Language Information

The Bosnian language is one of the standard versions of the Central-South Slavic diasystem, based on the Štokavian dialect. The language is used by Bosniaks in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the region of Sandžak (in Serbia and Montenegro) and elsewhere. It is based on the Western variant of the Shtokavian dialect and uses both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets, although Latin is used to the almost total exclusion of Cyrillic.

Bosnian alphabet

Pronunciation

Vowels

The Bosnian vowel system is simple, with only five vowels. All vowels are monophthongs. The oral vowels are as follows:

Latin script

Cyrillic script

IPA

Description

English approximation

i

[i]

front closed unrounded

seek

e

[ɛ]

front half open unrounded

ten

a

[a]

central open unrounded

father

o

[ɔ]

back half open rounded

caught (British)

u

[u]

back closed rounded

boom

Consonants

The consonant system is more complicated, and its characteristic features are series of affricate and palatal consonants. As in English and most other Indo-European languages west of India, voicedness is phonemic, but aspiration is not.

Latin script

Cyrillic script

IPA

Description

English approximation

trill

r

[r]

alveolar trill

rolled (vibrating) r as in Spanish carro

approximants

v

[ʋ]

labiodental approximant

vase

j

[j]

palatal approximant

yes

laterals

l

[l]

lateral alveolar approximant

lock

lj

[ʎ]

palatal lateral approximant

volume

nasals

m

[m]

bilabial nasal

man

n

[n]

alveolar nasal

not

nj

[ɲ]

palatal nasal

canyon

fricatives

f

[f]

voiceless labiodental fricative

phase

s

[s]

voiceless alveolar fricative

some

z

[z]

voiced alveolar fricative

zero

š

[ʃ]

voiceless postalveolar fricative

sheer

ž

[ʒ]

voiced postalveolar fricative

vision

h

[x]

voiceless velar fricative

loch

affricates

c

[ts]

voiceless alveolar affricate

pots

[dʒ]

voiced postalveolar affricate

dodge

č

[ʧ]

voiceless postalveolar affricate

chair

đ

[ʥ]

voiced alveolo-palatal affricate

schedule

ć

[ʨ]

voiceless alveolo-palatal affricate

nature

plosives

b

[b]

voiced bilabial plosive

abuse

p

[p]

voiceless bilabial plosive

top

d

[d]

voiced alveolar plosive

dog

t

[t]

voiceless alveolar plosive

talk

g

[g]

voiced velar plosive

god

k

[k]

voiceless velar plosive

duck

In consonant clusters all consonants are either voiced or voiceless. All the consonants are voiced (if the last consonant is normally voiced) or voiceless (if the last consonant is normally voiceless). This rule does not apply to approximants a consonant cluster may contain voiced approximants and voiceless consonants; as well as to foreign words (Washington would be transcribed as VašinGton/), personal names and when consonants are not inside of one syllable.

R can be syllabic, playing the role of a vowel in certain words (occasionally, it can even have a long accent). For example, the tongue-twister na vrh brda vrba mrda involves four words with syllabic r. Very rarely, l can be syllabic (in the name for the river "Vltava", 'l' is syllabic) as well as lj, m, n and nj in jargon.

Grammar

In Bosnian every noun has a gender: feminine (usually ending with an "a" in singular and in "e" or "i" in plural), masculine (usually ending with a consonant in singular and in an "i" in plural) and neuter (usually ending with an "o" in singular and in "a" in plural). There are exceptions to these rules. Gender determines the nouns declension. There are seven cases: Nominativ, Genitiv, Dativ, Accusative, Instrumental, Locative and Vocative.

There are no definite and indefinite articles in Bosnian.

Personal pronouns used in the Bosnian language are as follows: Ja (I, first person), Ti (You, second person), On (He, third person), Ona (She, third person), Ono (It, third person), Mi (We, plural), Vi (You) and Oni (They). Note, that Ti is used when addressing the person that one knows very well, such as a relative or a close friend. Vi can be used when politely addressing one person or more.

Possessive pronouns are: moj, tvoj, svoj (masc), moja, tvoja, svoja (fem) moje, tvoje, svoje (neut) - mine, yours (singular); naši, naša, naše ours vaši, vaše, vaša yours, njihova, njihove, njihova theirs (plural).

There are also interrogative, relative and demonstrative pronouns.

The main tenses used in Bosnian language are: Present, Past, Future, Pluperfect, Future perfect, Imperative and Conditional.

By removing the ending from the infinitive form of a regular verb, we can form the present tense. However, for most verbs there are prefixes that distinguish between simple and continuos form of the verb.

The past tense is a compound tense being formed from the present tense of the auxiliary "to be" and the active past participle. Active past participle is formed by removing the ending of verbs ending in -iti and adding the following endings: (He) - o, (We) - li, (She) - La, (You) - li, (It) - Lo, (They) - li(m)/le(f)/la(n). The participle varies according to gender and number.

Future consists of the infinitive and the verb 'to be' (biti) in the future tense. If the personal pronoun is left out , as it is in common speech, the verb 'biti' is added to the principal verb as a suffix. This process of dropping the final - ti of the infinitive and substitution for the corresponing form of the veb 'biti' is valid for most regular verbs. However , there are exceptions and irregularities.

The pluperfect is generally used to describe something that went on one step further back in the past. This is a compound tense and it is formed of imperfect 'to be' and the active past participle.

Future perfect tense is used to express an action in the future, which precedes another action in the future. It is composed of the present perfect of 'to be' and the active past participle.

The Imperative is the form of the verb used when giving an order.

The Conditional is a compound tense formed of the active present participle and the aorist of 'to be' and it is most often found in conditional clauses, i.e. when the ideas expressed are hypothetical. One can also frequently come across the conditional tense in reported speech. A verb used in the future tense in direct speech will change to the conditional tense in reported speech.

There are three main groups of verb endings in Bosnian language: verbs that end in -ati in the infinitive, verbs that end in -iti and verbs ending in -eti. There are two aspects of Bosnian verbs: the simple form that denotes a completed action and the second that denotes a continuos action. As the verb itself is changed in the process of conjugation, the personal pronoun is usually left out. Auxiliary for 'to be' verb: Nisam - I am not, Nisi - You are not, Nije - He/she is not, Nismo - We are not, Niste - You are not, Nisu - They are not. Existence of double negatives is allowed.

The present participle is generally used when two actions are taking place simultaneously. The present participle is formed by adding the suffix -ci to the 3rd person plural of the present tense of the Imperfect. Active past participle is formed by adding the suffix - vši (after a vowel) or -avši (after a consonant) to the infinitive stem.

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