Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian (BCS): One language?

Discussion in 'Other Slavic Languages' started by JLanguage, Jul 4, 2005.

  1. JLanguage Senior Member

    Georgia, US
    USA: American English, Learning Hebrew and Spanish
    From wikipedia I gather that Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian are all essentially the same language. Bosnian and Serbian use both Cyrillic and Latin alphabets, while Croatian only uses the Latin alphabet. I have numerous questions:

    1 .Are Bosnian and Serbian spelled the same way when written with the Cyrillic alphabet?

    2. Is same orthography used for Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian when written with the Latin alphabet?

    3. Which is more prevalent in Bosnia and Serbia, the Cyrillic or Latin orthographies?

    4. Do all Bosnians and Serbians know both orthographies?

    5. Can Croatians read the Bosnian and Serbian when written in Cyrillic?

    Sorry for all the questions, but I am very curious,
  2. Cairenn

    Cairenn Senior Member

    Zagreb, Croatia
    I'm sorry it took some time to answer your questions, but I'm very busy, and then I forgot, and then .. well, you know how it goes ..

    anyway, I disscused your questions with some friends of mine, and one of them wrote a pretty coherent answer to your post, so I'm just gonna paste it here .. I hope it'll be satisfactory :thumbsup:

  3. JLanguage Senior Member

    Georgia, US
    USA: American English, Learning Hebrew and Spanish
    Thanks Cairenn for such an informative reply,

  4. vesna Senior Member

    Ljubljana, Slovenia
    Slovenia/ Slovene-Spanish-English-French
    Hi all!
    Let me participate in this debate with my Slovenian point of view.
    When Yugoslavia existed, we all had to learn Serbo-Croatian language in school for one year, apart from our own language. They just put the two languages together and 'sold' them as one, one might say.
    Nowadays, I wouldn't dare to speak Serbo-Croatian in Croatia nor in Serbia. There are differences that a native notices immediately and possibly gets offended. I must say I understand both fairly well, and it could be said that they also can understand Slovene (it's more a question of will than of knowledge, I dare say).
    Well, take care everybody :)
  5. martinemussies

    martinemussies Senior Member

    the Netherlands ~ Dutch.
    True, беларуская мова is one of the three "East-Slavic Languages". It is also known as "Belarusan", "Byelorussian", "Belorussian" etc. The word "Byelorussian" comes from the Russian name of the country (Byelorussia).

    Question.... do people with Serbo-Croatian as a mothertongue exist? :eek:
  6. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    Hi everybody,
    Vesna, please explain me why you wouldn`t dare to speak Serbian/Croatian in their respective countries? What do you mean by differences that native notices and possibly get offended? What is there to offend? If you spoke to me in my language, I would be delighted, and I am sure a Croatian too, never mind the mistakes you might make. Due to all the horror we experienced not so long time ago, I think we are still full of some stupid fear of the opposite side... Stupid and narrow-minded people exist in each country and each nation, but this is no reason for normal people to communicate.
    Personally, I think Croatian, Serbian,Bosnian, Montenegrian, etc... are all the same language, and the differences are in dialects and certain number of words, semantics and they are not more different than for example Spanish in Spain and in Latin America, or English in America, England, Australia or Canada. Iknow that I might produce a reaction from some participants in this thread, but this is my opinion. But, as someone here said, this is very touchy political question...Hey, I even had an advantage of this... Now the part of my CV regarding foreign languages I speak has increased. Now, besides English and Spanish, I also speak Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrian...
    My best wishes to all
  7. Cairenn

    Cairenn Senior Member

    Zagreb, Croatia
    I get a headache from the pollitical stuff, so I won't go there.
    but I disagree that Croatian and Serbian are the same language. a language isn't just words and grammar rules, it's also its tradition. Serbian and Croatian evolved separatly - maybe from the same source, yes, but separately, taking in different influences; not until 20th century it was tried to melt them into one language.
  8. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    Believe me, me too... But I think this is not a political question, it is rather the question of a logic. Maybe English in America and Britain and Australia have the same tradition? Or maybe Spanish from every and each hispanic country and Spain have the same tradition?
    Let me ask one simple question, ok?
    If a foreigner learns American English, would he understand without any problem an Australian or British speaker?
    If a foreigner learns Spanish in Mexico, would he understand without any problem a Spanish or Colombian, or Peruvian speaker?
    If a foreigner learns Croatian, would he understan without any problem a Serbian or Bosnian or Montenegrian speaker?

    The answer to all these three question is YES.

    Why? Because 99% of words are THE SAME. Grammar is 99% the same. And each and every country I mentioned has its own culture, its own history, more or less connected, its own tradition... I am not denying it. But this is not the matter in question.
    The unfortunate fact in the relation Croatian-Serbian is that the same language has two different names, which is the base of confusion arrouses in foreigner when trying to figure it out if these two languages are the same language or not. So, if one says, well, Croatian does not exist, its only a Serbian, it is natural that this makes go crazy every Croatian, and vice versa, if you say there is no Serbian, there is only Croatian, the same happens with Serbians... Maybe we should give it another, third name and then maybe everyone would be in peace.
    Call it whatever you want, but I know if I spoke to you in "my" language, you would understand perfectly what I am saying, and if you answered me in "your" language, I would also understand perfectly.
    I am trying to talk about logical things, not politics. Politics does not have anything to do with this, although some tried to use it and misuse it in political causes. Why when talking about these things, always rises the question of politics? I find it very sad.
    Please try to look things beyond the everydays political trash. Please. Use logic.
    My best regards to all
  9. BBYM New Member

    Hong Kong
    Hong Kong/China English/Mandarin/Cantonese
    but how about the term "Dialect"? Mandarin is much more differ from Cantonese, Fukienese and Wu language, but we claim them "Chinese Language". and some Cantonese, Fukienese letters are only used locally, but not the northern Chinese ppl, but we never say they r not part of chinese language.
    could we say croatian, bosnian, serbian r three dialects of the same language? just like german language in alsace and austria compare with those in north germany. ppl of there can't communicate in the daily life with each of their local language but no one say they r not german language.
  10. JLanguage Senior Member

    Georgia, US
    USA: American English, Learning Hebrew and Spanish
    You have to keep in mind that politics and other considerations have as much influence on the distinction between dialect and language as the similarities and differences between the languages.
  11. Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li! Member

    Czech | Czech Republic
    I've honestly never seen Belarusian classified as a West-Slavic language. Though from the little I have seen, I agree it appears to be more similar to Polish than to Russian in some respects.

    By the way, Belarusian has also been written with the Latin alphabet. Look up "Lacinka" on the web.
  12. Tchesko

    Tchesko Senior Member

    Paris 12
    I would claim the answer is no. The Mexicans speak MUCH slowlier than the Spanish! :)

    From my personal experience, the Chinese say Chinese is a single language, whereas Cantonese, Mandarin, etc. are dialects. However, there is a debate as to know whether Chinese is a language or a family of languages (see Wikipedia, article "Chinese"). Once again, this is partly a political issue...
  13. BBYM New Member

    Hong Kong
    Hong Kong/China English/Mandarin/Cantonese
    its merely a political issue, but more likely a cultural regconition. dialects in chinese involved sound differences but they use same characters...and mostly the same words. although some people use different words, others can understand dat easily....because the chinese characters which form the words have their distinct meaning.
    two or three meaning together we have a word. others can guess the meaning from looking at the characters.
    e.g. glucose (i cant type chinese characters coz this forum doesnt support dat)
    in mandarin: pu tu tang
    in cantonese: po to tong
    "pu tu" and "po to" mean "grape", coz glucose was once extracted from grape
    "tang" and "tong" mean "sugar", coz glucose is sweet

    "dialect" in chinese would be much more differ each other in oral, but diffrent-placed chinese could communicate each other by writing, in the age that putonghua still not being standardized.

    politics should be away from science. if u found dat its true, then keep in mind........forget the rigmaroles from politicians

    do slavic languages have some words write in the same way but read differently?
  14. JLanguage Senior Member

    Georgia, US
    USA: American English, Learning Hebrew and Spanish
    As you know the written Chinese language is based on Mandarin Chinese. There is a big difference between a Cantonese person speaking the Mandarin written language with a Cantonese accent, and him speaking Cantonese.

    EDIT: This thread is starting to veer off-topic, unless we are to extend this thread's topic to include the discussion of dialect vs. language. Perhaps those posts should be spliced into a new thread? I'll leave it to Jana to decide as while this is my thread, in the end she is the moderator.
  15. Juri Senior Member

    Koper, near Trieste
    Let me add same curiosities about similarity or better the same ROOTS of slavic words.
    When a lady after a long shopping-day says in Ljubljana "Joj kako sem TRUDNA!" it means shi is very TIRED. As she says the same in Zagreb, people wil ask"How many months?"(are you PREGNANT)

    One can adorn a packet with a beautiful RIBBON in Slovenia = PENTLJA.
    The same word in Russia means HENGMAN'S SLIP KNOT.

    Worse than the celebrated english "friend words"!
  16. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    Just a little correction. This is called "false friends", bacause the same word means two completely different things in two languages. The examples yuou gave are perfect, since "false friends" do not exist only in English, but in all languages.
    trudna - slovenian - tired
    trudna - croatian/serbian - pregnant
  17. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    I actually pondered such a move, but I could not figure out a way to cut out a meaningful part while preserving the continuity of the original topic. I suggest that forer@s interested in a discussion about dialects and politics open a new thread in the Cultural forum, linking to this thread as a case study.

  18. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

  19. dell22 New Member

    I dont care how one classifies the languages and can say i do honestly admire their opinions but consider this. My parents are both Serbian and i was born in a town on the border of Bosnia and Croatia. My parents i guess then both speak "Bosnian", however we moved to Serbia when i was young and i ended up speaking Serbian. Now ... i understand my parents perfectly, i understand my family in Bosnia, friends from Croatia and etc. I often go back to all three countries either to visit family or go on vacatino on the Adriatic. From years of visiting all three countries i have not once ran into someone from either who could not understand me, not once could i not understand someone else, and not once could i not read a road sign. From that and from my own experience i can tell you its the same language, however when i travel to the different countries i knwo to expect a different dialect and proncounciatino of certain words, but this difference is so small and obvious that i couldnt imagine someone not understanding. for example the word for left in Serbian is "levo", while in Bosnian it is "lijevo" (pronounced lyehvo - the y making its constenant sound). Further, someone earlier mentioned that they might offend someone speaking a different dialect. I think that is complete nonsense, take Serbia for example, 100's of thousands of Serbs from Bosnia have fled as refugees and are not riticuled nor do they have problems getting around (i know this as some are my friends and family). Also we must consider hundreds of thousands if not millions of others that have been displaced, Croatians from Bosnia to Croatia, Serbs from Croatia into Serbia, Bosniaks into Croatia and etc. All three nations speak the three languages, why? Because not all Serbs are from Serbia, not all Bosniaks (Muslims) are from Bosnia, and not all Croatians are from Croatia. These people lived throughout former Yugoslavia and speaker as they did in their native surroundings ... Just my 2 cents a bit of a ramble, but please people its the same language.
  20. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    You're completely right. But I think this new division of this language to three(four???- I hear there ewill be aso Montenegrian!!) is of rather political than linguistic nature. Many people from Croatia and Bosinia insist on the fact that they speak different language from Serbian, and I find this topic very sensitive one. Therefore, I don't mind calling the language they speak as Croatian or Bosnian, if this makes those people happy, and I won't try to convince them that we speak one language, with different dialects, because I consider it stupid reason to start discussion... We had enough with all the horror we passed which started exactly with stupid nationalisms...
  21. Anna Mary Senior Member

    1 .Are Bosnian and Serbian spelled the same way when written with the Cyrillic alphabet?
    Yes they are.

    2. Is same orthography used for Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian when written with the Latin alphabet?
    no it is not, because Croatian and Serbian lang. have different spelling,for example S= lepo (nice) C= lijepo (nice) and there are many different words - S= hleb (bread) C= kruh , so we can not talk of the same language.

    3. Which is more prevalent in Bosnia and Serbia, the Cyrillic or Latin orthographies?

    4. Do all Bosnians and Serbians know both orthographies?
    I do not think so, because in the former Yugoslavia, you had to learn in school both cyrillic and Latin, but nowdays Serbian just use cyrillic, while Croatian Latin.This is a quite complicated thing.

    5. Can Croatians read the Bosnian and Serbian when written in Cyrillic?
    if they know cyrillic yes, but many don't.
  22. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    But as I said, since this is rather political than linguistic issue, I don't mind calling your language Croatian, if you prefer to be like this. I really don't. I think there are more important things in relation between two nations than this....
  23. dell22 New Member

    i gotta say its nerve racking to see certain responses. when it comes to any language from former yugoslavia the spelling is always the same as words are written exactly how they are pronounced.

    as for latin and cyrillic i think that has become a political thing nowadays. from living both in serbia and bosnia i can attest than the serbian parts of bosnia definetely use more cyrillic than serbia (on road signs and buildings). however everyone can read and write the latin script and its as essential as speaking the language. though even in serbian parts of bosnia international routes such as highways and motorways show both scripts all the time. in serbia its not uncommon to see one or the other, however from what i remmber you are most likely to see both. definetely on highways.

    as for croatians and bosniaks being to read cyrillic i would say that depends on age since of course the breakup croatians and bosniaks found no reason to learn cyrillic. anyone who has completed any primary school before the breakup would definetely know cyrillic. as i mentioned earlier i and most of my family were born in bosnia however all can read and write cyrillic along with latin, it was never anything special, just the way it is.
  24. Pedja New Member

    Uzice, Serbia
    Serbian, Serbia
    It is quite stragne to read some opinions here, stating that serbian and croatian language are different. That is not true, that is the same language. Tehre is more differences among soem dialects within the alnguage than between serbian and croatian.

    Real croatian language is actually very arhaic and spoken in narow area. What is now called croatian is actually serbian dialect which was spread in western balcan. It was even writeen in cyrillic and pre-cyrillic alphabet.

    Back in 18th century, when Croats and Serbs both gained cultural revolution it was matter of mutual ageement to recognize Serbian language as mean to make all divided Balcan slovene nations closer. Since Croats were familiar with latin alphabet they kept using it, and Serbs kept using cyrilic. But alphabet never made a difference. Language stayed the same with all its rules.

    After the WWII, new revolution came which marged two in one, caling it serbocroatian language, and it was obligatory to all to learn both cyrillic and latin alphabet. That stayed untill recent civil war in ex Yugoslavia.

    Nowadays, Croats learn latin, but Serbs still learn both cyrillic and latin, and they still speak the same language. Differencies are minor and everyone can understand everyone. Large number of different words are actually arhaic words from serbian that are still used in croatian language.

    Even now you cannot easily distinguish serbian and croatian language by dialect differencies because all dialects are used in both langages. Some are predominant in one, some in other, but they are still used in both.

    Bosnian is actually not a language. After muslims in Bosnia secessed they wanted to enlarge their difference from Serbs in any way including making their own language. So they made up bosnian which is in no way different from Serbian and Croatian. They declared latin as official alphabet just to make themselver mroe different from Serabs. The fact is that, before the civil war, Bosnia was the state where cyrillic alphabet was almost exclusively used, by the same muslim population.

    It does not matter what variation you know and use, you will be well understood everywhere in Balcan, starting from Slovenia and going all the way to the Macedonia.
  25. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    I respectfully disagree. I don't consider myself partisan in this issue, it's just an experience of an observer: A Croatian member prepared the welcome sticky both in Croatian and Serbian. She did an amazingly good job in the latter, and yet, a Serbian forera submitted a corrected version.

    Another interesting thread is here. The thread opener wanted to have something translated into Croatian. A Slovenian native gave it a try, and he was reasonably close. A Serbian forera corrected it, but a Croatian forera was able to find another mistake. If Slovenian, Croatian and Serbian were one language, I would assume they would have been able to pin down one correct version and to relegate the others to dialect forms.

    I am afraid that the enthusiasm of those who believe that all South Slavic languages are actually one language would peter out sooner or later if I randomly picked one, say Slovenian Bosnian (OK, Slovenian was a lapsus), and deleted the others from our welcome sticky.

    This is not to downplay the role of political emancipation in the process, neither do I want to dispute possible mixed forms in the border regions. But bygones are bygones; and the existence of a proto-Slavic language many centuries ago does not make Czech, Belarussian and Bulgarian dialects of one common (standard if you want) language. In the Balkans, the divergence of languages is undeniably recent, and it carries a lot of emotions for obvious reasons. But it is foolish to pretend that it does not exist.


    P.S. Pedja, please spell and capitalize properly; it would be so much easier to read. :)
  26. cadavir Member

    Vienna (Wien)
    Deutsch, Bosnisch, Croatian (Dalmatian dialect), English, learning French
    -Are Bosnian and Serbian spelled the same way when written with the Cyrillic alphabet?
    No! In the Bosnia&Herzegowina the offical letter is latin alphabet. Serbian language is "ekavica" and Bosnian/Croatian is "ijekavica".
    Becouse there are political conflicts in Bosnia&Herzegowina some still use Serbian as they Language thought they use latin alphabet and speak "ijekavica" not "ekavica". As far as I know Serbian language is writed in cyrillic or latin alphabet but it's 100% "ekavica". In Serbian language no one use "ijekavica" there is only Croatian or Bosnian. About 90% is latin alphabet in Bosnia&Herzegowina.

    - Which is more prevalent in Bosnia and Serbia, the Cyrillic or Latin orthographies?
    In Bosnia&Herzegowina latin alphabet is about 90%.

    - Do all Bosnians and Serbians know both orthographies?
    They should know.

    - Can Croatians read the Bosnian and Serbian when written in Cyrillic?
    When they know cyrillic alphabet.

  27. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    Jana, I do respect your opinion, but I think you got it all wrong. Nobody says that all Slavic languages are in fact one Slavic language, since all Slavic people do not have neither the same history nor culture. All of us developed through history in very different ways and with various influences, therefore it is ridiculous to say that all Slavic languages are the same in the same way in which all Romanic or all Germanic languages ARE NOT the same.
    The question is here in Serbian and Croatian, and you are again wrong, nobody ever claimed that they are same as Slovenian. Serbian and Croatian ARE the same language, different dialects, just as it is Spanish in Spain and Spanish in every and each country of Latin America. The corrections I made (because it was I who made corrections in the thread you give examples) are case corrections, and I corrected a Slovenian forero, who speaks Croatian/Serbian but as a FOREIGN language, evan though the mistakes he made could be very possibly made by an uneducated Serb or Croatian. Then, the correction a Croatian forera made to my correction, is really insignificant one. If I say Devojka or Djevojka, everyone will understand, the difference is only that if I say Djevojka, the one qho listens me will know I do not come from Serbia, I might come ffrom Croatia or Bosnia, and if I say Devojka then I for sure come from Serbia. And it is the same as a difference in pronunciation of C and Z in Spanish Spanish and Latin American Spanish. Spanish people pronounce it as English THE, and Latin Americans as S. Whatever you pronounce these letters, you will speak Spanish, and not Argentinian or Peruvian or Maxican.
    The unfortunate thing with Serbian/Croatian is that there is one language called in two diffrent ways, I would even porpose to say to call Serbian and Croatian dialects of some nameless language.
    The difference that is insisted upon lately IS of very political reason, and as I really consider this stupid reason to have endless discussions that go nowhere, I am do call the language of Croats Croatian, and I do respect the differences of theirs from Serbian, like that J or preference to use infinitive rather than DA + present. But then, if you tell me that in all Czech Republic the Czech language is uniform in all territory, then I would admit that Croatian is a completely different language. Otherwise, how come I understand everything they say???
    PS: And I also correctesd the sticky, since it was obvious that it was written by a Croatian person, and since everyone is insisting so much in difference between Serbian and Croatian, I hed to do it. Otherwise, I wouldn't mind to leave it just as it was. By the way, if you remember, with every correction I also put what is wrong, and in almos every correction I put something like: this is how Croatian would say. Serbians say like this....
    Two ways of saying the same thing. And both understandable to the other side.
  28. Maja

    Maja Senior Member

    Binghamton, NY
    Serbian, Serbia
    Well, when we were living in the same country (former SFRY), the language was called Serbo-Croatian, but after the country's division into several separated countries (former Republics), we "split" it into Serbian and Croatian. Although most words and grammar are the same. We can understand each other WITHOUT difficulty, meaning no interpreter/translator needed, which is not the case with other Slavic languages (for example: although Bulgarian and Serbian are similar in many aspects, one still needs a translator).
    On the other hand there are NO Bosnian or Montenegrin language. And there never were.

    Answers to questions:
    1 No, because there are some differences in pronunciation. We had three - "ekavski izgovor" (in Serbia), "ijekavski" (Montenegro, Croatia and BiH) and "ikavski" (Croatian cost).
    Example: mleko, mlijeko, mliko (means milk).

    2. No (same as above).

    3. In Bosnia I think Latin alphabet, the Republic of Srpska Cyrillic, and in Serbia both, but Cyrillic is the primary one.

    4. Serbs yes, people who live in the Republic of Srpska also yes, dunno for those in Bosnia.

    5. Most of them yes because it was obligatory to know Cyrillic and Latin alphabet when we lived in the same country. Younger post-war-generations probably not.

    Hope this helps :)

    p.s. Nataša, narečja (dialect) are: čakavsko, kajkavsko and štokavsko!
  29. Pedja New Member

    Uzice, Serbia
    Serbian, Serbia
    It may look different in your foreigner eyes but for us, that is the same language. Actually, Croatian and "Bosnian" translations are still full of errors, so I guess they were written by someone who is not quite good in languages. It is obvious that "Bosnian" translation was copied from croatian and he altered it a bit. It was obviously done by someone who wants to present "Bosnian" language different from Serbian. I've been in Bosnia so many times before the civil war, and I never heard someone speaking like that, except if he was Croat.

    Historical fact is that Bosnia was always populated by Serbian inhabitants, and that did not change even when Turks occupied this area and made them Muslims. They spoke Serbian then and they speak it now. Until civil war, they even used cyril alphabet.

    You cannot make paralell among development of antient slavic language and development of Croatian from Serbian which took part in very recent history. It simply was not enough time to make a difference. When you look at "Bosnian" language, it would be that language developed in just ten years.

    The first translation was obviously done by someone who does not know language well. It was wrong, althrough pretty close to correct translation. The second one just corrected mistakes, but it used ekavica. Third one was just minor correction regarding the fact that Croatioan language uses ijekavica.

    That is just the way how old letter jat was transformed in modern language. In Croatian, ijekavica and ikavica are predominant, in Serbian ekavica and ijekavica are predominant. Transformation is so clear that you can easily have computer to "translate" from one form to other, and in Serbian it does not mattter what form you use. It just shows what area you originate from.

    That is pretty loose interpretation. Noone claims that all south slavic languages are the same, because they are not. They are similar to Serbian and Croatian in the same way as other Slavic languages and no more than that.

    The only "problem" is among Serbian and Croatian which are the same language, and that is scientific and historical fact, which is constantly being negated due to political reasons.

    You cannot say they are different languages as you cannot say that british, american and australian languages are different. This is exactly the same kind of difference.

    Historical fact is that some 200 years ago, Croatians spoke cakavski and kajkavski dialect, but stokavski (spoken mostly by Serbs who lived there in larger number) prevailed. When Croats started their process of forming independent nation, they volontairely took Serbian as basic of their language as that was strong enough to give them national identity. It was not hard thing to do, since their language and Serbian were the forms of the same language and thus very similar. It was just that their form was spoken by small population.

    Unfortunately, romantic view of brotherhood among so similar people vanished in time.

    There was one big issue: Croats were catholic, and Serbs were orthodox. Catolic church does not tolerate orthodox religion, so they instumented Croats against Serbs. Under its influence process of differentitation started and it is still going on. Direct result is that most of the Serbis who were predominand inhabitants in nowaday Croatia are expelled, killed or converted to catholic religion. It happened in three massive waves: under the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, during the WWI, under the Croatian state during the WWII and in recent civil war.

    Now, it is almost offical, that everyone who is catholic is considered to be Croat and everyone who is orthodox is considered to be Serb, and that is basis for claims for separate languages. Truth is different. Large number of nowadays Croats are actualy Serbs who were forcefully converted to catholic religion. They stil speak the same language as before, therefore they cannot be basis for forming of new Croatian language.

    Today, it is even worse. Now, there are claims that everything that was writen in latin characters is Croatian language. It goes that far that they even claim as Croatian all writers and scientsts who were without question Serbs (not just by fact of birth, but they claimed themselves in that way), because they were botn on the ground of nowadays Croatioa, or they spoke language variant that is more common to one spoken in Croatia.

    Well, that is how Croatian language become.

    This is good example how today's language policy in Bosnia works. They make such claims which have no support in history and science, and they just make people who do not have good knowledge, believe them.

    Look what you said: "some still use Serbian". Do you know what it means? It means that even you recognize that there was or is Serbian language in use but there is intention and policy to change that fact.

    Latin alphabet was made official by muslim gouvernment, which does everything to minimise serbian cultural and hitorical presence in Bosnia. They even do not regard that Serbs constituted largest population in Bosnia before they were killed or expelled, or forcefully converted to muslim religion.

    The fact is that, before the civil war, when people were free to use any alphabet they wanted, most used cyrillic, even Muslims.

    Claim that ekavica belong to Serbs and ijekavica to Muslims and Croats is just an fine example of your ignorance. The first books written in modern Serbian were writen in ijekavica, as it was the most used form of the language at that time.

    Later, it was decided to switch to ekavica and in time it became most used. Even today there are some regions in Croatia and Bosnia where people who do not see themselves as Serbs, do use ekavica. Also, there are regions in Serbia where ijekavica is used by Serbs.

    The form of language that one uses, is not result of his nationality, but the region where he lives.

    Why should people give up ther cultural herritage just to match others? The point is that living together means to live in peace, respect each others differencies, and to keep not just your own herritage, but other's too.

    Serbian language has the advantage that it uses latin and cyril alphabet equally. One can use whichever alphabet he wants or which suits occasion. the fact that you decided to use just one alphabet, does not make your language different.
  30. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    Dear friends,

    As you have probably noticed, this thread was out of sight for a while. The discussion turned rather nasty while I was offline. I am sorry that I had to intervene ex post.

    I deleted a large number of posts that were at odds with our mission and rules.
    I deleted indiscriminately. To preserve continuity, I also deleted decent replies to unacceptable posts.

    Specifically, the tone some of you used was inflammatory and not very respectful of others. Such behavior won't be condoned.

    I am restoring this thread in good faith: It remains open for your contributions. However, I am determined to close it if it gets out of hand again.

    When posting, you should bear the following in mind:

    This forum does not want to be another battlefield of the Balkan wars. We are primarily a language forum although we have a fair share of political discussions in the Cultural forum. This subforum and this thread, however, are devoted to languages. While there is a political dimension to this issue, many of you drifted away from the topic completely.

    Obviously, being off topic was not the main issue here. It is totally inappropriate to accuse people you have never seen of being on a par with mass murderers. It is also inappropriate to denigrate nations and to obstinately insist that other people are in fact members of your nation although they don't feel they are.

    Also, when you want to dispute a claim of other forum members, the proper words to use are "I respectfully disagree", "I beg to differ", "I don't think you are right", not "you are silly" and "what you say is so infantile".

    Last but not least, this thread was started by an English native, and is of general interest. It is a matter of common courtesy to stick to English. Posts in other languages will be deleted regardless of content.

    Thank you for your understanding. :)

  31. cadavir Member

    Vienna (Wien)
    Deutsch, Bosnisch, Croatian (Dalmatian dialect), English, learning French
    Bosnia&Herzegovina is Independent State and always was (even in Ex-Yugoslavia, as SRBiH), and there is Bosnian Language as language of citizens of Bosnia&Herzegovina.

  32. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    Now that we've heard opinions of both sides on whether or not it was a civil war and on the ethnic composition of Bosna, I would like ask everyone not to bring up these topics again in this language thread.


  33. Maja

    Maja Senior Member

    Binghamton, NY
    Serbian, Serbia
    Well, after reading some of the answers I have to change my previous answers 1. and 2. into YES, because I probable misunderstood the question. I have to agree with Nataša. The SAME word, written in both Cyrillic and Latinic, sounds totally the same because we go by the rule: "Write as you speak, read as it is written", meaning the words are exactly pronounced as they are written and vice versa.
    For the comparison of the Cyrillic alphabet (called Azbuka) and Latin alphabet (called Abeceda):

    А (A) Б (B) В (V) Г (G ) Д (D) Ђ (Đ) Е (E) Ж (Ž) З (Z) И (I ) Ј (J) К (K) Л (L) Љ (Lj) М (M) Н (N) Њ (Nj) О (O) П (P) Р (R) С (S) Т (T) Ћ (Ć) У (U) Ф (F) Х (H) Ц (C) Ч (Č) Џ (Dž) Ш (Š)
    (corresponding letters in Latinic are in brackets).

    It can be a bit confusing because some of the letters in Cyrillic are written the same as in Latinic but they stand for different sounds (like "B" is actually "V" and not "B" as in bottle).

    Hope this helps!
  34. Stormwoken Member

    Novi Sad, Serbia & Montenegro
    I thought of typing my opinion, but it would, for the most part, be a repetition of what natasha2000 (a voice of reason in this thread) already said.

    Although it`s an undeniable fact that it`s incomparably easier for people from Zagreb and Novi Sad to understand each other than it is for, say, a Texan and a Cockney, one cannot be denied the right to speak whatever language they want. If you understand them all, good for you. You can always brag about speaking 7 of them (this is a light-hearted way of looking at it, I`m not too serious) ;)

  35. janecito

    janecito Senior Member

    Γρανάδα, Ισπανία
    Slovene, Slovenia
    I just discovered this forum and right away come across this rather interesting discussion. I'm not an expert on the subject, so I'll limit myself to commenting on two details.

    You might change your mind if you walked into a grocery store in Croatia and wouldn't get bread for (mistakenly?) asking for a loaf of 'hleb' instead of 'kruh'. I'm speaking from a personal experience, so I know what vesna was trying to say (she was the one that mentioned what you're referring to). Of course, I know it has absolutely nothing to do with understanding (the lady understood me perfectly), but that doesn't really help you if you end up hungry. It would even be much easier for me to say 'kruh' as we use the same word in Slovene, but I was trying to make an (extra) effort and what do I get in return? From then on, I'm only using self-service supermarkets when I'm in Croatia. :) And I bet it would not be the same if I was a German tourist and said the same thing.

    Of course, I know that a vast majority of people is not like that and wouldn't mind selling me 'kruh' for 'hleb', but one such experience is enough to make you wonder 'Is it really worth making an effort to speak the language of the country you're in if this is the response you get?' I guess everyone comes to a different conclusion. I, personally, got reoriented to other languages.

    Cyrillic is one of two writing systems that were created exclusively for the Slavic language(s) (the other one being glagolitic alphabet). And not only can Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian be written in cyrillic (as well), every Slavic language can be written using this alphabet as it contains all the characters needed to represent all the sounds of the modern Slavic languages (including palatal and velar consonants, nasal sounds, semivocals etc.). I'm talking about the original (i.e. old) cyrillic and not about any of today variants (Serbian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Russian etc.). I, could just as well write in my language (Slovene) using cyrillic writing. Of course it is not according to today's Slovenian normative grammar (just like it wouldn't be in the case of Polish, Slovak, Croatian etc.) but could, theoretically be done. The fact that some Slavic nations gave up cyrillic has its roots in the cultural traditions (western Slavic countries, religion etc.), I'm guessing.
  36. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    Croatian CAN be written in cyrillic, without any problem. The thing is Croats chose NOT to use it. "Croatian" alphabet has the same letters as "Serbian" - 30 letters. You can see it from Maja's last post

    I would give you example in words, but my keybord does not have cyrillic letters.
    The letters are the same, with the same pronunciation. "Croatian" letter is pronounced in the same way as "Serbian" letter - in the way Vuk Karadzic said: "Write as you speak, speak as it is written", which means, one letter, one sound, and the same sound no matter if the letter is at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of the word, no matter if it has vowels or consonants in front or behind it, T is always T, A is always A etc. This goes for Bosnian, too.

    Kruh or hleb, vlak or voz... One does not understand not because they can't but because they refuse to understand it. The difference is exactly the same as:

    lift - elevator
    pavement - sidewalk

    or in Spanish:
    patata - papa
    autobus - autocar - guagua - etc...
    charlar - platicar

    Someone mentioned the existence of J in some words:
    devojka - djevojka

    it is the same difference as in:
    armor - armour
    neighbor - neigbour
    gotten - got

    cacahuete - cacahuate


    As far as I know, this is not the case with Slovenian, Czeck or Polish...
    And yes, I agree with you. The most probable thing is that using latinic letters ia directly connected with catholic church, as well as the use of cyrillic with orthodox one, even though, recently I knew some examples of exceptions, such as Ukranian Greek Catholic church that use cyrillic letters, but then, I would dare to say this is the Greek influence. I assume that although there is also Polish ortodox church, Orthodox Polish people write like the Catholic ones - using latinic letters... Polish or other people who know better are welcome to correct me if I'm wrong.
  37. Maja

    Maja Senior Member

    Binghamton, NY
    Serbian, Serbia
    I agree that it is possible to write all Slavic languages in Cyrillic if there IS a corresponding Cyrillic sign for Latinic one (see my previous post). But that cannot be done with all the letters in every Slavic language because certain letters just don't have that corresponding Cyrillic letter (like W in Polish, etc.).
    And not every Cyrillic alphabet is the same (regarding the number of letters and existence of certain signs). For instance, there are "ћ, ђ, њ, љ" in Serbian and Croatian which Russians or Bulgarians do not have. And Russians use "ь, ы, э,й, ё, я, щ" that Serbs or Croats do not.
    So in that sense, Serbian and Croatian are absolutely the same, as they both have THE SAME 30 letters (as Nataša already said).

  38. Juri Senior Member

    Koper, near Trieste
    As last straw: Not many people know that the English Bernard Shaw was very fond of the Cyrillic alphabet, which - he said- has for each sound corresponding sign.
  39. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    And some say he left a fortune for the one who invents spelling rules for English... :) The example he gave was that the word FISH can be also written as GHOTI.
    GH is read as F in enouGH
    TI as SH in all words finishing in TION - celebraTIon
    there was an example for O too, but I forgot it.

    I think that we owe a lot to Vuk Karadzic. If Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian language has a very difficult grammar, at least it is very easy to learn how to read and write it...
  40. Juri Senior Member

    Koper, near Trieste
    I'm still angry with linguists of Napoleon's Illiric age, who didn't engage themselves in unite and non separate the south Slavic languages!!!
  41. janecito

    janecito Senior Member

    Γρανάδα, Ισπανία
    Slovene, Slovenia
    Exactly what I was saying only in a more general, Slavic context – every Slavic language CAN be written using Cyrillic alphabet without any problem, but some nations have chosen NOT to and opted for Latin alphabet. I'm sure the religion was a key factor here, but it is still a nation's chose. That means that if Slovene, Croatian, Polish etc. use Latin writing it is because they're mostly Catholic and Catholic church is based on Latin (language and therefore alphabet). If there're other religions present, that, of course, does not change anything once the norm has been established and accepted by the nation as such. There are Muslims present in Slovenia and that doesn't mean that those couple of hundreds will write in Slovene using Arabic alphabet. I even think that if all Slovenian Catholics were to convert to Orthodox Church, the Cyrillic alphabet wouldn't be (re)introduced due to all the Slovenian tradition (literature etc.) that is based on this writing system. I said 'reintroduced' because we have to remember that the first written texts on any Slavic territory were written in Cyrillic (on the other hand, of course, at that time the separate Slavic languages haven't been formed to such an extent yet that would allow us to talk about different national languages; they were probably still just different dialects based on the uniform Old Church Slavonic and influenced by regional speeches).

    No need to give me examples, cause I learnt Cyrillic in my sebo-croatian classes in school and we had to 'translate' Latin into Cyrillic all the time. So, I know that it is possible. But it would probably look something like this:

    kruh > крух
    hleb > хлеб

    Correct me if I did it wrong it's just that I'm more used to Russian Cyrillic than Serbian and sometimes I get confused.

    But to demonstrate my point, I could also write Slovene using the same alphabet (i.e. 'limiting' myself to only the letters of Serbian Cyrillic alphabet), because there isn't a single letter in Slovenian alphabet that wouldn't be included in Serbian Cyrillic alphabet as well. Let's do some Prešeren translation:

    Žive naj vsi narodi, ki hrepene dočakat dan... > Живе наj вси народи, ки xрепене дочакат дан...

    I think we should distinguish here between the language (pronunciation, grammar rules, vocabulary, pragmatics) on one hand and the way it is written on the other. The fact that the two languages in question are written using different alphabets as absolutely nothing to do with the possibility that they might be 'the same' (for the sake of an argument let's suppose they are, but I really don't want to initiate any politically based emotions). I for one was taught serbo-croatian and I always perceived it as one language

    It is not a question of signs, it's a question of sounds. There must be corresponding Cyrillic letters to mark all the sounds of all the Slavic languages. And there are. The Polish W is just the Polish way of marking the sound [v] that is present in all Slavic languages and therefore has a corresponding Cyrillic letter (в). The sounds represented by the Polish W and by the (Serbian, Bulgarian, Russian, Macedonian, Ukrainian etc.) Cyrillic letter B are exactly the same.

    I absolutely agree and that's what I said too – it wasn't the problem of understanding it was the attitude problem of the shop-assistant and some other people. I'm sure most of the people are not like that and wouldn't have a problem 'understanding' me, but that experience made me tend to avoid speaking (Serbo-)Croatian when in Croatia. If possible I use English, if not, I opt for Slovene. My girlfriend had a similar experience a couple of years ago when the simple fact of being a female saved her from getting beaten up for saying 'drug' ('друг') instead of 'prijatelj' (приjатељ). I really didn't want to bring this up again as it is purely a political and nationalist issue and has absolutely nothing to do with languages, I just wanted to comment on your observation. But you're right, for a native Croatian or Serbian speaker there's no excuse for not understanding, a foreign, on the other hand, might run into problemс here.

    Anyway, that's how I see it. Some of it is my personal opinion and experience and some of it is based on facts. I also think that we agree more than we dare to admit, though I get a feeling that sometimes we're not talking about the same things.
  42. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    I wasn't referring to you at all, just used one of your sentences that inspired me for my reply. In general, you and I agree in all issues, but one.

    I wouldn't say that ALL Slavic languages can be written in cyrillic, because if we take your system that it is the matter of sounds and not letters, then ALL languages and not only Slavic ones can be written in cyrillic letters, which is, you must admit, a foolish thing to claim. There ARE different letters in different languages' alphabets and there is a reason for it (historical and linguistical one, of course). Try to tell A Czech or a Polish people that they can write their languages in cyrillic, and you'll see what they will tell you. It is as if you tried to write English, German, Spanish using cyrillic. Furthermore, if you tried to do that, then you should invent cyrillic letters for the letters these languages already have, and there is no corresponding cyrillic letter in any of cyrrilic alphabets that exist (Russian, Serbian, Bulgarian, etc.). I really do not know anything about Slovene, I don't even know if Slovene obeys the Karadzic rule "one letter one sound", so I cannot claim nor I want to discuss this subject with you, considering you are native Slovene, so you should know better.
    But as far as other Slavic languages are concerned..... I don't think so. Each language has its own alphabet, and you cannot simply change it for a different one.
  43. janecito

    janecito Senior Member

    Γρανάδα, Ισπανία
    Slovene, Slovenia
    hit the roof
    No problem, I didn't take it personally. And I did the same – I simply took a couple of your sentences to base my reply on.
    I'm glad we agree on most of the topics and as to the last one...

    I'm sorry, but I have to strongly disagree with you here. There are many, many sounds in many, many different languages that are not present in any of the modern Slavic languages and were not present in Old Church Slavonic either and therefore there're no corresponding Cyrillic letters to mark them. Let's take only nasal vowels for instance. Old Church Slavonic only had two (sounds and corresponding letters) – nasal O and nasal E, that of all Slavic languages have only been preserved in modern Polish (and are written today as ą and ę). Ą is just a graphical representation, but phonetically we are talking about nasal O. Portuguese on the other hand has 5 nasal vocal (not counting the nasal diphthongs that exist in this languages) that are completely unknown to any of the modern Slavic languages as well as the today extinct Old Church Slavonic and therefore cannot be represented by any of the letters of cyrillic alphabet. And you can find examples like that in any language of any other language group but Slavic. Sounds that simply cannot be written using Cyrillic because of the lack of corresponding letters.

    On the other hand, every single Slavic language that has adopted Latin writing system had to invent new letters to enable the Latin alphabet to mark all the sounds of that language (Slovene: čšž, Polish: żśóąęń, Croatian: čšžđć, etc.). No such adaptations would be necessary in Cyrillic alphabet, because all this letter already exist in it. And actually some of different inventions of different Slavic languages represent the same sound: Polish ń represents the same sound as Croatian nj, etc.

    What do think it would happen? They would probably hit the roof, but that would be expected to their resent history. There were even (documented) intents in the past to force Cyrillic alphabet upon this nation. Done, of course, by the Soviets. I would perfectly understand them if they went crazy. But, again, that would be purely for political reasons and would have nothing to do with the language.

    Besides, every Slavic language using Latin alphabet is proud of their special Latin letters and wouldn't want to lose them for anything, but this letters were invented when the Cyrillic alphabet was abolished and the Latin one was exepted to compensate for the lack of corresponding letters in Latin alphabet.

    As I said there are many sounds in non Slavic languages that do not have corresponding graphical representation in Cyrillic alphabet, therefore this would be impossible without (as you said yourself) inventing new Cyrillic letters.

    I know Slovene, but unfortunately I'm not too familiar with the Karažić rule. If it says one letter one sounds, then it's true for Slovene too, but if it is 'write as you speak' then it's not. The same Slovenian letter does not always have the same phonetical outcome (is not always pronounced the same) depending on the context (but it always represents ONE sound).

    Now, I'm not saying that all Slavic languages should go back to using Cyrillic. Of course not! After all, Cyrillic isn't my 'native' alphabet either. I'm just saying that it would be theoretically possible.

    I 100% agree with you. Nobody is trying to change anything. Today's situation is the result of hundreds of years of tradion and history. What I wanted to say was that Cyrillic alphabet still has the necessary letters to represent all the sounds of modern Slavic languages and that goes for Polish and Slovak as well as for Croatian. They simply don't use cyrillic.
  44. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    Unfortunatelly, I don't have enough knowledge in Slavistics, so I cannot go on the discussion on this subject. Slavic languages (including Slovene), except the languages spoken in ex-Yugoslavia, are completely unknown for me. I have always been oriented towards Western European languages:(. Therefore, I am not properly "armed" to engage in this "battle":D :eek:

    Anyway, this would be a good subject for another thread, but not this one, since I feel we are going a little bit off topic here...:(
    I would really like to hear some other Slavic language speaker's opinion...
  45. janecito

    janecito Senior Member

    Γρανάδα, Ισπανία
    Slovene, Slovenia
    I agree with you. I only mentioned this because there was a moment when someone tried to demonstrated the difference between Serbian and Croatian (and this is the topic of this thread) based on the fact that they use different alphabets. After all, Serbian still uses both alphabets and that doesn't mean that there are two different Serbian languages. So basically, I was just supporting your view. :) Not being the native speaker neither of Croatian, nor of Serbian, the writing was the only thing I could comment on regarding this topic.

    As to the knowledge of the Slavic languages, I personally only speak Slovene too, and some Russian. I'm currently living in Poland, so I'm in contact with this language, but don't really speak it yet (hopefully this changes soon :) ). I did study some basics of the general Slavic linguistics though and that's where I mostly got that from. The sentence 'All modern Slavic languages can be written using the original (!!!) Cyrillic and Glagolitic alphabet. (these are the only two originally Slavic alphabets that were created specially for the Slavic needs) was not my invention. But nobody, of course, is trying to say it would be best (for, let's say, Slovene) if we started using Cyrillic.

    The original old Cyrillic, of course also differs a bit from the different variants of modern Cyrillic alphabets, but not much. If anyone is interested, there are plenty of sites on the Internet that cover this topic. Unfortunately, I don't have 30 posts posted yet, so I'm not allowed (yet) to post links to other sites. :) Interesting politics (of the forum).

    natasha2000, you're a great person to argue with. :) I mean argue as 'to give the reasons for your opinion, idea, belief, etc.' not argue as 'to speak angrily to someone, telling them that you disagree with them'. So, that was a compliment.
  46. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

  47. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)

    I linked to this article in another discussion. It mentions Serbian and Croatian and their writing systems, as well as other languages which are or were written with the Cyrillic alphabet. I thought it was an interesting overview.
  48. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    There are some things I agree and some not.

    It was not conviction. It was a fact. It is, still.

    More from Croatian side than from Serbian...

    Again, more from Croatian side than from Serbian... There is a bunch of neo-croatian words, invented after the destruction of Yugoslavia. Serbian language remained the same as it was before. No new "Serbian words" are invented.

    I hear for this for the first time in my life. If I understand it well, it means that in Bosnia people wrote using Arabic letters???? May I remind that we were under Turquish empire, not Arabic one. It seems to me illogical to have any arabic influence (except through Turquish culture) since no Arabs were ever in the Balcans soil.

    Typical. superficially "informed" the US gouvernment.:rolleyes:

    Well, sorry to say, but this text, as far as this, Serbo-Croatian subject is concerned, does not bring anything knew, I would dare to suggest it even misleads a serious reader.

  49. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    There aren't many facts in these matters, IMHO. Only opinions.

    Turkish itself was written in the Arabic script until the early 20th century.
  50. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member


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