Do uneducated native speakers Serbian really fail to use cases correctly?

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Michalko

Member
Slovak - Slovakia
A Serbian woman on Quora told me uneducated native speakers of Serbian fail to use cases correctly, making errors like those who learned it as a second language, to the point on incomprehensibility? Is that really true? I asked her if she comes from southern Serbia (where this could be explained by the presence of native Torlakian speakers [which is part of the Balkan Sprachund and has grammar in-between Serbian and Bulgarian, with 0-3 cases) trying to speak standard Serbian), but no, she is not from southern Serbia. How could this be the case? I mean, children here in Slovakia know how to use cases as toddlers, from the time they start to speak in full sentences, long before they know what a "case" is, before they learn to pronounce r and l properly, and certainly before any "education", and most people who ever spoke a highly inflected language in history were completely uneducated and illiterate. So what is going on? Or is the woman wrong and what she describes is just some sort of severe diglossia present in some Serbian region?
 
  • Hachi25

    Member
    Serbo-Croatian
    Of course they don't, I don't know why she told you something like that.

    Nobody is perfect and native speakers may very well make errors when speaking, which includes occasional misuse of cases. That happens and it is completely normal that it happens, especially when speaking quickly or under heavy influence of emotions. But to say that "uneducated native speakers of Serbian fail to use cases correctly to the point on incomprehensibility" is a complete exaggeration, and I'm not sure what would even be the point of making such a claim.
     

    Zec

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    That's actually quite a common sort of exaggeration here: people have a very prescriptivist outlook on language, and tend to lament minor spelling/grammar mistakes as "not knowing how to speak your own language".
     

    ibogi

    Member
    Serbia - Serbian
    The languages that belong to Balkan Sprachbund are marked by merging of cases. This is so for standard Macedonian, standard Bulgarian, to my knowledge standard modern Greek, a bit to standard Serbian (e.g. singular D / L are merged, plural D / I / L are merged) but also for some dialects of Serbia, notably those in the south and central Serbia. Here is the extract from the famous novel Petrijin Venac written completly in Kosovo-Resava dijalect:

    Nisam u početku ništa u kafanu (stand. kafani) umela da radim, došla sam obučena što sam najbolje umela, al po seljački; rat se tek bio završio, šta je tad u selo (s. selu) za obukuvanje (s. obuku) i bilo? Taj čovek, Ljubiša se zvao, odma me u duge aljine obuko, opanci (s. opanke) mi izuo, cipele nazuo, kosu iseko i andulirao, maramu skinuo. Naučio me šta i kako da radim, kako gosti (s. goste) da služim ... S ljudi (s. ljudima) me taj čovek naučio da zborim, a ne sam', ko ono u Višnjevicu (s. Višnjevici), u zemlju da gledam.

    As you see it is different, but I would not say incomprehensible.
     

    toocool

    Member
    Croatian
    Different, yes but far from incomprehensible, on the contrary. People tend to state all sort of things on Quora.Still, to say that uneducated native speakers of Serbian fail to use cases correctly is a lie, pure and simple.After all, who knows what her motives were to make such a claim.Zec and Milan are right.
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    ...A Serbian woman on Quora told me uneducated native speakers of Serbian fail to use cases correctly, making errors like those who learned it as a second language, to the point on incomprehensibility? ...
    I can't answer the question, but if this were true then no case system (declension) could survive in the Slavic languages at all because some hundreds of years ago almost everybody was uneducated and thousands of years ago everybody was illiterate ...

    In my opinion, if in the spoken language of the natives the case endings are casually omitted or used differently as in the literary one, then it indicates rather a certain trend of evolution of the (regional) language, independently on education.
     
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    NevenaT

    Senior Member
    Serbian/Croatian
    Kind of, it's that peasants in the south and east didn't really have to use cases among their own folk. I'm not from these regions myself, but have met many people who are and who are also highly educated (lawyers, doctors etc.). These people use all the cases in formal situation and when speaking with other people who use the standard dialect, but among their friends they tend to not use cases.
    I don't want to compare apples and oranges here, but it's as if an American person knew that 'ain't' is not grammatical, but still used it when in relaxed, informal settings.
    My answer is actually: yes, but they are not always uneducated, nor are they unaware of not using the cases.
    Also in almost all the regions in the west, south and east people don't stress words properly! This is even worse since it's funny to hear them speak, but they do learn at school that it's not standard to speak like that. However, nobody really uses the standard accent patterns in these areas, not even in formal settings.
    The standard Serbian accent is spoken in central and northern Serbia.
     
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    fofonoodles

    Senior Member
    Serbian - Serbia
    That's a false claim. I'm from the south of Serbia and we know how to use every case properly. However, we tend to do that only in formal situations or when we're speaking to someone older. When we're with friends, we often use cases "incorrectly" as well as accents, but that's just the local dialect. I believe this is called diglossia.
     

    Милан

    Senior Member
    Serbian (Србија)
    Also in almost all the regions in the west, south and east people don't stress words properly! This is even worse since it's funny to hear them speak, but they do learn at school that it's not standard to speak like that. However, nobody really uses the standard accent patterns in these areas, not even in formal settings.
    The standard Serbian accent is spoken in central and northern Serbia.

    Please tell me you are joking! Did you just say that almost all the regions in the west don't stress words properly but at the same time people from central Serbia and northern Serbia miraclously stress them better? LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL

    You are basically claiming that a person from Subotica or Belgrade stress the words better than a person from Loznica, Užice or Valjevo...
     
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