Serbian: The language with two writing systems

Serbian is an interesting Slavic language. It is the standardized version and most widely used variant of Serbo-Croatian. Moreover, it is the only European language that uses two different alphabets, both of which form a Serbian writing system. The Serbian language actively uses the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet designed by a Serbian linguist and a Latin alphabet designed by a Croatian linguist.

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3 interesting facts about the Serbian Language


It is estimated that the total number of Serbian speakers in the world is more than 12 million.


Serbian consists of Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian roots.


Serbian is the only European language that uses two writing systems: the Serbian Cyrillic script and the Serbian Latin script.

Origin of the language

The Serbian language belongs to the Slavic language family, sharing ties with Bulgarian, Slovenian, Russian, and Croatian. The earliest Serbian texts appeared in the Old Church Slavonic language which was the liturgical language of the Serbian Orthodox Church. These date from the 10th century.

The evolution of Serbian was influenced by diverse cultures and languages over the centuries. This is reflected in the usage of both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets. The two scripts were promoted and orthographies were established even as the Serbian language was standardized and modernized using the dialect of Belgrade in the 1800s. Today, the Serbian language is the official language of Serbia as well as one of the official languages in Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo. It is a recognized minority language in other countries, such as Croatia, Romania, and the Czech Republic.

History of the language

The emergence of the Serbian language is a rich history that spans several thousand years beginning with its origins in Old Church Slavonic spoken by Slavic missionaries visiting the Balkans. Significant evolutionary influences on the language began in the Medieval period when it encountered Hungarian and Turkish and while under the rule of the Byzantine Empire.

By the 19th century, the Serbian language began a modernizing process under the influence of Vuk Stefanović Karadžić, who was standardizing the language using the Belgrade dialect, laying the grounds for present-day Serbian. Finally, in the 20th century, major orthographic reforms began in the language, with the latest occurring in the 1990s.

Learning the language

It takes about 1100 hours to learn Serbian as an English speaker.

How to say 10 popular words and phrases in the Serbian language

Becoming familiar with some common words and phrases is a quick introduction to learning the Serbian language. It could be useful to know how to say “Happy birthday” or “Happy new year” in the Serbian language.

Serbian language for beginners

Ten basic words to start learning in Serbian:


No= Ne

Thank you= Hvala

Please= Molim

Goodbye= Doviđenja

Hello= Zdravo

Goodnight= Laku noć

Happy birthday= Srećan rođendan

Good morning= Dobro jutro

Happy new year= Srećna Nova godina

lang orbit original

Time is an illusion. Time only exists when we think about the past and the future. Time doesn't exist in the present here and now.

Marina Abramovic

Performance artist

Imagine a part of the USA, from which the USA started - where is the cradle of your history? This is Kosovo for Serbia.

Novak Djokovic

Tennis Player

Let us turn to the future and not deal with the past.

Ivica Dacic

President of the National Assembly of Serbia

Fun facts about the Serbian language

Three Serbian dialects

The language has three variants, but, on Serbian territory, only two are found which are known as Ekavian and Ijekavian (the third variant, Ikavian, is only found in Croatia).

Learning Serbian

A tried and tested, basic principle for learning the Serbian language to keep in mind is “Write as you speak and read as it is written.”

Complete language makeover

Serbian was completely re-structured in the mid-1800s by Serbian linguist Vuk Karadžić when “Old Serbian” was modernized.


Serbian shares close ties with Montenegrin. Both languages are largely identical, save for minimal differences in vocabulary and pronunciation.

Serbian isn’t the easiest language to learn nor is it the most difficult. The challenges for English speakers are learning a new alphabet and complex grammar rules.

In addition to its complex grammar system, Serbian also contains cases that might be challenging for learners.

Serbian is considered a single language and has been since the Vienna Literary Agreement of 1850. The alphabets were formed to unify the south Slavs. By using the adapted Serbian Cyrillic alphabet and the adapted Croatian Latin alphabet for the same language, the Serbians and Croatians were brought together.

It can take anywhere between two and three years to learn Serbian. To achieve advanced fluency, living in Serbia or a Serbian-speaking community for at least a year is recommended to help fine-tune the accent and pronunciation.

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