“Literary Dialects” in China and Slovakia:
Imagining Unitary Nationality with Multiple Orthographies

Both Chinese attempts to devise a Latinized script for Chinese and Pan-Slavic thought in Slovakia illustrate the situation in which language planners and patriots imagine a single national language divided into “literary dialects.”  In this situation, the suggested orthography of the national language has certain characters and symbols only used by speakers of certain “dialects” of the national language.  The situation seems to be rather unstable, and in both cases the proposed multi-dialectical orthographies failed: Chinese retained a pan-dialectical character script and a single Chinese nationality whereas the various Slavic nations have acquired separate orthographic systems. Literary Dialect schemes illustrate the relationship between nation-building and the codification of particularist orthographies.