Serbian Cyrillic alphabet: Wikis


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The Serbian Cyrillic alphabet (Serbian: српска ћирилица, srpska ćirilica) is the modern alphabet used to write the Serbian language. It is an adaptation of the Cyrillic alphabet for the Serbian language, and was developed in 1818 by Serbian linguist Vuk Karadžić from the traditional Cyrillic alphabet. The alphabet was officially adopted in 1868,[citation needed] four years after his death. The corresponding Serbian Latin script ('ćlatinica) is also used to write in the language.

Karadžić based his alphabet on the Cyrillic alphabet, on the simple principle of "write as you speak and read as it is written" (Serbian: Пиши као што говориш и читај како је написано, Piši kao što govoriš i čitaj kako je napisano). The Cyrillic and Latin alphabets are almost entirely interchangeable, with the Latin digraphs Lj, Nj, and Dž counting as single letters.

The Cyrillic alphabet is seen as being more traditional, and has official status in Serbia (as the only one official), Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro (besides Latin script). During the course of the 20th century the Latin alphabet has become more frequently used, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.

The Serbian Cyrillic alphabet was also one of the two official scripts used to write the Serbo-Croatian language in Yugoslavia since its inception in 1918, despite attempts by King Alexander I to abolish the Cyrillic version[citation needed]. With the collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Serbo-Croatian has been divided into its variants on ethnic lines and is no longer used officially.

The Serbian Cyrillic alphabet, together with the works of Krste Misirkov and Venko Markovski, was used as a basis for the Macedonian alphabet.


The alphabet

The following table provides the upper and lower case forms of the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet, along with the Serbian Latin equivalent and the IPA value for each letter:

Cyrillic Alphabet
Latin alphabet
А а
Б б
В в
Г г
Д д
Ђ ђ
Е е
Ж ж
З з
И и
Cyrillic Alphabet
Latin alphabet
Ј ј
К к
Л л
Љ љ
М м
Н н
Њ њ
О о
П п
Р р
Cyrillic Alphabet
Latin alphabet
С с
Т т
Ћ ћ
У у
Ф ф
Х х
Ц ц
Ч ч
Џ џ

Ш ш

The handwritten Serbian Cyrillic alphabet is depicted below (the letter order corresponds to the table above):

Serbian Cyrillic Cursive.png

Unique letters

Serbian Dictionary by Vuk Stefanović Karadžić, printed in 1818.

The ligatures <Љ> and <Њ>, together with <Џ>, <Ђ> and <Ћ> were developed uniquely for the Serbian alphabet.

  • <Ћ> was adopted by Karadžić to represent the voiceless alveolo-palatal affricate (IPA: /tɕ/). The letter was based on and adapted from the letter Djerv, which is the 12th letter of the Glagolitic alphabet; that letter had been used in written Serbian since the 12th century, to represent /gʲ/, dʲ/ and /dʑ/.
  • Karadžić adopted a design by Lukijan Mušicki for the letter <Ђ>. It was based on the letter <Ћ>, as adapted by Karadžić.

<Љ>, <Њ> and <Џ> were later adopted for use in the Macedonian alphabet.

Differences with the Russian/East Slavic and Bulgarian versions

Common non-italic (left), Russian italic (middle) and Serbian italic (right) glyphs of letters b, p, g, d, t and sh
  • Serbian Cyrillic alphabet does not use either the Russian hard sign/Bulgarian ŭ (ъ), or the soft sign (ь), but uses the aforementioned soft-sign ligatures instead.
  • Does not have Russian/Belorussian Э, the semi-vowels Й or ў, nor the iotated letters Я (Russian ya), Є (Ukrainian ye), Ї (yi), Ё (Russian yo) or Ю (yu), and are instead written as two separate letters: Ja, Je, Jи, Jo, Jy. J can also be used as a semi-vowel.
  • The letter Щ is not used. When necessary, it is transliterated as either ШЧ or ШT.

Serbian and Macedonian italic and cursive forms of lowercase letters б, п, г, д, and т differ from those used in other Cyrillic alphabets (in addition, ш is optionally underlined). That presents an obstacle in UNICODE modeling, as the glyphs differ only in italic versions, and historically non-italic letters have been used in the same code positions. Serbian professional typography uses fonts specially crafted for the language to overcome the problem, but texts printed from common computers contain East Slavic rather than Serbian italic glyphs[1]. Adobe Cyrillic fonts and the new Microsoft Windows Vista font family include the Serbian variations (both regular and italic) as well as a few other font houses. The letters can easily be implemented using Adobe Illustrator, for example.[citation needed]


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