Hello there, you brave student of Serbian.
As you probably know by now, we have two alphabets: Cyrillic and Latin. We use them both, yes. And if you’ve already tried to study Serbian alphabet, you’ve probably encountered some letters like č,ć,ž,đ,š. We guess that your facial expression at that moment was something like this.
Don’t worry. We’ll explain everything you need to know regarding Serbian pronunciation.
First, you need to know some facts about Serbian alphabet. There are 30 letters. Each letter equals one sound. If it still sounds incredible, check the maths: 1 letter = 1 sound or 1 sound = 1 letter. This values never change. Each letter is always pronounced in the same way.
This you need to thank to the guy on the right. Or the guy below, if you’re reading this from your phone. His name is Vuk.
Vuk wanted to simplify Serbian language, and, in a way, he did it. We consider him the father of the modern Serbian language. His famous quote is: Piši kao što govoriš. Čitaj kao što je napisano. Or in English: Write as you speak and read as it is written.
How can you read in Serbian everything correctly?
When you’re learning a new language and encounter a new word, you usually ask yourself two things: Kako se čita? Kako se piše? How do you read it? How do you spell it? If you’re studying Serbian language, the answer to these questions is: the same way.
What Vuk did made Serbian language very simple to read. As soon as you learn how each letter is pronounced, you can start reading anything you want. There are no reading rules you need to learn. Amazing, right?
So, let’s check both alphabets and pronunciation.
Check how the letters are written both in Latin and Cyrillic. We also added some examples of a sound in Serbian and the same and approximate sound in English. Note that the example in English is not a translation of the Serbian example.
|Abeceda (Latin Alphabet)||Azbuka (Cyrillic Alphabet)||Pronunciation||Example||Example of a similar sound in English|
|A a||A a||/a/||ananas||car|
|B b||Б б||/b/||baba||bat|
|C c||Ц ц||/ts/||cucla||cats|
|Č č||Ч ч||/tʃ/||čaša||lunch|
|Ć ć||Ћ ћ||/tɕ/||ćurka||church|
|D d||Д д||/d/||dinar||dig|
|Dž dž||Џ џ||/dʒ/||džez||jazz|
|Đ đ||Ђ ђ||/dʑ/||Đorđe||George|
|E e||Е е||/ɛ/||ekologija||let|
|F f||Ф ф||/f/||francuski||fit|
|G g||Г г||/ɡ/||gramofon||game|
|H h||Х х||/x/||hleb||history|
|I i||И и||/i/||istok||east|
|J j||Ј ј||/j/||jaja||year|
|K k||К к||/k/||kivi||cut|
|L l||Л л||/l/||list||list|
|Lj lj||Љ љ||/ʎ/||ljuljati||million|
|M m||М м||/m/||mama||mice|
|N n||Н н||/n/||nana||nice|
|Nj nj||Њ њ||/ɲ/||njiva||onion|
|O o||О о||/ɔ/||oko||autmn|
|P p||П п||/p/||pop||pick|
|R r||Р р||/r/||rok||Fritz|
|S s||С с||/s/||sala||sister|
|Š š||Ш ш||/ʃ/||šala||shoes|
|T t||Т т||/t/||tata||time|
|U u||У у||/u/||usta||shoot|
|V v||В в||/ʋ/||voda||verb|
|Z z||З з||/z/||zolja||cozy, reason|
|Ž ž||Ж ж||/ʒ/||žuriti||version|
Listen to the pronunciation
Remember, we do not spell our letters (don’t have special names for them). Also, each letter is always pronounced the same way.
In the chart we tried to give you some examples that are not so hard do pronounce or comprehend.
Check the audios bellow and hear how we pronounce both the letters and the examples.
How can you practice?
Well, there you have it. Thirty letters and thirty sounds. Try practicing your Serbian pronunciation through tongue twisters like:
- Riba ribi grize rep.
- Miš uz pušku, miš niz pušku.
- Nevesele snene žene plele teške mreže.
- Četiri čavčića na čunčiću čučeći cijuču.
- Čiča čvorak čuva četu čavki, čik čvorče čvrkni čavki čvor.
- Javorov jaram, javorova ralica, ralo drvo javorovo.
Which one of these is the most troublesome for you?
Let’s learn Serbian!