The Info List - Serbian Language

Serbian (српски / srpski, pronounced [sr̩̂pskiː]) is the standardized variety of the Serbo-Croatian
language mainly used by Serbs.[8][9][10] It is the official language of Serbia, the territory of Kosovo, and one of the three official languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, it is a recognized minority language in Montenegro
where it is spoken by the relative majority of the population,[11] as well as in Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. Standard Serbian is based on the most widespread dialect of Serbo-Croatian, Shtokavian
(more specifically on Šumadija-Vojvodina and Eastern Herzegovinian dialects[12]), which is also the basis of Standard Croatian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin.[13] The other dialect spoken by Serbs
is Torlakian in southeastern Serbia, which is transitional to Macedonian and Bulgarian. Serbian is practically the only European standard language whose speakers are fully functionally digraphic,[14] using both Cyrillic and Latin alphabets. The Serbian Cyrillic alphabet
Serbian Cyrillic alphabet
was devised in 1814 by Serbian linguist Vuk Karadžić, who created the alphabet on phonemic principles. The Latin alphabet was designed by Croatian linguist Ljudevit Gaj
Ljudevit Gaj
in 1830.


1 Classification 2 Geographic distribution

2.1 Status in Montenegro

3 Differences between standard Serbian and standard Croatian and Bosnian 4 Writing system

4.1 Alphabetic order 4.2 Conjugation

5 Vocabulary 6 Serbian literature 7 Dialects 8 Dictionaries 9 See also 10 References 11 Further reading 12 External links

Classification See also: History of Serbo-Croatian Serbian is a standardized variety of Serbo-Croatian,[15] a Slavic language (Indo-European), of the South Slavic subgroup. Other standardized forms of Serbo-Croatian
are Bosnian, Croatian, and Montenegrin. It has lower intelligibility with the Eastern South Slavic languages
Slavic languages
Bulgarian and Macedonian, than with Slovene (Slovene is part of the Western South Slavic subgroup, but there are still significant differences in vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation to the standardized forms of Serbo-Croatian, although it is closer to the Kajkavian
and Chakavian
dialects of Serbo-Croatian[16]). Geographic distribution Figures of speakers according to countries:

Serbia: 6,540,699 (official language) Bosnia and Herzegovina: 1,086,027[17] (co-official language) Germany: 568,240[citation needed] Austria: 350,000[citation needed] Montenegro: 265,890 (recognized minority language) Switzerland: 186,000 United States: 172,874 Sweden: 120,000 Italy: 106,498 [18] Canada: 72,690[19] Australia: 55,114[20][21] Croatia: 52,879[22] (recognized minority language) Slovenia: 38,964 Republic of Macedonia: 35,939 (recognized minority language) Romania: 22,518 (recognized minority language)

Status in Montenegro Serbian was the official language of Montenegro
until October 2007 when the new Constitution of Montenegro
replaced the Constitution of 1992. Amid opposition from pro-Serbian parties,[23] the Montenegrin language was made the sole official language of the country, and Serbian was given the status of a recognised minority language along with Bosnian, Albanian, and Croatian.[24] According to the 2011 Montenegrin census, 42.88% declare Serbian to be their native language, while Montenegrin is declared by 36.97% of the population. Differences between standard Serbian and standard Croatian and Bosnian

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November 2012)

Main article: Comparison of standard Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian See also: Serbo-Croatian
phonology and Serbo-Croatian
grammar Writing system Main articles: Serbian Cyrillic alphabet, Gaj's Latin alphabet, and Yugoslav Braille Standard Serbian language
Serbian language
uses both Cyrillic (ћирилица, ćirilica) and Latin script
Latin script
(latinica, латиница). Serbian is a rare example of synchronic digraphia, a situation where all literate members of a society have two interchangeable writing systems available to them. Media and publishers typically select one alphabet or another. Although Serbian language
Serbian language
authorities have recognized the official status of both scripts in contemporary Standard Serbian for more than half of a century now, due to historical reasons, the Cyrillic script was made the official script of Serbia's administration by the 2006 Constitution.[25] However, the law does not regulate scripts in standard language, or standard language itself by any means, leaving the choice of script as a matter of personal preference and to the free will in all aspects of life (publishing, media, trade and commerce, etc.), except in government paperwork production and in official written communication with state officials, which have to be in Cyrillic. In media, the public broadcaster, Radio Television of Serbia, predominantly uses the Cyrillic script
Cyrillic script
whereas the privately run broadcasters, like RTV Pink, predominantly use the Latin script. Newspapers are found in both scripts. Outdoor signage, including road signs and commercial displays, predominately uses the Latin alphabet. Larger signs, especially those put up by the government, will often feature both alphabets. A survey from 2014 showed that 47% of the Serbian population favors the Latin alphabet whereas 36% favors the Cyrillic one.[26] Alphabetic order

South Slavic languages
Slavic languages
and dialects

Western South Slavic



(Prekmurje Slovene Resian)


standard languages Bosnian Croatian Montenegrin

Serbian (Slavonic-Serbian)



(Bunjevac Dubrovnik

Eastern Herzegovinian Zeta-Raška Smederevo–Vršac

Šumadija–Vojvodina Užican)


(Burgenland Molise)

Kajkavian Torlakian


Ekavian Ijekavian Ikavian

Comparison of standard Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian

Eastern South Slavic

Church Slavonic (Old)

Bulgarian Dialects Banat

Torlakian Meshterski



(Western Southeastern

Northern Torlakian)

Spoken Macedonian Standard Macedonian

Transitional dialects

Serbian–Bulgarian–Macedonian Transitional Bulgarian dialects

Torlakian Gora dialect

Croatian–Slovenian Kajkavian



Gaj's Latina Serbian Cyrillic

Bulgarian Cyrillic Macedonian Cyrillic Montenegrin Slavica Slovene


Bohoričica Dajnčica Metelčica

Arebica Bosnian Cyrillic

Glagolitic Early Cyrillic

a Includes Banat Bulgarian alphabet.

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The sort order of the ćirilica (ћирилица) alphabet:

Cyrillic order called Azbuka (азбука): А Б В Г Д Ђ Е Ж З И Ј К Л Љ М Н Њ О П Р С Т Ћ У Ф Х Ц Ч Џ Ш

The sort order of the latinica (латиница) alphabet:

Latin order called Abeceda (абецеда): A B C Č Ć D Dž Đ E F G H I J K L Lj M N Nj O P R S Š T U V Z Ž

Conjugation Serbian verbs are conjugated in four past forms—perfect, aorist, imperfect, and pluperfect—of which the last two have a very limited use (imperfect is still used in some dialects, but the majority of native Serbian speakers consider it archaic), one future tense (also known as the first future tense, as opposed to the second future tense or the future exact, which is considered a tense of the conditional mood by some contemporary linguists), and one present tense. These are the tenses of the indicative mood. Apart from the indicative mood, there is also the imperative mood. The conditional mood has two more tenses: the first conditional (commonly used in conditional clauses, both for possible and impossible conditional clauses) and the second conditional (without use in the spoken language—it should be used for impossible conditional clauses). Serbian has active and passive voice. As for the non-finite verb forms, Serbian has one infinitive, two adjectival participles (the active and the passive), and two adverbial participles (the present and the past). Vocabulary See also: Loanwords in Serbian Most Serbian words are of native Slavic lexical stock, tracing back to the Proto-Slavic language. There are many loanwords from different languages, reflecting cultural interaction throughout history. Notable loanwords were borrowed from Greek, Latin, Italian, Turkish, Hungarian, Russian, and German. Serbian literature Main article: Serbian literature

Miroslavljevo jevanđelje (The Gospel of Miroslav), a manuscript, ca. 1186

Serbian literature
Serbian literature
emerged in the Middle Ages, and included such works as Miroslavljevo jevanđelje (Miroslav's Gospel) in 1192 and Dušanov zakonik (Dušan's Code) in 1349. Little secular medieval literature has been preserved, but what there is shows that it was in accord with its time; for example, Serbian Alexandride, a book about Alexander the Great, and a translation of Tristan and Iseult
Tristan and Iseult
into Serbian. Although not belonging to the literature proper, the corpus of Serbian literacy in the 14th and 15th centuries contains numerous legal, commercial and administrative texts with marked presence of Serbian vernacular juxtaposed on the matrix of Serbian Church Slavonic. In the mid-15th century, Serbia
was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and for the next 400 years there was no opportunity for the creation of secular written literature. However, some of the greatest literary works in Serbian come from this time, in the form of oral literature, the most notable form being Serbian epic poetry. The epic poems were mainly written down in the 19th century, and preserved in oral tradition up to the 1950s, a few centuries or even a millennium longer than by most other "epic folks". Goethe and Jacob Grimm
Jacob Grimm
learned Serbian in order to read Serbian epic poetry
Serbian epic poetry
in the original. By the end of the 18th century, the written literature had become estranged from the spoken language. In the second half of the 18th century, the new language appeared, called Slavonic-Serbian. This artificial idiom superseded the works of poets and historians like Gavrilo Stefanović Venclović, who wrote in essentially modern Serbian in the 1720s. These vernacular compositions have remained cloistered from the general public and received due attention only with the advent of modern literary historians and writers like Milorad Pavić. In the early 19th century, Vuk Stefanović Karadžić
Vuk Stefanović Karadžić
promoted the spoken language of the people as a literary norm. Dialects See also: Dialects of Serbo-Croatian The dialects of Serbo-Croatian, regarded Serbian (traditionally spoken by Serbs), include:

Eastern Herzegovinian (Ijekavian, Neo-Shtokavian), Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro Zeta–Raška (Ijekavian, Old-Shtokavian), in south and east Montenegro
and southwest Serbia Šumadija–Vojvodina (Ekavian, Neo-Shtokavian), in central and north Serbia Kosovo–Resava (Ekavian, Old-Shtokavian), in north Kosovo, eastern central Serbia Smederevo–Vršac (Ekavian, Old-Shtokavian), in east-central Serbia Prizren–Timok (Ekavian, Old-Shtokavian), in southeast Serbia
and south Kosovo


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (June 2008)

Vuk Karadžić's Srpski rječnik, first published in 1818, is the earliest dictionary of modern literary Serbian. The Rječnik hrvatskoga ili srpskoga jezika (I–XXIII), published by the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts from 1880 to 1976, is the only general historical dictionary of Serbo-Croatian. Its first editor was Đuro Daničić, followed by Pero Budmani
Pero Budmani
and the famous Vukovian Tomislav Maretić. The sources of this dictionary are, especially in the first volumes, mainly Štokavian. There are older, pre-standard dictionaries, such as the 1791 German–Serbian dictionary.

Standard dictionaries

Rečnik srpskohrvatskog književnog i narodnog jezika (Dictionary of Serbo-Croatian
standard language and vernaculars) is the biggest dictionary of Serbian and still unfinished. Starting with 1959, 16 volumes were published, about 40 are expected. Works of Croatian authors are excerpted, if published before 1991. Rečnik srpskohrvatskoga književnog jezika in six volumes, started as a common project of Matica srpska
Matica srpska
and Matica hrvatska, but only the first three volumes were also published in Croato-Serbian (hrvatskosrpski). Rečnik srpskoga jezika (ISBN 978-86-7946-004-2) in one volume, published in 2007 by Matica srpska, which on more than 1500 pages in A4 format explains more than 85,000 entries. Several volume dictionaries were published in Croatia
(for the Croatian language) since the 1990s (Anić, Enciklopedijski rječnik, Hrvatski rječnik).

Etymological dictionaries

The standard and the only completed etymological dictionary of Serbian is the "Skok", written by the Croatian linguist Petar Skok: Etimologijski rječnik hrvatskoga ili srpskoga jezika ("Etymological Dictionary of Croatian or Serbian"). I-IV. Zagreb
1971–1974. There is also a new monumental Etimološki rečnik srpskog jezika (Etymological Dictionary of Serbian). So far, two volumes have been published: I (with words on A-), and II (Ba-Bd). There are specialized etymological dictionaries for German, Italian, Croatian, Turkish, Greek, Hungarian, Russian, English and other loanwords (cf. chapter word origin).

Dialectal dictionaries

Kosovsko-resavski dialect dictionaries:

Gliša Elezović, Rečnik kosovsko-metohiskog dijalekta I-II. 1932/1935.

Prizren-Timok (Torlakian) dialect dictionaries:

Brana Mitrović, Rečnik leskovačkog govora. Leskovac 1984. Nikola Živković, Rečnik pirotskog govora. Pirot, 1987. Miodrag Marković, Rečnik crnorečkog govora I-II. 1986/1993. Jakša Dinić, Rečnik timočkog govora I-III.1988–1992. Jakša Dinić, Timocki dijalekatski recnik, (Institut za srpski jezik, Monografije 4; ISBN 978-86-82873-17-4) Beograd 2008, Momčilo Zlatanović, Rečnik govora južne Srbije. Vranje, 1998, 1–491.

East-Herzegovinian dialect dictionaries:

Milija Stanić, Uskočki rečnik I–II. Beograd 1990/1991. Miloš Vujičić, Rečnik govora Prošćenja kod Mojkovca. Podgorica, 1995. Srđan Musić, Romanizmi u severozapadnoj Boki Kotorskoj. 1972. Svetozar Gagović, Iz leksike Pive. Beograd 2004.

Zeta-Pešter dialect:

Rada Stijović, Iz leksike Vasojevića. 1990. Drago Ćupić – Željko Ćupić, Rečnik govora Zagarača. 1997. Vesna Lipovac-Radulović, Romanizmi u Crnoj Gori – jugoistočni dio Boke Kotorske. Cetinje – Titograd, 1981. Vesna Lipovac-Radulović, Romanizmi u Budvi i Paštrovićima. Novi Sad 1997.


Rečnik srpskih govora Vojvodine. Novi Sad. Mile Tomić, Rečnik radimskog govora – dijaspora, Rumunija. 1989.

See also

Language secessionism in Serbo-Croatian Mutual intelligibility Pluricentric Serbo-Croatian
language Dialects of Serbo-Croatian Romano-Serbian language (mix with Romany) Šatrovački (slang form) Serbian proverbs Abstand and ausbau languages


^ Kosovo
is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo
and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement. Kosovo
has received formal recognition as an independent state from 113 out of 193 United Nations
United Nations
member states.

^ "Српски језик говори 12 милиона људи". РТС. 20 February 2009.  ^ Ec.Europa.eu Archived 2007-11-30 at the Wayback Machine. ^ B92.net Archived 2013-11-10 at the Wayback Machine. ^ "Minority Rights Group International : Czech Republic : Czech Republic
Czech Republic
Overview". Minorityrights.org. Retrieved 2012-10-24.  ^ "Národnostní menšiny v České republice a jejich jazyky" [National Minorities in Czech Republic
Czech Republic
and Their Language] (PDF) (in Czech). Government of Czech Republic. p. 2. Podle čl. 3 odst. 2 Statutu Rady je jejich počet 12 a jsou uživateli těchto menšinových jazyků: [...], srbština a ukrajinština  ^ "Minority Rights Group International : Macedonia : Macedonia Overview". Minorityrights.org. Retrieved 2012-10-24.  ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Serbian". Glottolog
3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.  ^ David Dalby, Linguasphere (1999/2000, Linguasphere Observatory), pg. 445, 53-AAA-g, "Srpski+Hrvatski, Serbo-Croatian". ^ Benjamin W. Fortson IV, Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction, 2nd ed. (2010, Blackwell), p. 431, "Because of their mutual intelligibility, Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian are usually thought of as constituting one language called Serbo-Croatian." ^ Václav Blažek, "On the Internal Classification of Indo-European Languages: Survey" retrieved 20 Oct 2010, pp. 15–16. ^ Montenegro
Census 2011 data, Montstat, http://www.monstat.org/userfiles/file/popis2011/saopstenje/saopstenje(1).pdf ^ Ljiljana Subotić; Dejan Sredojević; Isidora Bjelaković (2012), Fonetika i fonologija: Ortoepska i ortografska norma standardnog srpskog jezika (in Serbo-Croatian), FILOZOFSKI FAKULTET NOVI SAD  ^ Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Or Montenegrin? Or Just 'Our Language'?, Radio Free Europe, February 21, 2009 ^ http://www.deepdyve.com/lp/de-gruyter/digraphia-in-the-territories-of-the-croats-and-serbs-9biWZDK0Vs/1 ^ Kordić, Snježana (2010). Jezik i nacionalizam [Language and Nationalism] (PDF). Rotulus Universitas (in Serbo-Croatian). Zagreb: Durieux. p. 143. ISBN 978-953-188-311-5. LCCN 2011520778. OCLC 729837512. OL 15270636W. Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 July 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2015.  (COBISS-Sr). ^ Greenberg, Marc L., A Short Reference Grammar of Slovene, (LINCOM Studies in Slavic Linguistics 30). Munich: LINCOM, 2008. ISBN 3-89586-965-1 ^ "Maternji jezik 2013". Popis 2013. 2016.  ^ "Statistiche demografiche ISTAT" (PDF). Demo.istat.it. Retrieved 2014-10-03.  ^ "Ethno-Cultural Portrait of Canada, Table 1". www12.statcan.ca. 2001. Retrieved December 17, 2011.  ^ "The People of Australia - Statistics from the 2011 Census" (PDF). Department of Immigration and Border Protection. 2014: 59. ISBN 978-1-920996-23-9. Ancestry  ^ "Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection" (PDF). Immi.gov.au. 2013-04-21. Retrieved 2015-12-02.  ^ "Croatian Census 2011". 2011. Retrieved July 8, 2013.  ^ Pro-Serbian parties oppose Montenegro
constitution ^ Ustav Crne Gore ^ "The Constitution". The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Serbia. Retrieved 2010-12-06.  ^ http://www.b92.net/kultura/vesti.php?nav_category=1087&yyyy=2014&mm=12&dd=16&nav_id=936784

Further reading


Belić, Aleksandar (2000). O dijalektima. Zavod za udžbenike i nastavna sredstva.  Greenberg, Robert David (2004). Language and identity in the Balkans: Serbo-Croatian
and its disintegration. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-925815-4.  (reprinted in 2008 as ISBN 978-0-19-920875-3) Grickat, Irena (1975). Studije iz istorije srpskohrvatskog jezika. Narodna Biblioteka SR Srbije.  Ivić, Pavle (1995). " Standard language
Standard language
as an instrument of culture and the product of national history". The history of Serbian Culture. Rastko.  Ivić, P. (1971). Srpski narod i njegov jezik. Beograd: Srpska književna zadruga.  Ivić, P. (1986). Srpski narod i njegov jezik (2nd ed.). Beograd: Srpska književna zadruga.  Kovačević, M. (2003). Srpski jezik i srpski jezici. Srpska književna zadruga.  Marojević, R. (2008). "Српски jезик данас". Бард-фин.  Milćanović, A. (2006). "Kratka istorija srpskog književnog jezika". Beograd: Zavod za udžbenike.  Milošević, M. (2001). Gramatika srpskoga jezika: priručnik za poznavanje srpskog književnog jezika. Draganić.  Okuka, Miloš (2008). Srpski dijalekti. Zagreb: Prosvjeta.  Petrović, Dragoljub; Gudurić, Snežana (2010). Фонологија српскога језика. Beograd: Institut za srpski jezik SANU, Beogradska knjiga, Matica srpska.  Popović, I. (1955). Историја српскохрватског језика. Novi Sad: Матица српска.  Popović, L. (2004). From standard Serbian through standard Serbo-Croatian
to standard Serbian.  Radovanović, M. (2000). From Serbo-Croatian
to Serbian.  Radovanović, Milorad (1996). Српски језик на крају века. Институт за српски језик САНУ.  Simić, Ž. (1922). Srpska gramatika. G. Kon.  Vujanić, M.; Nikolić, M., eds. (2007). Речник српскога језика. Матица српска. 


Belić, Aleksandar, ed. (1911). "—". Srpski dijalektološki zbornik [Recueil de dialectologie serbe]. Beograd: SKA. 2.  Greenberg, R. D. (2008). "Language politics in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia: The crisis over the future of Serbian". Slavic review. 59 (3): 625–640.  Gröschel, Bernhard (2003). "Postjugoslavische Amtssprachenregelungen – Soziolinguistische Argumente gegen die Einheitlichkeit des Serbokroatischen?" [Post-Yugoslav Official Languages Regulations – Sociolinguistic Arguments Against Consistency of Serbo-Croatian?]. Srpski jezik (in German). 8 (1–2): 135–196. ISSN 0354-9259. COBISS 121971724. Retrieved 4 April 2015.  Kovačević, M. (2007). "Srpski jezik i njegove varijante". Srpsko pitanje i srbistika: 255–262.  Marinković, M. (2010). "Srpski jezik u Osmanskom carstvu: primer četvorojezičnog udžbenika za učenje stranih jezika iz biblioteke sultana Mahmuda I". Slavistika. Beograd. XIV.  Marojević, R. (1996). "Srpski jezik u porodici slovenskih jezika" [The Serbian language
Serbian language
in the family of Slavic languages]. Srpski jezik [The Serbian language]: 1–2.  Mišić Ilić, B. (2015). "Srpski jezik u dijaspori: pogled iz lingvističkog ugla" [ Serbian language
Serbian language
in the diaspora]. Srpski jezik. 20: 289–307.  Okuka, M. (2009). "Srpski jezik danas: sociolingvistički status".  Petrović, T. (2001). "Speaking a different Serbian language: Refugees in Serbia
between conflict and integration".  Radić, Jovanka; Miloradović, Sofija (2009). Piper, P., ed. "Српски језик у контексту националних идентитета: поводом српске мањине у Мађарској". ЈУЖНОСЛОВЕНСКИ филолог. SANU. LXV: 153–179. GGKEY:00RD5D429DG.  Radovanović, M. (1996). "Srpski jezik" [The Serbian language]. Opole: Uniwersytet Opolski–Instytut Filologii Polskiej.  Savić, Viktor (2016). "The Serbian Redaction of the Church Slavonic Language: From St. Clement, the Bishop of the Slavs, to St. Sava, the Serbian Archbishop". Slověne=Словѣне. International Journal of Slavic Studies. 5 (2): 231–339.  Sorescu-Marinković, A. (2010). " Serbian language
Serbian language
acquisition in communist Romania" (PDF). Balcanica. 41: 7–31.  Vučković, M. (2009). "Савремена дијалектолошка истраживања у српској лингвистици и проблематика језика у контакту". Јужнословенски филолог. 65: 405–423. 

External links

Serbian edition of, the free encyclopedia

Wikibooks has more on the topic of: Serbian language

has original text related to this article: Category:Works originally in Serbian

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Serbian language.

Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Serbian phrasebook.

Swadesh list of basic vocabulary words (from Wiktionary's Swadesh list appendix) Standard language
Standard language
as an instrument of culture and the product of national history – an article by linguist Pavle Ivić at Project Rastko A Basic Serbian Phrasebook

Links to related articles

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LCCN: sh00003109 GND: 4133301-9 BNF: cb1357