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Serbian is the principal language of Yugoslavia, now reduced to the provinces of Serbia (which includes Kosovo) and Montenegro. In Serbia it is spoken by about 7½ million people, in Montenegro by 650,000. There are also about 1,250,000 Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and 500,000 in Croatia. Serbian is one of the Slavic languages and thus part of the Indo-European family.
Serbian and Croatian, spoken in Croatia, are virtually the same language, often referred to as Serbo-Croatian. The Serbs call the 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. But all educated Serbs know the Roman alphabet as well, and many books published in Serbia appear in both.
The Serbian alphabet differs considerably from the Russian. Nine Russian letters are missing from Serbian, but Serbian has six of its own. There is the Roman j, pronounced y; the Џ, pronounced like the English j; the Љ pronounced like the ll of “million”; the Њ, pronounced like the ny of “canyon”; the ђ, pronounced dy as in “did you”; and the ћ, pronounced ty as in “hit you.” For each Cyrillic letter in the Serbian alphabet there is a corresponding Roman letter in the Croatian alphabet.
Ivo Andrič was the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961.
Authorized from the original edition of The Languages of the World 3rd edition by Keneth Katzner published by Routledge, a member of the Taylor & Francis Group.
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