voz vs. vlak, etc.

serbianfan

Senior Member
British English
Most Northern English people pronounce "bus" with a different vowel from that used in Southern English (compare ovdje vs. ovde) and some Scottish people regularly use the word "bairns" for "children" (compare vlak vs. voz). When I lived in Northern England, I often pronounced "bus" in the Northern way, both consciously and unconsciously. If I lived in Scotland, and heard most people saying "bairns", I would probably end up saying "bairns" too. According to Wikipedia, 4.4% of the population of Croatia are Serbs, and in some parts of Serbia, there are a lot of Croats (10% in Subotica). I wonder whether these people also adapt their language, so that a Serb living in Croatia would ask about "vlak do Zagreba" at the railway station and a Croat living in Subotica would ask about "voz do Novog Sada"?
 
  • Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    An important thing to mention is that many of these differences only apply to the literary standards of respective languages. The real-world dialectal and ethnic distribution is much more diverse than what the official state languages suggest.

    During the 90s, there were also strong nationalistic tendencies to "purify" languages and prove that they are different (which is bullshit from a linguistic point of view because it is based on linguistically irrelevant ethnic lines) so official words might be something, whilst the people speak differently in everyday situations.

    For example, Serbs in Bosnia are adamant they speak Serbian, but theirs is an ijekavian dialect (so they will always say "ovdje" and "željeznica" even though these might seem un-Serbian to you).

    I have spoken to a few Croats in Vojvodina, and they all invariably said "napolje" (which is "vani" in Croatian), "lična karta" (which is "osobna iskaznica" in Croatian .. or should I say "in Croatia"?) and "kola" (which is "auto" in Croatian).
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    Thanks for those insights. I should have realised from my knowledge of other languages that the official or written languages and the way people speak are quite different things.

    This brings up the interesting philosophical question: Who is a Croat (or Serb, or Bosniak)? I suppose it must be someone who self-identifies as a Croat. With Magyars, it's much simpler: they are the ones who speak Hungarian at home. But from what you say, I imagine many "Croats" in Vojvodina speak (more or less) Serbian at home. Even self-identification isn't that simple (as I know from Norway, regarding "Norwegians" vs. "Sami"). In the days of Yugoslavia, there must have been lots of mixed marriages, which will affect self-identification today.
     
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