language constructions is a very important and powerful means by which the national language is preserved and or defended or, on the other hand, destroyed. The propaganda of national values in the Serbian media should start with the printing of the media in the national alphabet — Cyrillic. A review of the literature indicates several key characteristics of media language that are a consequence of the inevitable and continuous globalization processes.

First of all, globalization brings us tabloidization of the press, presentation of important information in a linguistic way appropriate to entertainment content, informal style and the absence of quality, analytical journalism. Since the young are most susceptible to manipulation, it is necessary to devise a strategy to strengthen critical literacy and media literacy through the education system. Linguistic media globalization is reflected in the use of globalizing linguistic topos, but also in the penetration of anglicisms through the language of politics, crime, sports, fashion and entertainment. Anglicisms are adopted in their original form or inadequately adapted to the recipient’s language, which indicates a disregard for the language and style of the Serbian media. Serbian works of recent date study the use of hybrid creative constructions, the occasional transformation of personal names, frequent use of elements of conversational style and similar linguistic phenomena. In addition to the constant changes at the lexical level, globalization processes cover all other language levels. The enumerated phenomena indicate the shifting of stylistic boundaries in the journalistic functional style of the Serbian language. In addition to the negative impact on the language culture of the recipient of the media message, language media globalization also weakens the structure of the Serbian language, because it leads to changes at the orthographic, morphophonological, morphological and syntactic level. Globalization-related changes at the level of language structure and stylistic features should be given more attention in future research.

1 “With regard to the above-said, I define globalization as a multiaspect natural historical process leading to the emergence of planetary holistic structures and connections. Globalization is immanent to the world community and covers all basic spheres of human life. It becomes the more visible, the more humankind moves along the way of scientific and technological progress and socioeconomic development. Globalization is a process having no time limits. It connects the past, the present and the future. Today we are passing through a new stage of globalization. It not just becomes visible, but requires corrections made via rational human intervention, i. e., people should take responsibility for the nature and consequences of globalization that remains an objectively evolving process” [Chumakov 2010: 39].

2 “In this sense, youth is the best environment for the spread of global culture, because youth is less grounded than the elder generations in the influence of traditional cultures and stereotypes of thinking and behavior formed in a community. Due to this, youth also becomes a main object of manipulation by mass media, political, religious, criminal and other groups, which, under the conditions of globalization, acquire additional opportunities for influencing both separate groups and mass consciousness as a whole” [Chumakov 2010: 58].

Ста­тья посту­пи­ла в редак­цию 20 Нояб­ря 2020 г.;
реко­мен­до­ва­на в печать 19 фев­ра­ля 2021 г.

© Санкт-Петер­бург­ский госу­дар­ствен­ный уни­вер­си­тет, 2021

Received: November 20, 2020
Accepted: February 19, 2021