• srpskohrvatski / hrvatskosrpski
  • српскохрватски / хрватскосрпски
Native toSerbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Kosovo[a]
EthnicitySerb, Croat, Bosniak, Montenegrin, Bunjevac
Native speakers
21 million (2011)[1]
Standard forms
Montenegrin (incipient)
Official status
Official language in
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated by
Language codes
sh (deprecated)
ISO 639-2scrscc (deprecated)
ISO 639-3hbsinclusive code
Individual codes:
bos – Bosnian
cnr – Montenegrin
hrv – Croatian
kjv – Kajkavian
srp – Serbian
svm – Slavomolisano
Serbo croatian language2005.png
  Areas where Serbo-Croatian is spoken by a plurality of inhabitants (as of 2005)[needs update]

Note: a Kosovo independence disputed, see 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence

Serbo-Croatian (ə-/ (About this soundlisten);[9][10] srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски also called Serbo-Croat ə-/,[9][10] Serbo-Croat-Bosnian (SCB),[11] Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian (BCS),[12] or Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian (BCMS)[13]) is a South Slavic language and the primary language of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. It is a pluricentric language with four[14] mutually intelligible standard varieties.

South Slavic dialects historically formed a continuum. The turbulent history of the area, particularly due to expansion of the Ottoman Empire, resulted in a patchwork of dialectal and religious differences. Due to population migrations, Shtokavian became the most widespread dialect in the western Balkans, intruding westwards into the area previously occupied by Chakavian and Kajkavian (which further blend into Slovenian in the northwest). Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs differ in religion and were historically often part of different cultural circles, although a large part of the nations have lived side by side under foreign overlords. During that period, the language was referred to under a variety of names, such as "Slavic", "Illyrian", or according to region, "Bosnian", "Serbian" and "Croatian", the latter often in combination with "Slavonian" or "Dalmatian".

Serbo-Croatian was standardized in the mid-19th-century Vienna Literary Agreement by Croatian and Serbian writers and philologists, decades before a Yugoslav state was established.[15] From the very beginning, there were slightly different literary Serbian and Croatian standards, although both were based on the same Shtokavian subdialect, Eastern Herzegovinian. In the 20th century, Serbo-Croatian served as the official language of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (when it was called "Serbo-Croato-Slovenian"),[16] and later as one of the official languages of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The breakup of Yugoslavia affected language attitudes, so that social conceptions of the language separated on ethnic and political lines. Since the breakup of Yugoslavia, Bosnian has likewise been established as an official standard in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and there is an ongoing movement to codify a separate Montenegrin standard. Serbo-Croatian thus generally goes by the names Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, and sometimes Montenegrin and Bunjevac.[17]

Like other South Slavic languages, Serbo-Croatian has a simple phonology, with the common five-vowel system and twenty-five consonants. Its grammar evolved from Common Slavic, with complex inflection, preserving seven grammatical cases in nouns, pronouns, and adjectives. Verbs exhibit imperfective or perfective aspect, with a moderately complex tense system. Serbo-Croatian is a pro-drop language with flexible word order, subject–verb–object being the default. It can be written in Serbian Cyrillic or Gaj's Latin alphabet, whose thirty letters mutually map one-to-one, and the orthography is highly phonemic in all standards.


Throughout the history of the South Slavs, the vernacular, literary, and written languages (e.g. Chakavian, Kajkavian, Shtokavian) of the various regions and ethnicities developed and diverged independently. Prior to the 19th century, they were collectively called "Illyric", "Slavic", "Slavonian", "Bosnian", "Dalmatian", "Serbian" or "Croatian".[18] Since the XIX century the term Illyrian or Illyric was used quite often (thus creating confusion with the Illyrian language). Although the word Illyrian was used on a few occasions before, the widespread usage of the term began after Ljudevit Gaj and several other prominent linguists met at Ljudevit Vukotinović's house to discuss the issue in 1832.[19] The term Serbo-Croatian was first used by Jacob Grimm in 1824,[20][21] popularized by the Viennese philologist Jernej Kopitar in the following decades, and accepted by Croatian Zagreb grammarians in 1854 and 1859.[22] At that time, Serb and Croat lands were still part of the Ottoman and Austrian Empires. Officially, the language was called variously Serbo-Croat, Croato-Serbian, Serbian and Croatian, Croatian and Serbian, Serbian or Croatian, Croatian or Serbian. Unofficially, Serbs and Croats typically called the language "Serbian" or "Croatian", respectively, without implying a distinction between the two,[23] and again in independent Bosnia and Herzegovina, "Bosnian", "Croatian", and "Serbian" were considered to be three names of a single official language.[24] Croatian linguist Dalibor Brozović advocated the term Serbo-Croatian as late as 1988, claiming that in an analogy with Indo-European, Serbo-Croatian does not only name the two components of the same language, but simply charts the limits of the region in which it is spoken and includes everything between the limits (‘Bosnian’ and ‘Montenegrin’).[25] Today, use of the term "Serbo-Croatian" is controversial due to the prejudice that nation and language must match.[26][27][28] It is still used for lack of a succinct alternative,[29] though alternative names have emerged, such as Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (BCS),[30] which is often seen in political contexts such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Serwo-Kroaties
azərbaycanca: Serb-xorvat dili
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Сэрбскахарвацкая мова
català: Serbocroat
Cymraeg: Serbo-Croateg
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Sèrb-Cruàt
Fiji Hindi: Serbo-Croatian
français: Serbo-croate
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Serbia-Croatia-ngî
hornjoserbsce: Serbiskochorwatšćina
Bahasa Indonesia: Bahasa Serbo-Kroasia
interlingua: Lingua serbocroate
Kiswahili: Kiserbokroatia
Limburgs: Servo-Kroatisch
Lingua Franca Nova: Bosnian, corvatsce e serbsce
Bahasa Melayu: Bahasa Serbo-Croatia
Nederlands: Servo-Kroatisch
norsk nynorsk: Serbokroatisk
occitan: Sèrbocroat
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Serb-xorvat tili
Plattdüütsch: Serbokroaatsche Spraak
slovenčina: Srbochorvátčina
slovenščina: Srbohrvaščina
словѣньскъ / ⰔⰎⰑⰂⰡⰐⰠⰔⰍⰟ: Срьбьскохръватьско ѩꙁꙑчьно събраниѥ
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Srpskohrvatski jezik
Tiếng Việt: Tiếng Serbia-Croatia