Belgrade, February 21, 2022 On the occasion of the International Mother Language Day, the Galenika pharmaceutical company, in partnership with the Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade, organized a social responsibility campaign titled “My Goat / Skin” 1, which aims to promote correct writing and respect for the orthographic norms of the Serbian language.

We are witnessing how new technologies affect the use of language. Language as a key component of civilization is undergoing numerous changes, which is especially visible among youth. Due to the use of mobile phones and digital messaging applications, users often opt for emoticons instead of language, while the existence of the two scripts used in the Serbian language (the Cyrillic and Latin) is generally completely ignored. As a step further in this process, punctuation marks are often omitted, as well as the diacritical marks above the Latin script letters Č, Ć, Ž, Š (the so-called “ticks and hooks”).

Through the project “My Goat / Skin”, the Galenika company, with the support of the Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade, addresses young people in order to draw their attention to the importance of language and its proper use.

“With a series of visual illustrations depicting a domestic animal – a goat, which we posted on billboards and social networks, accompanied by a humorous and modern narrative that resonates with young audiences, we changed the meaning of sentences by omitting the ticks above the letter characters. The suggestive illustrations helped make the meaning of the sentences harder to understand. Our goal was to get young people interested and to ask – why a goat? The answer in the form of an orthographic correction followed in a second series of illustrations and texts with the use of correct letters”, said Jelena Stojanovski, Marketing Manager at Galenika.

“Modern technologies pose challenges for the Serbian language and orthography, and one of them concerns the use of diacritical marks. Diacritical marks, as features on which the pronunciation of a sound depends and which make the distinction between certain letters and words written in the Latin script, are an important part of the Serbian orthography and language. They allow typed messages to provide accuracy and unambiguity, and their non-use can completely change the meaning of a word and cause confusion. In his manual titled Interesting Grammar, the prominent linguist and professor Milan Šipka wrote an anecdote about a ‘Cream for Gentle Goats’ which is in line with this topic. We believe that the action My Goat / Skin will raise awareness among young people to pay more attention to orthography”, concluded Professor Iva Draškić Vićanović, Dean of the Faculty of Philology.

1 In the Serbian language, if you write the word for ‘skin’ without using the Serbian version of the Latin script (with diacritical marks), what you in fact write is the Serbian word for ‘goat’ (Serbian ‘skin’ = ‘koža’ vs. Serbian ‘goat’ = ‘koza’)