Central Europe, as other sections of the continent, used to be multilingual and multiscriptural. In the modern age, nationalism and centralizing etatism did away with this multiplicity of languages and scriptures in Western Europe. In the eastern half of the continent, especially in Central Europe, this multiplicity fared better, though, paradoxically, due to the fact that language and writing were made there into the main instrument of politics, and also of nationhood and statehood legitimization. The multitude of ethnolinguistic nation-states that were spawned in the twentieth century by the marriage of language and state ensured that almost as many languages were created and/or elevated to the status of official languages as many polities were fashioned in the region. This article sketches the story of the gradually politicized multilingualism of Central Europe.
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