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BCMS profile (former Croatian profile)

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Speaks: English*, French
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 Message 1 of 14
30 May 2006 at 5:26pm | IP Logged 

I am grateful to winters for the helpful comments and corrections in the original Croatian profile.

(N.B. This profile is a modified version of an earlier profile focused originally on Croatian. Because this revised profile is designed for prospective learners who are normally indifferent to or unaffected by sociolinguistically- or politically-motivated disputes led by native speakers, it focuses on the “Neo-Štokavski” dialect that is the basis for the four modern standard languages of Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian (henceforth referred to as BCMS). Although the term “Neo-Štokavski” is little-known to many prospective learners and the profile’s approach may differ from that of other profiles, designing it in this way will allow it to focus on language and minimize wading into sociolinguistic or political topics on the place of language in determining national identity.)

Bosnian (bosanski/босански), Croatian (hrvatski), Montenegrin (crnogorski/црногорски) and Serbian (srpski/српски) are standard languages derived from a sub-dialect of Neo-Štokavski previously spoken natively in far southern Croatia, southeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, northern Montenegro and southwestern Serbia. In total approximately 20 million people worldwide are native speakers of these standard languages which are most closely related to Slovenian, Macedonian and Bulgarian and less so to other Slavonic languages such as Russian, Ukrainian, Polish and Czech. As one can guess, the names of these standard languages are tied to the names of the nation-states of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia and/or the names of the ethnic groups associated with these territories (i.e. Bosnian, Croat, Montenegrin, Serb) despite their common derivation from a particular sub-dialect in the recent past.


The usefulness of BCMS is highest in Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. It also has some use in the disputed territory of Kosovo thanks to roughly 10% of its population declaring itself as one of Bosniak, Croatian (Janjevci), Montenegrin or Serbian as well as in Macedonia and Slovenia as a legacy of mandatory education in BCMS (then officially called “Croato-Serbian” or “Serbo-Croatian”) during the era of Yugoslavia. For BCMS-speaking communities outside the Balkans, one can usually communicate in other languages (e.g. one can usually communicate in English with Serbs who live in the USA, in German with Croats who live in Germany). As is the case in Eastern Europe, ESL teaching is widespread and many young adults and teenagers speak at least some English. Italian is also known to varying degrees among Croats living along the Adriatic coast, while in northern Serbia one can sometimes hear Hungarian and Slovak thanks to the presence there of Hungarian and Slovak minorities respectively.

The intra-relationship of BCMS also reflects political decisions and the history of the region's ethnic relations. The differences between them are quite subtle and do not often hinder understanding or can at times even be imperceptible to native speakers. Moreover, the differences in linguistic features do not match the geographical divisions in the area because of natural migration and forced eviction of people throughout the history of the Balkans. The similarity between Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian is much higher than that between various Chinese “dialects” or between Norwegian and Swedish. In this way, it is possible to rely on only one standard language (from Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin or Serbian) and be able to communicate effectively and seamlessly with all educated natives of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia.

In cases where speakers would feel that their words would be unclear, they would use a term which is considered to be better understood. However, one should be aware that natives of the respective countries sometimes have strong feelings about “their” language or dialect. For example, a Croat may be quick to correct someone if that person were to use inadvertently a word or phrase that is considered “un-Croatian” (i.e. something that is more frequently used by people living in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro or Serbia.) even though this word or phrase in question is understood by anyone in Croatia and part of standard Croatian per descriptive dictionaries. For learners accustomed to or fluent in pluricentric languages such as English, German, Portuguese or Spanish, they may find it socially beneficial to be aware of characteristics, words or structures prescribed or occurring most frequently in the respective standard languages. An analogy of this kind of care from learners of English would be for them to note that using “to dispatch” in the USA rather than “to ship” may cause Americans to insist on using the latter even though the former is understandable but being perceived as something “un-American”. In a more general sense, learning BCMS is a useful introduction to future learning of Slavonic languages as it still shares many of the features in other Slavonic languages. Regardless of which “letter” of BCMS learners focus on or choose, they should not be surprised to hear from native speakers on being praised for using “Bosnian”, “Montenegrin” or “Serbian” perfectly even if the learner has focused on “Croatian”, for example.


BCMS is not considered to be chic and it is not a very popular choice for language learners who wish to learn Slavonic languages. Russian seems to be the most popular Slavonic language chosen by foreign learners. Because of the relative novelty of foreigners learning BCMS, Bosniaks, Croats, Montenegrins and Serbs are often pleasantly surprised by foreigners' efforts to speak or learn it. I've experienced this reaction first-hand when meeting acquaintances and friends from the former Yugoslavia.


- Bosnia and Herzegovina

“The interethnic warfare in Bosnia and Herzegovina caused production to plummet by 80% from 1992 to 1995 and unemployment to soar. With an uneasy peace in place, output recovered in 1996-99 at high percentage rates from a low base; but output growth slowed in 2000-02. Part of the lag in output was made up in 2003-08 when GDP growth exceeded 5% per year. However, due in large part to the global economic crisis, GDP fell by about 3% in 2009, exports fell 24%, and unemployment - as officially reported - rose above 40%. Banking reform accelerated in 2001 as all the Communist-era payments bureaus were shut down; foreign banks, primarily from Austria and Italy, now control most of the banking sector. The konvertibilna marka (convertible mark or BAM)- the national currency introduced in 1998 - is pegged to the euro, and confidence in the currency and the banking sector has increased. Bosnia's private sector is growing and foreign investment is slowly increasing, but government spending, at nearly 50% of adjusted GDP, remains high because of redundant government offices at the state, entity and municipal level. Privatization of state enterprises, however, has been slow, particularly in the Federation where political division between ethnically-based political parties makes agreement on economic policy more difficult. A sizeable current account deficit and high unemployment rate remain the two most serious macroeconomic problems. Successful implementation of a value-added tax in 2006 provided a predictable source of revenue for the government and helped rein in gray market activity. National-level statistics have also improved over time but a large share of economic activity remains unofficial and unrecorded. Bosnia and Herzegovina became a full member of the Central European Free Trade Agreement in September 2007. In 2009, Bosnia's economy was hurt by the global financial downturn, with GDP, exports, and employment all showing declines. One of Bosnia's main challenges has been to cut public sector wages and social benefits to meet the IMF's budget deficit criteria and qualify for additional tranches of Fund aid. “ (Information retrieved November 18, 2010). GDP (estimated 2009): $29.5 billion US (Source)

- Croatia

“Once one of the wealthiest of the Yugoslav republics, Croatia's economy suffered badly during the 1991-95 war as output collapsed and the country missed the early waves of investment in Central and Eastern Europe that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall. Between 2000 and 2007, however, Croatia's economic fortunes began to improve slowly, with moderate but steady GDP growth between 4% and 6% led by a rebound in tourism and credit-driven consumer spending. Inflation over the same period has remained tame and the currency, the kuna, stable. Nevertheless, difficult problems still remain, including a stubbornly high unemployment rate, a growing trade deficit and uneven regional development. The state retains a large role in the economy, as privatization efforts often meet stiff public and political resistance. While macroeconomic stabilization has largely been achieved, structural reforms lag because of deep resistance on the part of the public and lack of strong support from politicians. The EU accession process should accelerate fiscal and structural reform. While long term growth prospects for the economy remain strong, Croatia will face significant pressure as a result of the global financial crisis. Croatia's high foreign debt, anemic export sector, strained state budget, and over-reliance on tourism revenue will result in higher risk to economic stability over the medium term..” (Information retrieved November 18, 2010). GDP (estimated 2009): $78.57 billion US (Source)

- Montengero

“Montenegro severed its economy from federal control and from Serbia during the MILOSEVIC era and maintained its own central bank, adopted the Deutchmark, then the euro - rather than the Yugoslav dinar - as official currency, collected customs tariffs, and managed its own budget. The dissolution of the loose political union between Serbia and Montenegro in 2006 led to separate membership in several international financial institutions, such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. On 18 January 2007, Montenegro joined the World Bank and IMF. Montenegro is pursuing its own membership in the World Trade Organization and signed a Stabilization and Association agreement with the European Union in October 2007. On December 15, 2008, Montenegro submitted an EU membership application. Unemployment and regional disparities in development are key political and economic problems. Montenegro has privatized its large aluminum complex - the dominant industry - as well as most of its financial sector, and has begun to attract foreign direct investment in the tourism sector. The global financial crisis has had a significant negative impact on the economy, due to the ongoing credit crunch, a decline in the real estate sector, and a fall in aluminum exports.” (Information retrieved November 18, 2010). GDP (estimated 2009): $6.572 billion US (Source)

- Serbia

“MILOSEVIC-era mismanagement of the economy, an extended period of international economic sanctions, and the damage to Yugoslavia's infrastructure and industry during the NATO airstrikes in 1999 left the economy only half the size it was in 1990. After the ousting of former Federal Yugoslav President MILOSEVIC in September 2000, the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition government implemented stabilization measures and embarked on a market reform program. After renewing its membership in the IMF in December 2000, Yugoslavia continued to reintegrate into the international community by rejoining the World Bank (IBRD) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Belgrade has made progress in trade liberalization and enterprise restructuring and privatization, including telecommunications and small- and medium-size firms. It has made some progress towards EU membership, signing a Stabilization and Association Agreement with Brussels in May 2008, and with full implementation of the Interim Trade Agreement with the EU in February 2010. Serbia is also pursuing membership in the World Trade Organization. Reforms needed to ensure the country's long-term viability have largely stalled since the onset of the global financial crisis. Serbia is grappling with fallout from crisis, which has led to a sharp drop in exports to Western Europe and a decline in manufacturing output. Unemployment and limited export earnings remain ongoing political and economic problems. Serbia signed an augmented $4 billion Stand By Arrangement with the IMF in May 2009. IMF conditions on Serbia constrain the use of stimulus efforts to revive the economy, while Serbia's concerns about inflation and exchange rate stability preclude the use of expansionary monetary policy. Nevertheless, the IMF projects that Serbia's economy will grow by 1.5% in 2010 after a 3% contraction in 2009 as a recovery in Western Europe takes hold.” (Information retrieved November 18, 2010). GDP (estimated 2009): $78.44 billion US (Source)


Knowledge of BCMS will help in making the most of a trip in Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro or Serbia. The following areas in these countries may be of most interest for visitors:

- Belgrade, Serbia: Capital that seems to be built on partying – even seemingly dull-looking office workers there will indulge in an intense night-out in the middle of the week and roll in to work on a couple of hours of sleep (or none at all). Belgrade also has the requisite cultural attractions such as Kalemegdan Citadel at the junction of the Danube and Sava Rivers in addition to museums and historical buildings all expressed in a jumble of architectural styles.

- Dalmatia, Croatia: Southern coastal region of Croatia which often leaves the most enduring memories for tourists. In addition to the renowned Dubrovnik (q.v.), the bulk of Croatia’s islands (e.g. Brač, Hvar, Korčula, Mljet) are in this region and the entire area boasts beaches and a Mediterranean atmosphere that are usually less hectic and less expensive than comparable sites in Italy or Greece. The Croatian islands receive so much sunshine per year that some hotels on Hvar waive fees in summer on days when there is no sunshine. Also notable are the towns of Šibenik, Split, Trogir and Zadar with the first three each having attractions on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.

- Dubrovnik, Croatia: The walled Old Town of Dubrovnik on the shores of the Adriatic Sea is on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites and has been a staple on travel itineraries not just for Croatia but also the Balkans or Mediterranean region.

- Durmitor National Park, Montenegro: National park on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites that encompasses a massif, canyons and glacial lakes.

- Istria, Croatia: Peninsula on the Adriatic Sea that is historically associated with Italians and Slovenes in addition to Croats. Sights include the towns of Poreč with the Euphrasian Basilica (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Pula with its ancient Roman buildings (most notably the well-preserved amphitheatre from the 1st century AD), and Rovinj which is notable for the Cathedral of St. Euphemia situated on a hilltop and for being one of the few remaining Mediterranean ports where fishing is the primary way of earning a living. From Istria it is easy to make a trip to Krk which is the largest island in the Adriatic Sea.

- Jajce, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The center of this small town is remarkable for two small waterfalls while a little further from the waterfalls are catacombs and the Church of St. Luke dating from the Middle Ages. Pliva Lake at the edge of town is a favourite swimming hole.

- Kotor, Montenegro: Small but ancient walled town at the head of an impressive fjord-like formation (it is actually a partially-submerged river canyon). It is on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.

- Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina: This small town in the south of the country is notable for the Old Bridge dating from the 16th century. The original bridge was destroyed in 1993 during the Bosniak-Croatian War but was subsequently rebuilt as closely as possible to the original bridge. The reconstructed bridge was inaugurated in 2004 with the bridge and the area surrounding it inscribed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Site in the following year.

- Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia: A national park with several lakes and waterfalls that is on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. The lakes are especially memorable for their colours which vary from gray to green or even azure depending on the interaction between sunlight and mineral or bio-content in the water.

- Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: Capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina and arguably the most visibly diverse of the capitals of the former Yugoslavia with mosques, churches, synagogues towering over bazaars, museums, and cafés serving coffee in Middle Eastern-style.

- Varaždin, Croatia: This was the former capital of Croatia and is a somewhat unfairly neglected by foreign visitors. Its Old Town has remnants of the city's medieval fortress and many of its later buildings and monuments were built between the 16th and 18th centuries. As a bonus, Varaždin did not suffer much damage during Croatia's war with Serbia in the 1990s and its old monuments and buildings are still largely intact.

- Vojvodina, Serbia: Northern province of Serbia with its capital, Novi Sad being the second-largest city in Serbia. Highlights for sightseeing include Petrovaradin Fortress and The Name of Mary Church in Novi Sad and Orthodox Monasteries on Fruška Gora (~ Frankish Mountain). For the linguistically-inclined Vojvodina may be of interest because it counts six languages as official. In addition to BCMS (accounting for Croatian and Serbian), Hungarian, Pannonian Rusyn, Romanian, and Slovak are also official.

- Zagreb, Croatia: On one hand it resembles western capitals with its shining office buildings and hotels. On the other hand, some of the architecture of the Old Town is similar to the style of the 18th and 19th century, and may remind one vaguely of Budapest. It also has a lively nightlife. There are bars, cafes, nightclubs, theaters and concert halls for those looking for something to do on a Friday night, although perhaps the nightlife here is not as extreme as in Belgrade six hours’ drive on the highway further east...


Bosnia and Herzegovina treats each of “Bosnian”, “Croatian” and “Serbian” as official languages. Croatia designates “Croatian” as the official language while Montenegro and Serbia do likewise for “Montenegrin” and “Serbian” respectively.

BCMS is also used natively by diaspora communities in Australia, Canada, Chile, USA and the UK as well as by minorities in Austria, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.


Approximately 20 million speakers of BCMS worldwide, with roughly 90% of them living in the former Yugoslavia.


A national standard of BCMS is taught in all schools and as noted above bear status as official languages in those former Yugoslavian republics. Regardless of the arguments made in emphasizing the distinctiveness of each “letter” in BCMS or suggesting unusual mutual unintelligibility, one can almost always rely on knowledge of whatever standard language he or she has learned when communicating with Bosnians, Croats, Montenegrins or Serbs. However recall that BCMS represents standard languages that derive from a particular sub-dialect (East Herzegovinian Neo-Štokavian) that is actually not native to many people from the former Yugoslavia. The region’s dialectal variation is most apparent among Croats but is also present to a lesser degree among Bosniaks, Montenegrins and Serbs.

The native dialects of Croats can be broadly classified into three groups: Čakavski, Kajkavski and Štokavski. These names are based on the word meaning “what” (i.e. “ča”, “kaj”, “što”) in the respective groups.

The dominant group is Štokavski and one of its sub-dialects is the basis of modern standard Croatian. The second-most prevalent one is Kajkavski and spoken in northwestern Croatia including the capital, Zagreb. Despite the historical importance of Kajkavski as “Zagreb’s dialect”, the local dialect has been overwhelmed by Štokavski thanks to migration of Croats from other regions and public education elevating the Neo-Štokavski standard language. The third group is Čakavski and is now confined to the coastline of Croatia and its islands. Although some language planners and more nationally-minded folk in Croatia would like to elevate the profile and place of Kajkavski or Čakavski dialects as a way of distinguishing standard Croatian from the other standards, relatively few items from Čakavski or Kajkavski vocabulary and virtually none from their respective phonology or morphology have become codified or entrenched in modern standard Croatian.

All of the other peoples including the Croats natively use a form of Štokavski although some of their sub-dialects differ noticeably from the respective standard languages despite the latter also being based on a Štokavski sub-dialect. Indeed there are also “Old-Štokavski” dialects (as opposed to the aforementioned “Neo-Štokavski” ones) which differ primarily in accentuation and they are used in parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. Furthermore the Old-Štokavski dialects encountered in Kosovo and far southeastern Serbia (also known as “Torlak” dialects) resemble Bulgarian and Macedonian to the point that some Bulgarian linguists treat “Torlak” as a group of Bulgarian subdialects.

It is for political reasons that BCMS was codified using a particular Neo-Štokavski sub-dialect. The decisive codification efforts occurred starting in the 19th century despite the creation of literature or texts dating from the Renaissance or earlier in Čakavski, Kajkavski or Slaveno-Serbian (a hybrid liturgical/literary language combining a Štokavski dialect with Old Church Slavonic and Early Modern Russian).

There is another set of variations that the learner may encounter that corresponds partially to the national standards. This set of variations arises from the evolution of a vowel called “yat” and is sometimes spelled as “ě” (likely pronounced as a long “ae”). The vowel evolved into “e”, “(i)je” or “i” starting no later than the Middle Ages. The terms “ekavski”, “(i)jekavski” and “ikavski” are often used to represent the outcomes of this sound-change.

Example: (Let ě = “yat”)

child || děte (Old Church Slavonic) | dete (Ekavski - “yat” > “e”) | dite (Ikavski - “yat” > “i”) | dijete ((I)jekavski - “yat” > “-ije-”)

need || trěbati (Old Church Slavonic) | trebati (Ekavski - “yat” > “e”) | tribati (Ikavski - “yat” > “i”) | trebati ((I)jekavski - “yat” > “-e-”) (“yat” after the “r” became “e” in (I)jekavski instead of “-ije-”. Thus the form *”trijebati” doesn't exist.)

crossing || prělaz (Old Church Slavonic) | prelaz (Ekavski) | prelaz OR: prijelaz (Ikavski and (I)jekavski) ('long' “yat” from the old 'prě-' prefix becomes “-e-” or “-ije” in Ikavski and (I)jekavski.)

Modern Standard Bosnian, Modern Standard Croatian and the emerging Modern Standard Montenegrin are “Štokavski-(I)jekavski”; Modern Standard Serbian comes in two sub-variants being either “Štokavski-(I)jekavski” like the other three standards or “Štokavski-Ekavski”. The degree of these codifications being “Ekavski”, “Ikavski” or “(I)jekavski” do not conform to the neat borders of an atlas and we can only usually talk of tendencies or probability. For example, some dialects in northern Serbia are “Štokavski-Ikavski” rather than the expected “Štokavski-Ekavski” or “Štokavski-(I)jekavski” of Modern Standard Serbian. Ikavski dialects are also spoken in parts of Croatia and Bosnia. In turn, the Ikavski dialects of Croatia tend to be “Čakavski-Ikavski” in addition to “Štokavski-Ikavski”, as is found in Bosnia. In far southeastern Serbia, the “Torlak” dialects encountered are strictly speaking “Štokavski-Ekavski” but as noted earlier their noticeable similarity to Bulgarian and Macedonian give rise to contention that such dialects are not Serbian but rather extensions of Macedonian or Bulgarian instead. There are also the Krashovani living in Romania who are native-speakers of a “Torlak” dialect but consider themselves to be Croats.

The variations are interesting from a linguist's viewpoint but are a headache for politicians and nationalists who try to identify or settle territorial disputes and ethnic differences using linguistic criteria. When one notes the lexicons used by Bosnians, Croats, Montenegrins and Serbs one can also notice that Bosnians and Croats tend to prefer certain usages over ones used in Montenegro and Serbia, while on the other hand Bosnians, Montenegrin and Serbs prefer certain usages over those used in Croatia. It can be bewildering to a foreigner who tries to learn the nonstandard speech of natives.


The cultures associated with BCMS are not very well-known to foreigners outside the oft-repeated and traditional religious distinction where Bosniaks are Islamic, Croats are Roman Catholic, and Montenegrins and Serbs are Eastern Orthodox. BCMS literature in the broadest sense of the word could arguably begin with bards’ recitations of epic poetry in an area stretching from Croatia through Bosnia and Herzegovina and into Montenegro and Serbia. Epic poetry is particularly important in Montenegrin and Serbian culture for it provided touchstones in the later establishment of national identity. Petar II Petrović Njegoš’ combination of epic, poem and play “Goski vijenac” (Mountain Wreath) is an important document of Montenegrin literary and cultural expression. For Serbs, epic poetry kept alive the memory of the Battle of Kosovo of 1389 between Serbs and Turks and later provided the corpus for codifying modern standard Serbian. Literary expression in BCMS has also attained a somewhat higher external profile through the works of the Bosnian Croat Ivo Andrić (awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961). Among the individual cultures, learners can occupy themselves by exploring writers who are renowned among each of the nations using BCMS. Mak Dizdar, Meša Selimović are important Bosnian literary figures while among the Croats, Ivan Gundulić, Miroslav Krleža, August Šenoa, and Dubravka Ugrešić are prominent writers. In addition to Njegoš, the novelist Mihailo Lalić has established himself as a notable figure in Montenegrin literature. Those interested in Serbian literature will likely encounter the works of Miloš Crnjanski, Milorad Pavić, Isidora Sekulić, Svetlana Velmar-Janković, and Zoran Živković.

Musical traditions in the former Yugoslavia go back at least to traditions of religious hymns in Old Church Slavonic from the Early Middle Ages. Nowadays each of the Bosnians, Croats, Montenegrins and Serbs have musical traditions and a learner can certainly enhance the learning experience by taking in songs in BCMS. Some distinctive styles to look for are Croatian groups of “klapa” (a form of a capella singing), Bosnian “sevdalinka” which are reminiscient of blues, and Serbian turbo-folk (which is either reviled or loved because of its hybrid folk-rock-pop-dance nature and lyrics with overtones of sex, material wealth and violence). Goran Bregović and his Balkan brass band may elict some recognition from people outside the Balkans with his songs “Kalashnikov” and “Bubamara”. Rock, metal, pop, dance, hip-hop and rap are also represented by artists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia.

Films in BCMS are also another gateway into appreciating the cultures while improving language competency. It must be remembered that cinematographic production in BCMS begin in earnest in Yugoslavia and as such films are often presented as being produced in “Serbo-Croatian”. Notwithstanding the nomenclature, watching these films will certainly improve the learner’s passive understanding of BCMS. Notable Bosnian films include “No Man’s Land” and “Grbavica”. “Tko pjeva zlo ne misli”, “Rondo”, “Život sa stricem”, “Ta divna splitska noć”, “Neka ostane među nama” are some Croatian films worth watching while “Pogled sa Ajfelovog Tornja” and “Imam Nešto Važno Da Vam Kažem” are two examples of Montenegrin films. A few prominent Serbian films are “Bitka na Neretvi”, “Crna mačka, beli mačor”, “Dom za vešanje”, “Ljubavni slučaj ili tragedija službenice P.T.T.”, “Otac na službenom putu” and “Podzemlje”.


For English speakers, the greatest difficulties in my opinion are:
1) Verbal aspect
2) Mastering the tones and variable stress.
3) Syntax
4) Nominal and adjectival declension
5) Vocabulary
6) Negotiating the linguistic sensitivity of some native speakers of BCMS.

The last point refers to the fact that foreign learners should be aware of some of the prescriptions or tendencies that distinguish the standard languages from each other. Although this may seem trivial or unnecessary to those accustomed to languages such as English, Portuguese or Spanish, it should not be dismissed completely when learning BCMS. This is attributable to the sometimes high sensitivity among some native speakers on the matter and the presence of natively-produced dictionaries and grammar manuals which emphasize the characteristics, expressions, words or tendencies that distinguish the standard languages even if they do not reduce mutual intelligibility to a significant degree.

In summary, 10 observable distinctions that I’ve encountered as a former learner of BCMS are as follows:

i) All standard languages use the Latin alphabet, but Bosnian, Montenegrin and Serbian can also use modified Cyrillic alphabets (although the use of Bosnian Cyrillic is rare).

ii) The infinitive is used much more frequently in Croatia than it is in Serbia and Montenegro. Frequency for using the infinitive in Bosnia and Herzegovina falls between the levels observed in the other countries.

iii) Standard Bosnian and Standard Croatian often incorporate foreign names in their original spelling. Standard Serbian often incorporates foreign names after having changed their original spelling so that they correspond to the convention of the BCMS alphabets.

iv) The Montenegrin alphabet includes the letters ś / ć and ź / з́ which could be represented in the original alphabets for BCMS by “šj” / “шj” and “žj” / “жj” respectively. The addition of new letters in the Montenegrin alphabet has been criticized as politically-motivated since the sounds represented by the new letters of the Montenegrin alphabet are not observed reliably among Montenegrins and could have been expressed without modification of the existing alphabets.

v) Standard Croatian prescribes that the final –i in the infinitive be elided in spelling the simple future. Standard Montenegrin and Standard Serbian prescribe that the final –ti in the infinitive be elided and then combined with the future marker. Standard Bosnian officially prescribes that either treatment is correct. However the difference in spelling does not lead to a difference in pronunciation and speakers of BCMS pronounce the resulting construction identically.


English: “I shall be”
Standard Bosnian: bit ću OR biću
Standard Croatian: bit ću
Standard Montengrin and Standard Serbian: biću.

All forms from BCMS derive from a combination of infinitive “biti” = “to be” and the future marker “ću” (ćeš, će etc.)

vi) The nominal derivational suffix –lac is used less frequently in Standard Croatian than it is in the other standards.

vii) The verbal derivational suffix –irati is used more frequently in Standard Croatian than it is in the other standards.

viii) Using “štokavsko-ekavski” realizations of “yat” (see “Variations”) almost always marks the user as “Serbian”.

ix) Croats often construct binary questions (i.e. “yes-no”) by placing “li” after the main verb at the head of the sentence. Such questions among Montenegrins and Serbs are more often constructed by placing “Da li” before the main verb at the head of the sentence. Bosnians use both versions without a marked preference. Use of these constructions is a matter of probability as neither form is “more correct” than another, despite preferences suggesting otherwise among Croats on one hand and Montenegrins and Serbs on the other.

x) Among differences in vocabulary within the standard languages, certain words that have internal –h– in Standard Bosnian or Croatian tend to have internal –v– in Standard Montenegrin or Serbian.

duhan (BC); duvan (MS) “tobacco”
kuhati (BC); kuvati (MS) “to cook”
suho (BC); suvo (MS) “dry”


Like most other Slavonic languages, BCMS has elaborate inflections for nouns and adjectives.

Grammarians usually identify seven cases for nouns and adjectives: nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, locative, instrumental and vocative.

However the endings for dative and locative are virtually the same in BCMS and it may be helpful for beginners not to make a big deal of the distinction between locative and dative (i.e. for practical purposes it uses SIX rather than seven cases). However, if you are learning BCMS with a background in other Slavonic languages whose declensions do noticeably distinguish dative from locative, then it may be helpful to make a distinction when learning BCMS in order to keep things “consistent” in your mind.

There are two numbers: singular and plural

There are three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter with masculine divided further into animate and inanimate categories in the declensions of the nominative and accusative.

There are three moods: indicative, conditional and imperative

There are two voices: active and passive

There are seven tenses: past, present, future I, future II, aorist, imperfect and pluperfect. However, the last three are used in older literature and rarely heard in speech (especially aorist and imperfect). However in dialects (particularly the “Torlak” dialects), aorist, imperfect and pluperfect are much more likely to be used.

There are two verbal aspects: imperfective and perfective (these aspects deal with the concept of whether the verb describes an action that was/is/will be repetitive/ongoing OR an action that was/is/will be completed.). This means that most actions are expressed with an imperfective and a corresponding perfective verb.

Because of BCMS’ inflective nature, personal subject pronouns are usually omitted unless the speaker wishes to emphasize or clarify the subject of a sentence. Syntax is usually subject-verb-object BUT this can change depending on the focus or nuance that a speaker wishes to convey. Thus, syntax can be rather flexible compared to English as much of the relevant grammatical information of a sentence is revealed in the inflections, suffixes and prefixes of the words. Syntax is also affected by “enclitics” and there is a strict order when using them.

Adjectives precede the nouns that they describe.
Ex. engleski jezik = English language

In turn, some adjectives can take endings that determine whether the object is definite or indefinite.

dobar kompjuter = a good computer

dobri kompjuter = the good computer

In addition, adjectives must agree with the nouns that they describe:

tih muškarac = a quiet man (masculine animate nominative singular)

tihi muškarac = the quiet man (masculine animate nominative singular)

velik grad = a big city (masculine inanimate nominative singular)

veliki grad = the big city (masculine inanimate nominative singular)

malena žena = small woman (feminine nominative singular)

novo selo = new village (neuter nominative singular)

tihi muškarci = quiet men (masculine animate nominative plural)

veliki gradovi = big cities (masculine inanimate nominative plural)

malene žene = small women (feminine nominative plural)

nova sela = new villages (neuter nominative plural)


Stress in BCMS is variable and in turn, stressed syllables can be pronounced with a rising or falling pitch that is either long or short. This also means that vowels can be long or short. Sometimes, stress with pitch-accent will distinguish different forms:

Ex. valjati = “to roll” (long rising tone on initial 'a' which is stressed); valjati = “to be good” (long falling tone on initial 'a' which is stressed)

The stress and pitch-accent of BCMS words aren't marked by accents or diacritics in most texts. Thus it's difficult for a learner of BCMS to know how to pronounce correctly an unfamiliar word that he or she sees in print unless the pitch and stress are marked explicitly (as is the case in etymological dictionaries or a few textbooks for foreigners.)

In spite of these difficulties, the variable stress and pitch-accent give to spoken BCMS a certain melody and rhythm that is unique from most other Slavonic languages. Especially perceptive students may also note that some of the distinctions in pitch-accent have faded among many Croats and Serbs outside very careful speech. In general, educated Bosnians are now most likely to speak in a way that is closest to descriptions in standard textbooks on BCMS with all of the prescribed subtleties in stress and pitch-accent.


The vocabulary of BCMS is generally quite removed from that of English even though both languages are both Indo-European languages.

dva = two

tri = three

četiri = four (it's a distant link - only a linguist can explain how the 'če-' is connected to 'f-' in 'four'.)

pet = five

mleko / mlijeko = milk

voda = water

brat = brother

sestra = sister

sin = son

žena = woman (cf. English 'queen' - it's a distant cognate)

živeti / živjeti = to live (cf. English 'quick' - it's a distant cognate)

sneg / snijeg = snow

ti, vi = you (singular), you (plural)

noć = night

godina = year (cf. English 'good' - it's a distant cognate)

nos = nose

sutra = tomorrow

danas = today

juče / jučer = yesterday

An examination of the lexical stock gives the clearest indication of how some native speakers of BCMS have come to insist that their respective national standards are separate languages. Despite BCMS’ Slavonic origin, words of demonstrably Slavonic origin that differ either in spelling or in form have ended up being used by the variants to express the same concept or object.

ko? (BMS); tko? (C) “who?”
šta? (BMS); što? (C) “what?”
otok (BC – cf. Proto-Slavonic *tokъ “flow”); ostrvo (MS – cf. Proto-Slavonic *o-strovъ) “island”
pozorište (BMS – derivative. Cf. pozrieť = “to look” (Slovak)); kazalište (C – derivative. Cf. pokazać = “to show” (Polish)) “theater”

There are also false friends and partial false friends:

igrati = to play (C); igrati = to play; to dance (BMS)
kovčeg = coffin; suitcase; trunk (B); kovčeg = suitcase; trunk (C); kovčeg = coffin; trunk (MS)
majka = grandmother (B); majka = mother (CMS)
slovenski = Slovenian (BC); slovenski = Slavonic (MS)

In addition to the native Slavonic vocabulary, BCMS has borrowed many words from other languages, including Czech, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian and Turkish. Latin and Old Church Slavonic loanwords are also present because of the influence of Roman Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity respectively. English loanwords are more prevalent nowadays than in older varieties of BCMS because of the influence of American pop culture, the internet and sports.

The distribution or incorporation of loanwords isn't uniform as standard Croatian tends to have more neologisms or calques in place of direct borrowing whereas the other standard languages are less likely to create neologisms or calques. However when loanwords appear in any of the standards, there is a tendency for Croatian prescriptions to be more tolerant toward loanwords or constructions of Latin, Hungarian, Germanic, Greek or Western Slavonic origin, while Bosnian ones are most likely to incorporate elements of Arabic, Iranic or Turkish origin. Montenegrin and Serbian lexicons are more likely to contain words or expressions that entered as borrowings from Greek, Old Church Slavonic, Russian and Turkish. These preferences illustrate the perceptions of the planners who wish to associate certain cultures or civilizations with their own cultures using the composition of the word stock.


rujan = September (C - cf. Czech 'řijen' = “October”) vs. septembar (BMS)

pregled = survey (BCMS - cf. Czech 'přehled') vs. Croatian-codified alternative of “prijegled” (substitution of first “e” with “ije” is in line with a strong tendency to view all expressions of “Štokavsko-Ekavski” as being "un-Croatian")

organizirati = organize (BC - cf. German 'organisieren') vs. organizovati (BMS - -ovati suffix is of Slavonic origin)

realizirati = to realize (BC - cf. German 'realisieren') vs. realizovati (BMS - -ovati suffix is of Slavonic origin)

kemija = chemistry (C); hemija (BMS) - entered from Latin and is ultimately derived from compound of Arabic ال (al) and Ancient Greek χυμεία (khumeia).

kočija = coach (BCMS - cf. Hungarian 'kocsi')

soba = room (BCMS - cf. Hungarian 'szoba')

varoš = town (BCMS - cf. Hungarian: 'város')

minuta = minute (BCMS - cf. Italian 'minuto') vs. minut (BMS) (“minut” is masculine instead of feminine like “minuta”)

siguran = definite, sure (BCMS - cf. Italian 'sicuro')

boja = colour (BCMS - cf. Turkish 'boya')

ćilim = thick oriental carpet (BCMS - ultimately from Farsi 'گلیم' (gilīm))

džep = pocket (BCMS - cf. Turkish 'cep')

hefta = week (B - colloquial - ultimately from Farsi 'هفته' (hafte)); ned(j)elja, sedmica (BS - standard terms and from Proto-Slavonic *nedělja and *sedmь respectively); tjedan (C - from Proto-Slavonic *tědьnъ)

kompjuter, internet, menadžer (manager) (BCMS - all from English)


Most English-speaking learners will find little in BCMS/SC that is instantly familiar at the outset apart from most of the Latinic version of the alphabet and the occasional internationalism (e.g. fudbal, grejpfrut, muzika, sport).

BCMS/SC is intelligible in varying degrees to native speakers of other Slavonic languages without courses or special training, although this "untrained intelligibility" isn't that high unless one knows Bulgarian, Macedonian or Slovenian. Here are some hints that may help with making sense of BCMS/SC for people speaking at least one Slavonic language other than BCMS/SC.

1) Like Western Slavonic and the other Southern Slavonic languages, several older combinations of a vowel and a liquid often reversed to become combinations of a liquid and vowel. This is unlike the case of the Eastern Slavonic languages which show this development only when the ancestral syllable had rising (pitch-)accent, and then only when it was the initial syllable. Otherwise this last set of languages is now often marked by a vowel preceding and following the liquid.


*gor > grad "city" (BCMS/SC, Slovenian), град "city" (Bulgarian, Macedonian), hrad "castle" (Czech, Slovak), gd "castle" (Polish) (cf. город "city" (Russian), город "citadel" (Ukrainian))

*kortъkъ > kratak (BCMS/SC), кратък (Bulgarian) ktký (Czech), краток (Macedonian), ktki (Polish), krátky (Slovak), kratek (Slovenian), krotki (Lower Sorbian) "short" (Cf. кароткі (Belorussian), короткий (Russian, Ukrainian))

*melko > ml(ij)eko (BCMS/SC), мляко (Bulgarian), mko (Czech), млеко (Macedonian), mleko (Polish, Slovenian), mlieko (Slovak), mloko (Lower Sorbian, Upper Sorbian) "milk" (cf. мaлaко (Belorussian), молоко (Russian, Ukrainian))

2) The nasal vowels ę and ǫ from Proto-Slavonic evolved to e and u respectively in BCMS/SC. The first development is in common with that of the other Southern Slavonic languages, while the latter is in common with that of the Eastern Slavonic languages, Slovak, and to a lesser extent with Czech and Sorbian.


*jьmę > ime (BCMS/SC, Slovenian), име (Bulgarian, Macedonian) "given name" (cf. імя (Belorussian), jméno (Czech), imię (Polish), имя (Russian), meno (Slovak), mě (Lower Sorbian), mjeno (Upper Sorbian), ім'я (Ukrainian))

*krǫglъ > круглы (Belorussian), okrugao (BCMS/SC), круглый (Russian), okrúhly (Slovak), круглий (Ukrainian) "circular, round" (cf. кръгъл (Bulgarian), okrouhlý (Czech), okrągły (Polish), okrogel (Slovenian))

*zǫ > zub (BCMS/SC, Czech, Slovak, Sorbian), зуб (Belorussian, Russian, Ukrainian) "tooth" (cf. зъб (Bulgarian), заб (Macedonian), ząb (Polish), zob (Slovenian)

3) The speech territory of BCMS/SC shows the most reflexes of the ancestral vowel *ě. The Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and one of the Serbian codifications are such that the reflexes are je or ije. A second Serbian codification is such that the reflex is e. Some subdialects in the former Yugoslavia also show a reflex of i. These subdivisions in the evolution of *ě in BCMS/SC are known as ekavian, ikavian, and (i)jekavian. The development of ekavian coincides to a greater or lesser degree with a similar trend in Belorussian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Russian, Slovak and Slovenian. The development of ikavian coincides to large extent with a similar trend in Ukrainian. The reflex of (i)je has no neat parallel in the other Slavonic languages.


*měsęcь > месяц (Belorussian, Russian), mesec (BCMS/SC - Ekavian/"Serbian", Slovenian), misec (BCMS/SC - Ikavian), mjesec (BCMS/SC - Ijekavian), месец (Bulgarian, Macedonian), měsíc (Czech), miesiąc (Polish), mesiac (Slovak), mjasec (Lower Sorbian), měsac (Upper Sorbian), місяць (Ukrainian)

*rěka > рака (Belorussian), reka (BCMS/SC - Ekavian/"Serbian", Slovenian), rika (BCMS/SC - Ikavian), rijeka (BCMS/SC - Ijekavian), река (Bulgarian, Macedonian, Russian), rieka (Slovak), ріка (Ukrainian) "river" (cf. řeka (Czech), rzeka (Polish) - evolution of *ě set off change to the original preceding r such that this consonant's pronunciation in Czech and Polish is now rather close to s in "pleasure" as marked by ř and rz respectively)

4) In common with Czech, Macedonian, Slovak and Slovenian, BCMS/SC uses vocalic r (i.e. r acts like a vowel)

*pьrstъ > prst (BCMS/SC, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian), прст (Macedonian) "finger" (cf. пръст (Bulgarian), перст (Russian - archaic), porst (Upper Sorbian), перстень (Ukrainian))

trgovina "commerce" (BCMS/SC, Slovenian), trh "market" (Czech, Slovak), трговија "commerce" (Macedonian) (cf. търговия "commerce" (Bulgarian), targ "market" (Polish), торговля "commerce" (Russian), торг "market" (Ukrainian))

5) -l at the end of a syllable as found in other Slavonic languages (or in Polish and sometimes ľ in Slovak) is very often -o in BCMS/SC.


d(ij)etao "woodpecker" (BCMS/SC) (cf. дзяцел (Belorussian), datel (Czech), dzięcioł (Polish), дятел (Russian, Ukrainian), ďateľ (Slovak), detel (Slovenian))

On je kupio knjigu "He bought a book" (BCMS/SC) (cf. On koupil knihu (Czech), On kupił książkę (Polish), Он купил книгу (Russian), On kúpil knihu (Slovak))

veoma "very" (BCMS/SC) (cf. velmi (Czech), veľmi (Slovak))

6) Like one of the standard variants of Slovenian, BCMS/SC is codified with pitch-accent (these distinctions are not always followed in the speech of some Croats and Serbs).

7) General future activity is typically expressed by combining shortened forms of ht(j)eti "to want" with the infinitive of the second verb with the shortened forms of ht(j)eti being related to the Bulgarian ще and Macedonian ќe.

Ja ću pisati (BCMS/SC), Аз ще пиша (Bulgarian), Јас ќе пишувам (Macedonian) "I shall write / be writing" (cf. Я буду пісаць (Belorussian), Já budu psát (Czech), Ja będę pisać (Polish), Я буду писать (Russian), Ja budem písať (Slovak), Jaz bom pisal (Slovenian), Я буду писати / Писатиму (Ukrainian))

9) As in Bulgarian, Macedonian and Sorbian, the aorist and imperfect are still considered part of modern BCMS/SC (i.e. not obsolete), however their use is much more restricted than in Bulgarian and Macedonian being relegated to primarily to literary environments.

10) Unlike other Slavonic languages which also maintain case distinctions, the endings for dative and locative singular have almost totally merged while those of the dative, locative and instrumental plural have merged. The degree of syncretism is much more pronounced than in the other Slavonic languages apart from Bulgarian and Macedonian, and is clearest in the declension of adjectives.


"Help my old friend!" / "In my old friend [there] is a good heart."

Pomogni mojem starom prijatelju! (dative) / U mojem starom prijatelju je jako srce. (locative) (BCMS/SC - endings have merged)

Pomoz mému starému příteli! (dative) / V mém starém příteli! je dobré srdce. (locative) (Czech - endings have not merged)
Pomóż mojemu staremu przyjacielowi! (dative) / W moim starym przyjacielu jest dobre serce. (locative) (Polish - endings have not merged)
Помоги моему старому приятелю! (dative) / В моëм старом приятеле - доброе сердце. (locative) (Russian - endings have not merged)
Pomôž môjmu starému priateľovi! (dative) / V mojom starom priateľovi je dobré srdce. (locative) (Slovak - endings have not merged)
Допоможи моєму старому приятелю! (dative) / У моïм старім приятелі - добре сердце. (locative) (Ukrainian - endings have not merged)

"...toward old buildings / old buildings / ...with old buildings"
...prema starim zgradama (dative) / ...u starim zgradama (locative) / ... sa starim zgradama (instrumental) (BCMS/SC - endings have merged) starým budovám (dative) / ... ve starých budovách (locative) / ... se starými budovami (instrumental) (Czech - endings have not merged)
...ku starym budynkom (dative) / ... w starych budynkach (locative) / ... ze starymi budynkami (instrumental) (Polish - endings have not merged)
...к старым зданиям (dative) / ... в старых зданиях (locative) / ... со старыми зданиями (instrumental) (Russian - endings have not merged)
...ku starým budovám (dative) / ... vo starých budovách (locative / ... so starými budovami (instrumental) (Slovak - endings have not merged)
...к старим будинкам (archaic - dative) / ... у старих будинках (locative) / ... зо старими будинками (instrumental) (Ukrainian - endings have not merged)

Scroll down to the sections on transparency / intelligibility for speakers of other languages in the profiles for Czech, Polish, Slovak, Slovenian and Ukrainian for related information on the subject.


Spelling in BCMS is phonetic in a limited sense with each grapheme matching a unique sound but as mentioned earlier the spelling often does not give clues about the location of stress and quality of tone/pitch-accent in words. All standards use the Latinic with special characters č, ć, đ, š, ž. The Montenegrin version is distinguishable from the original Latinic alphabet of BCMS by including ś and ź. In addition a modified Cyrillic alphabet is used with the Bosnian, Montenegrin and Serbian standards. However in practice, Bosnian is rarely expressed in Cyrillic while usage of Cyrillic in Montenegro and Serbia is less common outside rural areas as wider acceptance lags behind because of the headstart gained initially by the Latin alphabet in electronic communications (especially with SMS and instant messaging). The modified Cyrillic alphabet for BMS is similar to other Cyrillic alphabets of Slavonic languages but contains the characters ћ (ć), ђ (đ), џ (dž), j (j), љ (lj) and њ (nj). As mentioned under “Difficulties” Montenegrin Cyrillic uses also ć and з́ which are unknown in Bosnian and Serbian Cyrillic.


According to FSI, it takes approximately 1100 class hours to achieve professional speaking and reading proficiency in Bosnian, Croatian or Serbian. To this one can add Montenegrin.

Naturally, the time needed will vary on each person's level of motivation, background in other Slavonic languages, access to material and environment. Given such factors, the time needed to achieve professional speaking and reading proficiency in BCMS can take as little as a year to as much as infinity.


Learning materials for foreigners nowadays accommodate the sociolinguistic conclusion that BCMS are separate entities worthy of designated materials. However one may still profitably learn BCMS using older courses designated as “Serbo-Croatian”. In general, materials bearing the “Serbo-Croatian” designation lean towards teaching “Štokavsko-Ekavski” or the most common sub-variant of modern standard Serbian, but they also introduce some elements which would be marked by native speakers as typical of standard Croatian. Outside Alexander’s course, I do not know of any self-instructional courses for English-speakers for Bosnian to say nothing of Montenegrin.

1) Teach Yourself Croatian (David Norris et al.) (price: approx $25 US)

- It comes with two CDs or audio cassettes and a textbook.
- What I enjoyed most about this course was that it had lively dialogues and useful information on grammar. It also comes with exercises for each chapter and answers at the back of the book.
- What I enjoyed least about this course was that its presentation of grammar was somewhat unstructured and could intimidate the learner at first. In the interest of keeping lively dialogues, it's natural that the language used would have relatively complex structures for a beginner and some idioms. The grammar section of each chapter would focus on the grammatical aspects of each set of dialogues. It would have been desirable if the textbook had included more exercises.

2) Teach Yourself Serbian (David Norris and Vladislava Ribnikar) (price: approx. $25 US)

- It comes with two CDs or audio cassettes and a textbook.
- This course follows the layout of “Teach Yourself Croatian” with each chapter containing a few dialogues, notes on grammar and culture, and exercises with answer key in the back of the textbook. For some reason “Teach Yourself Serbian” is longer containing more information, exercises and lessons than “Teach Yourself Croatian”. As a result it takes the learner farther along than “Teach Yourself Croatian”. Transcripts of dialogues and vocabulary is printed in both Cyrillic and Latin alphabets with entire chapters alternating regularly between the scripts after the third chapter.
- If one wanted to start learning BCMS and were given a choice between these two courses from “Teach Yourself”, I would recommend starting with “Teach Yourself Serbian” unless I had an overwhelming desire to focus on standard Croatian. The more extensive coverage in “Teach Yourself Serbian” offers a better introduction to BCMS than “Teach Yourself Croatian’s” more perfunctory treatment.

3a) Colloquial Croatian (Celia Hawkesworth) (price: approx. $40 US)
3b) Colloquial Croatian and Serbian (Celia Hawkesworth) (price: approx. $40 US)
3c) Colloquial Serbian (Celia Hawkesworth) (price: approx. $40 US)

- Each course comes with two CDs or audio cassettes and a textbook.
- What I liked about these courses was that each one had good dialogues and useful information on grammar. They also come with exercises for each chapter.
- However, there are serious problems with Hawkesworth’s courses compared to “Teach Yourself Croatian” or “Teach Yourself Serbian”. One frustrating problem is that only about a third of the exercises have answers at the back of the book. Another problem is that the glossaries at the back of the books are inadequate and only some of the dialogues have complete lists for new vocabulary. All of this is very surprising for kits that are sold as self-instructional courses. Given a choice between Norris and Hawkesworth courses, I would choose Norris' “Teach Yourself Course”. This is rather unusual as I often find Routledge's “Colloquial” series to be better than its counterparts in McGrawHill's “Teach Yourself” series.
- Despite the nominal difference in the courses as implied by the titles, the similarities between these courses outweigh the differences and most disturbingly for the learner, Hawkesworth’s courses all suffer from the same set of problems to the point where I would not recommend them to prospective students of BCMS.

4) Introduction to the Croatian and Serbian Language (Thomas Magner) (price: approx. $30 US for the book only; $80 US at the now-defunct Audioforum for book and CDs)

- It comes with 5 CDs which have recordings of all of the dialogues. The dialogues are also available online from the audio archive at Indiana University. See “Links”.
- What I enjoy most about this kit is that you can acquire a reasonably good grasp of basic Croatian or Serbian. It has thirty chapters and each chapter begins with either a dialogue or descriptive text. In some chapters there are interesting (if sometimes obsolete) notes on culture and geography as well as jokes and songs. Each chapter has four or five groups of exercises ranging from translation to fill-in-the-blank to writing short paragraphs on various themes. (e.g. “my vacations”, “my meals”, “my nationality”, etc.). There is also a short chapter devoted to texts in Croatian and Serbian (in Cyrillic and Latin alphabets) and are meant to give practice in reading formal language.
- Strangely, Magner presents all of the relevant grammatical points in a separate section in the back. As such, one would have to flip back and forth between the chapter's text and the relevant grammar. I found this to be rather frustrating and I often ended up referring to the index in order to find the explanation to the grammar that was relevant to the chapters' respective dialogues and exercises.
- The glossary at the end of the book is thorough and lists every word that appears in the dialogues. For each noun, the glossary indicates the gender and any irregular forms associated with it. For each verb, the glossary indicates the aspect and pattern of conjugation. Where necessary, the glossary indicates whether the word is “(I)jekavski” (i.e. more frequent outside Serbia) or “Ekavski” (i.e. more frequent in Serbia)
- This is a rather old textbook (published in 1989) and not without mistakes in typing or choice of words. However of all of the available textbooks out there this one makes a clear distinction between Croatian and Serbian and treats the two best-known standards quite evenly. Each dialogue appears on the same page in the two standards (with the Serbian one sometimes in Cyrillic) and the corresponding exercises focus on each variant. Magner's approach is a compromise in that the separated presentation of Croatian and Serbian aligns to sociolinguistic criteria but the combined treatment effectively aligns with the conclusions of comparative linguistic analysis where the two are variants of the same language.
- Magner's textbook is not in the same mold as “Teach Yourself Croatian” or “Colloquial Croatian”. For someone who is learning on his or her own and using this book, I would suggest that he or she get the help of a native speaker of BCMS to correct the exercises as there are no answers at the back of the book.

5) FSI Serbo-Croatian Basic Course, vols. 1-2*

- The complete set comes with 46 audio cassettes or CDs and 2 textbooks.
- As this course was designed by the Department of State, it is often held to be in the public-domain in the USA.
- This is a standard FSI Basic course and relies on drills and exercises to reinforce your knowledge of the language.
- It is designed in FSI's drab style and is meant for those with plenty of motivation and discipline.
- The course was created for those who wanted to work in the Foreign Service during the Cold War and includes situations that may be somewhat quaint in 2010. ;-)

6a Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, a Textbook (with exercises and basic grammar) (price $39.95 US) (Ronelle Alexander and Ellen Elias-Bursac)
6b) Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, a Grammar (with sociolinguistic commentary) (price $39.95 US) (Ronelle Alexander)
6c) Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian Audio Supplement (6 CDs to accompany Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, a Textbook) (price $29.95 US) (Ronelle Alexander and Ellen Elias-Bursac)

- I stumbled upon these materials by Ronelle Alexander by chance.
- These were the first textbooks on BCMS produced in North America after the breakup of Yugoslavia and take into account the prescribed differences between Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian.
- The layout of the contents are arranged so that the Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian dialogues are lined up beside each other with the accompanying explanations pointing out differences where important.
- The course also has the advantage of having accentuation/pitch-accent indicated for every word thus providing an extra hint for students learning proper pronunciation of words.
- Although the course's primary audience is beginning students who attend formal classes, the authors have provided freely-downloadable answer keys to most of the exercises at the website for the course. See “Links” at the end of this profile for the URL.
- The grammar manual is an excellent and detailed resource and its second part also contains an unbiased and clear account of the historical development of Serbo-Croatian and its later fragmenting to contemporary Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian.
- The 6 CDs in the audio supplement are illustrative of the sensitivity (or arguably the absurdity) of the clash between sociolinguistic and structural linguistic conclusions. Each of Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian is allotted 2 CDs with recordings of all dialogues. The result is that roughly 95% of the audio material has been triplicated, and so someone intent on learning one standard can safely ignore the audio on the remaining 4 CDs.
- The 2nd edition of the textbook was released in the summer of 2010.

7a) English-Serbo-Croatian Dictionary (ed. Morton Benson) (price: variable)**
7b) Serbo-Croatian-English Dictionary (ed. Morton Benson) (price: variable)**

- These two volumes remain the most comprehensive and largest dictionaries of their type despite drawing more on literary attestations rather than colloquial ones and being completed before the emergence of Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian standards. Each volume contains approximately 60,000 headwords.
- Despite purist sneering at including words of a non-existent language in officialdom (i.e. Serbo-Croatian), Benson's dictionaries still blow away the competition of two-way English-BCMS dictionaries that have been published after the collapse of Yugoslavia. Among its virtues are that all headwords are indicated with diacritical marks showing pitch-accent and stress placement while the aspectual counterpart(s) for almost each verb have been placed alongside.
- These dictionaries may still be found on Amazon Marketplace at sellers of used-books offering each volume from anywhere from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars. Happy hunting!

8) Standard English-Serbo-Croatian, Serbo-Croatian-English dictionary (Morton Benson) (price: approx. $35 US)*

- This is a condensed version of the dictionaries in 7a) and 7b). It's probably the only worthwhile dictionary in the English-speaking world that is reasonably accessible and in stock at most booksellers.
- Its strengths and weaknesses are similar to the dictionaries in 7a) and 7b).
- What I enjoy least about this dictionary is that Benson has not included the conjugation patterns of the verbs. This can be quite frustrating when dealing with irregular verbs which are often troublesome for foreign learners.

9) Langenscheidt Taschenwörterbuch Kroatisch (price: approx. 30 Euros)**

- This is a surprisingly useful dictionary that I have seen only in German. I can't find an English equivalent anywhere in Langenscheidt's series.
- It is useful in that it not only shows conjugational patterns after most verbs, but it also indicates the aspectual pair (perfective vs. imperfective) and for all Croatian words, it also marks the position of stress and long vowels (stress, pitch and length are not marked in standard Croatian spelling).
- The downsides are that it is rather expensive for its size (it's only a “pocket dictionary” of about 950 pages with 75 000 entries) and that its only in German-Croatian/Croatian-German.
- Naturally much of the dictionary’s content is usable for someone focused on the other standards because of the very high degree of overlap.

10) Horvát-magyar kisszótár & Magyar-horvát kisszótár (Croatian-Hungarian small dictionary and Hungarian-Croatian small dictionary) (price: approx. 5500 forints ~ $26 US)**

- This is a pair of small dictionaries that I bought when I was in Hungary. (approx. 25,000 entries for each part)
- For most verbs, it shows the aspectual pair (imperfective vs. perfective) in the Hungarian-Croatian part and also some conjugational information for each verb in the Croatian-Hungarian part.
- All Croatian nouns are linked to charts in the back which show the pattern of declension. This is quite handy when you encounter exceptions.
- Unlike the German dictionary by Langenscheidt, this Hungarian dictionary doesn't show the accent or pitch pattern of the words.
- The downsides are that this pair of dictionaries is quite small and are not very useful unless you know some Hungarian or have a bilingual Hungarian dictionary (e.g. Hungarian-English etc.) to make sense of the Hungarian translations)
- Naturally much of these dictionaries’ content is usable for someone focused on the other standards because of the very high degree of overlap.

11) Mađarsko-srpski, srpsko-mađarski rečnik (Hungarian-Serbian, Serbian-Hungarian dictionary) (price: approx. 750 dinars ~ $7 US)**

- For most verbs, it shows the aspectual pair (imperfective vs. perfective) in the Hungarian-Serbian part and also some conjugational information for each verb in the Serbian-Hungarian part.
- All Serbian nouns are linked to charts in the back which show the pattern of declension. This is quite handy when you encounter exceptions.
- Unlike the German-Croatian/Croatian-German dictionary by Langenscheidt, this Hungarian dictionary doesn't show the accent or pitch pattern of the words.
- The downsides are that this dictionary is quite small and not very useful unless you know some Hungarian or have a bilingual Hungarian dictionary (e.g. Hungarian-English etc.) to make sense of the Hungarian translations.
- Naturally much of these dictionaries’ content is usable for someone focused on the other standards because of the very high degree of overlap.

12) Savremeni englesko-srpski i srpsko-engleski rečnik I-II (Contemporary English-Serbian & Serbian-English Dictionary I-II) (ed. Danko Šipka) (price: approx. 5500 dinars ~ $60 US)

- These two volumes are less comphrensive than the dictionaries edited by Morton Benson but still have headwords marked for pitch-accent and stress placement while the aspectual counterpart(s) for almost each verb have been placed alongside. Each volume contains approximately 30,000 headwords.
- Depending on your point of view, this dictionary has the advantage of being published in Serbian Cyrillic (including being arranged per the sequence of that alphabet) in line with the current (i.e. 2013) tendency for Serbian dictionaries to be published using Cyrillic (N.B. Benson's dictionaries are published in Latinic).
- These dictionaries are most readily obtainable from Serbian bookstores, but may turn up as imports in online booksellers.

13) Language and Identity in the Balkans: Serbo-Croatian and its Disintegration (Robert Greenberg) (price: approx. $20 US)

- This book is an excellent survey for learners who are interested in the sociolinguistic background of the identity of BCMS and want external insight into attitudes of native speakers of BCMS on whether BCMS is a cover term for separate languages or not. Greenberg focuses on presenting facts and putting his observations in a way where he leaves it to readers to come to their own conclusions or dig further in the topic.

* The FSI course in Serbo-Croatian focuses on “Ekavski” (basically “Serbian”) but has some chapters that are in “(I)jekavski” (“Bosnian”, “Croatian”, “Montenegrin” or “Serbian”).

I advise that anyone who wants to learn Bosnian, Croatian or Serbian that relying on “Serbo-Croatian” materials should not cause any problem with the majority of people from the former Yugoslavia. In fact native speakers take pleasure in seeing outsiders learn any form of BCMS because of the low associated profile among the world’s languages and perception that foreigners are intimidated by it. In any case, their often positive reaction works well given that there are still rather few materials in English that are designed for only one of Bosnian, Croatian or Serbian (to say nothing of Montenegrin which is not yet fully standardized). However don't be surprised if now and then some native speakers are quick to correct your “Serbo-Croatian” on the grounds that you are using something that is not typical of their respective national standard. It's a shame since the course by FSI is of otherwise high quality and Ohio State University still sells an excellent combined set of textbooks, workbooks and recordings in “Serbo-Croatian” by Biljana Šljivić-Šimšić et al. for beginning, intermediate and advanced students. It's disappointing that courses with useful exercises and notes are spoiled by political considerations.

** Among recently-published bilingual dictionaries of BCMS with another language, dictionaries meant for speakers of languages other than English are most likely to find some useful! According to one of my friends, the English-Croatian/Croatian-English dictionaries that were edited by Zeljko Bujaš are a better choice for learning Croatian but are expensive outside Croatia (approx. price: $90 US for each volume) and aren't quite as useful as Langenscheidt's Taschenwörterbuch and the Croatian-Hungarian dictionary that I have mentioned. Bujaš doesn't indicate much grammatical information in his entries and I get the impression that most English-BCMS or BCMS-English dictionaries are produced with the native speaker of BCMS in mind as opposed to the native speaker of English. The emergence of the large English-Serbian/Serbian-English dictionaries compiled by Danko Šipka and Boris Hlebec in the recent past do largely alleviate this apparent gap in BCMS/SC lexicography, however those insistent on learning variants other than Serbian may find that they lack the last ounce of desired coverage despite their size and comprehensiveness.


Foreigners may enroll in classes in BCMS in each of Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. In all cases what will be taught is the national standard for that country. Understandably most such classes are found in larger cities or capitals with a few universities and several private language schools opening their doors to foreigners wishing to learn the local language.

Outside the Balkans, there are classes of BCMS for foreigners either at universities or in more humble surroundings at a place of worship or cultural center for people from the former Yugoslavia. Classes for BCMS at universities are most often organized by treating BCMS as one language rather than separate languages partially for financial reasons and partially on the fact that many professors who teach such courses do not hold BCMS as four separate languages deserving of four separate classes thanks to the very high overlap within BCMS. As such these universities outside the Balkans subsume such classes where offered under titles such as “Bosnian-Serbian-Croatian”, “Croatian/Serbian”, “Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian” or “Serbo-Croatian”. However a few universities do specifically teach classes focused on just one standard. For example, the University of Westminster in London offers separate courses in Croatian and Serbian, while Macquarie University and University of Queensland in Australia offer courses in Croatian. Classes in BCMS are sometimes offered in evenings or weekends by cultural organizations or places of worship to the general public or members of the respective diasporas who wish to learn the language of their ancestors.


Discussions, posts or logs on HTLAL involving BCMS/SC
- BCS – FSI Course Worthwhile?
- Best way to start learning Bosnian
- Bosnian/Croatian/Montenegrin/Serbian
- Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, Serbian
- Croatian
- Croatian/Bosnian
- Croatian: što and šta
- Hey, so… Croatian?
- How to begin Serbian from scratch…
- Is Croatian considered hardcore?
- Croatian links?
- Montenegrin
- Orthographical Question about Croatian
- Pitchless Serbian?
- Russian and Serbian grammar question
- Russian from Serbo-Croatian - how easy?
- Sapedro’s Croatian log
- Serbo-Croatian
- Serbo-Croatian – a tonal language?
- ”Serbo-Croatian” and its descendants

Juxtaposed analysis of divergent words and phrases in dialogues and narratives from “Beginner’s Croatian” and “Beginner’s Serbian” arranged sequentially by chapter as presented in the log Chung at work / Chung pri práci.
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15 and conclusion

Analysis and critique of differences presented in the monograph “Corpus-Based Comparison of Contemporary Croatian, Serbian and Bosnian” by Bekavec et al. as presented in the log Chung at work / Chung pri práci.
Abstract and phonological differences
Morphological differences
Lexical differences
Syntactic differences
Semantic differences

Other forums or discussion on other forums
- Unilang’s forum for BCS

Discussions at WordReference involving BCMS/SC:
- Montenegrin: is it different from Serbian/Croatian?
- Serbian/Croatian (BCS): Differences
- Serbian/Croatian (BCS): One language?
- Serbo-Croatian (BCS): Dialects

General collections of links
- A wide-ranging website on many aspects of the language (e.g. grammar, online courses, education, professional organizations, media)
- Large lists of links related to each of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia hosted by University College London.

General treatment and descriptions of BCMS/SC's learning difficulty
- Concise but helpful descriptions of Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian at the Language Materials Project of UCLA
- Wikipedia's articles on Bosnian/Croatian/Montenegrin/Serbian and Serbo-Croatian
(The contents of the Croatian and Serbo-Croatian articles in particular have been heatedly disputed as can be seen by examining the talk pages and archives. However these are useful for showing to foreigners the amount of emotion surrounding the treatment of BCMS as separate languages or linguistic variants and perceptions of the connection between language and ethnic origin.)
- Wikipedia's article on the differences between standard Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian.
- Wikipedia's article on Čakavski
- Wikipedia's article on Kajkavski
- Wikipedia's article on Štokavski
- Wikipedia’s article on Torlak
- A map of dialects in the former Yugoslavia
- An article that describes the German influence on Croats' speech during the 18th and 19th centuries
- Wikipedia’s list of famous Bosnians (i.e. people born on territory now in Bosnia and Herzegovina, regardless of ethnic affiliation)
- Wikipedia’s list of famous Bosniaks (i.e. people born on territory now in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but followers of Islam)
- Wikipedia's list of famous Croats
- Wikipedia’s list of famous Montenegrins
- Wikipedia’s list of famous Serbs

Dictionaries and other databases
- Extensive monolingual explanatory dictionary of modern standard Croatian. Despite its nominal focus on Croatian, this dictionary can be used by anyone learning BCMS since the entries give information on meaning and inflection that are almost always equally applicable to words prescribed in the other standard languages.
- Extensive monolingual dictionaries of modern standard Serbian. Despite their nominal focus on Serbian, these resources can be used by anyone learning BCMS since the entries give information on meaning and inflection that are almost always equally applicable to words prescribed in the other standard languages. The spelling dictionary (Правописни речник) is usable without registration, while the remaining sources require registration (although it's free).

Online courses, downloadable material or lists of available courses
- A brief evaluation of various textbooks and references for English-speaking learners of Southern Slavonic languages
- A free description of the grammar of standard Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian in .pdf
- Pravopis srpskog jezika (Manual of Serbian Orthography)
- Gramatika srpskog jezika (Manual of Serbian Grammar)
- Česte jezičke greške i nedoumice (Frequent Errors and Doubts [in the Usage of Serbian])
- ”Spoken Serbo-Croatian Vol. 1” hosted at ERIC (text only)
- ”Spoken Serbo-Croatian Vol. 2” hosted at ERIC (text only)
- DLI's cultural background sheets for Bosnian and Croatian
- DLI's audio-textual Language Survival kits for Serbian:
Air Crew
Civil Affairs
Cordon & Search/Raid
Force Protection
Military Police
Public Affairs
- Authentic materials from DLI's GLOSS (Global Language Online Support System) in Croatian/Serbian with learning activities (run a search after having selected the language)
- The website for “Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian: A Textbook” (includes link to answer keys on the right)
- Audio for Thomas Magner’s course “Introduction to the Croatian and Serbian Language” as .mp3 files at the audio archive of Indiana University
- Larisa Zlatić's tips and resources for Serbian.
- Prof. Danko Šipka's online material for his introductory course in BCS (type 000000000 [i.e. 9 zeros] to log in)
- Daniel Nikolić's lessons of Croatian for beginners.
- Marina Petrović's lessons of Serbian for beginners.
- Croatian in Croatia and Serbian in Serbia from Langmedia at Five Colleges Center for the Study of World Languages (video reenactments of language in use with transcripts and translations to English)
- CultureTalk Bosnia and Herzegovina, CultureTalk Croatia and CultureTalk Serbia from Langmedia at Five Colleges Center for the Study of World Languages (short videos on cultural topics with transcripts and translations to English)

Literature and authentic texts
- Online collection of Bosnian literature
- Online collection of Croatian poetry
- Online collection of Croatian literature (i.e. prose and poetry)
- Small online library for Croatian writer Miroslav Krleža with texts.
- Online collection of Montenegrin literature
- Online collection of Serbian literature
- Online collection of texts by writers from the former Yugoslavia.
- Online collection of parallel texts on various topics from Croatian culture

Bookstores that have material of interest to learners of BCMS/SC
- Algoritam
- Bay Foreign Language Books Ltd.
- Bubamara Knjižara (Ladybug Book Café)
- Croatian Ethnic Institute Bookshop
- Interliber – Internet knjižara – Sarajevo
- Knjigaknjiga
- Knjižara
- Profil
- Schoenhof’s
- Serbica Books
- Superknjižara
- Sveznadar
- Zagreb Croatian Bookshop
- The website of the Foreign Languages Publication department of Ohio State University. (Select a language from the pull-down field beside the box for “Language”. This organization also sells textbooks, workbooks and cassettes for languages other than Šljivić-Šimšić's Serbo-Croatian resources.)

Edited by Chung on 25 October 2014 at 2:10am

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Senior Member
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 Message 2 of 14
30 May 2006 at 5:28pm | IP Logged 
I welcome corrections and comments from the native Croatian speakers. Out of all of the Slavonic languages that I know, I'm least confident with Croatian.

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Trilingual Heptaglot
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 Message 3 of 14
10 June 2006 at 3:33pm | IP Logged 
Hvala, Chung, izvrsno! :)
Here are some of the eventual "mistakes" I have found, or simply some of the things I wanted to add or reflect on.

Chung wrote:
In cases where the speaker would feel that "his" word would be unclear to the listener, he would use a term which is considered to be better understood. However, one should be aware that natives of the respective countries sometimes have strong feelings about "their" language or dialect. For example, a Croat may be quick to correct someone if he or she inadvertently uses a word or phrase that is considered "Un-Croatian" (i.e. something that is more frequently used by people living in Bosnia, Montenegro or Serbia.) even though this word or phrase in question is understood by anyone in Croatia.

If there is no need to use the foreign word, why would we use it? Why would be give greater importance to the foreign word or an international word than to the Croatian word? I am not a language purist (even though, you are correct, my country is full of them) and would not correct each foreigner's "ambasada" to "veleposlanstvo", "kompjuter" to "računalo" and such stuff, but I would point that, apart from the internationalisms, Croatian language has its own words for many things, and I would encourage the usage of them. It would be nice if we could sometimes simply encourage the usage of our own words without automatically being viewed as language purists.

Standard Croatian is taught in all schools and used as the official language. One can usually rely on a knowledge of only the standard language when communicating with other Croats. However, there are Croatian dialects and these are usually divided into three groups: akavski, Kajkavski and tokavski. These names arise from the differences in the word for "what" in these dialects. (i.e. "a", "kaj" and "to").

Čakavski, kajkavski & tokavski are not exactly "dijalekti", they are more often called "narječja". We make distinction between dialect and so-called "narječje".
Modern Standard Bosnian and Croatian are "tokavski-Ijekavski"

tokavski Ijekavko-jekavski, actually. If you want to be precise, correctly they are called ikavski, ekavski and ijekavski ili jekavski. At school we were told that we MUST say "ijekavski ili jekavski" and that it is not correct only to say "jekavski" or "ijekavski".
Yat reflects as: E, I, IJE and JE in Croatian, the latter two being by far the most common.
There are six cases for nouns and adjectives: nominative, accusative, genitive, dative/locative (the endings for dative and locative are the same in Modern Standard Croatian), instrumental and vocative.

Nevetheless, it is incorrect to speak of six cases, for there are seven. Despite the fact that locative is theoretically only dative with prepositions, it is regarded as a separate case and it will be incorrect if you say that there are six cases.
There are four moods: infinitive, indicative, conditional and imperative

No, there are three moods. Infinitive is NOT a mood (in any language that I know of).

There are seven tenses: past, present, future I, future II, aorist, imperfect and pluperfect. However, the last three are used only in formal writing or older literature and rarely heard in speech.

Aorist and imperfect are used rarely, that is correct, mostly in literature (and NOT in formal writing! I cannot imagine a document written in aorist.). There are individuals (me among them ;)) who enjoy to speak in them and thus sound archaic, but mostly they are not used.
Pluperfect is used, but people usually do not pay attention to when do they use it, so they use it incorrectly or do not use when they should, which may lead to the conclusion that it is not used, but it is far more used than aorist & imperfect together.

In addition to the native Slavonic vocabulary, Croatian has borrowed many words from other languages, including Czech, German, Hungarian and Italian.

Hungarian?! Do you have any examples? (I saw only the examples below, and we were still taught that "soba" was turcism?) Interesting, because I cannot think of a lot of words words of Hungarian origin (despite the fact we shared a lot of history with Hungary).
Don't be surprised if some native speakers are quick to correct your "Serbo-Croatian" on the grounds that you are using something that is not typical of their respective national standard. It's a shame, since the course by FSI is of high quality and Ohio State University still sells an excellent combined set of textbooks, workbooks and recordings in "Serbo-Croatian" by Biljana ljivic-imic et al.

I would not agree. In fact, I would say it a bit diversely: it is a shame that FSI still has courses of non-existing languages such as "Serbo-Croatian".

Thanks once more for the profile; and if you ever need any help with Croatian, you can message me.

Edited by winters on 10 June 2006 at 3:36pm

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 Message 4 of 14
19 July 2006 at 8:04am | IP Logged 
The books by Ronelle Alexander and Ellen Elias-Bursac are now available, and there is a website that goes with them for anyone who would like to learn more about them:

Edited by eliasbursac on 19 July 2006 at 8:05am

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Andy E
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 Message 5 of 14
19 July 2006 at 11:01am | IP Logged 
winters wrote:
Aorist and imperfect are used rarely, that is correct, mostly in literature (and NOT in formal writing! I cannot imagine a document written in aorist.).

What about legal documents? I often find that archaic use of (whatever) language survives in those.


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 Message 6 of 14
13 August 2006 at 6:23am | IP Logged 
Completely extinct, I'm afraid. :(
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 Message 7 of 14
21 December 2007 at 6:50am | IP Logged 
Actually, aorist and imperfekt are getting back into Croatian language and daily communication via - SMS. Their forms are usually shorter then the past simple, and therefore used as a form of abbreviation.
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 Message 8 of 14
21 December 2007 at 10:09am | IP Logged 
exactly. aorist for example is quite shorter.

čuo sam = čuh
vidio sam = vidjeh

it gets more popular because of the widespread use of sms, and as a result actually more people are using it colloquially.

very interesting article, i'm quite impressed. i've seen some mistakes, but i'll read it more thorough and inform you later on.

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