The Serbo-Croatian language (Srpsko-Hrvatski or Hrvatsko-Srpski) is a language of the Western group of the South Slavic languages. It is the main language of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro and is also spoken and understood in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Slovenia. The language is also spoken by Serbian and Croatian minorities in Austria, Hungary and Romania. There are currently four standard[?] written versions of the language, Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian and BCS (Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian, a version used at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia). A fifth, Montenegrin[?] version is emerging.
Serbo-Croatian is a highly inflected language. There are six cases for nouns and adjectives (most grammars list seven but dative and locative are always identical). There are three numbers of nouns, adjectives and verbs - one of them, the large plural (above five) is expressed as a change of case from nominative to genitive. There are seven tenses of verbs and additional conditional constructs.
Serbo-Croatian is the common name for three large dialect groups, Shtokavian, Kajkavian and Chakavian. These have nothing to do with various standard[?] versions, which are all based on the Shtokavian dialect. Furthermore, differences in the usage of dialects and variants is geographical, not ethnic. They have enough differences to be at times mutually unintelligable, but all share the same basic grammar.
The Shtokavian dialect is spoken in Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro and the greater part of Croatia. Its word for "what" is "što". The Eastern or ekavian variant of Shtokavian, spoken in most of Serbia and far Eastern Croatia, renders the Proto-Slavic[?] jat sound as "e". The Western or ijekavian variant which renders jat as "je" or "ije", is spoken in Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro and parts of Western Serbia.
The Kajkavian dialect is mostly spoken in North-Eastern Croatia. Its word for "what" is "kaj" and it renders jat as "e". It bears many similarities to eastern Slovenian dialects, but has no dual number.
Through history, this language has been written with Latin, Greek, Angled and Round Glagolitic, Cyrillic and Arabic alphabets. Today, it is written in both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets. Serbian and Bosnian standard version use both alphabets, while Croatian uses only Latin.
Serbian Cyrillic alphabet was revised by Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic in 19th century.
In both cases, spelling is nearly phonetic and spellings in the two alphabets generally map to each other one-to-one:
Latin to Cyrillic
A a B b C c Č č Ć ć D d Dž dž Đ đ E e F f G g H h I i J j K k А а Б б Ц ц Ч ч Ћ ћ Д д Џ џ Ђ ђ Е е Ф ф Г г Х х И и Ј ј К к
L l Lj lj M m N n Nj nj O o P p R r S S Š š T t U u V v Z z Ž ž Л л Љ љ М м Н н Њ њ О о П п Р р С с Ш ш Т т У у В в З з Ж ж
Cyrillic to Latin
А а Б б В в Г г Д д Ђ ђ Е е Ж ж З з И и Ј ј К к Л л Љ љ М м A a B b V v G g D d Đ đ E e Ž ž Z z I i J j K k L l Lj lj M m
N n Nj Nj O o P p R r S s T t Ć ć U u F f H h C c Č č Dž dž Š š Н н Њ њ О о П п Р р С с Т т Ћ ћ У у Ф ф Х х Ц ц Ч ч Џ џ Ш ш
Lj, Nj and Dž represent distinct phonemes and are considered to be single letters. In rare words, they can also be combinations of two letters and are then transcribed to Cyrillics separately. For instance, "nadživeti" (to live longer than) is transcribed "Надживети", not "Наџивети". Đ used to be commonly written as Dj on typewriters, but that practice lead to too many ambiguities.