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Is the Serbian Language Hard to Learn?

Updated on June 8, 2014

Learning a Foreign Language

Why not learn a foreign language, I ask you? I come from Serbia, and I have always been interested in learning foreign languages. I have learned English, as you can see; I have also learned Italian, French, and Latin, although with much more limited success than I have had with English. Nevertheless, I am of the opinion that it is never too late to start learning a foreign language, and you can never know too many foreign languages. When it comes to multilingualism, I say the more, the merrier!

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My Wannabe Lessons

I have noticed that there are a lot of people who are interested in my native language, Serbian. A few months back, it occurred to me to write a series of articles relating to my country and my native language, and I entitled them Wannabe Lessons. They are supposed to be funny and educational at the same time, although I haven't always been able to do both of these - at times I probably failed to even be amusing.

So, Is Serbian Difficult to Learn?

However, the question of whether Serbian is difficult to master for foreigners has still remained a secret. I have mentioned in the introduction to my 'Wannabe Lessons' that English speakers will probably have a hard time mastering the pronunciation of some Serbian words, but many people are still interested in whether it is difficult to really learn Serbian and be able to talk to a native Serbian speaker without any difficulties in communication. Well, what's interesting here is not the question of whether it is difficult to learn Serbian - as learning a foreign language always is - but it is rather the question of how difficult learning Serbian will be.

It's Not That Hard to Learn a Foreign Language!

Learning a foreign language doesn't have to be hard at all -- from my personal experience.

Learning to Pronounce Serbian Words

This photo is from my personal collection unless otherwise noted @2014

We'll assume that you are an English speaker, not because I am biased toward English, but rather because I can relate to English easily, as I have a command of both English and Serbian. So, you would first have to forget pretty much everything you know about your native language and be prepared to learn a language that has some similar rules, but is basically very different.

For example, above you will see some of the prominent consonant clusters that are found in Serbian, and I dare you to say them out loud right away - just to see whether you can do it, and whether you are intuitive enough to know how to pronounce them! See that these words in Serbian have their translation in English to the right, so you are already learning some new Serbian words while trying to pronounce those nasty consonant clusters!

What About the Cyrillic and the Latin Script? - Don't Worry, It Is Much Easier Than It Seems!

This photo is from my personal collection unless otherwise noted @2014

Table explanation:

- Red characters - Letters in Serbian Latin script.

- Blue characters - Letters in Serbian Cyrillic script.

- Words highlighted in yellow - English words that tell you how to pronounce Serbian letters (sounds).

- Words in bold - Serbian words that start with the letter (sound) shown directly above them.

The Serbian language uses both the Cyrillic and the Latin script, and you will not have to worry about the former right away - as it is okay to start with the Latin script first. Just remember that Serbian has a few letters that are non-existent in English, and here is a great table of both the Cyrillic and the Latin script in the Serbian language, with explanations of pronunciations of all of the letters in the Serbian language.

Note that Serbian spelling and pronunciation is much less complicated than the one used in English, as Serbian has only one sound for each letter. For example, when you see the letter 'G' in Serbian, you will always pronounce it as [g], like when you say 'GIVE' in English. Look at the table above and try to understand Serbian pronunciation and spelling - at least some of it.

Remember -- What You See Is What You Get in Serbian!

Or, to be more precise, what you see written is exactly what you should pronounce. So go ahead and try to pronounce some of the Serbian words from the table above! While you are doing this, I will try to devise a list of some of the most useful expressions you can use when visiting Serbia or any other country in this region, since people in Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, and even Bulgaria will understand you if you can speak Serbian! That's quite practical, don't you think?

How many foreign languages do you know?

Feel free to tell us your story in the comment section, as well as demonstrate your knowledge! I intend to make this an international and multilingual comment section :)

How many, if any, foreign languages do you speak?

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Your Comments Are Always Welcome

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    • Magda2012 profile image

      Magda2012 4 years ago

      I agree that it is never too late to start learning a foreign language. I am learning Mandarin Chinese now.