The language of Serbia

Serbian is the official and main language used in Serbia and Montenegro. It is also the official language in Kosovo and Bosnia. Hungarian and Albanian are also spoken in Serbia. Serbian is mainly spoken by the Serbs. Speakers can be found in Herzegovina, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Denmark, Macedonia, USA, Germany, Austria and Croatia. Serbian is closely related to and mutually intelligible to Croatian, Montenegrin and Bosnian. There are about 9 million people who speak this language.

Serbian is a south Slavic language, under the Indo-European group of languages. It is based on Ekvaian, which is a variant of the Serbo-Croatian language. The Serbian language and Croatian are quite similar as they share many pronouns and the two languages are mutually intelligible. Differences in these two languages lie in the vocabulary and syntax. The Serbo-Croatian language was formally spoken in Yugoslavia by about 20 million people. When Yugoslavia got split geographically and politically, it also got split linguistically, so that Serbo-Croatian split into Serbian and Croatian. The languages have distinct dialects and are written using different alphabets, but due to their similarity some people still think of the languages as one unit, Serbo-Croatian. Ekavian and Ijekavian are the two dialects found in Serbia, with Ekavian being the most widely spoken dialect. Ekavian forms the basis of the standard Serbian language.

The Glagolithic alphabet was used to write Serbian from the 11th century. This was replaced by the Cyrillic alphabet. This was later changed to the modern Cyrillic alphabet, which is currently in use. The Latin alphabet is also used mainly in Montenegro. Serbian is the only Slavic language that uses both the Cyrillic alphabet and the Latin alphabet. Pronunciation of the words are quite simple as words are pronounced the same way they are written. This was based on Vuk Stefanovich Karadzich’s system of ‘write as you speak and read as you write’. Vuk Stefanovich Karadzich was a language reformer and philologist. In the Serbian alphabet, one symbol represents one sound. There are a total of 30 sounds in the Serbian alphabet. These are 25 consonants and 5 vowels. Serbian has a small number of sounds compared to other Slavic languages. Serbian has loan words from Turkish and Greek.

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