The Interslavic flag

Why would a language need a flag? After all, the purpose of a flag is to be hoisted – on government buildings, town halls, during celebrations... States have flags, and so do most provinces, cities, towns and other territorial entities, as well as ethnic minorities, international organisations, political parties, and sometimes companies. In general, it can be said that flags symbolise a community, a sense of togetherness, and it is undeniably true that speakers of one language usually form some kind of community as well. But why would a language that is neither the language of a nation nor the language of an ethnic or religious minority, need a flag?

The answer is simple: it does not. However, it cannot be denied that there is a long tradition of flags being associated with languages. That is not just a matter of a perceived common identity of its speakers, there is a very practical side to it as well. How many dictionaries have not been printed featuring two flags on its front page or spine? Especially nowadays, in the digital age, it is very common on websites that people can switch between languages by clicking on flags. Even though they are usually the flags of states, in this particular case they do not represent anything else but languages. Besides, a lot people like it when a text does not only contain flat text, but contains a few images as well. In places like Wikipedia, flags are often used to jazz up language articles a little. The Interslavic flag is certaintly not intended to serve as a wall decoration in dark rooms full of Interslavic speakers singing Pan-Slavic hymns, but that does not change the fact that a flag can sometimes come in handy.

The next question is: what should such a flag look like? The Pan-Slavic flag (to the right), adopted by a congress in Prague in 1848, might seem like a good choice. It contains the Pan-Slavic colours blue, white and red, present in the flags of virtually all Slavic nations. However, this is also the disadvantage of this flag: it is closely associated with a political movement and ideology, and „Interslavic” does not necessarily mean „Pan-Slavic” at all. Therefore the Pan-Slavic flag is much too restrictive and charged for our needs.

When looking for a good alternative, one thing to keep in mind are the following principles of flag design:
Keep It Simple – The flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory.
Use Meaningful Symbolism – The flag’s images, colours, or patterns should relate to what it symbolizes.
Use 2–3 Basic Colours – Limit the number of colours on the flag to three, which contrast well and come from the standard colour set.
No Lettering or Seals – Never use writing of any kind or an organization’s seal.
Be Distinctive or Be Related – Avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections.

The Interslavic flag was designed in 2006 by members of the Slovianski forum, originally for the Slovianski project. It is probably the oldest flag ever designed for the Interslavic language. It incorporates the Pan-Slavic colours, as well as yellow (representing „new” languages like Ukrainian, Kashubian and Silesian). The design is meant to be simple and evoke the right connotations, but also to look nice and colourful, friendly and not like any of the existing national or political flags at all. The four triangles can be interpreted as four arrows pointing at the centre: the place where Interslavic is, in the very middle of the Slavic languages. With some imagination, the blue and red triangle can be also associated with the Glagolitic character for s, similar in shape to an hourglass. An additional advantage of this flag is that it can easily be resized, even to the size of a small icon () without losing its specific character and recognisability. In spite of the very simple design, this flag appears to be unique in the world. Similar designs are the Maya flag and the flags of P&O Ferries, the former company Svenska Rederi AB Öresund, the Belgian town Wuustwezel, the Spanish municipality Villena and the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission in Korea.

The Slovioski flag is a collaborated design by members of the Slavic Unity Forum. It was created in 2009. It consists of three blue stars set on a white background, in east, west and south positions representing the three respective branches of the Slavic languages: East, West and South Slavic. Furthermore, the flag features a lipa tree, sacred tree of Slavic myth and lore, its spreading roots representing the roots and connections of all Slavic languages, nations and people and its branches reaching outward and upwards in representation of the Slavic spirit of reconciliation, shared humanity and human possibility among all of mankind. The three colours of the flag – white, blue and red – are the colors adopted by the Pan-Slavic Congress in 1848 as the official colors of the Slavic people.

The Novosloviensky flag is the outcome of a contest on Facebook, held in 2011. It features the Pan-Slavic colours and three lipa (linden) leaves, representing the three branches of Slavic.