Serbo-Croat-Bosnian (BCS): li vs da li

Zdravo!


When I was studying Serbo-Croat, years ago, we were told that there are two constructions to use in questions: da li .(verb). and (verb)... li

We were told that they are more or less equally common and we can use either withoyt any detriment to either meaning or style. However, I have been noticing recently that the (verb).... li construction is being increasingly used and I hardly ever meet "da li". Is it becoming obsolete or is it used differently in reality?
 
  • Hole

    Senior Member
    Croatia - Croatian
    In Croatian li is more commonly used, but to tell you the truth, I don't know why. Some say that da li is Serbian and they avoid using it, but I don't know, I use both. If you speak Croatian, it is maybe better to use li, but as far as I know, both are correct.
     

    (Infant)ry

    Banned
    Croatia, Croatian
    Yes both are correct but avoid using da li because it`s Serbian language and there are few significant differences between them P.S( we utterly hate the Serbs:rolleyes:),You can`t use li alone in compound tenses (only in present), it requires je. If you want to form a question us something like this, ex; je li (on) kupio kruh (did he buy bread), present ex.; je li (on) kupuje hruh (does he buy bread) or kupuje li on kruh. P.S.2 The form je li is more common than li both in spoken and written Croatian.
     
    Yes both are correct but avoid using da li because it`s Serbian language and there are few significant differences between them P.S( we utterly hate the Serbs:rolleyes:),You can`t use li alone in compound tenses (only in present), it requires je. If you want to form a question us something like this, ex; je li (on) kupio kruh (did he buy bread), present ex.; je li (on) kupuje hruh (does he buy bread) or kupuje li on kruh.


    Hmm, interesting. I have never heard the "je li on kupuje" one in present... Is it also purely Croatian? I can well believe that you hate Serbs because I have witnessed examples of how desperately they hate you:D

    Poor foreigners like me who try to study the three languages and desperately confuse them at most inconvenient moments.
     

    (Infant)ry

    Banned
    Croatia, Croatian
    Nah, no matter, you should have us and the Serbs during the years 1991. to 1995. (patriotic war) and yes je li on kupuje kruh is purely Croatian, also it is more common than kupuje li (on) kruh.
     

    dudasd

    Senior Member
    Serbo-Croatian
    Je li on kupuje kruh

    It's usual, but considered to be colloquial because present tense (kupuje) can't stand with the auxillary verb je. It's also absolutely common in Serbian, though more often in its shortened version je l'.

    "Da li" and "verb + li" constructions are, more or less, equally present in both languages (at least in their written forms, I mean belles lettres at the first place). "Da li" is not that much used in Serbian (I am talking about written language again) because infinitive is generally less popular in Serbia, so one can happen to write such a sentence:

    "Da li hoćeš da odeš da vidiš?" (Do you want to go and see?),

    which is utterly "yuk" from the point of good style and taste. In Serbian it will normally be:

    "Hoćeš li otići da vidiš?"

    or in the worst case:

    "Hoćeš li da odeš da vidiš?" (this one can be tolerated in spoken language).

    Bosnia seems to prefer "verb+li" forms. "Is there any bread?" will be "Ima li kruha?" or "Ima li hljeba?". Also, Bosnian language still keeps the proper order of "li" + perfect, which has radically changed both in Croatian and Serbian. I mean the shortened version of it. An example:

    "Jesi li bio tamo?" ("Were you there?")
    Shortened versions (the most common ones):

    Bosnia:
    "Jesi l' bio tamo?"
    Serbia:
    "Je l' si bio tamo?" (This construction prevails in spoken language, and it's much, much more used that "da li" construction.)
    Croatia:
    "Jesi bio tamo?" (I never heard another option, "Je li si bio tamo?", but I can't exclude its possible existance.)

    And may we omit civil wars here, ladies and gentlemen? Because they have nothing with language.
     

    dudasd

    Senior Member
    Serbo-Croatian
    They do, but we should be those who are aware of that and avoid further misunderstandings. I am cherishing all the three of the languages in my own home, so it's possible to be above it. :) Thankfully. :)
     

    (Infant)ry

    Banned
    Croatia, Croatian
    Croatia:
    "Jesi bio tamo?" (I never heard another option, "Je li si bio tamo?":cross:, but I can't exclude its possible existance.)


    Je SI li bio tamo( please mind the order), jesi bio tamo is only used in spoken Croatian, precisely speaking it`s not totally grammatically correct, but acceptable. Oh you are avoiding further misunderstandings, I am cherishing all the three of the languages in my own home, so it's possible to be above it. Thankfully. (hm, I wonder how you do it and why).;), after all don`t forget your old saying; nemoj da nas zavade bre.
     

    Hole

    Senior Member
    Croatia - Croatian
    Je li on kupuje kruh? is colloquial and NOT correct in formal language. You can use it in slang. And we don't all hate Serbs! Personally, I have nothing against them.
     

    dudasd

    Senior Member
    Serbo-Croatian
    Je SI li bio tamo

    Please mind the rule that "jesi" is always written as one word. ;) We don't want to confuse people who are learning C/S/B.

    And I am glad you still remember our good old proverb. As someone who is dealing with linguistics, I feel it's my duty to respect and know all of the languages mentioned above, and to transfer that knowledge to my children, so that they don't need a translator when they want to read Bosnian or Croatian writers, and also to communicate with their close relatives of different nations. But this is very off-topic; I gave my explanation and I hope I helped.
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    "Da li" and "verb + li" constructions are, more or less, equally present in both languages (at least in their written forms, I mean belles lettres at the first place).

    Croatian purists often claim that the da li form is specifically Serbian and therefore shouldn't be used in Croatian at all (they sometimes call it dalikanje). However, if you ask me, this is complete nonsense. Not only are da li forms widely used in Croatia, not only in speech but also in formal writing, but they are sometimes also the only way to form a question in a way that doesn't sound clumsy. For example, "da li bih mogao..." sounds far better to me than "bih li mogao...".

    Also, Bosnian language still keeps the proper order of "li" + perfect, which has radically changed both in Croatian and Serbian. I mean the shortened version of it. An example:

    "Jesi li bio tamo?" ("Were you there?")
    Shortened versions (the most common ones):

    Bosnia:
    "Jesi l' bio tamo?"
    Serbia:
    "Je l' si bio tamo?" (This construction prevails in spoken language, and it's much, much more used that "da li" construction.)
    Croatia:
    "Jesi bio tamo?" (I never heard another option, "Je li si bio tamo?", but I can't exclude its possible existance.)
    The non-standard ways of forming questions in the spoken language are pretty chaotic and vary greatly across geographical regions, often under strong influences of the local dialects. I would say that in many everyday situations, using the standard forms (either inversion + li or the da li forms) sounds too formal and bookish. (This of course depends on the circumstances.)

    For example, in Northwestern Croatia, including Zagreb, people often use kaj as the question marker -- "Kaj si [ti] bio/bil tamo?" is often used with the meaning "Were you there?" rather than "What were you there?" (the intonation is different for those two meanings, of course). You'll often hear this even from people whose speech isn't influenced by Kajkavian that much overall. Sometimes I even hear people using šta in the same way (i.e. using "Šta si [ti] bio tamo?" with the same meaning). This could be either due to Shtokavians moving into Kajkavian areas and analogizing with Kajkavian, or due to Kajkavians' imperfect acquisition of the Shtokavian grammar.

    Overall, this is a very complicated issue when it comes to the everyday spoken language. The choice between different informal ways of making a question, including the issue of pronoun dropping, can often make subtle differences in the tone of the question. But I think that only very, very advanced learners should try to tackle those issues. :)
     

    mentesobremateria

    New Member
    Croatia, croatian
    Ne mogu vjerovati koje vi gluposti valjate ovdje po forumu!!! Koje DA LI u hrvatskom???? Ja ovdje živim 25 godina (od rođenja) i valjda bolje znam... To je tako pogrešno i nikada za nikada to nisam čuo.

    Hello, I will try to answer your question, since I saw many false facts here in this thread.

    SERBIAN: you use "DA LI .... " when you form a question. "(verb)+LI" is also used but less frequently.

    CROATIAN: use "(verb)+LI" when forming a question. "DA LI..." is grammatically not correct in Croatia and as such extremely rarely used!!!

    Examples: Is he buying? - Serbian: Da li on kupuje? Croatian: Kupuje li on?

    One other thing: DA in Croatian has 2 usages: The first is to say "yes", and I'll explain the other with an example.

    I want him to go - Serbian/Croatian: Zelim da ode.
    I want to go - Serbian: Zelim da odem. Croatian: Zelim otici. (infinitive)

    You see that in croatian you cannot use 2 conjugations in the same person in one sentence!!! (in this example Zelim and Odem)

    The same thing happens in German: Ich will dass er geht. Ich will gehen.
    In German it is also odd to say "Ich will dass ich gehe"
    In Serbian it is perfectly OK, but in Croatian it is false.

    I hope I was able to help.
     

    dudasd

    Senior Member
    Serbo-Croatian
    Can you list the names of the sources/authorities you are taking your conclusions from? According to you, 90% of the best Croatian writers are illiterate.

    Ne mogu vjerovati koje kakve vi gluposti valjate ovdje po forumu!!!

    And may you use a bit more polite language in this forum, please? Plus you made a grammar mistake in that very sentence.
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    Can you list the names of the sources/authorities you are taking your conclusions from? According to you, 90% of the best Croatian writers are illiterate.

    I'd actually say the figure is closer to 100%. :) I'd be surprised to find anyone from Croatia who has ever penned anything worth reading in the last hundred years, and who hasn't used the "da li" constructions at least occasionally.

    Ne mogu vjerovati koje kakve vi gluposti valjate ovdje po forumu!!!
    And may you use a bit more polite language in this forum, please? Plus you made a grammar mistake in that very sentence.

    And not just this mistake. He (she?) is writing in some sort of modern vernacular Croatian dialect (the sample is too short to pinpoint which one exactly, though I'd guess Zagreb or some other place in the Northwest), with improvised orthography and punctuation of the sort commonly used in internet chatspeak. It is pretty ironic to see someone so manifestly incapable of following the basic norms of the written Crotian language, and yet arrogantly pontificating and lashing out at other people for failure to meet some prescriptivist standards concocted in the heads of hysterical purists divorced from reality. Unfortunately, the disastrous language policy that's been pursued in Croatia ever since its independence has made this a much too frequent phenomenon... :(
     

    dudasd

    Senior Member
    Serbo-Croatian
    Actually, "valjati" sounds pretty like Serbian new slang... A strange purist, yes. :)

    In addition to the excellent Athaulf's post, I am adding two purposely chosen excerpts from a) a scientific study of famous Croatian ethnologist and anthropologist Natko Nodilo, written and read on 19th of July 1884, which is significantly before unification of Serbo-Croatian, and b) Croatian translation of Bible from 1942 (I think that the year speaks by itself and excludes any impact of "Serbian").

    a) Da li po jeziku ne znam, no po običajima mi (...) jesmo najčistiji između Slavena, jer smo i najmanje napredni, te za njima ostadosmo kao po tragu.

    b) Levitski zakonik, 23:
    11 Ako li je živinče nečisto, pa se ne može žrtvovati Gospodu, neka se to živinče donese pred svećenika.
    12 Svećenik ima ga onda ocijeniti, da li je dobro ili loše. Kako ga ocijeni svećenik, tako neka ostane.
    13 Ako ga hoće otkupiti, onda neka još pridometne peti dio od procjene.
    14 Ako netko kuću svoju po sveti Gospodu kao sveti dar, neka je ocijeni svećenik, da li je dobra ili loša. Kako je ocijeni svećenik, tako neka ostane.

    I think these two are quite enough, otherwise we may spend ages in writing down thousands and millions of examples. :)
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    CROATIAN: use "(verb)+LI" when forming a question. "DA LI..." is grammatically not correct in Croatia and as such extremely rarely used!!!

    Examples: Is he buying? - Serbian: Da li on kupuje? Croatian: Kupuje li on?

    Extremely rarely? You'll find it in the works of just about any writer who ever wrote anything in modern standard Croatian. You'll also find it in all sorts of formal writing (just google for some typical questions starting with "da li" and limit the search to the pages of various Croatian newspapers and magazines). As for the actual spoken language, the informal vernacular forms mentioned in the earlier posts are probably more frequent than either "da li" or inversion + "li".

    One other thing: DA in Croatian has 2 usages: The first is to say "yes", and I'll explain the other with an example.

    I want him to go - Serbian/Croatian: Zelim da ode.
    I want to go - Serbian: Zelim da odem. Croatian: Zelim otici. (infinitive)

    You see that in croatian you cannot use 2 conjugations in the same person in one sentence!!! (in this example Zelim and Odem)
    For someone eager to give lessons and pronouncements on linguistic matters with such an assertive and authoritative tone, the accuracy of your grammatical terminology leaves something to be desired. :rolleyes: But more importantly, in reality, the use of such constructs in Croatian is a subtle matter of style, despite their frequent blanket condemnations by the same sort of purists divorced from reality that I often criticize.

    Yes, the use of "da" + present in a subordinate clause that could instead be headed by infinitive will sometimes make your sentence sound very Serbian to a Croatian audience. However, exorcising such constructs altogether would require you to ditch just about the whole Croatian literary tradition as hopelessly Serbianized. Out of all those fanatical purists that lash out on people for using this or that "Serbian" feature of vocabulary or grammar, I have yet to see a single one who has ever actually produced a worthwhile piece of writing in Croatian.
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    Actually, "valjati" sounds pretty like Serbian new slang... A strange purist, yes. :)

    In addition to the excellent Athaulf's post, I am adding two purposely chosen excerpts from a) a scientific study of famous Croatian ethnologist and anthropologist Natko Nodilo, written and read on 19th of July 1884, which is significantly before unification of Serbo-Croatian, and b) Croatian translation of Bible from 1942 (I think that the year speaks by itself and excludes any impact of "Serbian").

    a) Da li po jeziku ne znam, no po običajima mi (...) jesmo najčistiji između Slavena, jer smo i najmanje napredni, te za njima ostadosmo kao po tragu.

    b) Levitski zakonik, 23:
    11 Ako li je živinče nečisto, pa se ne može žrtvovati Gospodu, neka se to živinče donese pred svećenika.
    12 Svećenik ima ga onda ocijeniti, da li je dobro ili loše. Kako ga ocijeni svećenik, tako neka ostane.
    13 Ako ga hoće otkupiti, onda neka još pridometne peti dio od procjene.
    14 Ako netko kuću svoju po sveti Gospodu kao sveti dar, neka je ocijeni svećenik, da li je dobra ili loša. Kako je ocijeni svećenik, tako neka ostane.

    I think these two are quite enough, otherwise we may spend ages in writing down thousands and millions of examples. :)

    I suppose the purist case could be made a bit stronger, or at least a bit less ridiculous, by distinguishing between direct and indirect speech. When reporting questions in indirect speech, there is definitely no reasonable way to avoid frequent use of "da li" to introduce subordinate clauses. Insisting on inversion + "li" even in indirect speech would be stylistically atrocious, and only the most boneheaded purist wannabe-prescriptivists would insist on it.

    In direct speech, however, the use of "da li" can usually be avoided, and it is indeed much less frequent than inversion + "li" in direct speech in written Croatian. Of course, it's still far from nonexistent, and the overwhelming majority of Croatian writers have used it even in direct speech. There are even cases where I'd say that it's stylistically superior to inversion, such as in "da li bih...?" versus the ugly sounding "bih li...?".
     

    dudasd

    Senior Member
    Serbo-Croatian
    I've just counted these forms in one of the books I have in my PC. In a book of around 550 pages (and it's full of dialogues) I found 145 examples of "da li" form, and around 250 (or 260, I got confused at some point :) ) examples of "je(sam/si/smo/ste/su) li" or "verb + li" form. It's an average book for an average reader. I think it says enough about proportion of these two forms in written Serbian.
     

    mentesobremateria

    New Member
    Croatia, croatian
    Sorry if you think I'm authoritative, I didn't mean to be.

    The source for everything I wrote is this: I have lived in Croatia for 25 years, I finished High school here, I had Croatian in High school, I had Croatian as a subject on my Final examination (Matura). I am a college student, my roommate is a professor of Croatian language and literature. Guys, I speak Croatian 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, ... I listen it on TV, read newspapers, books... I know that "da li" is wrong. I don't hear it, I don't see it.
    The thing is this: In this thread you allege that I am wrong, but how can you say that? One of you lives in Toronto, and the other one in Serbia.
    I live in Croatia. Don't write wrong facts in this forum, it is supposed to be objective and scientific.

    "koje vi gluposti valjate" is slang... it is used in Croatia.
    "kakve vi gluposti valjate" sounds also correct to me.

    dudasd, you say that if that were true, 90% of Croatian writers would be illiterate. Language changes. I never said that "da li" has always been wrong. In post WW2 Croatian it is 100% wrong. You cannot find it in newspapers, hear it on TV, hear it anyone saying.

    Peace!
     

    dudasd

    Senior Member
    Serbo-Croatian
    I think you misunderstood the point. Given the literacy of TV and newspapers nowadays, they can't be a valid source. I am seeing "da li" in Croatian novels and translation, though. The point of the discussion (if this is a discussion at all) is: can you quote the grammar, its author, its edition etc. where that rule is strictly formulated? Grammar is not what we hear, but what language authorities say; personal arbitrage isn't something we should rely on. I work as an editor for 16 years already and I never claimed any rule before I checked about it in a credible source (more than one if possible). I guess that is the point of this forum - giving and exchanging information on reliable background.
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    Sorry if you think I'm authoritative, I didn't mean to be.

    You might consider revising your style in the future. Entering a discussion by saying, "I can't believe what stupidities you people are babbling in this forum!" is usually not a way to win much sympathy.

    The source for everything I wrote is this: I have lived in Croatia for 25 years, I finished High school here, I had Croatian in High school, I had Croatian as a subject on my Final examination (Matura). I am a college student, my roommate is a professor of Croatian language and literature. Guys, I speak Croatian 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, ... I listen it on TV, read newspapers, books... I know that "da li" is wrong. I don't hear it, I don't see it.
    The thing is this: In this thread you allege that I am wrong, but how can you say that? One of you lives in Toronto, and the other one in Serbia.
    I live in Croatia. Don't write wrong facts in this forum, it is supposed to be objective and scientific.
    "Location" refers only to the present physical location of each user. I also finished high school and university in Croatia, I lived there until only a couple of years ago, and I might easily move back there soon. I still visit Croatia regularly and use Croatian 7 days a week, both written and spoken, so I don't think these few years abroad have reduced my Croatian language skills in any way. I've produced many posts in Croatian in this forum, so feel free to use them to judge the quality of my Croatian. From you, we've seen so far only a small, badly punctuated piece of substandard slang (and you're the one pontificating on language purity here!).

    dudasd, you say that if that were true, 90% of Croatian writers would be illiterate. Language changes. I never said that "da li" has always been wrong. In post WW2 Croatian it is 100% wrong.
    But well over 90% of Croatian writers, both living and dead, are illiterate, or at least hopelessly Serbianized, if you apply to them the criteria for purity like this that are pushed by the regular ilk of Croatian purists. Yes, of course that language changes, but not according to the dictate of a bunch of linguistically clueless nationalist ideologues who have the hubris to proclaim themselves arbiters of what constitutes valid Croatian language (for which they don't even have any sort of official sanction, let alone any realistic qualifications).

    According to what you write, when I read the classics of Croatian literature, I am supposed to first screen their work against the dogmatic pronunciations of modern purists before I decide to enrich my own language with the vocabulary and expressions that they used. Sure, older writers have used some obviously archaic language that it would be ridiculous to use nowadays, but archaic expressions are supposed to die a natural death, not to be legislated out of existence. I mean, what hubris does it take to issue proclamations that something was a valid part of the language until a certain point in time, but no longer? And here I'm not talking about minor reforms of spelling or punctuation, but about anathematizing whole swaths of vocabulary and grammar -- in this case, one that is still alive and kicking in the modern language (see below).

    You cannot find it ["da li"] in newspapers, hear it on TV, hear it anyone saying.
    You say you've lived your whole life in Croatia, and you've never heard that song by Majke -- "Ja sam budućnost, da li ti se sviđam?" :D Should the lyrics of the best Croatian rock'n'roll band of all time be purged from the Croatian literary tradition? After all, they're full of not only questions starting with "da li", but even (gasp! :eek:) sentences such as "ne želim da razumijem"! :D

    Let's try googling for "da li je" on various Croatian media websites (mind you, this is only one out of a myriad possibilities for starting questions with "da li"!):
    • Vjesnik (a major political daily newspaper): 1,760 hits
    • HRT (Croatian national TV): 1,310 hits (that's excluding the forum section of their website!)
    • Nacional (a major political weekly magazine): 610 hits
    • Glas Koncila (a Catholic newspaper): 21 hits
    • Novi list (another major daily newspaper): 434 hits
    I think this is a fair sample of Croatian mainstream media. Obviously, you must be living in a state of extreme isolation in Croatia if you never hear or read questions starting with "da li"! :D

    Admittedly, most of these hits refer to the use of "da li" in indirect speech, although on each of these websites, there are also at least some examples of its use in direct speech. And anyway, from what you write, it seems to me that your blanket condemnations of "da li" include indirect speech too.
     

    mentesobremateria

    New Member
    Croatia, croatian
    Athaulf,

    as a source you are quoting a hip-hop artist. That is like having 50 Cent or Eminem as a source for English language.

    And I think the both of you misunderstood me. I am not a language purist, au contraire, I hate those archaic words being used again in Croatian after almost a century. But I know when something's wrong or not. You didn't read my last post and everything I wrote.

    Anyway, that's all you'll hear from me (on this thread at least ;-) . Everyone has right for an opinion. And one last time for everyone learning Croatian and/or Serbian:

    Forming questions with "da li" is grammatically correct only in Serbian.
    Forming questions with "verb + li" is correct in both Serbian and Croatian.

    my sources are listed in my last post

    Pozdrav svima iz Rijeke!
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    Athaulf,

    as a source you are quoting a hip-hop artist. That is like having 50 Cent or Eminem as a source for English language.

    What "hip hop artist"?! :confused: I'm talking about Majke, the famous Croatian rock band from Vinkovci (which recently reunited after a few years of inactivity).

    And anyway, you are now trying to backpedal and weasel out after having been called on your absurd claims. In particular:

    (1) Your claim was that "da li" is never used in Croatia at all, neither in the written nor in the spoken language. Lyrics of a rock band (and a famous one at that, whose videos were all over the national TV in the 1990s) are certainly a valid counterexample to such claims.

    (2) You snipped and ignored the rest of my post, in which I provided ample evidence that "da li" constructions are widely used even in the Croatian mainstream media.

    (3) You didn't even clarify whether you object to the use of "da li" only in direct speech, or even in indirect speech (which would be a far more extreme attitude). This is assuming you even know the difference, of course. :rolleyes:

    And I think the both of you misunderstood me. I am not a language purist, au contraire, I hate those archaic words being used again in Croatian after almost a century. But I know when something's wrong or not. You didn't read my last post and everything I wrote.
    Yes, I did, and I answered to all of your points in great detail. You are the one who refused to provide any arguments, or answer to any of mine.
     
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