About the Bosnian language

How many people can you talk to if you learn Bosnian?

Bosnian language

Bosnian is spoken by about three million people most of whom live in Bosnia and Herzegovina (abbr. BiH).
Bosnian is one of three of the official languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The other two official languages are Croatian and Serbian.
Bosnian is also an official language in Montenegro and in parts of Kosovo.

Native speakers of Bosnian are to be found in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also in Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albanian, Turkey, the USA and in all the countries of Western Europe.

The Bosnian language’s Slavic heritage

The Slavic languages developed as written languages in the 9th century, driven by various rulers who wanted to convert their people to Christianity.
For this purpose they employed missionaries who developed an alphabet and translated the liturgy.

The most famous translators were the brothers Cyril and Methodius.
The two Slavic brothers developed the Glagolithic alphabet, to create a complete script for the Slavic languages.
Later at the court of the Bulgarian king Boris, Cyrillic emerged as the alphabet of the Slavic languages from the Greek alphabet and a few letters from the Glagolithic alphabet.
This form of Cyrillic is particularly important for Orthodox church people, namely the people of modern Serbia.
For the people that belong to the Catholic Church, mostly those that live in today's Croatia, the first script was Glagolithic, but this was then replaced with the Roman alphabet.
The Roman alphabet was however extended to include a few additional letters from the Czech alphabet.

Bosnian language after 1991

In the 20th Century Bosnia was a part of Yugoslavia, in which Serbo-Croatian was the official language.
After the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991 Bosnian became the official language of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bosnian: One language - many alphabets

During the course of history Bosnian has been written in various scripts:
From the Middle ages till the 19th Century “Bosančica” was used to write Bosnian.
This script was a variation of the Cyrillic alphabet adapted to the pronunciation of Bosnian.
The oldest document in this script is the votive engraving on a stone tablet found in the vicinity of Humac.
The “Humac Tablet” is now on display in the museum of the Franciscan Monastery, which was founded in 1884. This “Bosančica“ (Bosnian script) was used in Bosnia but also in parts of Croatia (for example in Dalmatia, in the area of Dubrovnik).

Bosnian script

In Bosnia “Bosančica“ was particularly used by educated women from the nobility and was later viewed a woman’s script.
There is also a version of the Arabic script adapted to Bosnian.
Sometimes one encounters texts written in this script.
Alhamijado Literature: this literature is written in an Eastern language, that in Bosnian was called “Arebica”.
It was heavily connected with Pan-Turkism.
The most famous representative of this genre was Mehmed Hevaji Uskufi.
Uskufi compiled the first “Bosnian Turkish Dictionary” in the 16th century.
His dictionary is one of the oldest in the South Slavic languages.
Today Bosnian and also Croatian is usually written with the Roman alphabet.
Documents in Cyrillic are relatively rare.

Overview of Bosnian

  • Official language in Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Spoken in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Monte Negro, Serbia, Turkey, USA
  • Slavic language
  • Script: Roman alphabet
    Additional letters: č, ć, dž, đ, lj, š, ž
    These symbols are all integrated into the learning software so that you will be able to input them when doing training exercises.

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