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BOSNIAN (Bosanski or Bosniak)

Bosnian is one of the three official languages spoken in Bosnia-Herzegovina due to its mixed population (Muslim Bosnians, Croats, and Bosnian Serbs). Along with Croatian, Slovene, Serbian, and Montenegrin, Bosnian belongs to the western group of the South Slavic Languages. Before the breakup of Yugoslavia, Bosnian was included (as well as Croatian and Serbian) in a language called "Serbo-Croatian." This is a language rich in loan words not only from other European languages but also from Turkish, Arabic, and Persian. The most basic division within Serbo-Croatian is based on three main dialects, whose names derive from the word used for "what" in each dialect (što, ča and kaj): štokavian, čakavian and kajkavian. Bosnian, like Serbian and Montenegrin, uses the štokavian.
After Yugoslavia split up into separate and independent states, the Serbo-Croatian language was replaced by three languages known as Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian (Montenegrin would join this group after Montenegro's proclamation of independence).

Even though Serbo-Croatian has always had a common core—a basic system with several different local implementations—there are three main features that distinguish Bosnian from the others:

  1. The alphabet: Bosnian uses the Latin alphabet almost exclusively, but Cyrillic is also officially recognized and used.
  2. Pronunciation: The main pronunciation difference is also reproduced in the spelling. Standard Bosnian uses only the "ijekavian" pronunciation, which is spoken and written as "je" or "ije." E.g: "mlijeko" (milk) instead of the Serbian "mleko."
  3. Vocabulary: There are a few words marked as typically Bosnian.

About Bosnian

A Handbook of Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian, Wayles Brown and Theresa Alt, SEELRC 2004

Learn Bosnian online

Useful phrases

Online Serbian-English/English-Serbian dictionary




Online newspapers

1."Bosniak" is the preferred term in some circles. This is also a term used to refer to Muslim Bosnians.