The Serbian language
Brief History of Origins:
- The Serbian language is part of the wider group of South Slavic languages.
- Historically, it evolved from Old Church Slavonic, which Slavic missionaries Cyril and Methodius used in the 9th century to spread Christianity.
- By the 12th century, this language had given rise to various regional forms, which later developed into individual Slavic languages.
- The Serbian variant was influenced over time by other languages, notably Turkish, due to the Ottoman Empire’s presence in the Balkans, as well as by German, Hungarian, and later by Western European languages.
Number of Speakers:
- Serbian is spoken by approximately 9 million people worldwide.
- The majority of the speakers are in Serbia, but there are also significant communities in Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Albania and Turkey.
- Serbian diasporas in countries such as the US, Canada, Australia, and Germany also contribute to this number.
Where It Is an Official Language:
- Serbia: The primary country where Serbian is spoken.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: One of the three official languages, alongside Bosnian and Croatian.
- Montenegro: Although Montenegrin is the official language, Serbian is also widely spoken and recognised.
- Kosovo: Serbian is one of the official languages, alongside Albanian.
- Many international organizations, including the United Nations, also recognize Serbian as one of their official languages.
Example of Text:
“Dobar dan” translates to “Good day” in English.
Where It Is Used and How:
- Daily Communication: Most Serbians use the language for everyday conversation with family, friends, and colleagues.
- Media: Newspapers, television, and radio broadcasts primarily utilise Serbian.
- Literature: Serbia has a rich literary tradition, with both classic and contemporary works written in the language.
- Education: Instruction in Serbian schools is predominantly in the Serbian language, from primary to tertiary levels.
- Religious Ceremonies: Used in Serbian Orthodox Church services.
- Official Documents: All official state documentation, including laws, regulations, and public notices, are written in Serbian.
English Words Used in Serbian:
Due to globalisation and technological advancements, many English words, especially in the realm of technology and pop culture, have found their way into Serbian. Examples include:
- Computer: While there’s a Serbian word “računar”, many also use the term “kompijuter”.
- Internet: Used as is, with a Serbian pronunciation.
- Hamburger: Again, used as is, with a slight difference in pronunciation.
Serbian Words Absorbed into English:
There are few Serbian words that have been adopted into everyday English. However, specialists or those interested in the region might recognise some related to food, culture, or history. A notable example is:
- Slivovitz: A type of plum brandy popular in Serbia and other parts of Eastern Europe.
Serbian is a language with deep historical roots, reflecting the diverse influences and rich history of the Balkans. Its resilience and adaptability are evident in how it has absorbed words from other languages and cultures over the centuries. At the same time, Serbian has maintained its unique character, making it an essential part of the region’s cultural fabric.
The official national language of Serbia, Serbian, bears a range of similarities to the languages of former Yugoslav countries, Bosnia and Croatia. Many linguists compare the similarities found in these three languages with the level of similarities found between British English, American English and Australian English. Many of the differences are located in the vocabulary of the three languages. However, the written languages look very different, with Serbian using the Cyrillic alphabet and Croatian utilising the Latin alphabet. However, an increasing number of Serbian speakers are utilising the Latin alphabet outside of more formal situations.
Understanding the people who speak a language, as well as the language itself, is key. For this reason, at Brightlines, we only use Serbian translation specialists who have used Serbian since birth.
Our translation services - FAQ
Do you use native translators?
Yes, always. All our translators are native speakers and most are still resident in their native country. We pride ourselves on ensuring that all Brightlines’ translators are native. We do not accept applications from non-native candidates or allow them to register on our online recruitment database. All our translators are rigorously tested.
How long will the translations take?
The turnaround for the translation will depend on the word count. As a rough guide, assume that the translators can comfortably process about 2500 words of non-specialised text per day. Proofreading can effectively be completed on a basis of 4000-6000 words a day. Our minimum turnaround time is usually about three days, although it is possible to shorten this if you are in a rush for the final files and we will always be happy to discuss this with you.
What is the variation in your translators’ experience and qualifications? Are they native speakers? Will the cost increase if we use a more experienced translator?
All our translators have to go through a series of tests to make sure they are as good as they say they are, and only if they pass are they allowed to work for Brightlines. There is quite a range of experience and qualifications, but all translators have a minimum of five years’ experience. All translators translate into their mother-tongue without exception and are generally based in-country so they are up-to-date with the local language. We match translators with projects/clients depending on the subject matter, and most of our translators have industry experience in their speciality – there is no better experience than being immersed professionally in the industry they specialise in. Our costs are based on translator experience, speciality (i.e. medical, creative, scientific) and the language choice.
Which languages can you translate into?
We have an extensive database with hundreds of trusted and tested translators covering all commercial languages. If you cannot see the language or dialect you need please ask.
I don’t know the word count; can you base the quote on the number of pages?
Our pricing structure is based on a rate-per-word, but we can estimate from a page count. If we can’t see the source document then we would usually estimate between 300 – 500 words a page depending on the density of the text and the presence of photos and images.
Does the translation need to be proofread?
Brightlines is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company. This means that quality is safeguarded. We adhere to the “four-eyes principle” and translations are always checked by a second professional proofreader (who is not the translator). If the translation is for internal use and reference purposes only (i.e. not to be published, distributed or used in a court of law), or you simply don’t wish to have proofreading, we can remove the proofreading stage.