Bosnian Grammar

May 31st, 2013

Bosnian is a South Slavonic language with some very interesting grammatical features.

On the one hand if that were true I’d have a lot more free time on my hands, but on the other hand that would also mean that anyone – or any computer – could do what I do. The fact is, you need to really know a language in order to translate it, and that includes knowing its grammar forwards and backwards. Every language has its own peculiar grammar – let’s discuss the grammar of the Bosnian language as a ready example.

Basic Bosnian Grammar

Bosnian is quite different from English, as it’s a South Slavonic language that developed in quite a different region of the world. Rather than attempt a comprehensive review of Bosnian grammar, let’s just consider some of the specific features of Bosnian that mark it as its own linguistic empire.

First and foremost, Bosnian is a gendered language. Every noun is feminine, masculine, or neuter. The feminine words end in “a” (singular) or “e” or “i” (plural). The masculine words end in a consonant for the singular and “i” for plural. The neuters end in “o” for the singular and “a” in plural. Of course, there are exceptions to these rules, because as we all know half the fun of learning a language is when the rules only apply some of the time!

If you’re a fan of the word “the” in English (and who isn’t?) you should know that it doesn’t exist in Bosnian. There are no definite or indefinite articles in the language, in fact.

Other Features of Bosnian

What’s kind of fun about Bosnian is that there are some simple tricks you can use when learning the language if your goal is simply to speak it in a basic fashion. I love tricks like this – French actually contains one of my favourite linguistic tricks, in that you only conjugate the first verb in any sentence, with the subsequent verbs being left as infinitives. This allows you to learn a basic, flexible phrase like I am going and then all you need are infinitives after that!

Similarly, in Bosnian as in some other South Slavonic languages, if you learn the infinitive form and then remove the ending, you’re left with the present tense of the verb. Once you learn this rule you can turn any sentence into the present tense by using this trick.

Hopefully this brief foray into Bosnian grammar has stirred your interest in this grand language – further study will show you that it’s not only a fairly easy language to learn, it’s also a fascinating language, from a fascinating part of the world.

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