When learning a new language like Serbian, it is always a treat to find you already know some vocabulary because there are so many loan words in Serbian borrowed from abroad.
Because it is situated at the crossroads of Eastern and Western Europe, Serbia boasts a language that has inevitably borrowed from not just its closest neighbors but countries much farther afield. Trade, migration, and invasion have seen loanwords enter the language from German, English, Russian, Hungarian, Turkish, Persian, Italian, Latin, and Greek. Serbia’s tumultuous past has also played its part in molding the language, with waves of different cultural interactions flooding Serbia with vocabulary that can now be recognized not just as loan words, but as modern Serbian words in their own right.
The Serbian Language And Its Origins
Serbian, one of the South Slavic languages, is the official language of Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It belongs to the Indo-European language family and is written in the Cyrillic script. The Serbian language evolved over centuries, drawing influence from various linguistic sources:
One of the most significant influences on Serbian vocabulary came from the centuries-long Ottoman rule in the Balkans. Many Turkish loanwords found their way into Serbian through daily interactions, trade, and cultural exchange. These words enriched the Serbian lexicon with terms related to administration, food, clothing, and various aspects of daily life. For instance, words like “čarapa” (socks), “čaj” (tea), and “duvan” (tobacco) have their origins in Turkish (which often pinched its words from Persian).
Some Turkish Words That Serbian Borrowed
It has been estimated that Serbian contains as many as 1,500 loanwords from Greek, as do the other South Slavic languages. A large portion of the words taken from Greek have something to do with religion and the church.
Some Loan Words In Serbian Borrowed From Greek
During the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s presence in the region, German and Hungarian influences permeated the Serbian language and culture. Many words related to industry, technology, and administration were borrowed from German, while Hungarian contributed words related to agriculture and gastronomy.
Some Serbian Words Borrowed From Hungarian
Some Serbian Words Borrowed From German
Serbian shares linguistic roots with other Slavic languages, such as Russian, Bulgarian, and Croatian. As a result, it borrowed words from these neighboring languages, further enhancing its vocabulary.
A striking difference between Serbian and Croatian actually comes down to loanwords. Serbia has been very welcoming to loanwords entering the language. On the other hand, Croatia adopted a policy of linguistic purism when part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, where the German language was rejected, and as part of Yugoslavia, where Serbian words were seen as the enemy. The term “Serbisms” is actually used in Croatia to describe unwanted Serbian vocab.
Some Serbian Words Borrowed From Russian
Loan Words From English
The impact of English loan words is particularly striking when it comes to the language of sport, technology, and business. English is also the language of music, with the Serbian word for blues being bluz, jazz is džez, punk is pank and rock is, you’ve guessed it – rok. English is also responsible for giving Serbian the common suffixes -er and -ing. For example: trendseter – trendsetter, gejmer – gamer, frilenser – freelancer, as well as: kasting – casting, ketering – catering, konsalting – consulting.
English Loanwords Used In Sport
Some English Words For Serbian Tech
… And Some English Words For Business
The influences of different languages like Ottoman Turkish, Germanic, and other Slavic languages have shaped Serbian vocabulary, adding depth and diversity to the language. English, French, Spanish, and other Western European languages have piled their fair share of words into the language as well.
Furthermore, Serbian loan words have traveled far beyond their origin, influencing and enriching global languages such as English (Serbian gave English the word vampire!) By exploring these loan words, we gain a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of languages and the enduring impact of cultural exchange. Serbian loan words help us appreciate the beauty of language as a tool for communication, understanding, and unity across borders.
Learn Serbian And Other Loanwords With Ling App
With more than 60 languages to choose from, Ling app has all you will ever need to learn a new language like Serbian. Ling app is designed to let you learn when and where you want to at a pace that suits you. With plenty of games and quizzes, Ling app also wants you to have fun as you learn. Give us a try today by visiting Google Play or the App Store.