It takes a lot of effort and dedication to learn to speak the Serbian language, so we give you some levels that will help you at the beginning.
Serbs have a knack for languages. We know it from their athletes, that newcomers to England, Spain, Germany... give press conferences in English, Spanish or German. But what happens in reverse? What happens when an Englishmen starts learning Serbian?
Things seem more complicated, but nothing is impossible if you put the will, perseverance, and, finally, a little humor in the face of the obstacles that the Serbian language is placing on the road.
But, above all, the Serbs already say it: ” Govori srpski da te ceo svet razume!” (Speak Serbian so that everyone understands you.) There is the key: to make yourself understood before the face of surprise of the interlocutor. To know what to expect, this is my particular classification of the different levels of learning of Serbian language :
At this level, you don't speak the Serbian language at all, even if everyone says it, just like a tagline (from above) is injected into the chromosome of any Serbian.
You explore the Serbian language like a caver.
They tell you that in Serbian grammar you have 7 cases (nominative; genitive; dative; accusative; vocative; instrumental; locative) but it is not true, in reality, there are many more. For some strange reason, the genitive is reproduced as a laboratory culture in ablative, explanatory, attributive, temporal, emphatic ...
You discover that verbs are divided into masculine (could-mogao), feminine (could-mogla), and neuter (could-moglo). If you are a man you tend to use only the masculine, and if you are a woman you tend to use only the feminine. And you will probably forget about neutral.
In Serbian they say "Koliko jezika govriš, toliko vrediš" (so many languages you speak, so much you are worth). You will understand it when your native speaker teacher gets frustrated and speaks to you in the five languages he knows to show you that the problem is you. Don't be discouraged, this is not how it starts, but how it ends. 🙂
People tell you that Cyrillic Script (official Serbian alphabet) is very complicated, but one day you wake up and eureka! You discover that it's not, that you have been deceived, and you learn it in a week with just a few hours of practice.
Your Serbian friends spittle and try to get you to pronounce “š”, “đ”, “ć”, “ž”, “č”, “z” and “c” well to no avail.
Your komšija (neighbor) about your interest in learning the Serbian language will condescendingly tell you: Polako! (Slowly), When in reality you cannot learn Serbian more slowly than that.
You repeat the word "dobro!" (OK) More than necessary: the one you use for when you understand and for when you don't understand. It is your fetish word, the one that fixes everything: dobro, dobro, dobro….
We level up. You are burning stages, but your phonetics seem to them like you're from Grece. You discover that when you speak Serbian, you also do it like a 2-year-old child who has a mouth full of cake.
Do not get depressed, it is a good sign. You start to be autonomous: you say your street correctly, you speak with the children of your friends, differences with ease the cash register devet (nine) and deset (ten), you look at the covers of the newspapers and smile proudly because you understand what you read.
At some point, if you have a question about Serbian grammar (cases for example), there will always be a Serb giving you a magic trick (a magic trick for those who already speak Serbian perfectly, because to you, what is to you, it is absolutely useless). This is what you're asking yourself while learning to speak Serbian: Od koga? (From whom?), Od čega? (Of what?), Ko? (who?), Šta? (What?). - "You see how it's easy to speak Serbian.." - "Yes, very, very easy" (irony mode: activated). 🙂
You learn to call a taxi and your first deep conversations occur with them; the only ones who will speak to you in Serbian because the rest will speak to you in English even if you try to speak to them in Serbian.
Some will want to practice, others will not understand you, others will want you to understand well, others will simply want to show you that they are "Beograđani" (citizens of Belgrade - the capital of Serbia) and that "they are not like the rest of the Serbs" ("you speak so many languages, you are so valuable", you know).
While learning Serbian, there are challenges - such as knowing how to use pronouns and their position and assuming that they have a case, gender, number, and other things (njemu, mu, njoj, joj, nje, je, nju, ju, njima, im, njih, ih).
And when you visit your friends in Serbia and say "whore" ("time" or "way" in the genitive), they will burst out laughing.
You relax because you realize that you can use the imperative with everyone and not be rude. Of course, at this level, it doesn't matter what you say. Even if you think you are very interesting while speaking Serbian, they will only be interested in hearing how you speak Serbian, not in what you say. Assume it as soon as possible. This is a problem with the waiters, mesmerized by your fluency.
People still insist that the Serbian language is very difficult. Just learn at your own pace, don’t despair.
At this level, you renounce the use of the aorist, the gerund, and the pluperfect. Even though your teacher gave it hours, you realize after a long time that she doesn't even use it.
You discover that they have different words for cousin and cousin, father-in-law and mother-in-law, uncle and aunt on both maternal and paternal side, and, after discovering it, you sigh and give up remembering how they are said in Serbian.
The Serbs are proud that you find it difficult, but you are already acquiring the automatisms of the language. For example, words like “mrš”, “beži”, ”ajde”… along with “bre” (go away… man!) Or “ovaj”, “znači”, “mislim”, “pa”, “tako da” … (Well!) Are part of your everyday expressions.
You assume you'll never speak Serbian well, and stop studying, but unintentional learning takes its course when you start learning how to say cheers in kafane (Serbian bars), grocery shopping, and domestic incidents that force you to learn Serbian: hit, drain, stopcock, humidity, partition, crack, flood, emergencies, relief ...
You are already beginning to request songs from the tamburaši (the band that plays on string instruments-traditional in Vojvodina), distribute tickets to the musicians, and also sing in the shower “Moja mala nema mane” (“My girlfriend has no flaws”). However, even if you have eaten “pljeskavica” (the local hamburger) a thousand times, you still don't know how to pronounce it correctly.
On this level, your mother had to be Serbian. If you fail in any case or in pronunciation then you are from southern Serbia. You have to be from southern Serbia, it cannot be from Šumadija, Vojvodina…. but from southern Serbia.
You can say in Serbian all the types of seeds and fruits of the forest that you cannot say in English, and the word cabbage you forget in English and now it is only called kupus.
After years, one day the pride of perfecting it comes to you, but everything goes wrong again when a stranger enters your life and says “super pričaš srpski” (you speak Serbian very well) and you go back to the beginning. And bitterly you say: “Hvala” (Thank you)... and that Serbian is very difficult, right? (irony mode: still activated). "Yes, very difficult," you will answer.
If you want to have fun while learning Basic Serbian Expressions in an interesting and fun way, you can consider using language learning apps like Ling App. Try it and let me know in a comment what you think about it.