Bosnian Language

History

The Bosnian language is commonly used to refer to Serbo-Croatian as spoken by Bosniak people, while it is actually a regulated version of the Shtokavian dialect. Bosnian is one of the three Serbo-Croatian forms of language that is used in an official capacity not only in Bosnia, but Herzegovina. These three forms were, up until recently, treated as a singular language.

The actual name “Bosnian” frequently comes under some contention. It is often referred to instead as “Bosniak” or “Bosniac”. This is to show that it is considered to be the standard language of only Bosniak people, instead of those who live in Bosnia. Bosniaks are a South Slavic ethnic group, who are defined by their ethnic background and not simply just their country of origin, while Bosnians is the collective name to refer to those who live in Bosnia or Herzegovina.

The Bosnian language in its present form uses a Latin script, though due to various historical factors such as its previous use in the former Yugoslavia, the Cyrillic alphabet is also considered acceptable to use when writing in Bosnian. One of the oldest pieces of Bosnian Cyrillic is shown in the Humac Tablet. The Humac Tablet is a piece of carved stone from over 1000 years ago and describes, in Bosnian Cyrillic, the raising of a church for Saint Michael.

Popularity

2.2 million people around the world speak Bosnian, and there are many many different dialects that are used, depending on where one is in Bosnia, Croatia or Serbian. There are several sharp differences between these dialects, with each using different scripts, grammar and vocabulary. Even each of these dialects themselves have several different forms.

This splintered aspect to the Bosnian language is in all likelihood due to the fact that a standardized dictionary was not created until the 19th century. A Bosnian dictionary was compiled as early as the 17th century, but due to certain social factors, the language contained within it was not picked up as securely as it might have been.

These social factors included the fact that those who could read and write at leisure in those days were often writing in languages other than Bosnian, such as Turkish or Arabic, and the fact that political strife meant that compiling a definitive guide to the language was a project that would have to take more of a back seat.

Language

The Bosnian language is a relatively complex one, in terms of grammar. There is a complicated verbal system that is common among Slavic languages. There are two aspects that can be used; the perfective or the imperfective. Perfective implies a sudden immediate action, while the imperfective implies a repeated or lasting action. This has developed due to a lack of tenses, compared to Romance or Germanic languages for example.

The Bosnian language makes a distinction between three gender forms: masculine, feminine and neutral. It also has two number forms; singular and plural. Interestingly, some of the declensions the same for adjectives as they are for nouns, so often when used together in a sentence, they rhyme, making the language itself often sound very musical.

Also, in a very different way to English, there are seven indicative tenses: past, present, two kinds of future, pluperfect, aorist and imperfect. Aorist essentially means indefinite, and is not often used. There are three conjugations of verbs in the Bosnian language that end in “-ati”, “-nuti” and “-jeti”. Syntax is not particularly useful in the Bosnian language, because of the rich structure of nouns and adjective.

Why Learn The Bosnian Language?

Today, Bosnian is spoken in many countries around the world, such as Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey. It is a language that has blossomed, even through a relatively late development compared to other languages that formed around this time.

Sarajevo, the national capital of Bosnia, was voted to be one of Lonely Planet’s top ten cities to visit in 2010, and there are vast tracks of wilderness that have still yet to be explored in full along the Alps. In terms of business and tourism, according to the WTO, Bosnia and Herzegovina will have the third highest expanding industry for the years between 1995 and 2020, so this is an excellent time to be making business connections with the Bosnian language.


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