Balkan Literature.

This Hannah Weber rounduup of contemporary Balkan fiction for the Calvert Journal is a few years old now, but as we know, the Balkans are an ageless land of mystery where today is exactly the same as a thousand years ago, so who’s counting? Anyway, it’s an interesting mix of famous writers like Ismail Kadare, reasonably well-known ones like Dubravka Ugresić and Aleksandar Hemon, and ones I’d never heard of, like Ognjen Spahić (from Montenegro) and Gabriela Babnik (Slovenia). Here’s a description of The Russian Window by Dragan Velikić (Serbia):

An omnibus novel in three parts, The Russian Window juxtaposes each character’s missed opportunities with the paths they choose, providing the reader with an understanding of the diverse and countless lives of others. Through careful irony and sparse humour, we begin to discover the aching but inevitable gap between one’s expectations and how one lives. The title of the book lends itself to a beautiful metaphor: a fortochka is a small window inset in a larger one, used for ventilation in cold climates. As Velikić writes, it is “an attempt to inhale the outer world without losing our inner warmth”. His latest novel, Islednik (2015), eagerly awaits translation.

Which raises the question, does Serbian not have its own word for fortochka? (If you’re curious about the title in the last sentence, islednik means ‘investigator.) There are splendid photographs of cities (I particularly like the one of Dubrovnik). Thanks, Trevor!

Comments

  1. I will hazard a guess that Ruski prozor/Russian window does mean fortochka. If not, maybe it is the whole “window with fortochka”.

  2. If English, with its vast lexicon, doesn’t have its own word for fortochka (and, imho, it doesn’t) it doesn’t seem especially surprising Serbian would just borrow the convenient Russian. (Though Wiktionary plausibly suggests that the Russian word is borrowed first from Polish and ultimately from German.)

    Are fortochki even a common phenomenon outside of Europe’s northern latitudes? I’ve personally seen them throughout the FSU, but nowhere else.

  3. Comes from German ‘Pförtchen’ (“little door”) via Polish ‘furtka’.

  4. Andrej Bjelaković says:
  5. For the record this is not that great of a round up – it smushes together authors who are 30 years apart in age. Most of the best Balkan writers live abroad and in non-native languages, like Hemon, Obreht and Stanisic, (and of course Ugresic herself in a different way). Plus even the books were published over 20+ years apart from each other . “Say, old sport, when you’re in Italty you should check out

    Fortochka is def not the word because 1 ) we don’t have those kinds of devices on our windows, and 2)
    and even if we did I”m confident we would have some up with a better (ie. more ridiiculous ) name for and 3), Balkan peolpe are seriosuly terrified of the draft , woudl never endure this device on their window,w so us not having a name for it ccould be like the bear/taboo vbeelief/

    thiink all of us clued in at some point that the proliferation of false freinds amind the Slavic languages makes each of thm a. poor choice to lend woreds to the others

  6. Stu Clayton says:

    via Polish ‘furtka’

    The German WiPe article links to Vasmer, which gives the Polish connection as польск. forta, fórtkа “дверь”. Here‘s a nice photo of a Pförtchen or Fortotschka.

  7. Andrej Bjelaković says:

    Nemanja! We missed you!

  8. thank you Andrej! I should take bets on whether i wrote that on addereall, ambien, or. alcohol. Jeeze. I think that cut-off sentence was trying to say “imagine an italian roundup of contemporary fiction ranging from Il Gattopardo to Elena Ferrante.

  9. For the record this is not that great of a round up

    I was hoping to lure you with this post!

  10. PlasticPaddy says:

    @hat
    Where do the Balkans start for you? Is Claudio Magris a “Balkan author”? There was an Austrian author who said the Balkans began on the side of the road opposite his flat in Vienna…

  11. I have no idea! As you say, people have differing ideas on the topic.

  12. I think someone must keep a list of these things which begin at the most unexpected places.

    Here is another observation on where Europe begins:

    At the Soviet border station Otpor, the train slowed down. I was struck by the sudden transition from the East to Europe. When I flew to the Far East by seaplane in 1948, the difference between Southern Europe, the Middle East, and then India and Burma was perceived gradually. Here it took about half an hour for the train, after passing through the desert lands, to suddenly find itself again in Europe, perhaps not as neat and prosperous as Holland or England, but still in Europe. Everything testified to this: from wooden houses with pointed gable roofs, windows drawn with lace curtains and geranium flowers on the windowsills, to tall, fair-haired border guards and blond long-legged girls on the station platform.

  13. Well, it’s easy with trains, isn’t it? No geraniums necessary.

  14. Trond Engen says:
  15. I also recently began obsessed with idea of finding out where exactly large urban areas end.

    By “end” I mean end of uninterrupted built up area.

    After careful examination of Google Maps, I came to conclusion that New York City ends at South Hadley, Massachusetts where uninterrupted built up area stretching from downtown New York finally ends in Skinner State Park.

  16. Travelling in Europe it always struck me how things look different when you cross a border.
    Eg. Taking a train from London to Edinbrugh, it seemed that the whole countryside changed when the train crossed into Scotland, houses looked different, roads, even the sky.

  17. After careful examination of Google Maps, I came to conclusion that New York City ends at South Hadley, Massachusetts where uninterrupted built up area stretching from downtown New York finally ends in Skinner State Park.

    Wow, I escaped NYC by the skin of my teeth — I’m in (North) Hadley!

  18. New York City ends at South Hadley, Massachusetts

    The traditional border between New York City and Boston lies at the point where Red Sox fans exceed Yankees fans. That is generally held to be just north of Hartford, CT, well south of the Pioneer Valley.

  19. As I understand, Hartford-Springfield urban area basically merged into one city.

    And South Hadley is part of it.

  20. The traditional border between New York City and Boston lies at the point where Red Sox fans exceed Yankees fans. That is generally held to be just north of Hartford, CT, well south of the Pioneer Valley.

    No, it’s not just a north-south thing. Many, many people here in Western Mass hate the Sox as part of their general hatred of Boston and its malign neglect of the western third of the state.

  21. John Emerson says:

    My son went on a road trip after HS visiting all of the famous baseball stadiums. In Chicago it’s the Cubs v the White Sox, which as I understand is a north/white south-black division. What he especially noticed was that people were unusually friendly, but people on each side of the line warned him about the people on the other side.

  22. SFReader, I don’t know Hat’s take on it, but being down in the Hartford suburbs, I don’t think of Hartford and Springfield as much of an agglomeration.

    Maybe it’s the lower population density belt running through Granby, East Granby, (western) Suffield, Windsor Locks, East Windsor, and Ellington, but it’s not a fully urbanized swath in my opinion.

    Also, I spent most of my adult life closer to DC, so this is nothing in terms of urbanization, imo.

    Regarding where the Sox/Yankees isoöpadic line is: we toured a house when we moved here, a few blocks from where we are now, whose owner had decorated his office in Yankees paraphernalia. We asked our Realtor about it, and she informed us that the whole area had fans of each team and you couldn’t point to a neighborhood or street and tell who the people who lived there would support.

  23. It seems a little disingenuous to frame this piece in terms of the breakup of Yugoslavia. I don’t know what Pârvulescu or Penkov have to do with Yugoslavia. I may be able to argue for Müller being from the area of Timișoara, as being sort of close enough, but this just looks like some odd geographic hodgepodge.

  24. While we’re on the topic of the Balkans, can anyone recommend good resources for learning BCMS? My husband who has Serbian ancestry and I have begun working on learning the language, though we started from the Croatian side under the argument of only needing the Roman alphabet and due to at least initially greater interest in Croatian sites.

    I’ve been trying to use Transparent Language, and we bought the Ronelle Alexander books, but frankly the organization of the latter is unpleasant and hard to keep motivated on.

    We hope to be able to travel there in the future, and I note that the fact that the locals may or may not speak English is not a factor in learning the language. We also learned adequate Italian (I’m around B2) in anticipation of our two trips to Italy, for example.

  25. Many, many people here in Western Mass hate the Sox

    Certainly not my experience, and the New York Times backs me up. Even in Pittsfield (which is true Western Mass) Red Sox fans predominate. Not sure what kind of dissident separatists you affiliate with.

    Granted, the large number of students from the New York Metro Region may make sports bars seem pro-Yankee. The same is true at BU and Brandeis back in the stolitsa.

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/04/23/upshot/24-upshot-baseball.html

  26. Even in Pittsfield (which is true Western Mass) Red Sox fans predominate.

    Well, I’m not saying Yankee fans predominate, just that there are a lot of them. True, I may be passing on lore I’ve heard rather than going from actual facts on the ground.

  27. @Craig: I know nothing about FYLOSC* myself. However a friend (third generation Croatian-American) who wanted to learn his heritage language seemed to be very happy with this site: https://www.hr4eu.hr/, which is run by the University of Zagreb and funded by an European Union economic development grant.

    * This stands for “Former Yugoslav Language of Serbo-Croatian” and functions as something of a Languagehat in-group signifier (not that we would want to exclude anyone though—so maybe it’s just more of an inside joke).

  28. January First-of-May says:

    Well, I’m not saying Yankee fans predominate, just that there are a lot of them.

    For that matter, if I recall right, in the NY/MA area there is also a bunch of fans of the New York Mets – they are just sufficiently spread out to not actually predominate in any particular subregion.

    (I’m not really into the American varieties of sportsball myself, so the team of the area in question that I’m the closest to being a fan of is probably New York Cosmos – and even then more through their illustrous history than any pretense to modern existence.)

    FYLOSC

    Which of course (as described in far more detail at the link) refers to the Eastern Herzegovinian variety of Western South Slavic (with some minor subvariations for the B/C/M/S versions); there are a bunch of more distant (and somewhat marginalized) varieties mostly in what is now Croatia, and I’m not aware of a pre-existing convenient term for the entire group (something like “Western South Slavic”, or perhaps “Southwest Slavic”, could probably work, but is not actually used as far as I’m aware; I’ve previously often semi-whimsically proposed “Kavian”).

  29. January First-of-May says:

    that I’m the closest to being a fan of

    …this should of course have been “that I’m closest to being a fan of” [i.e. that I’m even less of a fan of anything else in that vicinity]; I’m not sure why I phrased that the way I did.

    (I noticed it when the editing window looked closed; then it unexpectedly opened, with 10 seconds left, but by the time I entered the correction – with 4 seconds left – it no longer allowed me to fix the error.)

  30. For that matter, if I recall right, in the NY/MA area there is also a bunch of fans of the New York Mets – they are just sufficiently spread out to not actually predominate in any particular subregion.

    I am one of them, for my sins. The Mets simply don’t win enough to have acquired a predominating fan base.

  31. There are (or maybe were) plenty of Red Sox fans who revile the Mets—on account of what happened in 1986—at least as much as we dislike the Yankees.

    (The first house I bought in South Carolina was, interestingly enough, heavily decorated with Yankees logos—and baseball imagery more generally, like baseball-shaped knobs on the cabinet doors in the upstairs bathroom. The reason was actually that the house’s original owner had been a star baseball player at the University of South Carolina who had then played for several years on Yankees farm teams, although I don’t think he ever made it to the show.)

  32. @Craig

    If your husband is Serbian and if you are going to visit his family, then start with one of the Teach Yourself courses. I understand that Teach Yourself Complete Serbian is quite thorough.

    No need to worry too much about the cyrillic alphabet for Serbian. Almost all Serbian language courses start off with the Latin alphabet and gradually introduce the cyrillic. You will need to recognise it, if only to read signs; so a book with cyrillic would be a useful reference.

    January’s comments about Hercegovinian are relevant to dialectology only. You don’t need to worry about that if you are a language learner. Language learners need to learn the standard form of the language, which would be Serbian in your case.

    You might be able to get away with learning Croatian, but that won’t prepare you fully for Serbia. And, I was physically assaulted for speaking Croatian in the street last time i was in the Serbian capital Belgrade to visit family. Mind you that was in 1990, but i haven’t been back since to find out if the attitude towards Croatians has changed.

  33. There are (or maybe were) plenty of Red Sox fans who revile the Mets—on account of what happened in 1986—at least as much as we dislike the Yankees.

    This was certainly the case at least through the 1990s, but it seems to have largely faded by now. The Mets have simply been too lousy to sustain a good hatred. The reason Yankee hatred is so widespread and lasting is that the team has so often been so dominant. I learned to hate them as a Senators fan in the 1950s and never had reason to moderate my vilification.

  34. John Emerson says:

    So success-worshippers gravitate toward the Yankees, and by “success-worshippers” I mean “evil, hateful, horrible, success-worshippers”(with an Oxford comma).

  35. John Emerson says:

    I was a Dodgers fan when young because MN had no team, and the your Senators arrived. Camilo Pasquale! Pedro Ramos!

  36. i think mets fans in soxland are a recent emergence, probably mainly among transplants or folks younger than roughly 35. certainly there were next to none around during my generation-of-86 upbringing (my brooklyn-born dodgers-fan father was the only local pro-mets person i knew, and that was mostly because he hadn’t yet gone native enough to really root for the sox).

    but what i really wanted to mention was the period when there was a noticable exclave of red sox fans in manhattan. during pedro martínez’ time in boston, washington heights was the southernmost piece of the red sox nation, because quisqueya-on-the-hudson believes in diasporic unity. during my years there, i rarely saw any other baseball team’s gear. the neighborhood may have shifted its loyalty when pedro moved to the mets, but i don’t remember noticing before i made aliyah to brooklyn a few years later.

  37. Camilo Pasquale! Pedro Ramos!

    Yes, those were a couple of the idols of my youth (along with Harmon Killebrew and Bob Allison and the marvelous Earl Battey). We said “PEE-droh RAY-mohs,” not knowing any better. When they moved to Minnesota my affections moved with them, they being the same players and hence the same team I loved; I couldn’t understand how my father could become a fan of the new, wretched expansion Senators when the real ones (newly baptized Twins) were finally, finally getting good. A few years later they almost beat the Dodgers in the Series…

  38. @Craig

    You may also want to check out this site for FYLOSC courses.

  39. Thank you all for the recommendations. We’re (barely) learning to speak Štokavian with Ijekavian pronunciation.

    @zyxt, he’s not Serbian himself, though his surname is and his grandfather was. I don’t think we have much hope of visiting any family there. The cousins didn’t keep in good enough contact. We have names but no addresses of three of his grandfather’s four sisters, but the youngest would be 108 now.

    At best, we would possibly visit the town his grandfather was born in, but that’s even a longshot. It’s small and doesn’t have much going for it. Its urban area is between 30,000 and 50,000.

  40. “You might be able to get away with learning Croatian, but that won’t prepare you fully for Serbia.”

    Still with this nationalist nonsense. Serbian and Croatian are perfectly mutually intelligible, and especially at the beginner’s level we are talking about here. The much more important thing is for Craig find a good instructor as BCSM is a challenging task for English native speakers. This is like warning someone against learning German in Austria if they want to be able to communicate in Germany.

    Incidentally, ALL 4 varieties of this language are in fact based on the dialect of Eastern Herzegovina at the time of standardization. Whichever dialect Craig opts for he will be in fact learning the same language.

    Craig, welcome to the South Slavic family

  41. Andrej Bjelaković says:

    @Craig,

    Is this the texbook you gave a try:

    Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, a Textbook: With Exercises and Basic Grammar [Alexander, Ronelle, Elias-Bursac, Ellen

  42. @craig

    I like the Teach Yourself series because the books give you cultural context, not just the dry language learning.

    If you are intending to go to Serbia, stick to Serbian language books and the ekavian pronunciation. I’d suggest that it’s easier for an English speaker.

    Even if you’re intending to go outside Serbia you might find Serbian useful eg. People in other countries eg. Macedonia and Kosovo, would have learned Serbian during their army service in the former Yugoslavia or through school.

    Language is a touchy issue in the countries that were once part of former Yugoslavia. As you can see on this forum, you get labelled a nationalist for daring to say that Croatians speak Croatian. (Curiously, Serbians don’t get labelled nationalists for speaking Serbian.)

  43. January First-of-May says:

    As I understand it (and this might easily be mistaken), Serbian and Croatian [assuming that the former is written in Latin script] are roughly as different as UK English and US English: there’s a different standard accent, a bunch of different spelling conventions, and a lot of words that are only used in one variety or the other, but otherwise they’re pretty much the same language.

    This means that there’s probably enough difference for someone on the street in Belgrade/Zagreb/Sarajevo to spot you using the wrong words and dislike you for that, but “the wrong words” wouldn’t come up in every sentence (probably not even in every third sentence). This also means that learning Croatian wouldn’t fully prepare you for Serbia any more than learning UK English would fully prepare you for the USA – every so often you’d have to manually figure out what (say) a “truck” is.

    In general, if you plan to visit places all over (former) Yugoslavia, I suspect it probably makes more sense to learn Croatian than Serbian, since Serbian has a lot of international loanwords in places where Croatian improvises with native roots (e.g. Serbian fudbal vs. Croatian nogomet), so if you see a Serbian word that you don’t recognize as a Croatian word there’s a good chance you can figure out what it means from your knowledge of Western European languages – a hack that doesn’t work in the opposite direction. Otherwise, though, as other commenters have already noted, learn the standard of whatever country you’re going to.

  44. @January

    In theory, you’re right, but in practice, it might play out differently.

    As a traveller in Croatia, you can get by with English in tourist areas, which is the coastal part of the country + the capital, ie. more than half the country.

    There are heaps of language differences between Croatian and Serbian precisely at the beginner learner / traveller level. Examples of differences relevant to a traveller:
    Train is vlak in Cr., voz in Serbian.
    Bus station is autobusni kolodvor in Cr., autobuska stanica in Sr.
    Passport is putovnica in Cr., pasoš in Sr.
    Car is kola in Sr., not in Cr.
    Airport is zračna luka in Cr., aerodrom in Sr.
    Months have different names in Cr. & Sr.
    At a colloquial level, common greetings can be very different too.

    I agree with you that you should stick to the standard of the country you’re going to.

  45. David Eddyshaw says:

    I like the Teach Yourself series because the books give you cultural context, not just the dry language learning.

    Both Teach Yourself Hausa and Teach Yourself Yoruba are, though fairly brief, very good on the nuts and bolts of the actual languages (just as well, in the case of Yoruba, as there isn’t all that much else available in the way of learning materials.) They’re not at all bad on culture either, but the series format doesn’t really have the scope to do justice to cultures as different as those are from the European (which tends to look all very much the same from an African perspective.)

    Teach Yourself Swahili is not bad either, but Joan Maw’s Twende! is better on the language and very much better on the (very distinctive) Swahili culture.

    Still, the standard of the Teach Yourself series for the few African languages it includes is pretty impressive, considering. (Teach Yourself Zulu looks pretty second-rate, but I’ve never tried to actually learn the language even a little, so I may be being unfair.)

  46. Both Teach Yourself Hausa and Teach Yourself Yoruba are, though fairly brief, very good on the nuts and bolts of the actual languages

    I’m glad to hear it, since I own Teach Yourself Yoruba — maybe I’ll actually work on it one of these days.

  47. The Parlons series of L’Harmattan doesn’t have Yoruba. It does have Serbian, plus 200+ more Teach Yourself–style books for a wonderfully eclectic set of languages. Dogon, Wakhi, Brazilian Venetian, Chinese, Purepecha, Tupuri, Burushaski, Nheengatu, Spanish, Chukchi, Iaai…

  48. I have the 1973 edition of TYS Hausa by Kraft and Kirk-Greene. This is a dry language book only. The only cultural tips are in the supplementary section, and they are to do with letter writing and with proverbs.

    I think TYS editorial policy changed in the 90s when the covers changed from blue to black. Cultural tips are a feature of the black and subsequent editions.

    Routledge Colloquials tend to have a similar format to the TYS books. But i find that the amount of cultural background varies from book to book in the Colloquial range.

    @Y
    Thanks for the link

  49. John Cowan says:

    Mind you that was in 1990, but i haven’t been back since to find out if the attitude towards Croatians has changed

    Well, perhaps it would be best to say šibolet instead of sibolet if you ever do.

    “So. Are you a Catholic or a Protestant?”

    [American accent] “I’m a Jew, I’m a Jew!”

    “Ahhhh. And I am the luckiest Arab in Beirut.”

  50. it’s hilarious being assaulted on the street (!)

    I was in my teens, and had the “temerity” to go for a walk with my kid cousins, including a baby in a pram.

  51. @Cowan

    You stuffed up the punchline. It’s Belfast, not Beirut.

  52. John Cowan says:

    So I did, so I did.

    Or did I?

    Hmm.

  53. Speaking of Yoruba:

    The Yoruba: A New History is the first transdisciplinary study of the two-thousand-year journey of the Yoruba people, from their origins in a small corner of the Niger-Benue Confluence in present-day Nigeria to becoming one of the most populous cultural groups on the African continent.

    Weaving together archaeology with linguistics, environmental science with oral traditions, and material culture with mythology, Ogundiran examines the local, regional, and even global dimensions of Yoruba history. The Yoruba: A New History offers an intriguing cultural, political, economic, intellectual, and social history from ca. 300 BC to 1840. It accounts for the events, peoples, and practices, as well as the theories of knowledge, ways of being, and social valuations that shaped the Yoruba experience at different junctures of time. The result is a new framework for understanding the Yoruba past and present.

    https://iupress.org/9780253051493/the-yoruba/

  54. Man, I’d love to read that book someday. I posted about the Yoruba back in 2006, and there was quite a lively and informative discussion.

  55. David Eddyshaw says:

    I was astonished when I first went to West Africa to find out how much known precolonial history the region actually has (though the astonishment was partly merely the consequence of the fact that I had had virtually no interest in West Africa previously: I’d have been less astonished if my outlook had been less insular beforehand.)

  56. Wakhi, Brazilian Venetian, Chinese,

    i was sad that occam’s razor pointed to a missing comma instead of a neo-dogist enclave on the lagoon south of porto alegre – but then it turned out occam was wrong! it is indeed a teach-yourself-talian book!

  57. John Cowan says:

    it’s hilarious being assaulted on the street (!)

    Indeed, the deaths of 42,000 Walloons, or Croats, or Haitians at the fords of the Jordan is no matter for jest, as Plutarch says.

  58. @rozele, I took pains to scramble the language families and geographies as much as I could, so I wouldn’t have put Brazilian (Portuguese) next to Venetian. It was bad enough putting Wakhi next to Venetian.

  59. David E.: I had a similar reaction when I read in Pat Ritzenthaler’s The Fon of Bafut the history of the Bafut (and the Bamum), going back to being driven from Northeast Nigeria by the slave trade in the 1600s. When you hear of an established, powerful kingdom, you don’t think of it at first as the outcome of a refugee crisis.

  60. Ben Tolley says:

    The Teach Yourself books vary a lot. Older ones tend to be much more grammatically thorough with less ‘how to greet people, ask for directions, go shopping’ stuff (TY Hausa was published in 1973 and is definitely more typical of the older ones). In some of the new ones, they go too far trying to avoid anything that smacks of more traditional grammar-oriented teaching: they seem terrified of actually asking the user to learn anything, and, consequently, they end up giving inadequate descriptions in idiosyncratic terminology. I have got TY Zulu, though I’ve never really tried to learn it, and I think it has fallen into that trap.

  61. @Ben Tolley

    I agree about the latest TYS edition (white cover), they have gone too far away from grammar.

    There is a sweet spot, in my view. The editions that carry the statement about complying with Council of Europe guidelines on language learning are very good.

  62. John Cowan says:

    Wiktionary tells me that the English word for fortochka is quite simply fortochka. I would call this thing a transom window, though pictures suggest that these lack the hinge on which they can be opened. One of the schools I attended had a hinged fortochka (not so named) over every classroom door to permit warm air to flow out of the rooms and into the hall; there was also a long pole with a hook in the corner of each room, for the purpose of opening the upper half of a double-hung window a little bit to let heat from the steam-heat radiators (generally placed under the windows) escape before the students and teachers were parboiled by them.

  63. @Y: i’ll never let that pesky bill occam induce me to question your punctuation again!

  64. I make mistakes all the time…

    I must quote The Mystic Masseur:

    NOTICE, IS. HEREBY; PROVIDED: THAT, SEATS!
    ARE, PROVIDED. FOR; FEMALE: SHOP, ASSISTANTS!

    Ganesh said, “Leela know a lot of punctuation marks.”

    “That is it, sahib. All day the girl just sitting down and talking about these puncturation marks. She is like that, sahib.”

  65. When I was a kid, my dad often used a sarcastic Russian expression “Otkryl Ameriku cherez fortochku – Discovered America through a fortochka”, meaning discovering something obvious that everyone already knew. Googling it now, seems like it became popular in the 1960’s in the USSR… I wonder if it’s still in use.

  66. David Marjanović says:

    If you’re on a street in Belgrade or Niš and can’t read both alphabets, you’re functionally illiterate. (There’s hardly any rhyme or reason to what is written which way.) But they aren’t actually two alphabets in the Serbian context – they’re two font families for a single alphabet. The letters correspond 1 : 1 (once you accept lj, nj, dž as single letters – љ, њ, џ – except across morpheme boundaries), and there’s only one orthography.

    As I understand it (and this might easily be mistaken), Serbian and Croatian […] are roughly as different as UK English and US English: there’s a different standard accent, a bunch of different spelling conventions, and a lot of words that are only used in one variety or the other, but otherwise they’re pretty much the same language.

    There’s one grammar difference I’m aware of: Serbian engages in Balkan-style infinitive avoidance to some extent (e.g. “I want to speak” is expressed as “I want that I speak”), Croatian doesn’t.

    Here‘s a nice photo of a Pförtchen or Fortotschka.

    Huh. I didn’t know either word and would call that an Oberlicht – though it’s not a typical one.

    And there’s no such thing on the cover of the book. That’s just a window. ~:-|

  67. @Andrej Bjelaković, yes, that’s the textbook. We bought it with the grammar.

    @David Marjanović, I learned Russian back in high school, so I’m in fact comfortable with Cyrillic, even the previously unfamiliar letters in Serbian (Ђ, Ј, Љ, Њ, Ћ, Џ). We’re more accommodating my husband by choosing to use Latin letters than anything else.

    That said, I have found the “Miroslavljeva” font to be occasionally challenging in films and TV programs especially if it’s not filmed head-on or goes by too quickly – particularly the groups of letters: А, Д, Л, Љ, and М; Ц and Џ; and Ђ and Ћ.

  68. @David M
    There are other grammatical differences between Serbian& Croatian.

    Eg. In the reflexive pronoun, in the use of enclitics, in the vocative case, in number words, word derivation, verbalisation, just to name a few.

    None of these are too great, but then, the differences between other Slavic languages arent too great either.

    @craig
    Not too sure what is meant by the Miroslavljeva font.

    If it means a ‘ye olde’ type of cyrillic, of the kind used in the Delije football fans symbol, then i wouldn’t worry about it too much. It’s the equivalent of Old English or Gothic type, and is only really used by the nationalist fringe. No one really uses it in eg. handwriting or for newspapers or books

  69. @zyxt, yes, a bit like on the outside of the old Grčka Kraljica:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gr%C4%8Dka_Kraljica

    Like this:

    http://www.fontovi.rs/font_details.php/13078/miroslavljeva_cirilica.php?f=13078

    I looked for a name for that kind of writing, but this specific font was the best I could come up with.

  70. Thanks Craig.

    Yep that’s the one i was thinking of.

    It’s a ‘ye olde’ Serbian font. I don’t think it’s got a specific name, but I’m happy to be corrected about that. I first came across it c 1989 when it was associated with the rise of Serbian ultranationalism and football hooligans.

    The name Miroslav comes from the illuminated Miroslav gospels, but the actual writing in Miroslav gospels is different, with long descenders, and most obviously, using the Church Slavic cyrillic, rather than modern Serbian cyrillic.

    I’m not sure that you’ll find the font in any language book. Your best bet is to rely on the font chart on the fontovi.rs website.

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