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  5. How similar is Serbo-Croatian…


How similar is Serbo-Croatian to Czech?

Do they have any levels of mutual intelligibility?, spoken vs written? And if there is any significant likeness between the two, which one of the three Serbo-Croatian languages (Serbian, Bosnian, and Croatian) is most similar to Czech?

November 24, 2017



Of course they do. They are both Slavonic languages, after all. Now, how to quantify this level is a different matter altogether. As a speaker of Serbo-Croat, I find Czech very pleasant-sounding. The writing is mostly phonetic. (Compared to Polish writing which honestly puts me off.) So, in both respects very easy to get used to.

I have some knowledge of Slovene and I couldn't help but notice that for many terms it helped me understand a Czech word.(Slovene preserves much more old Slavonic words than Serbian, for example.) In Serbo-Croat there are many words of Turkish origin (a trait shared by all South-Slavonic languages), something Czech and other Slavonic branches lack.

You could expect that for those words in which Serbian and Croatian variants differ, it is more likely that Croatian (being closer to Slovene) will sound more similar to Czech.

Also, both languages have 7 noun cases and the use of certain prepositions with certain cases is, more often than not, the same. You can imagine just how much this helps me :) The problem, however, is that those same cases sometimes have different case endings, and this takes some time to get used to. Not that getting the case ending wrong would prevent mutual understanding, mind you.

Grammarwise, all Slavonic languages are very similar. Vocabulary is where the greatest differences are. I can also add the prosody which is quite different, the accents on words is a notoriously difficult subject in Serbo-Croat.


thank you. i often hear about slovene being a west slavic stranded on the wrong side of the hungary/austria divider. wonder if there is a way to measure how much better of a bridge language from (the "real") south slavics to czech it is than another sufficiently different non-western slavic would be, say, russian.


I really appreciate the Czech annunciation of words like "ctvrt" and"pojd'". It makes understanding much easier vs. the Serbian "flat" sound. I have less trouble with Bosnian which has a throaty, rich sound. Very Slavic. I would like to get better at BCS, but it confuses my Czech learning, so it's on the back-burner right now.


Some words are similar.

Mi smo - My jsme (We are)

sir - syr (cheese)

medved - medved (bear)

ulice - ulice (street)

Whilst others are completely different:

piletina - kure (chicken)

jaja - vejce (egg)

So some words are similar, so a Czech speaker could probably understand a little bit of what a Serbo-Croatian speaker would say.

Czech has more than 3 genders, whereas Serbo-Croatian only has 3: neuter, masculine, feminine. They both have cases and need endings to match the cases (Padezh).

Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, they aren't that different, I think? Croatian does have different words to Serbian (Croats use glazba but Serbs use musika) and Montenegrin has added two extra letters, sj and zj. There is also difference in spelling: Serbs use lepa, but Croats use lijepa.

  • 1727

Does Czech have more than 3 genders? I'm confused.


masculine animate vs inanimate. not sure if the others have that distinction.

  • 1727

that doesn't count as two genders though, it's still only masculine, no matter if it's animate or inanimate

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