South Slavic: Bosnian/Croatian /Serbian/ Montenegrin/Slovenian
Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian used to be known collectively as Serbo-Croat but are differentiating all the time since the break-up of former Yugoslavia.
While Croatian is written almost exclusively in the Latin alphabet, Serbian is just as likely to be written in Cyrillic script (see section X) as in Latin characters. When written in Latin script, Serbian uses the same accented characters as Croatian, but is distinguishable from Croatian by certain grammatical and lexical features.
NOTE: Possible confusion of Serbian with Croatian if the former is written in Latin script.
Bosnian used at one time to be written in Arabic script but now appears in either Latin or Cyrillic script.
A dialect of Serbian has become the national language of Montenegro (referred to as “Montenegrin” in Article 13 of its Constitution) following its independence in June 2006.
For more details on the differences between four of these five languages, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Differences_in_official_languages_in_Serbia%2C_Croatia_and_Bosnia.
In general, the South Slavic languages have fewer accents and diacritics than the West Slavic languages (Czech, Polish, Slovak).
Croatian has a characteristic barred d: đ / Ð, as well as ć, č, š, ž.
Another notable feature is h in combination with other consonants, as in hl, hr, hv
Bosnian also uses the barred đ and ć, č, š, ž.
Slovenian has a háček (upside-down circumflex) on č, š and ž only, with absence of ć and đ.
NOTE: Documents in Slovenian and Slovak are sometimes confused because the Slovak name for Slovakia is ‘Slovensko’, reminiscent of ‘Slovenia’.
West Slavic: Czech/Slovak/Polish
Czech and Slovak: Both make use of many accents and diacritics (as compared e.g. to Slovene or Croatian). The upside-down circumflex, called háček in Czech and mäkčeň in Slovak, is perhaps the most noticeable feature of Czech and Slovak. On t and d the háček is printed as an apostrophe very close to the letter in lower case, but as an upside-down circumflex when in upper case.
Because of different spelling rules in the two languages, a Czech text will typically have more accents than a Slovak one. In both languages it is common to find words containing many accents (väčší, příště) and unusual-looking words with no apparent vowels (prst, dlh, stĺp, tŕň, tĺcť, krb, štvrť).
Czech: the main distinguishing character is ů, unique to Czech.
Slovak also has l with a mäkčeň, printed as an apostrophe in upper and lower case. In Slovak, but not Czech, syllabic r and l can also be long and have an acute accent.
Characters common to Czech and Slovak: č, ď/Ď, ň, š, ť/Ť, ý, ž
Characters used in Czech, but not in Slovak: ě, ř, ů
Characters used in Slovak, but not in Czech: ä, ĺ, ľ/Ľ, ô, ŕ
Polish has :
- a) no háček at all, but characteristic digraphs and consonant clusters instead: for example, cz, dz, rz (common ending for masculine nouns), sz, szcz
- b) neither ‘ů‘ nor ‘ä‘; but note that
- c) the crossed or barred ‘Ł‘ (capital or small) is unique to Polish;
- d) Polish uses w where other Slavic languages with Latin script use v.
NOTE: Polish is also an important regional language in Lithuania.
Accented letters and common combinations used in Polish: ą, ć, ę, ł, ń, ó, ś, ść, ź, ż, źdź
© European Union