All About the Bosnian Alphabet

By Stacey
May 28, 2013 · 2 min

When learning to speak a language it all begins and ends with pronouncing the letters of the alphabet correctly.

Even if you’re learning via immersion, learning how to pronounce letters is still a great tool that will speed your language acquisition and improve your listening skills in that language. So, let’s say you’re interested in learning Bosnian – a great language! Here’s what you need to know about the Bosnian Alphabet.

Familiar with a Twist

The Bosnian alphabet is based on our familiar Latin alphabet, the same one used in English, with some tweaks. Developed in the early 19th century, it has 30 letters and uses a variety of diacritics to denote letters that look similar – for example, there are three letters that look like “C” to English-speakers: C, Č, and Ć.

It should be noted that the Cyrillic alphabet is also used in Bosnian, due to the decades the area was ruled by Communist governments who imported that alphabet into the region. While technically still officially recognised, almost no one actually uses the Cyrillic alphabet to write out Bosnian.

Letters and Pronunciation

Here’s the Bosnian alphabet: A, B, C, Č, Ć, D, Dž, Đ, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, Lj, M, N, Nj, O, P, R, S, Š, T, U, V, Z, Ž.

As you can see, it doesn’t look all that different from the alphabet I’m using to write this article. But there are those extra letters – plus, you may have noticed, no W, X, or Y. Some of these letters are pronounced exactly as you might expect. The exceptions to that are as follows:

A is pronounced as in the English word car. Č is pronounced as in the English word chalk, and Ć as in the word church. I know at first glance that seems like the same pronunciation – but it isn’t. Try the two words a few times until you can tell the slight difference.

Dž is pronounced as in the English word gin, and Đ as in jack. E sounds like the “e” in let. I has a long-”e” sound like in east. J sounds like our missing “Y”. Lj is a bit tricky – think of the “L” sound in million.

Similarly, Nj sounds like the “N” sound in onion. O sounds like the “au” in autumn. Š sounds like “sh” as in shut. U is almost always pronounced as the “oo” in shoot. Finally, the letter Ž gets a slurred sound like the “s” in pleasure.

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