ресторан or pektopaa?

serbianfan

Senior Member
British English
Do schoolchildren in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (apart from Republika Srpska, of course) learn to read Cyrillic, or are they in the same situation as the average English person who goes to Serbia, Russia, Bulgaria, etc. and thinks that the sign for restaurant reads "pektopaa"?
 
  • Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    You mean "pectopah" ? :D I was mightily confused by this restaurant sign in Serbia, I though it was "CAAN" with a fancy A. It was actually СЛАП. :)

    In B&H, everyone learns both alphabets throughout the country (source: a friend from FBiH). The Bosnian standard of the language officially uses both Latin and Cyrillic, although in reality only Latin is ever used. Cyrillic script is quite prominent on signs of official institutions, the infamous "multilingual" cigarette packs, ID documents, banknotes etc. so people are at least able to read it.

    In Croatia I think there is no Cyrillic education, except presumably in areas where the education is in Serbian due to the national minority (but I can't confirm).

    The same situation in Slovenia, nobody learns Cyrillic at all since 1991. Not that Slovene was ever written in Cyrillic, but nevertheless kids had to learn S-C in school.
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    Thanks once again, Panceltic - you are a mine of information! I didn't realise for example that education is in Serbian in some parts of Croatia. As for the average Brit reading ресторан, I deliberately put 'aa' at the end because they wouldn't pronounce the 'h'. There are very few words in English ending in a vowel + h (though there is a well-known lady called Oprah) and the h is not pronounced. The 'ah' in 'Ah! I see what you mean' is pronounced 'aa'. However, there may sometimes be a kind of h-sound at the end when people sigh. But the average Croat reading ресторан will pronounce an 'h' because it's pronounced in Croatian in words like 'odmah'. English speakers have some difficulty with that final 'h', especially when it's said more forcefully 'Odmah!', but in the middle of a sentence spoken quickly, they can maybe 'get away with' not pronouncing it, by saying 'odma se vraćam' instead of 'odmah se vraćam'.
     

    Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    Oh, I see what you mean. :)

    On the topic of 'h', it is notoriously unstable in Serbo-Croatian anyway, becoming 'v' or disappearing completely in most of the dialects. Saying "odma" is actually extremely common. Another one is "odo' ja" < "odoh ja" (I'm outta here)
     

    Милан

    Senior Member
    Serbian (Србија)
    My parents also. Vuk Karadžić didn't include it in his first edition of 'Srpski rječnik'. It is said that after his visit to Dubrovnik (where people did pronounce it) he decided to add it in the alphabet, so in the second edition, H appeared. Nowadays we often don't pronounce it at the beginning of the words and at the end of the words. It is funny that леб and фала are both correct in Standard Macedonian, while in Serbian they are just the lazy way of writing/pronouncing хлеб and хвала.
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    Well, that's good news. I've never had any problem with the stronger sound in Russian 'хлеб' and of course I can say 'леб' but the weaker 'h' sound, especially in 'strange places' is a bit difficult at times. I learnt a bit of Finnish at one time, and every time I asked for coffee, I tried very hard to sound like a native when I said 'kahvia' but they just answered 'Coffee?' :( So now I can just relax in Serbia and drop my h's, maybe especially in Vojvodina:)
     

    cHr0mChIk

    Member
    Serbian (maternal); Slovak (paternal)
    Well, that's good news. I've never had any problem with the stronger sound in Russian 'хлеб' and of course I can say 'леб' but the weaker 'h' sound, especially in 'strange places' is a bit difficult at times. I learnt a bit of Finnish at one time, and every time I asked for coffee, I tried very hard to sound like a native when I said 'kahvia' but they just answered 'Coffee?' :( So now I can just relax in Serbia and drop my h's, maybe especially in Vojvodina:)

    I don't hear the difference between the "h" in the standard Russian, Serbian and Greek. 🤔 I always thought it was the same. On the other hand, the way I hear many Bosniaks pronounce "h" is quite different. The Ser./Rus./Gr. one appears to be /x/, and what I hear the Bosniaks say: /h/.

    As for dropping the "h", it's quite common throughout Serbian dialects. It's even a feature of many southern dialects (Prizren-Timok). You'll hear the "h" being dropped in the old speech of Leskovac, Vranje, Niš, Pirot... It's also a feature of standard Macedonian language.
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't hear the difference between the "h" in the standard Russian, Serbian and Greek. 🤔 I always thought it was the same.

    You may very well be right. But it's always worth remembering that just because a sound has the same phonetic symbol in two languages, in this case [x], doesn't mean that the sound is exactly the same. German also has [x] as in Dach, which sounds a bit 'stronger' to me. Wikipedia's page on Serbo-Croatian phonology says that in Croatian '/x/ is retracted to [h] when it is initial in a consonant cluster, as in hmelj [hmêʎ]'. Although I'm learning Serbian, I've spent more time in Bosnia and Croatia in the past. Would have spent more time in Serbia if it hadn't been for Covid-19:mad:
     

    cHr0mChIk

    Member
    Serbian (maternal); Slovak (paternal)
    But it's always worth remembering that just because a sound has the same phonetic symbol in two languages, in this case [x], doesn't mean that the sound is exactly the same.
    I do agree with this, however, I was basing my conclusion on sound.

    Wikipedia's page on Serbo-Croatian phonology says that in Croatian '/x/ is retracted to [h] when it is initial in a consonant cluster, as in hmelj [hmêʎ]'.
    This is strange. Perhaps it's a typically Croatian thing. I say hmelj with a clear /x/ as: /xmɛʎ/. Same as hleb or hrabrost.
     

    Mačak pod šlemom

    Member
    Serbian
    I noticed that about Croatians long time ago, but I think it mostly applies to north Croatians (kajkavians).
    Serbianfan, don't relax about dropping X. Yes, people do drop their X in casual speech in SOME words, but if you relax too much you could develop a habit to drop X in wrong words. Nobody will find it unusual if you say 'leb, 'ajde, 'oću,...but 'iljada would sound awkward in many cases. Don't say 'eljda (buckwheat), most of the people wouldn't understand you. To say ma'ati would sound like you came from the 19th century, or if you live in Novi Pazar.
    Bosniaks (Muslims) really do have their specific way of pronouncing our X sound, as cHr0mchlk said. Sometimes it is so "soft" that it is almost dropped, and sometimes it is very sound (not in the way our or Russian X is, with that "harsh" hiss, but as the sound you utter when somebody punches you in the stomach). I wonder, is it possible that our ancestors pronounced it that way, as Muslims or north Croats do, before loosing it completely in 14-15th century? For several centuries the sound was not used in dialects, but only in Church Slavonic, so it may be the case that later, when we "reintroduced" the X sound, it came back in the way Russians pronounce it.
     

    cHr0mChIk

    Member
    Serbian (maternal); Slovak (paternal)
    Bosniaks (Muslims) really do have their specific way of pronouncing our X sound, as cHr0mchlk said. Sometimes it is so "soft" that it is almost dropped, and sometimes it is very sound (not in the way our or Russian X is, with that "harsh" hiss, but as the sound you utter when somebody punches you in the stomach).
    I always attributed that "h" to influence from Turkish, without giving it much thought. Same thing goes for gemination and what I'd call "conscious" glottal stops, for example.

    And indeed I find it quite awkward pronouncing the typical "Muslim" words with a "Serbian X" or without gemination or the glottal stop. I'd always say words like "hajr", "halal", "džehennem", "Allah", "Kur'an", with a soft "h" and with gemination and a glottal stop in words which have it.

    Such allophones seem to be very common among Bosniaks, and even other Muslims which live in Serbia, like myself, and are a common part of our phonemic inventory. However, I noticed that many Serbs struggle with such sounds, saying stuff like "sunet" instead of "sunnet" (unable to pronounce gemination); "Kuran" instead of "Kur'an" (unable to make a "conscious" glottal stop); "Alax" instead of "Allah" (no gemination, and a "hard" h).

    It almost "feels" that they're not accustomed/comfortable with such sounds/words.

    I've caught myself that, living in Serbia, I almost speak a different "language" with fellow Musims and with Serbian people. It doesn't just have to do with vocabulary (which we have a completely different set of, even for words which are completely unrelated to religion); but it also has to do with my pronunciation.

    This is because, it feels very awkward pronouncing certain words in a particular way with one group, but with the other group, it feels awkward pronouncing words them in a different way...

    Perhaps this experience of mine is a certain phenomenon which has a name 🤔 maybe someone who is more educated/knowledgeable in linguistics could say what it is.

    And also, maybe this is just my personal experience, since I commute and travel a lot, all the time, throughout Serbia, from Novi Pazar, to Belgrade, to Vojvodina...

    Perhaps if I lived in one place, my experience with this would've been different 🤔

    Lol I apologise for a very long message 😅
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    Perhaps this experience of mine is a certain phenomenon which has a name 🤔 maybe someone who is more educated/knowledgeable in linguistics could say what it is.

    Interesting experience. When I worked in Saudi Arabia, I always tried to pronounce 'Allah' in the correct (Arabic) way when speaking in English to Saudis, whereas most Westerners just said 'Alla'. I think we all use different registers in different contexts. If I'm in England, and I want to know if they've got something in a shop, I say "Have you got X?" but if I'm in a far-off country where the people's English is limited, I would probably say "You have X?". And within your own country, you often use different registers, like not using unusual words when talking to a factory worker, which you would use when talking to a doctor. I could go on... :)
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    Serbianfan, don't relax about dropping X. Yes, people do drop their X in casual speech in SOME words, but if you relax too much you could develop a habit to drop X in wrong words. Nobody will find it unusual if you say 'leb, 'ajde, 'oću,...but 'iljada would sound awkward in many cases

    Thanks. It's really about [x] before a consonant, not in words like 'hiljada'. But I think it will be ok if I stick to [x], because it's easier (for me) to say e.g. 'hvala' with x than with h.
     

    Mačak pod šlemom

    Member
    Serbian
    I know we are kinda off topic, but this is highly interesting subject to me, so I'll continue.
    I know that our linguists attribute the retention of the H sound among Muslims (while both Catholic and Orthodox shtokavians lost it) to Turkish/Arabic influence. I don't know, though, does it apply to the "quality" of the sound. I know that Arabic language has a few H sounds, but I don't know about Ottoman Turkish (I guess modern Turkish shouldn't be taken into account on this matter). Anyway, the similarity between northern Croatian "H" and Muslim "H" lead me to think it could be actually the original štokavian "H", before it got lost.
    As for other two matters, the glottal stop and gemination, you shouldn't be surprised. Both are just not present in Serbian speech apparatus, and being the fact that their use among Muslims is connected almost exclusively with religious terms which are largely unknown to Serbs, it is expected that Serbs do not pronounce it the way Muslims do. I never said Kur'an with the stop, and I never write it with one. Why should I? We know that adopting foreign words to our 30-sound-no-glotal-stop-no-gemination language is the usual practice we use. It is in our Orthography. "Pravopis" even doesn't allow us to write words like "ubo", "zabo" with two O's, although we feel we should and many of us pronounce both. If I would say "Allah" with prolonged "LL", instead of "Alax", as I normally say, I would feel as if I'm trying to mock the word.
    There is quite a number of Serbs who naturally pronounce the "Muslim H", and those are born in places like Sarajevo, or other central Bosnian towns, where Muslim influence is predominant. In my town (Berane) no Orthodox person would speak like that, although most of us can pronounce it. But we use it ONLY in reference to Muslim speech - when somebody says "Hajde, Hoću" for example, with that kind of "H", you know he's trying to sound like a Muslim on purpose. There's quite a clear distinction between Orthodox and Muslim speech there, because most Muslims that settled the town came from the area of Bihor, where they speak almost exactly like in Novi Pazar, with all the ekavian-ijekavian mix. And Bihor is like 99% Muslim area. BTW, the Orthodox call it "Bior", "Bijor", or "Bixor". The border between Bihor (now the municipality of Petnjica) and the municipality of Berane is a clear cut border between two dialects. Muslims from the "old town", that settled there before WWI speak the "regular" Montenegrin dialect, and I think they even don't use the "Muslim H".
     
    Last edited:

    Mačak pod šlemom

    Member
    Serbian
    Thanks. It's really about [x] before a consonant, not in words like 'hiljada'. But I think it will be ok if I stick to [x], because it's easier (for me) to say e.g. 'hvala' with x than with h.
    Well, in Serbia or Montenegro, it is [x] or no [x] at all, there is no "h", except among Muslims, which we discussed in length here.
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    As for other two matters, the glottal stop and gemination, you shouldn't be surprised. Both are just not present in Serbian speech apparatus, and being the fact that their use among Muslims is connected almost exclusively with religious terms which are largely unknown to Serbs, it is expected that Serbs do not pronounce it the way Muslims do. I never said Kur'an with the stop, and I never write it with one. Why should I? We know that adopting foreign words to our 30-sound-no-glotal-stop-no-gemination language is the usual practice we use.

    To put this in a broader perspective, Arabic has a number of sounds which rarely occur in other languages (e.g. [q], the initial sound in Qur'an, which is definitely not [k], and the pharyngeal [ħ], which is something between x and h, and quite distinctive). And as Muslims are found all over the world, with all kinds of native languages, many of them will have huge problems in pronouncing typical Muslim words in the Arabic way. I suspect that both Muslims and non-Muslims in most non-Arabic-speaking countries regularly say e.g. Qur'an with k, Hajj with a "normal" h, etc.
     

    Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    To put this in a broader perspective, Arabic has a number of sounds which rarely occur in other languages (e.g. [q], the initial sound in Qur'an, which is definitely not [k], and the pharyngeal [ħ], which is something between x and h, and quite distinctive). And as Muslims are found all over the world, with all kinds of native languages, many of them will have huge problems in pronouncing typical Muslim words in the Arabic way. I suspect that both Muslims and non-Muslims in most non-Arabic-speaking countries regularly say e.g. Qur'an with k, Hajj with a "normal" h, etc.

    In my (very limited) experience from Bosnia, the majority of religious terms were loaned from Turkish anyway, for example ezan (for adhan).
     

    Милан

    Senior Member
    Serbian (Србија)
    You may very well be right. But it's always worth remembering that just because a sound has the same phonetic symbol in two languages, in this case [x], doesn't mean that the sound is exactly the same. German also has [x] as in Dach, which sounds a bit 'stronger' to me. Wikipedia's page on Serbo-Croatian phonology says that in Croatian '/x/ is retracted to [h] when it is initial in a consonant cluster, as in hmelj [hmêʎ]'. Although I'm learning Serbian, I've spent more time in Bosnia and Croatia in the past. Would have spent more time in Serbia if it hadn't been for Covid-19:mad:
    IPA also says tʃ /dʒ for Serbian even though it is really ʈ͡ʂ and ɖ͡ʐ.
     
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