02.05.18

The Many Languages of Former Yugoslavia

Former Yugoslavia was a nation that existed throughout the twentieth century. The name itself means “Land of the South Slavs.” The country was located in Southeastern/Central Europe. Today, there are seven independent states that once comprised former Yugoslavia:

  1. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  2. Croatia
  3. Kosovo
  4. Macedonia
  5. Montenegro
  6. Serbia
  7. Slovenia

Each of these nations is very culturally and linguistically diverse. Let’s take a look at some of the many languages of former Yugoslavia.

Albanian

Albanian is the official language of Albania and Kosovo. It is a recognized minority language in Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia. It is an Indo-European language that is a language isolate (therefore forming its own branch). Albanian is written with Latin script using the Albanian alphabet. There is a large Albanian diaspora throughout Europe, Argentina and the United States. This has created a demand for Albanian translation services. There are over 200,000 Albanian Americans living in the Unites States. The largest populations are in New York City, followed by Paterson, New Jersey.

Bosnian

There are three national languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnian is one of those languages. It is also a recognized minority language in Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia. It is a South Slavic language that is very similar to Croatian and Serbian. Bosnian is written using both Cyrillic and Latin script – though Latin is used more frequently today. Bosnian language is different than Serbian and Croatian in that it has more Arabic and Turkish loanwords. There are many Bosnians living worldwide – estimates are about 2 million. Outside of Europe, the largest community of Bosnians in the world is in St. Louis, MO. The wide Bosnian diaspora creates a demand for Bosnian translation services.

Croatian

Croatian is the official language of Croatia and one of 24 official languages of the European Union. It is also one of three national languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina and a recognized minority language in Montenegro and Serbia. Croatian is written with the Latin alphabet. Professionals across the world have Croatia to thank for the invention of the necktie! This term used to be called the cravat, which came from the word Croat (Croatian). Pennsylvania, particularly the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area, boasts the largest number of Croatians living in the United States.  Croatian’s official status as a language of the European Union along with a large number of native speakers has created a demand for Croatian translation services.

Gorani

Gorani is a recognized minority language in Kosovo. It is a South Slavic language spoken by the Gorani people who live in the border area between Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia. It is written with Cyrillic script in Serbia and Macedonia and Latin script in Albanian. Don’t confuse Gorani language with a group of Indo-Iranian languages spoken in Iran and Iraq!

Montenegrin

Montenegrin is a young language. It was declared the official language of Montegro in 2007. (Montenegro became independent from Serbia in 2006.) The language standard is still emerging, and they received and ISO-639-2 code in December 2017. Like Croatian, Serbian, and Bosnian, it is a South Slavic language. The Montenegrin alphabet is written in both Cyrillic and Latin script. There are significant populations of Montenegrins living in New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Alaska, Louisiana, and Los Angeles.

Romani

Romani is a recognized minority language in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Serbia. It is an Indo-Aryan language (along with Hindi, Punajbi, and Bengali). The language is considered the second-largest minority language in the European Union after Catalan with about 3.5 million speakers. Romani is the language of the Romani people – a group that originated in northern India but now mostly live in Europe and the United States.

Serbian

Serbian is the official language of Serbia and Kosovo. It is also one of three national languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina and a recognized minority language in Croatia and Montenegro. Serbian is known as a digraphic language – written in two scripts – Cyrillic and Latin. The Serbian diaspora spreads to six continents. There are large settlements in Chicago, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Jackson (California), Milwaukee, New York City, and Pittsburgh.  The large number of Serbian speakers along with a widespread diaspora create a demand for Serbian translation services.

Turkish

Turkish is a recognized minority language in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.  It is the largest Turkic language in terms of native speakers worldwide. Turkish language has given a lot of loanwords to Bosnian. It is regulated by the Turkish Language Association. Turkish is written with the Latin script using the Turkish alphabet. There are over 71 million Turkish speakers worldwide. Due to the large number of speakers worldwide, there is definitely a demand for Turkish translation services.

Slovene

Slovene is the official language of Slovenia and one of 24 official languages of the European Union. It is a South Slavic language the has about 2.5 million native speakers worldwide. Slovene (or Slovenian) is written with Latin script using the Slovenian alphabet. Outside of Slovenia, the largest community of Slovenes in the world is in Cleveland, Ohio. Slovene’s official status as a language of the European Union along with the wide Slovene diaspora create a demand for Slovenian translation services.

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