This article was developed within the program Venture an Idea funded by the USAID.
The most common reaction people get when stating they'd like to learn Serbian is: 'Ouch, good luck with that!'
But why is that? Is it that impossible to learn Serbian?
Alphabet and Pronunciation
The Serbian alphabet consists of 30 letters: one for each sound. It means you'll be able to pronounce every Serbian word as soon as you learn 30 letters. Well, maybe a bit more since Serbs use two scripts: the Cyrillic script and the Latin one.
The existence of two scripts helps you tailor learning Serbian to your needs. If your native language uses the Latin script, start from it and learn the Cyrillic gradually.
The neutral word order in Serbian is similar to the English one: S + V + O. However, the rules for arranging words in a sentence are pretty loose.
By opting for specific word order, you can emphasize chosen words.
But what is that thing that allows you to play with the word order while learning Serbian?
It's Their Highness Grammatical Cases.
Grammatical cases are both the charm of the Serbian language and the ones to blame for all the struggle. They're also why many people who wanted to learn Serbian fast gave up.
There are seven grammatical cases you'll find out about while learning Serbian. Some words have a different ending in each case depending on their gender (masculine, feminine, and neuter) and number (singular and plural).
It seems complex. But once you memorize this (two out of seven even have the same endings), you'll form original and grammatically correct sentences effortlessly!
The grammatical cases help us realize who does what in a sentence. For example, look at the sentences below:
Ana daje knjigu Maji. (Ana is giving a book to Maja.)
Ani daje knjigu Maja. (Maja is giving a book to Ana.)
Notice that we didn't have to change the word order to adapt the meaning! We changed the -a into -i (a different grammatical case), and the gift-giver became the gift-receiver. Isn't it magical?
It's time to answer the question from the beginning: is it hard to learn Serbian?
The answer is - it depends.
It depends on your native language and the time and effort you put into learning. The second criterium is crucial.
Serbian may not be among the easiest European languages, but it's certainly not impossible to learn! With a good Serbian teacher, everything is possible!
And if you want to learn more in depth about this topic, check out this article.
This article is made possible by the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this program are the responsibility of Nova Iskra and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.