1. Grammar and Spelling
Section One - Grammar and Spelling
1. Gender and Case: 3 genders and 7 cases, the most unusual being the vocative case, which changes the ending of a name when addressing someone (i.e. nominative Jaнa => vocative Jaнo).
2. Articles: Articles (таj: masc., та: fem., то: neuter) are generally only used in a descriptive manner. "The" or "a" are not used in a way that is known in English, French or German.
Example: This is a big house. Ова кућа је велика.
3. Agreement: Feminine nouns usually have an -е ending in the plural form (кућe), masculine nouns tend to have an -и ending (cтoлoви) whereas neutral nouns usually have an -а ending (мecтa). However, there are exceptions such as бpaт - бpaћa, ћeбe - ћeбaд, etc. Collective nouns usually end with a -ћe (пpyт - пpyћe, лиcт - лишћe). Certain nouns do not have a plural form, such as пecaк, житo. In certain words, the -т ending of the singular noun is lost in the plural (изyзeтaк - изyзeци).
4. Capitalisation: When addressing someone directly in writing in the polite form, Bи, Baшeм, etc. are spelled with an upper case. Serbian has a number of one letter words, such as o, и, y, a. However, words such as ca, ka when shortened, are spelled (c' oбзиpoм. k’мени).
Capital letters appear at the beginning of each sentence and for proper names. In headings, titles and bullet points, only the first word has a capital letter. For names of institutions, only the first letter is capital (Инcтитyт зa eкoнoмcкa иcтpaживaњa).
Capitalisation of the days/seasons/months is never used. Therefore, it is always:
Days of the week - понедељак, уторак, среда, четвртак, петак, субота, недеља.
Seasons: пролеће, лето, јесен, зима.
Months: јануар, фебруар, март, април, мај, јуни, јули, август, септембар, октобар, новембар, децембар.
5. Accents: Accents do not exist in Cyrillic. However, there is a general misconception with regard to the use of the Latin alphabet. In Serbia, children learn and use both, whereas adults are left to choose the alphabet they wish to use. Certain newspapers are published in the Latin alphabet, others in the Cyrillic one. I must add that I have rarely been asked to deliver a translation in Cyrillic for local companies and ministries. The Latin alphabet does have some accents, however, and these are: š, č, ć, dž, ž.
Section Two - Punctuation
1. Speech marks: The forms of punctuation are the same as in English, although one might occasionally come across ” ... „ instead of the usual " ... " which would also be correct.
Note the punctuation of the dialogue in the translation of the following sentences:
1. "Give me more work!", shouted Chloe.
«Дај ми још нешто да радим!», викнула је Клое.
2. "Would anyone like some tea?" asked George.
«Да ли је неко за чај?», питао је Џорџ.
3. "I'm bored - can I go home now?", Michala said.
«Досадно ми је – да ли могу да идем кући?» питала је Михала.
2. Full stops: Full stops are not used at the end of headings/titles/bullet points. However, in a case where bullet points resemble sentences, a semicolon is normally used at the end of each, with a full stop at the end of the last sentence.
3. Brackets, colons, semi-colons and ellipsis: These are all used in the same way as in English.
Section Three - Measurements and Abbreviations
1. Measurements: The only official measurements are metric.
Time: The 24 hour clock is used, e.g. 10h (or 10:00), 15h (or 15:00).
Dates are written as follows:
20 February 2004 = 20.2.2004.
The full stop is always placed after the year, sometimes accompanied with г.
Use decimal commas (3,7 %).
The comma is always used for separating numbers - i.e. 4,000, 5,328 etc. Numbers over 9999 are written with a comma or are separated by a space (16,000 or 16 000). In accountancy, that number is written as 16,000.00.
There is no specific rule as to whether or not spaces appear before the % or °C symbols, although the majority of abbreviations have a space left between the figure and the measurement.
Currency: Currency symbols may or may not be used, therefore:
£ 230 would usually be written as 230 GBP (ГБП), normally with a £ sign. However, € 45, would usually appear, along with evra (евра). $ 98 billion would usually appear as $ 98 milijardi USD (милијарди УСД).
Megabytes can be Mb or MB.
Acronyms are usually left in the English form as they are generally avoided in Serbian.
N/a = does not have an abbreviation
g (gram) = гр.
Days of the week = пон, ут, ср, чет, пет, суб, нед.
Seasons = not abbreviated
Tj. (тo jecт), тзв. (тaкoзвaнa), итд. (и тaкo дaљe), Бгд. (Бeoгpaд) - some abbreviations used that might look incorrect to the English eye.
Section Four - Hyphenation
The most important rule is to never hyphenate unless at the end of a syllable and before or after a single letter.
Section Five - Miscellaneous Peculiarities
Names of newspapers, magazines and companies are always placed between quotation marks, i.e. "Bpeмe". Foreign names are transcribed, i.e. "Baшингтoн тajмc". Even when English words or acronyms are used, they are changed by cases, i.e. нa web-y.
Place names are always transcribed, as are names themselves. Therefore, Lyon, is Lion (Лион), Luxembourg is Luksemburg (Луксембург), Paris is Pariz (Париз) etc.
In Serbian everything is written exactly as it is pronounced, and read exactly the way it is written. Each sound has an according letter.
Surnames are usually given after the first name, but official documents sometimes list the surname first.
Bold and italics are used in the same way as in English.
Section Six - Geographic Distribution
Serbian and Croatian are generally considered one language, combined under the single term Serbo-Croatian. The latter is the most important language of the former Yugoslavia, where it is spoken by about 8 million people, or about 80 percent of the population. The Serbs, however, call their language Serbian, and being of Eastern Orthodox religious persuasion, write it in a modified form of the Cyrillic alphabet. The Roman Catholic Croats, on the other hand, call their language Croatian and employ the Roman alphabet. Street signs and other inscriptions in the former Yugoslavia are generally written in both alphabets. For each Cyrillic letter in the Serbian alphabet there is a corresponding Roman letter in the Croatian alphabet.
The Bosnian language was also formed by the splitting of Serbo-Croatian. It is basically the same language. Bosnians use the Roman alphabet.
Serbian is spoken/used in the following countries: Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and by minorities in Austria, Hungary, Albania, Italy, Romania and elsewhere.
Source: http://www.worldlanguage.com/Languages/Serbian - Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serbo-Croatian_language (accessed 19/01/05)
Section Seven - Character Set
[ ] = Alt key codes
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