There is a language, óne language, spoken “from Đerdap to Jadran”, from Subotica to Podgorica across Vukovar, Sarajevo and thousands of picturesque towns and villages. Like Persian or Hindustani, the Serbo-Croatian language is pluricentric with two perfectly interchangeable and fully equivalent alphabets, with two equivalent standards of pronunciation (Ije- and Ekavian) unrelated to political borders (see map), with one single literary Štokavian norm and a number of extra-literary dialects, all unrelated to political borders across the linguistic continuum. Most important: the grammar — what principally makes a language a language — is identical in Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Srpska Republic and the Federation of Bosnia-Hercegovina. Without forgetting the Brčko district.
Regional differences in vocabulary are manifold (different areas use different blends of Slavic, Turkish, Hungarian, German and other ingredients), but those differences are well-known and intelligible for the speakers from other areas, exactly as is a Hollywood movie for a British film watcher. Croato-Serbian unconditionally remains a supranational koiné for 20+ million native speakers of this beautiful language.
Politicians and nationalists blindly ignore this obvious reality. They upgraded regional variants of the common language to a language proper, they invented “Serbian”, “Croatian”, “Bosnian” and even “Montenegrin” languages emphasising trivial particularities and leveraging on minor differences.
If the equation sovereign state = language is deemed normal, then I wonder why we still have no “Austrian language”, “Kuwaiti language” or “Australian language”. «Do you speak Nicaraguan?» — «No, sorry, I only speak Salvadorian, please translate». If being a sovereign state is enough to claim an individual language, then there would exist even two “Belgian languages”, because both Belgian Dutch and Belgian French do have a number of particularities vs. the Amsterdam and Paris norms, so why not? With this logic I would, as anybody else, have easily tripled or quadrupled the number of spoken languages.
P.S. The above text was proudly written in Bahamian. Don’t confuse with English!