Serbia sits at the crossroads of Eastern and Central Europe and is a cultural mixing pot. The Serbian language (which is technically a regional version of the Serbo-Croation language) reflects this – it is heavily influenced by the tongues of nearby nations.
Intriguingly, it uses both the Cyrillic and Latin scripts (in linguistical terms we call this digraphia). Both of these written forms were formalized in the 19th century.
Today, there are 6,620,000 people speaking the language around the world. It is a major tongue in these countries:
There are strong Serb communities in Germany, Sweden – and even Australia.
Historically, in areas where there has been considerable unrest, the languages have been strongly influenced by a diverse range of dialects. This makes sense when you consider how people move away from dangerous areas. The result is a mix of culture, words, and expressions.
Central and Eastern Europe have certainly had a turbulent past, and it should come as no surprise that Serbian is an extremely diverse language.
This makes it a fascinating study for any linguistics student – in one language, there are traces of many.
The fact that Serbians use the Latin alphabet will come as some relief to English speaking students. But it’s important to also learn the Cyrillic alphabet – remember, both forms are used commonly in Serbia, and you will need to read both comfortably. You should also be aware that the phonetics of the Latin alphabet differ in Serbia.
If the task seems a little daunting, the student should be comforted by the fact their efforts will be rewarded. As Croatian is extremely similar (basically it’s the same tongue with minor differences) they’ll be learning two languages at once!
Serbians are very fond of idioms – even more so than the English! So you may find yourself scratching your head sometimes if a friend says something that seems to make no sense. Learning and understanding the common idioms will make your life less confusing – and it’s entertaining, too!
Grammatically, the Serbian language does hold some challenge for English speakers – there are different conjugations to master, 4 past tenses, and many irregular verbs – which is common in a tongue with many loanwords. Perseverance will pay, and dedicated students will find it to be a fascinating and rewarding experience.