Serbian language

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Serbian
српски језик / srpski jezik
Pronunciation [sr̩̂pskiː]
Native to Serbia, post-Yugoslav states and Serbian diaspora
Region Balkans
Ethnicity Serbs
Native speakers
c. 12 million (2009) [1]
Serbian Cyrillic
Serbian Latin
Yugoslav Braille
Official status
Official language in
Flag of Serbia.svg  Serbia

Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.svg  Bosnia and Herzegovina (co-official)

Flag of Montenegro.svg  Montenegro [2] ("in official use")
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated by Board for Standardization of the Serbian Language
Language codes
ISO 639-1 sr
ISO 639-2 srp
ISO 639-3 srp
Glottolog serb1264
Linguasphere part of 53-AAA-g
Map of Serbian language - official or recognized (version without Kosovo).png
  Countries/regions where Serbian is an official language.
  Countries/regions where it is recognized as a minority language.
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Serbian (српски / srpski, pronounced  [sr̩̂pskiː] ) is the standardized variety of the Serbo-Croatian language mainly used by Serbs. [8] [9] [10] It is the official and national language of Serbia, one of the three official languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina and co-official in Montenegro, where it is spoken by the relative majority of the population. [11] It is a recognized minority language in Croatia, North Macedonia, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.

Standard Serbian is based on the most widespread dialect of Serbo-Croatian, Shtokavian (more specifically on the dialects of Šumadija-Vojvodina and Eastern Herzegovina [12] ), which is also the basis of standard Croatian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin varieties [13] and therefore the Declaration on the Common Language of Croats, Bosniaks, Serbs and Montenegrins was issued in 2017. [14] [15] The other dialect spoken by Serbs is Torlakian in southeastern Serbia, which is transitional to Macedonian and Bulgarian.

Serbian is practically the only European standard language whose speakers are fully functionally digraphic, [16] using both Cyrillic and Latin alphabets. The Serbian Cyrillic alphabet was devised in 1814 by Serbian linguist Vuk Karadžić, who created it based on phonemic principles. The Latin alphabet used for Serbian (latinica) was designed by the Croatian linguist Ljudevit Gaj in the 1830s based on the Czech system with a one-to-one grapheme-phoneme correlation between the Cyrillic and Latin orthographies, resulting in a parallel system. [17]

Classification

Serbian is a standardized variety of Serbo-Croatian, [18] [19] a Slavic language (Indo-European), of the South Slavic subgroup. Other standardized forms of Serbo-Croatian are Bosnian, Croatian, and Montenegrin. "An examination of all the major 'levels' of language shows that BCS is clearly a single language with a single grammatical system." [20] It has lower intelligibility with the Eastern South Slavic languages Bulgarian and Macedonian, than with Slovene (Slovene is part of the Western South Slavic subgroup, but there are still significant differences in vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation to the standardized forms of Serbo-Croatian, although it is closer to the Kajkavian and Chakavian dialects of Serbo-Croatian [21] ).

Geographic distribution

Figures of speakers according to countries:

Status in Montenegro

Serbian was the official language of Montenegro until October 2007 when the new Constitution of Montenegro replaced the Constitution of 1992. Amid opposition from pro-Serbian parties, [28] the Montenegrin language was made the sole official language of the country, and Serbian was given the status of a language in official use along with Bosnian, Albanian, and Croatian. [29]

In the 2011 Montenegrin census, 42.88% declared Serbian to be their native language, while Montenegrin was declared by 36.97% of the population.[ citation needed ]

Differences between standard Serbian and standard Croatian and Bosnian

Writing system

Standard Serbian language uses both Cyrillic (ћирилица, ćirilica) and Latin script (latinica, латиница). Serbian is a rare example of synchronic digraphia, a situation where all literate members of a society have two interchangeable writing systems available to them. Media and publishers typically select one alphabet or the other. In general, the alphabets are used interchangeably; except in the legal sphere, where Cyrillic is required, there is no context where one alphabet or another predominates.

Although Serbian language authorities have recognized the official status of both scripts in contemporary Standard Serbian for more than half of a century now, due to historical reasons, the Cyrillic script was made the official script of Serbia's administration by the 2006 Constitution. [30]

The Latin script continues to be used in official contexts, although the government has indicated its desire to phase out this practice due to nationalistic sentiments. Although the Latin script has been used for centuries in Serbia, the Ministry of Culture believes that Cyrillic is the “identity script” of the Serbian nation. [31]

However, the law does not regulate scripts in standard language, or standard language itself by any means, leaving the choice of script as a matter of personal preference and to the free will in all aspects of life (publishing, media, trade and commerce, etc.), except in government paperwork production and in official written communication with state officials, which have to be in Cyrillic. [32]

It is generally considered a poor practice to mix Latin and Cyrillic in the same text, except for quotations and some abbreviations (i.e. measurements). Sometimes it is done in marketing materials like logos to imply political pluralism or “old meets new”, although this is rare.[ citation needed ]

Usage

To most Serbians, the Latin script tends to imply a cosmopolitan or neutral attitude, while Cyrillic appeals to a more traditional or vintage sensibility. [33] Latin is associated with business, trade, and modernity, while Cyrillic may be considered to imply authority/officiality, conservatism, nationalism, and tradition.

In media, the public broadcaster, Radio Television of Serbia, predominantly uses the Cyrillic script whereas the privately run broadcasters, like RTV Pink, predominantly use the Latin script. Newspapers can be found in both scripts.

In the public sphere, with logos, outdoor signage and retail packaging, the Latin script predominates, although both scripts are commonly seen. The Serbian government has encouraged increasing the use of Cyrillic in these contexts. [33] Larger signs, especially those put up by the government, will often feature both alphabets; if the sign has English on it, then usually only Cyrillic is used for the Serbian text.

A survey from 2014 showed that 47% of the Serbian population favors the Latin alphabet whereas 36% favors the Cyrillic one. [34]

Latin script has become more and more popular in Serbia, as it is easier to input on phones and computers. [35]

Alphabetic order

The sort order of the ćirilica (ћирилица) alphabet:

The sort order of the latinica (латиница) alphabet:

Grammar

Serbian is a highly inflected language, with grammatical morphology for nouns, pronouns and adjectives as well as verbs. [36]

Nouns

Serbian nouns are classified into three declensional types, denoted largely by their nominative case endings as "-a" type, "-i" and "-e" type. Into each of these declensional types may fall nouns of any of three genders: masculine, feminine or neuter. Each noun may be inflected to represent the noun's grammatical case, of which Serbian has seven:

Nouns are further inflected to represent the noun's number, singular or plural.

Pronouns

Pronouns, when used, are inflected along the same case and number morphology as nouns. Serbian is a pro-drop language, meaning that pronouns may be omitted from a sentence when their meaning is easily inferred from the text. In cases where pronouns may be dropped, they may also be used to add emphasis. For example:

SerbianEnglish equivalent
Kako si?How are you?
A kako si ti?And how are you?

Adjectives

Adjectives in Serbian may be placed before or after the noun they modify, but must agree in number, gender and case with the modified noun.

Verbs

Serbian verbs are conjugated in four past forms—perfect, aorist, imperfect, and pluperfect—of which the last two have a very limited use (imperfect is still used in some dialects, but the majority of native Serbian speakers consider it archaic), one future tense (also known as the first future tense, as opposed to the second future tense or the future exact, which is considered a tense of the conditional mood by some contemporary linguists), and one present tense. These are the tenses of the indicative mood. Apart from the indicative mood, there is also the imperative mood. The conditional mood has two more tenses: the first conditional (commonly used in conditional clauses, both for possible and impossible conditional clauses) and the second conditional (without use in the spoken language—it should be used for impossible conditional clauses). Serbian has active and passive voice.

As for the non-finite verb forms, Serbian has one infinitive, two adjectival participles (the active and the passive), and two adverbial participles (the present and the past).

Vocabulary

Most Serbian words are of native Slavic lexical stock, tracing back to the Proto-Slavic language. There are many loanwords from different languages, reflecting cultural interaction throughout history. Notable loanwords were borrowed from Greek, Latin, Italian, Turkish, Hungarian, Russian, German, and French.

Serbian literature

Miroslavljevo jevandelje (The Gospel of Miroslav), a manuscript, ca. 1186 Jevandj.gif
Miroslavljevo jevanđelje (The Gospel of Miroslav), a manuscript, ca. 1186

Serbian literature emerged in the Middle Ages, and included such works as Miroslavljevo jevanđelje (Miroslav's Gospel) in 1186 and Dušanov zakonik (Dušan's Code) in 1349. Little secular medieval literature has been preserved, but what there is shows that it was in accord with its time; for example, the Serbian Alexandride, a book about Alexander the Great, and a translation of Tristan and Iseult into Serbian. Although not belonging to the literature proper, the corpus of Serbian literacy in the 14th and 15th centuries contains numerous legal, commercial and administrative texts with marked presence of Serbian vernacular juxtaposed on the matrix of Serbian Church Slavonic.

By the beginning of the 14th century the Serbo-Croatian language, which was so rigorously proscribed by earlier local laws, becomes the dominant language of the Republic of Ragusa. [37] However, despite her wealthy citizens speaking the Serbo-Croatian dialect of Dubrovnik in their family circles, they sent their children to Florentine schools to become perfectly fluent in Italian. [37] Since the beginning of the 13th century, the entire official correspondence of Dubrovnik with states in the hinterland was conducted in Serbian. [38]

In the mid-15th century, Serbia was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and for the next 400 years there was no opportunity for the creation of secular written literature. However, some of the greatest literary works in Serbian come from this time, in the form of oral literature, the most notable form being epic poetry. The epic poems were mainly written down in the 19th century, and preserved in oral tradition up to the 1950s, a few centuries or even a millennium longer than by most other "epic folks". Goethe and Jacob Grimm learned Serbian in order to read Serbian epic poetry in the original. By the end of the 18th century, the written literature had become estranged from the spoken language. In the second half of the 18th century, the new language appeared, called Slavonic-Serbian. This artificial idiom superseded the works of poets and historians like Gavrilo Stefanović Venclović, who wrote in essentially modern Serbian in the 1720s. These vernacular compositions have remained cloistered from the general public and received due attention only with the advent of modern literary historians and writers like Milorad Pavić. In the early 19th century, Vuk Stefanović Karadžić promoted the spoken language of the people as a literary norm.

Dialects

The dialects of Serbo-Croatian, regarded Serbian (traditionally spoken in Serbia), include:

Dictionaries

Vuk Karadžić's Srpski rječnik , first published in 1818, is the earliest dictionary of modern literary Serbian. The Rječnik hrvatskoga ili srpskoga jezika (I–XXIII), published by the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts from 1880 to 1976, is the only general historical dictionary of Serbo-Croatian. Its first editor was Đuro Daničić, followed by Pero Budmani and the famous Vukovian Tomislav Maretić. The sources of this dictionary are, especially in the first volumes, mainly Štokavian. There are older, pre-standard dictionaries, such as the 1791 German–Serbian dictionary.

Standard dictionaries
Etymological dictionaries

The standard and the only completed etymological dictionary of Serbian is the "Skok", written by the Croatian linguist Petar Skok: Etimologijski rječnik hrvatskoga ili srpskoga jezika ("Etymological Dictionary of Croatian or Serbian"). I-IV. Zagreb 1971–1974.

There is also a new monumental Etimološki rečnik srpskog jezika (Etymological Dictionary of Serbian). So far, two volumes have been published: I (with words on A-), and II (Ba-Bd).

There are specialized etymological dictionaries for German, Italian, Croatian, Turkish, Greek, Hungarian, Russian, English and other loanwords (cf. chapter word origin).

Dialectal dictionaries

See also

Notes

  1. Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008. Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo is currently (this note self-updates) recognized as an independent state by 98 out of the 193 United Nations member states. In total, 113 UN member states recognized Kosovo at some point, of which 15 later withdrew their recognition.

Related Research Articles

Serbo-Croatian South Slavic language

Serbo-Croatian – also called Serbo-Croat, Serbo-Croat-Bosnian (SCB), Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian (BCS), and Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian (BCMS) – is a South Slavic language and the primary language of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. It is a pluricentric language with four mutually intelligible standard varieties, namely Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin.

Bosnian language South Slavic language

The Bosnian language is the standardized variety of Serbo-Croatian mainly used by Bosniaks. Bosnian is one of three such varieties considered official languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina, along with Croatian and Serbian. It is also an officially recognized minority language in Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Kosovo.

Comparison of standard Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian

Standard Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian are different national variants and official registers of the pluricentric Serbo-Croatian language.

Montenegrin is a normative variety of the Serbo-Croatian language mainly used by Montenegrins and is the official language of Montenegro. Montenegrin is based on the most widespread dialect of Serbo-Croatian, Shtokavian, more specifically on Eastern Herzegovinian, which is also the basis of Standard Croatian, Serbian, and Bosnian.

South Slavic languages Language family

The South Slavic languages are one of three branches of the Slavic languages. There are approximately 30 million speakers, mainly in the Balkans. These are separated geographically from speakers of the other two Slavic branches by a belt of German, Hungarian and Romanian speakers. The first South Slavic language to be written was the variety spoken in Thessaloniki, now called Old Church Slavonic, in the ninth century. It is retained as a liturgical language in some South Slavic Orthodox churches in the form of various local Church Slavonic traditions.

Shtokavian

Shtokavian or Štokavian is the prestige dialect of the pluricentric Serbo-Croatian language and the basis of its Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin standards. It is a part of the South Slavic dialect continuum. Its name comes from the form for the interrogatory pronoun for "what" in Western Shtokavian, što. This is in contrast to Kajkavian and Chakavian.

Gajs Latin alphabet form of the Latin script by Croatian linguist Ljudevit Gaj

Gaj's Latin alphabet is the form of the Latin script used for writing Serbo-Croatian and all of its standard varieties: Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, and Montenegrin.

Dalibor Brozović was a Croatian linguist, Slavist, dialectologist and politician. He studied the history of standard languages in the Slavic region, especially Croatian. He was an active Esperantist since 1946, and wrote Esperanto poetry as well as translated works into the language.

Serbian Cyrillic alphabet

The Serbian Cyrillic alphabet is an adaptation of the Cyrillic script for the Serbian language, developed in 1818 by Serbian linguist Vuk Karadžić. It is one of the two alphabets used to write standard modern Serbian, Bosnian and Montenegrin varieties of Serbo-Croatian language, the other being Latin.

Romanization of Serbian

The romanization of Serbian or latinization of Serbian is the representation of Serbian language using Latin letters. Serbian is written in two alphabets, the Serbian Cyrillic, a variation of Cyrillic alphabet, and Gaj's Latin, a variation of the Latin alphabet. Serbian language is an example of digraphia.

Asim Peco was a renowned Bosnian linguist, academician, professor, author and editor.

Vienna Literary Agreement 1850 literary agreement

The Vienna Literary Agreement was the result of a meeting held in March 1850, when writers from Croatia, Serbia and Carniola (Slovenia) met to discuss the extent to which their literatures could be conjoined and united to standardize the Serbo-Croatian language.
The agreement recognized the commonality of South Slavic dialects and enumerated a basic set of grammar rules which they shared.

The Montenegrin alphabet is the collective name given to "Abeceda" and "Азбука", the writing systems used to write the Montenegrin language. It was adopted on 9 June 2009 by the Montenegrin Minister of Education, Sreten Škuletić and replaced the Serbian Cyrillic and Gaj's Latin alphabets in use at the time.

Ivan Klajn

Ivan Klajn is a Serbian linguist, philologist and language historian, with primary interest in Romance languages and Serbian. He is a regular member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and the editor-in-chief of the Matica srpska's journal Jezik danas. Through his paternal family, which lived in Vukovar for generations, he is of Croatian-Jewish descent.

Croatian language South Slavic language

Croatian is the standardized variety of the Serbo-Croatian language used by Croats, principally in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Serbian province of Vojvodina, and other neighboring countries. It is the official and literary standard of Croatia and one of the official languages of the European Union. Croatian is also one of the official languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina and a recognized minority language in Serbia and neighboring countries.

Eastern Herzegovinian dialect Subdialect of Serbo-Croatian

The Eastern Herzegovinian dialect is the most widespread subdialect of the Shtokavian dialect of Serbo-Croatian, both by territory and the number of speakers. It is the dialectal basis for all modern literary Serbo-Croatian standards: Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, and Montenegrin.

Dialects of Serbo-Croatian

The dialects of Serbo-Croatian include the vernacular forms of Serbo-Croatian as a whole or as part of its standard varieties: Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian. They are part of the dialect continuum of South Slavic languages that joins the Macedonian dialects to the south, Bulgarian dialects to the southeast and Slovene dialects to the northwest.

Marin Temperica

Marin Temperica or Marin Temparica was a 16th-century Ragusan merchant, Jesuit and linguist. In 1551, after receiving basic education in Dubrovnik, he moved to Ottoman part of Balkans and spent 24 years working as a merchant. Temperica was one of the first chaplains of the Jesuit household in Istanbul. He returned to Dubrovnik in 1575 and continued his activities in Jesuit religious congregation of the Catholic Church.

Serbo-Croatian or Serbo-Croat usually refers to:

The Dictionary of Serbo-Croatian Literary and Vernacular Language or the Dictionary of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts is the official dictionary of the Serbo-Croatian language published by the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. The publication of the Dictionary has started in 1959, and is ongoing. So far, 20 volumes have been published, with the latest, 20th volume, published in 2018 covering words starting with letter "p". About fifty more years are needed for the completion of the whole project. It is a historical dictionary whose entries are based on primary sources of actual usage in the last two centuries.

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Further reading

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