Do you want to impress your Serbian friends with your knowledge of the Serbian language? Or you just want to order a beer and thank your waiter in the local language? Are you curious about those “strange” letters you see in Serbia besides the familiar Latin script? Then, this text is for you! We prepared a small Serbian phrasebook, in order to give you a brief introduction to our beautiful and poetical language.
About the Serbian language
The Serbian language is a Slavic language and it is completely phonetic. It means that every letter represents only one sound, and vice versa, every sound is represented by one single letter. As a matter of fact, all words are pronounced exactly as they look. So there is no need to learn any specific rules regarding reading. The only rule we stick to is “Write as you speak and read as it is written.” Very simple, right?
Another interesting feature of our language is our script. Serbian is particularly the only European language (and one of the few world languages) which is fully digraphic. What does that mean? Well, it means that we use two alphabets. Both Cyrillic and Latin are used interchangeably and equally. It obviously seems random, and it really is! As there is no rule about using one or another, everyone is free to choose their preferred script, or even to post their signs on both of them. Therefore, that’s why you can see both Cyrillic and Latin in the newspapers, on the street signs, names of venues, and even restaurant menus.
For the purpose of this text and to make it easier for you, we prepared the Serbian phrasebook with words written in Latin. To learn more about Cyrillic and Serbian language in general, check the Wikipedia page.
General Serbian phrasebook
Hello – Zdravo or Ćao
Good afternoon – Dobar dan
Good night – Laku noć
Thank you – Hvala
Please – Molim Vas
Excuse me / I am sorry – Izvini (informal) or Izvinite (formal)
Goodbye – Doviđenja (Zdravo or Ćao can also be used)
How are you? – Kako si? (informal) or Kako ste? (formal)
Good / bad – Dobro / loše
I don’t understand – Ne razumem
Yes / no – Da / ne
Maybe – Možda
Help! – Upomoć!
Exchange office – Menjačnica
ATM – Bankomat
In a bar and restaurant
I would like to order… – Želim da naručim…
Beer / wine / juice / coffee / tea – Pivo / vino / sok / kafa / čaj
Breakfast / lunch / dinner – Doručak / ručak / večera
Pork / chicken / beef / fish– Svinjetina / piletina / govedina / riba
Cheers! – Živeli!
It was delicious. – Bilo je ukusno.
The check, please. – Račun, molim.
Can I pay with a card? – Mogu li da platim karticom?
Can you call taxi for me? Možete li mi pozvati taksi?
Where is the toilet? – Gde je toalet?
Names of alcoholic beverages are for the most part the same as in the English language!
1 – jedan; 2 – dva; 3 – tri; 4 – četiri; 5 – pet; 6 – šest; 7 – sedam; 8 – osam; 9 – devet;
10 – deset; 20 – dvadeset; 100 – sto; 1000 – hiljadu
Now that you used the Serbian phrasebook to learn a few words and phrases, you can confidently order a drink in one of our pubs. Or practice your new skills during a dinner in a beautiful company. Perhaps, impress your new local friends by singing some Serbian hits. We are looking forward to talking with you in Belgrade!