Serbian is a South Slavic language spoken mainly in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and North Macedonia by about 9-10 million people. It is official in Serbia, and is the principal language of the Serbs.
The Glagolitic alphabet was originally use to write Serbian from the 11th century. It was later replaced by the Cyrillic alphabet, and the modern Serbian Cyrillic alphabet was devised in 1814 by the Serbian linguist Vuk Karadžić, and the Serbian Latin alphabet was designed by Croatian linguist Ljudevit Gaj in 1830. Serbian is currently written with both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets, which are both officially recognised, although Cyrillic was made the official script of Serbia's government in 2006. Literate Serbians are able to read and write their language in both scripts, and media organisations typically choose to use one or the other.
Up to the mid 19th century there was no standard written form of Serbian, but there was extensive literature. In 1850 a group of Serbian and Croatian writers and linguists decided to create a standard written form based on the widely-used Štokavian dialect. The modern Serbian literary standard developed from this written form, which was the official language of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, between 1918 and 1991. After Yugoslavia broke up in the 1991 separate written and spoken languages began to emerge in the different countries that made up the former Yugoslavia
Serbian contains many loan words from Greek, Turkish and German due partially to the influences of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires. It continues to borrow new words from various languages. It is closely related to and mutually intelligible with Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin. For more information see an article about Serbo-Croatian language issues.
This chart shows the Cyrillic alphabet for Serbian in printed and cursive styles, with the names of the letters, their Latin equivalents, and their IPA transcriptions.
Hear the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet with examples words:
Сва људска бића рађају се слободна и једнака у достојанству и правима. Она су обдарена разумом и свешћу и треба једни према другима да поступају у духу братства.
Sva ljudska bića rađaju se slobodna i jednaka u dostojanstvu i pravima. Ona su obdarena razumom i svešću i treba jedni prema drugima da postupaju u duhu bratstva.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Online Serbian lessons and other resources
Serbian transliteration system
Online Serbian phrases
Online conversion of Serbian texts into the Cyrillic alphabet
Ririo - folk tales and children's stories in Serbian with recordings
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Page last modified: 12.06.23
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