Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, and the others

Ok, so could someone, who knows more about these things than me, please explain to me what the difference between all these languages that are located within the borders of former Yugoslavia is? I’m talking about languages like Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian.

Some say that they are actually just one language and there are just different dialects. I have, just to give you an example, heard that there is just the Serbian language and all the others, like Croatian and Bosnian for instance, are just smaller parts of it, only dialects if you will. This to me sounds like some kind of rationalization on the parts of the Serbs to make themselves sound better than their neighbours.

Some, on the other hand, insist that they are completely different languages, but this might as well be due to certain irrational/emotional tendencies. It might be, for example, due to the fact that the other ethnic groups just try to create themselves a stronger national indentity. After all, if you want to have your nation, a good starting place is to show to the world that you belong to a group which has its own language distinct from other languages.

Oh and what makes me even more dizzy is the fact that there is this language called Serbo-Croatian. What is it and is it a language worth learning in terms of being useful if I visit the Balkans? Some say it’s not spoken any longer, but others claim it is actually just a word describing all the different languages in the region of former Yugoslavia. I’m so confused over this…

Obviously the history of the region, all the politics and the ethnic conflicts and the like, complicate the situation a bit, so it might be quite hard to give me an answer which is a) correct based on the linguistic facts, and b) politically correct i.e. non-insulting towards the ethnic groups living in the area. I would still like to know what the truth is.

PS This is my first message on these forums, so I’m not one hundred percent sure if this is the correct place for my question, but here it is nevertheless. I hope you can make something out of my English. I haven’t used in a while.

In my experience with the language, they are essentially the same. I first started learning Bosnian, and from what I learned I could communicate with Croatians and Serbians.

Serbo-Croatian is the same language; but I think that was the name of it before the spilt of Yugoslavia.

There are slight differences between the languages; I have said something to a Serbian and they ask why I am speaking Bosnian to them. Also in my experience if you tell them they are the same language they can get highly offended.

Serbian and Croatian, along with Montenegrin and Bosnian are generally classed as a single language with different standard national variants.

Slovenian and Macedonian are classed as different languages though.

Serbo-Croatian is just the term for this language in general. I believe in the old days of Yugoslavia, they have a standardized form of Serbo-Croatian which was the national standard language. It’s still used as a linguistic term, but probably not so much on the street.

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If you learn any of the current national standard languages ( Serbian / Croatian /Bosnian / Montenegrin ) then you will be able to communicate in any of the others. Some people can get offended, other people don’t care about the “official” status of either dialect or language.

“Serbo-Croation” was (and is) pretty much the modern “Shtokavian” dialect, which all the modern standard languages are based on. There are of course some differences in vocabulary, and a few different grammar forms, but the standards are very close

In short, all the different names make the situation appear complex, but the differences are quite easy to learn.

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Wow! Having been to Montenegro a few times it’s the first time I hear their language referred to this way :slight_smile:

It’s real !

I didn’t doubt that: just mentioned :slight_smile:

I have been to Montenegro last August. People there told they speak their own language, they think their nationality is not Serbian. But even in Montenegro thre are some different dialects, people in the mountains speak a little different than people at the seashore.