Serbo-Croatian also known as Serbo-Croat or Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian (BCMS) is a South-slavic language which is spoken in Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia.

South Slavic dialects historically formed a continuum. The turbulent history of the area, particularly due to expansion of the Ottoman Empire, resulted in a patchwork of dialectal and religious differences. Due to population migrations, Shtokavian became the most widespread in the western Balkans, intruding westwards into the area previously occupied by Chakavian and Kajkavian (which further blend into Slovenian in the northwest). Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs differ in religion and were historically often part of different cultural circles, although a large part of the nations have lived side by side under foreign overlords. During that period, the language was referred to under a variety of names, such as "Slavic", or according to region, "Bosnian", "Serbian" and "Croatian", the latter often in combination with "Slavonian" or "Dalmatian".

In the 19th century, Serbo-Croatian was standardized by Serbian and Croatian Writers, Linguists etc. long before Yugoslavia came into existence. From the very beginning, there were slightly different literary Serbian and Croatian standards, although both were based on the same Shtokavian subdialect, Eastern Herzegovinian. In the 20th century, Serbo-Croatian served as the official language of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (when it was called "Serbo-Croato-Slovenian"),and later as one of the official languages of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. After the breakup of Yugoslavia, "Serbo-Croatian" began falling out of official use, with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia preferring "Bosnian", "Croatian", "Montenegrin", and "Serbian" respectively.

Like other South Slavic languages, Serbo-Croatian has a fairly simple phonology, with 5 vowels and 25 consonants. Its grammar evolved from Common Slavic, with complex inflection, preserving seven grammatical cases in nouns, pronouns, and adjectives. Verbs exhibit imperfective or perfective aspect, with a moderately complex tense system. Serbo-Croatian is a pro-drop language with flexible word order, subject–verb–object being the default. Serbo-Croatian is written in both the Latin and Cyrillic scripts (predominantly dependent on the country of origin of the writer), both of which are entirely phonetic.

Different standards[edit | edit source]

Main article: Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, Montenegrin Compared

Much like most things in the Balkans, Serbo-Croatian is very controversial because people disagree on whether it is one language or multiple. In Serbia it is more widely considered one language, and in Bosnia and Croatia more people think they are different languages. 

Have whatever opinion about this that you'd like; I don't give one.

Comparison[edit | edit source]

Serbian[edit | edit source]

  • ~10 million native speakers
  • Alternates between the Latin and Cyrillic scripts
  • Ekavian (the reflex of Old Church Slavonic letter yat is -e-; "child" in Serbian is "dete", "song" is "pesma")
  • More German and Russian vocabulary

Croatian[edit | edit source]

  • ~6 million native speakers
  • Always uses the Latin script
  • Ijekavian (the reflex of yat is -ije- or -je-; "child" is "dijete", "song" is "pjesma")
  • More Slovene and Latin vocabulary

Bosnian[edit | edit source]

  • ~2.5 million native speakers
  • Usually uses Latin script
  • Ijekavian
  • More Turkish vocabulary

Montenegrin[edit | edit source]

  • 0.3-0.5 million native speakers (depending on criteria)
  • Alternates between the Latin and Cyrillic script
  • Ijekavian
  • Has 2 additional letters: (Ś[sj],Ź[zj] in Latin) (Ć[sj],З́[zj] In Cyrillic)

Alphabets and spelling[edit | edit source]

Gaj's latin alphabet, Serbian cyrillic script. Glagolitic script, Arabica

In modern Serbo-Croatian, there are 2 alphabets in use as mentioned earlier. The first one is a variant of the Latin alphabet called Gaj's Latin alphabet, which is used in all standards of Serbo-Croatian. The second is a variant of the Cyrilic alphabet and is only used in Serbia and Montenegro. On a practical level, Gaj's Latin alphabet is a must-learn if you intend to learn Serbo-Croatian as it is used in all standards, and Cyrillic can be ignored if you're not interested in Serbian and/or Montenegrin. It is still recommended to learn Cyrillic though, as it takes little effort to learn and has a fair amount of utility, even if you're not explicitly interested in Serbia or Montenegro.

Besides Latin and Cyrillic, two other alphabets were also historically used:

  • The Glagolitic script was used to some degree in Croatia from the 9th century until the 19th century. It also saw some minor use in Bulgarian and Czech.
  • A variant of the Arabic script, called Arabica, was used in Bosnia during Ottoman times between the 16th and 19th century.

Both Glagolitic and Arabica are no longer in use, and are only useful for reading historical texts.

Resources[edit | edit source]

Please list in what standard the resource is in

General Resources

Resource Duolingo Lingivst Clozemaster Memrise JW languages LingQ
Available? No No Serbian+Croatian Yes No No
Assimil Pimsleur Michel Thomas Language transfer FSI
Sort of1 No No No Yes

1 Serbian is only available from French. Croatian is only available from French, Italian and German

Razgovorajte s nama (Croatian)[edit | edit source]

  • Schoolbook. Consists of a textbook and a workbook
  • Consists of 3 parts: A2/B1, B1/B2, B2/C1
  • Contains speaking exercises; recommended to go through with a friend or family member who speaks the language
  • Gives some info about Croatia
  • Not available on Amazon; might be difficult to obtain.

HR4EU (Croatian)[edit | edit source]

  • Duolingo-like course
  • Decent for beginners

Media[edit | edit source]

Please list what standard the media is in

Music[edit | edit source]


Artist Subgenre Standard
Artan Lili Alt Rock Serbian
Van gogh - Serbian
Riblja čorba - Serbian
Kerber - Serbian
Pero Defformero Folk metal Serbian
Artan Lili Alt rock Serbian
Repetitor Punk Serbian
Idoli New wave Serbian
Aerodrom Croatian
M.O.R.T Punk Croatian
Vatra Pop-Rock Croatian
Zoran čalić band - Croatian
Zabranjeno pušenje New primitivism Bosnian


Artist Subgenre Standard
Denis i Denis Synthpop Croatian
Paraf Synthpop Croatian


Arist Subgenre Standard
Himzo Polovina Sevdah Bosnian

Shows[edit | edit source]

Bolji Život (Serbian)

Lud zbunjen normalan (Bosnian) (You can find all episodes on youtube)

Večernja škola (Croatian) (You can find all episodes on youtube)

Children's shows[edit | edit source]

Movies[edit | edit source] A site with Croatian films

Profesionalac (Serbian)

Do Koske (Serbian)

Lepa Sela Lepo Gore (Serbian)

News[edit | edit source]

Reading[edit | edit source]

Bilingual text[edit | edit source] (Croatian) (Serbian, also contains some books in other languages)

Children's literature[edit | edit source]

Vlak u Snijegu(Croatian)

Plesna haljina žutog maslačka(Croatian)(Free pdf)

Priče iz davnine(Croatian)(Free text file)

Brotips[edit | edit source]

  • The Fact that Serbo-Croatian has seven cases might sound intimidating, But you should know the Nominative right away and the Dative and Locative have the exact same inflection, so you only really have to learn five.
  • While the Serbo-Croatian standards are mostly mutually intelligible, it still might still be worth it to focus on one standard for consistency, especially if you like one ex-yu country more than the others or if you're learning it for your family and your entire family speaks the same standard.
  • Not a lot of mainstream games have Serbo-Croatian translations, but most Indie games that support an enormous amount of langs support one or more Serbo-Croatian standards.
Slavic languages
Bulgarian Polish Russian Serbo-Croatian Slovene Ukrainian

Scripts Serbian cyrillic script Gaj's latin alphabet

Standards Bosnian Croatian Serbian Montenegrin

Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, Montenegrin Compared

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