Language facts: Serbian

Serbian is a member of the South Slavic group of languages and is the official language of Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. There are about 6.5 million speakers of the language in Serbia, and also 500,000 speakers in Montenegro plus 1.6 million speakers in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Serbian is also recognized as a minority language in Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Czechia (partly due to immigration during the Balkan war in the 1990s).

War of languages

Serbian language actually shares it's base with Serbo-Croatian, the official language of former Yugoslavia, from which also Standard Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin were derived. During the existence of the socialist Yugoslavian federation, there was a fierce emphasis on the "One Language" policy pursued by the federal government. This language policy was in line with the general "Unification" policy of Yugoslavia, aiming for suppression of the historical division lines between the regions, as well as nationalistic tendencies in Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro. In fact, the now-accepted stand-alone languages in the separate national states of the former Yugoslavian federation were considered merely regional variants of the same Serbo-Croatian language that simply served to "enrich" the constitutional version. 

After the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 90s and the ensuing war, the language differences became one of the subjects of the conflict between the former federal nations and one of the biggest symbols for individual national identities.

Alphabet

Serbian is the only European language that practically uses two different writing systems, and can be written in both the Serbian Cyrillic script and Serbian Latin. Both writing systems were promoted in Yugoslavia. The Cyrillic script has official status under the 2006 Constitution of Serbia, but the Latin script continues to gain ground as a result of its popularity among the business community and urban population. The basic principle of Serbian is “Write as you speak and read as it is written”. 

Cyrillic

А Б В Г Д Ђ Е Ж З И Ј К Л Љ М Н Њ О П Р С Т Ћ У Ф Х Ц Ч Џ Ш

а б в г д ђ е ж з и ј к л љ м н њ о п р с т ћ у ф х ц ч џ ш

Latin

A B C Č Ć D Dž Đ E F G H I J K L Lj M N Nj O P R S Š T U V Z Ž

a b c č ć d dž đ e f g h i j k l lj m n nj o p r s š t u v z ž

Language facts: Croatian

Croatian is a South Slavic language used primarily in Croatia (where it is an official language) by Croats living in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in neighboring countries where Croats make up autochthonous communities (e.g. the Serbian province of Vojvodina, Molise in Italy, or Burgenland in Austria), and generally the global Croatian diaspora. 

It is sometimes classified as belonging to the Central South Slavic diasystem (also referred to as "Serbo-Croatian"). Croatian is spoken by 4,800,000 native speakers and approx. 6.5 million people around the world and uses a three-letter code: HRV (= hrvatska/i) for international recognition. It is also one of the official EU languages since Croatia became an EU member in 2013.

Croatian: a language with mixed origin

The modern Croatian standard language is a continuous outgrowth of more than nine hundred years of literature written in a mixture of Croatian Church Slavonic, or worded differently the Serbo-Croatian variant of Church Slavonic (i.e. Old Slavonic that was, for a brief period, also an official recognized language of the liturgy) and the vernacular language. Croatian Church Slavonic was abandoned by the mid-15th century, and Croatian as embodied in a purely vernacular literature (Shtokavian dialect literature) has now existed for more than five centuries.

Nowadays the Croatian language is an important symbol of national identity, but suggesting that Croatian language equals or is fully intelligible with Serbo-Croatian is still a sensitive subject to bring up. In fact, the differences between Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian language are (sometimes much too intensively) highlighted due to political reasons. The fact is that Croatians, Bosnians and Serbians generally understand each other, similarly to or even better than Czechs and Slovaks.

Alphabet

The Croatian alphabet is based on the Latin alphabet with special characters ć, č, đ, š, ž, dž; it does not have q, w, x, y.

A B C Č D Dž Đ E F G H I J K L Lj M N Nj O P R S Š T U V Z Ž a b c č d dž đ e f g h i j k l lj m n nj o p r s š t u v z ž

Blog archive

Sign in
Get a free account now
This website uses cookies to analyze website traffic, enhance functionality of provided services and to ensure you get the best experience on our website.

Learn more

I agree!