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Bosnian/Croatian - Good Evening

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Chung
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 Message 9 of 19
30 December 2011 at 8:46pm | IP Logged 
Kerrie wrote:

My Spoken World Croatian book says good evening is dobra večer. (So does Google Translate, btw.)

My Bosnian friend corrected me the other day, though, saying it was dobro veče. I can see a dialectal difference with the final r, but it seems really odd that the languages are so close (virtually the same, from what I've been able to tell) that there would be a gender difference here. Is this common? Does anyone know where I could find out what other words to watch out for that would mimic this?


If you're really keen on this, you may want to look at this differentiating dictionary between the Serbian and Croatian standards and takes as its sources these kinds of dictionary in hard copy. I admit that it does not seem ideal for you since it lists what are supposedly canonical examples of differences between "Serbian" and "Croatian" (i.e. no explicit "Bosnian") and shows all differences, perceived or real. For your purposes though, I did notice in this online list a few instances where the variant assigns different gender to a word and this is sometimes reflected in spelling (e.g. "Serbian" veče, pereca, planeta ~ "Croatian" večer, perec, planet)

Be careful though since it starts from the assertion that the variants are separate languages and so the list emphasizes the differences (and supposed mutual unintelligibility) by showing pairs of terms that are highly divergent (e.g. stanica glavna ~ kolodvor), stereotyping ekavian as "Serbian" and ijekavian as "Croatian" (e.g. reka ~ rijeka) as well as showing pairs of terms that are derived from the same source but differ in spelling by a letter or two (e.g. berza ~ burza).

In reality, the dictionary quietly erects certain barriers that aren't really there (e.g. "Serbian" has its ijekavian variant as well, so rijeka is "correct Serbian" too, just as it would be to a teacher of "Bosnian" or "Croatian") and in other instances the "Serbian" variant is acceptable in "Croatian" and vice-versa (e.g. non-purist Croatian (and Bosnian, and Montenegrin, and Serbian) sport) exists alongside the purist Croatian šport).

Kerrie wrote:
My original intent in learning BCS was to learn Bosnian, as I have a lot of friends who speak it. There's virtually no self-study materials for Bosnian, though, and it was my understanding that Bosnian was basically the same as the štokavian (standard) dialect of Croatian.


While they're not identical, the similarities are so high that you can treat them as the same and even extend it to "Montenegrin" and ijekavian "Serbian". One can't say that American and Canadian English are identical but they are basically the same (if that makes any sense to fluent non-native speakers :-P). The "newness" of Bosnian and the fact that its phonological and grammatical prescriptions ultimately fall back on the same Štokavian sub-dialect as those of the other "languages" make distinguishing it from other forms of Štokavian-Ijekavian virtually pointless for a foreign or apolitical user. On a related note, I stumbled on an experiment from a couple years ago where educated Croats were asked to translate contemporary texts in "Serbian" into "Croatian". If you or your public library has online access to the Journal of Slavic Linguistics, you can read the entire study. However the abstract should be clear enough to the layman and the implications for "Bosnian" and "Montenegrin".

John Frederick Bailyn “To What Degree Are Croatian and Serbian the Same Language?: Evidence from a Translation Study” (Journal of Slavic Linguistics - Volume 18, Number 2, Summer - Fall 2010, pp. 181-219) wrote:
Abstract:

This article reports on the results of an experimental translation study conducted in 2008 in which 16 adult native speakers of the Croatian variant of Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian (BCS) were asked to translate nine texts from the Serbian BCS variant into their native Croatian variant in order to test the extent to which Croatian and Serbian do or do not employ distinct linguistic devices. The results show, on the basis of a statistical comparison of the purely grammatical building blocks in the original texts and their translations, that the Croatian and Serbian variants of BCS have essentially identical linguistic systems across all levels of language structure. In particular, we find that the phonological and syntactic systems are essentially identical and that over 98% of derivational and inflectional morphology tokens are identical. Lexically, the open classes show a difference of less than 10% of tokens, whereas the closed grammatical classes show identity in over 95% of cases.

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Serpent
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 Message 10 of 19
30 December 2011 at 10:13pm | IP Logged 
speaking of comparison, I wonder how different these guys' accents are? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXFN7CQaqnI&feature=related the one with dark hair identifies as Croatian and plays for the national team, but he grew up in what is now Republika Serpska in Bosnia, in the north. interestingly, he's a bit easier to understand, according to their russian teammate - i wonder if he has an unusual accent or just more experience interacting with speakers of other Slavic languages.

Danac wrote:
From personal experience, I've spoken what I consider to be Bosnian in Croatia, Serbia
and Bosnia, and despite my somewhat lacking skills, people have generally understood me
without major problems, pa ne brini se!
were you ever told you were speaking the "wrong" language?

John Frederick Bailyn “To What Degree Are Croatian and Serbian the Same Language?: Evidence from a Translation Study” (Journal of Slavic Linguistics - Volume 18, Number 2, Summer - Fall 2010, pp. 181-219) wrote:
Abstract:
This article reports on the results of an experimental translation study conducted in 2008 in which 16 adult native speakers of the Croatian variant of Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian (BCS) were asked to translate nine texts from the Serbian BCS variant into their native Croatian variant in order to test the extent to which Croatian and Serbian do or do not employ distinct linguistic devices. The results show, on the basis of a statistical comparison of the purely grammatical building blocks in the original texts and their translations, that the Croatian and Serbian variants of BCS have essentially identical linguistic systems across all levels of language structure. In particular, we find that the phonological and syntactic systems are essentially identical and that over 98% of derivational and inflectional morphology tokens are identical. Lexically, the open classes show a difference of less than 10% of tokens, whereas the closed grammatical classes show identity in over 95% of cases.
hm. my Ukrainian friend once did a random quiz online and she said she kept on using the diminutive suffixes in the Russian translations, though the standard forms would not have them. of course that's all anecdotal evidence but i think translating often makes the target language a little closer to the source language, especially if one is not a professional translator.

Edited by Serpent on 30 December 2011 at 10:47pm

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Chung
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 Message 11 of 19
31 December 2011 at 1:14am | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
speaking of comparison, I wonder how different these guys' accents are? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXFN7CQaqnI&feature=related the one with dark hair identifies as Croatian and plays for the national team, but he grew up in what is now Republika Serpska in Bosnia, in the north. interestingly, he's a bit easier to understand, according to their russian teammate - i wonder if he has an unusual accent or just more experience interacting with speakers of other Slavic languages.

Danac wrote:
From personal experience, I've spoken what I consider to be Bosnian in Croatia, Serbia
and Bosnia, and despite my somewhat lacking skills, people have generally understood me
without major problems, pa ne brini se!
were you ever told you were speaking the "wrong" language?

John Frederick Bailyn “To What Degree Are Croatian and Serbian the Same Language?: Evidence from a Translation Study” (Journal of Slavic Linguistics - Volume 18, Number 2, Summer - Fall 2010, pp. 181-219) wrote:
Abstract:
This article reports on the results of an experimental translation study conducted in 2008 in which 16 adult native speakers of the Croatian variant of Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian (BCS) were asked to translate nine texts from the Serbian BCS variant into their native Croatian variant in order to test the extent to which Croatian and Serbian do or do not employ distinct linguistic devices. The results show, on the basis of a statistical comparison of the purely grammatical building blocks in the original texts and their translations, that the Croatian and Serbian variants of BCS have essentially identical linguistic systems across all levels of language structure. In particular, we find that the phonological and syntactic systems are essentially identical and that over 98% of derivational and inflectional morphology tokens are identical. Lexically, the open classes show a difference of less than 10% of tokens, whereas the closed grammatical classes show identity in over 95% of cases.
hm. my Ukrainian friend once did a random quiz online and she said she kept on using the diminutive suffixes in the Russian translations, though the standard forms would not have them. of course that's all anecdotal evidence but i think translating often makes the target language a little closer to the source language, especially if one is not a professional translator.


However part of the problem (if you can call it that) is that the results of the translation study show that much of the original Serbian material would pass for "good" Croatian given the "sameness". I don't know if you can get access to the full article via a library, but it may be worthwhile for you since you're already studying Croatian. I did have a chance to read it all and it was quite illuminating as the researchers analyzed the translated elements. Where they appeared they also compared the translations with prescriptions that are held to distinguish Croatian from Serbian and while I wouldn't say that they did myth-busting, they showed that the already faint demarcation between Croatian and Serbian on linguistic (i.e. morphological/lexical/syntactic) grounds is even fainter than sometimes asserted thus supporting further the idea that we're dealing with one language and several variants excluding political, cultural and emotional considerations.
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Merv
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 Message 12 of 19
31 December 2011 at 5:29pm | IP Logged 
Historically "Bosnian" wasn't even postulated as a language, much less Montenegrin. These are nonsensical
constructs of modern nationalism. There was always this tension of what is Serbian vs. what is Croatian. Serbian
linguists tended to emphasize commonalities, whereas Croatian linguists tended to emphasize differences.

One point of clarification that needs to be made is that ijekavian is not "Croatian." It is merely the Western group
of stokavian dialects and is spoken by - arguably - as many non-Croats (Serbs, Bosnian Muslims, Montenegrins)
as Croats.

Second, there is no one political or cultural center in ijekavian, as Belgrade is to ekavian. There's Zagreb, Banja
Luka, Sarajevo, and Podgorica,

Third, while I realize that for various reasons Croatian is consider chic (in distinction to Serbian), anyone who has
pretensions of learning this language while ignoring the Cyrillic alphabet and ekavian - spoken by half of the
native speakers, not to mention most secondary speakers (Slovenes, Macedonians, and Albanians), and in which
much of the literature of the language is written - while studying half-baked creations concocted by Muslim and
Montenegrin nationalists 20 or even 5 years ago, is doing themselves a disservice.

Edited by Merv on 31 December 2011 at 5:34pm

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Chung
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 Message 13 of 19
06 January 2012 at 11:58pm | IP Logged 
After closer inspection of that differentiating dictionary that I mentioned, I'd be even more careful in interpeting it and treat more like a fringe resource or philological curiosity. For someone who's learning BCMS/Serbo-Croatian, that "dictionary" will probably create more confusion and have its best use as a reminder of what can happen when language planning is infiltrated by exclusionary nationalism.

Some of the entries are unambiguously different between "Croatian" and "Serbian" and are uncontroversial (and I'd say desirable) to be treated as such.

e.g.

- ko (S) ~ tko (C) "who"
- januar (S) ~ siječanj (C) "January"
- pozorište (S) ~ kazalište (C) "theater, playhouse"
- voz (S) ~ vlak (Cr) "train"

However in other areas, the dictionary's binary setup like one of Hippocrene's cheap "dictionaries" distorts the situation and can mislead neutral readers or unsuspecting learners. It certainly doesn't help that there are almost no notes on usage or register.

e.g.
- igra, igrati, igrač, igračica (S) ~ ples; plesati; plesač; plesačica (C) "to dance" [This is not as stark a distinction as implied because the compiler has treated igra etc. as if they can refer only to dancing. In this instance, igra etc. refer to dancing OR playing (e.g. a game) to Serbs but to Croats they've come to refer only to playing. In other words, Croats have come to use ples etc. for dancing but igra for playing while Serbs have stuck with igra for both senses. The converse to this kind of chicanery would be to list igra etc. as perfect synonyms in the Croatian and Serbian standards by referring only to the sense of playing. However that approach/presentation seems no less misleading to me than the approach in the differential dictionary where igra etc. equal only ples etc. Usage notes would have been helpful to put this in perspective.]

- Laku noć. (vam želim) (S) ~ Laka (vam) noć. (neka vam je) (Cr) "Good night!" [This is highly interesting for in all of the "Croatian" textbooks that I've used (published after 1991!), laku noć is the only way taught for the phrase and I've never heard Croats use otherwise. The first one is literally "[I wish to you] good night!" while the second is "[May it be to you] good night!". This seems highly insignificant as a distinction since changing the word order or voice of the phrase's components doesn't automatically "prove" the existence of separate languages when both versions are "correct" (grammatically) to all speakers in question. However the dictionary insinuates to the uninitiated that Serbs treat "night" here only as a direct object while Croats do not treat do so.]

- panter (S) ~ puma (C) "panther" (sort of) [This one is a mess and the dictionary's compilers appear to flash both their nationalism and ignorance of biology. The word "panther" (more accurately Panthera) technically refers to a genus of large cats but which type of cat depends on location. A "panther" native to Africa or Asia can refer to a "leopard". A "panther" native to North America can refer to a "cougar" or "puma". A "panther" native to Latin America can refer to a "jaguar". Both the "lion" and "tiger" seem to be thought of as distinct from "panthers" even though they too are in this class of large cats. In addition the word "panther" also has a non-technical or colloquial sense referring to a leopard, jaguar or cougar that is black (i.e. "panther" means "black panther" in the popular imagination). To clear up the confusion, here are the respective articles in Serbian and Croatian Wikipedia on these large cats:

- Crni panter (S) ~ Crna pantera (C) "black panther"
- Puma (S) ~ Puma (C) "cougar"/"mountain lion"/"puma"
- Jaguar (S) ~ Jaguar (C) "jaguar"
- Leopard (S) ~ Leopard (C) "leopard"
- Lav (S) ~ Lav (C) "lion"
- Tigar (S) ~ Tigar (C) "tiger"

As we see, the only distinction (marginal as it is) exists with standard Serbian using panter while standard Croatian uses pantera in the non-technical compound "black panther". It should be clear though that the Serbian "panter" is not really a Croatian "puma" (or "cougar" to us North American yokels) as the dictionary suggests.

- slanina (S) ~ špek (C) "bacon" [This is interesting because Croatian Wikipedia's article on the subject calls it slanina with no mention of the latter. Špek sounds as if it's a colloquialism from German that's common among Croats. I suspect highly that the dictionary's compiler matched it with slanina in order to support the case for Croatian and Serbian being separate languages. By the way, slanina is what I learned in my "Croatian" course and is any "Croatian" dictionary worth its salt).

- vaspitan (S) ~ odgojen (Cr) "well-mannered/bred/raised/educated" [Odgojen is also acceptable in "Serbian" and so isn't as distinct as the list suggests. It's just that the Serbs can use either of the pair without being considered "wrong" whereas a Croat nowadays is much more likely to use odgojen]

In yet other instances, supposed "Serbianisms" are used by Croats among themselves colloquially without hesitation or irony.

E.g.

- šta? (S) ~ što? (C) "what?" (Croats often use šta? rather than the standard što? unless they're in rather formal settings. For Serbs, što? has become the colloquial form of zašto? "why" and under certain circumstances can cause confusion when hearing someone use "proper" što? "what?")

- avion (S) ~ zrakoplov (C) "airplane" (see note on usage for šta?)

- veš mašina (S) ~ perilica rublja (C) "washing machine" (see note on usage for šta?. In addition this is not as stark a distinction as suggested since the "Croatianism" translates literally to Serbs as "washing device of clothes/linen" having been derived from the BCMS/Serbo-Croatian words prati "to wash" and rublje "clothes; linen etc.". Moreover Serbs also use the term peraća mašina where the first element is clearly related to the Croatian purism perilica. In addition, I've heard my Croatian hosts refer to their washing machine as perilica or vešmašina colloquially.)

It also includes an exclamation even though these aren't usually included in dictionaries. Yet since the name of the game is to "prove" that Croatian and Serbian are separate languages, then any difference no matter how trivial, dubious or irrelevant appears worthy of inclusion.

- jaukati; jaoooo... (S) ~ jaukati; jojjjj... (C) "to howl"; "ouch!" (This is comical to me but of dubious significance. It's analogous to claiming that someone who's attested as using "ow!" is speaking a different language from someone who's attested as using "ouch!")

All of the preceding reinforces my reservations in the previous post about the quality of this type of reference work and I repeat should be treated with caution by outsiders.

Edited by Chung on 07 January 2012 at 1:13am

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Kerrie
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 Message 14 of 19
07 January 2012 at 12:23am | IP Logged 
Thank you, Chung. I think I will stick to my simple(r) books like Spoken World Croatian and Assimil Serbo-Croat sans Peine. The differentiating dictionary sounds interesting, but really far beyond my level, at the moment.
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Chung
Diglot
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 Message 15 of 19
07 January 2012 at 12:24am | IP Logged 
Note: My comments so far are really a reflection of my descriptivist tendency (I'm only very weakly prescripitivist) and so they shouldn't be interpreted as a blanket condemnation of Croatian lexicography. My analysis focused on what jumped out at me given what I've learned or observed. I'm sure that native speakers can fill in more blanks or make more comments on the quality of the dictionary. Perhaps they would even weaken that dictionary's tacit thesis further by revealing more questionable contrasts.

As far as I know there's no dictionary in the Balkans that explicitly works opposite to these differential dictionaries, and the situation for Bosnian as I understand it from a friend is that its new standard dictionary includes neologisms, loanwords or archaicisms derived from Arabic, Farsi or Turkish in line with the desire to let linguistic distinctions "catch up" with acknowledged political and cultural distinctions.

However there is a large monolingual dictionary online from Croatia whose compilers' spirit is noticeably descriptive and includes many words deemed by purists as "Serbianisms". Although a direct comparison with the differential dictionaries is invalid because of the different motivation of these compilers, this descriptive monolingual dictionary would be much more useful to learners with its explanations, notes and inflectional hints after accounting for the "hump" of ijekavian versus ekavian.

Edited by Chung on 07 January 2012 at 12:55am

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Merv
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 Message 16 of 19
07 January 2012 at 8:54pm | IP Logged 
Most of us have been aware that the situation in Croatian since 1991 has been ridiculous. Hence the Serbian
jokes that the Croats call a belt (opasac or kajs) an okolotrbusni hlacedrzac (literally, around-the-belly pants-
holder), a gutter (oluk) is an okokucni vodopis (around-the-house water-pisser), and a motorcycle (motocikl) is
a medjunozni prdiguz (between-the-legs butt-farter).

Language learners should be aware that the standard Croatian doesn't even originate from Croatia: it originates
from the southeastern corner of Bosnia-Herzegovina (once) populated by Serbs and Bosnian Muslims. If they
want to learn autochthonous Croatian, they should learn Kajkavian or better yet Chakavian, the language spoken
on the Dalmatian coast.

And while I'm speaking my own mind, I would really rather prefer it if the Croats just taught Chakavian in their
schools as the official language and ended this farce of butchering a Stokavian dialect originating among the
Serbs of Herzegovina.

Unfortunately, we see the same situation with "Bosnian." Although it is much more natural than the neo-Croatian,
much of the language had a closer vocabulary to that of Serbia than of Croatia, but the effort has been made -
artificially I might add - to shift to Croatian vocabulary. Turkish, Farsi, and Arabic words have been dredged up
from centuries ago. The Cyrillic alphabet has been expunged, despite the fact that Bosancica was a Cyrillic
alphabet, etc.


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