Life in Serbia according to the Serbian alphabet
Most of you already knew it, but I started living together with my fiancé in Beograd (Belgrade) the capital of Serbia. Finally a dream has come true. I am enjoying living here together with my lovely fiancé, but yeah I am still in a foreign country and things are not always like in my home country. Without judging , I try to sum them up via the Serbian alphabet. It starts already with the alphabet, because they have a different alphabet comparing to us in the Netherlands, so let’s start !
*First you see the letter in Serbian Cyrillic and then the Latin transcription.
А-A from Autobus (= Bus)
Buses run through whole the country, but you need time and patience. In Belgrade there are many buses and it is my way of transport here. Every morning I take for example the 601 (beside the 65 and the 88) and it is a perfect way to test your ability to push and breath, because it is so crowded every morning. Beside this minor issue every morning (big deal, I can take also other buses, beside the 601) I somehow still like it to take the bus, but maybe it is time to grow and buy a car (a Zastava maybe? see under “Z”)
Б-B from Busplus (= an electronic ticketing system for the bus in Belgrade)
Everybody is supposed to use it, but only half of the people are using it. Nowadays the police has to even protect the poor busplus ticket control inspectors. Anyway one day everything is going to be fine (a user and a ticket inspector on friendly terms).
В-V from Vojvodina (=a region in Northern-Serbia)
Vojvodina is a region in Northern-Serbia and has autonomy. Before World War I it had belonged to Austria-Hungary, since then it formed part of the Kingdom of Serbs,Croats and Slovenes, after that Kingdom of Yugoslavia, after that the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia after that to FYR Yugoslavia, after that the state union of Serbia and Montenegro and since 2006 Serbia. You can still follow it ?
Anyway it is mostly flat (almost like the Netherlands), people tend to be slower in behavior and they speak a dialect. Yeah if that last one I can recognize right now….
Г-G from Gostoprimstvo (=Hospitality)
Serbian people are really hospitable people. Don ‘t be surprised if you are invited for a drink or a lunch by somebody you just met. This hospitality is of course something beautiful. People tend to give water + coffee + special jam (and rakija if a visitor wants) when visitors come home, we decided to maintain this gesture when people come to our home.
Д –D from Dečko (=Boy)
Used in different ways. Older people tend to say this to me and I consider it a compliment. When I cross the main street near Ada every morning towards my office there is a police officer standing there who regulates the traffic. He stopped once the traffic for me and sad to me: “ hajde dečko” (go boy)….
Ђ –Đ from Đevrek (=a kind of bread)
They say it is typically Serbian and that it is the best of course. I am not in the position to object, so I won ‘ t 😉 . And yes it does taste good, that I cannot deny at all :-).
Е-E from Eskim (=Eskimo)
So far I have not spotted any Eskimos in Serbia. For sure I will spot them later when winter starts, because in Serbia everything is possible.
Ж –Ž from Železnica (=Railways)
The Serbian Railways, officially here called Železnice Srbije, drives trains from A to B and from B to C via D to A, just like every other railway company in the world. One railway line is specifically very beautiful and is a true masterpiece of human engineering which was built under Tito’ s reign: it is the railway line from Beograd to Bar ( in Montenegro nowadays). For me as a railway fan it is a pity to see that the railways are declining in this country, but there is always hope of course. A couple of years ago new trains were purchased from Russia and I hope more investments will be made, so I can skip the “A” (from Autobus) part.
З-Z from Zastava (=a flag or a brand of an ex-Yugoslav car)
The Serbian zastava below:
And below a Zastava Fića made in Serbia (or in Yugoslavia?):
И-I from Izvinite (= excuse me)
I have to admit Serbs are pretty polite (more polite than in the Netherlands for example), this word you can use when you screw things up (like for example when you step on somebody ‘s foot in bus 601 )and it works. If not look under the “J”
Ј-J from Jebi ga (= Fuck it)
Ok, yes I did it, I used a swear word. See under the “I” for more information. Oh more polite version could be ” nema veze” (=nothing to be worried about)
К-K from kajmak (=creamy dairy product)
Kajmak is a delicious creamy diary product. If Serbia will join the European Union I would suggest that they immediately ask a patent on Kajmak (and I advise them to do that on many other products).
Л-L from Leskovac (=a town in Serbia)
Leskovac is a city which lies south of Niš. The Leskovac Grill Festival (Serbian: Роштиљијада, Roštiljijada, also translated as “barbecue week”) is in the beginning of September. I still have a wish to go there and since I live now here I think I will make it for sure. In this area they speak with a strong dialect and it sounds very funny (Sorry Dimitrije, my friend, I hope you do not read this, it is nothing about you 😉 ). Then this is the second dialect I think I can recognize I just realize.
Љ-Lj from Ljubav (=Love)
Reason why I moved to Serbia: First of all for my ljubav (my love aka my fiancé) without her I would not be here. Beside this main reason I also have a love for the Serbian people and its country, which is obvious. Serbia is not the easiest country to live in, but as anywhere in the world you have to learn and understand people, language and its culture. If you do your best enough you will get your efforts paid back and I am not talking about money here. Ljubav for my love and her country.
М-M from Meso (Meat)
Serbians do not like meat, no they like A LOT of meat. You have of course the pljeskavica (the Serbian hamburger) which is delicious, but also ćevapčići (also delicious) and many other delicious sorts of meat: I can create a whole website about it, but I won ‘t, I just eat it and enjoy it.
Н-N from Nema (problema) (=no problem)
“Nema” is most of the time with “problema” (problems). Nema problema can mean that there is indeed no problem, or it can mean that you have a lot of problems.
Њ-Nj from Njam Njam (=yammie,yammie)
It was hard to find a word with Nj I have no idea why Vuk Stefanović Karadžić (seen as the father of the Serbian language) put it in the Serbian alphabet. Sometimes it is better to not understand things, next or njext ?
О -O from obrazac (= form)
Forms are pretty important for the civil administration in Serbia. It is necessary to have the right forms with the right numbers, stamps and signatures when you need something from the government. If you don ‘t have the right form, or you miss something (like a stamp or number) then you have a serious problem . You can try to go to a šalter (see under ” š” ) of the institute to settle the things.
П-P from Promaja (= draft)
It sounds very nice, but actually it is a very cruel thing: if you want to kill a Serb arrange some “promaja” and he or she will start complaining like hell and eventually die (so don’t dare to open a window and a door at the same time, because the air which is circulating can give Serbs a pain in a back or head).
Р-R from Radna Knjižica (=workbook)
I wanted to write something about “rostilj”, but everybody knows what barbecued meat is so I thought it was nice to use something which a lot of foreigners did not know about it including me. When you start working you need to have a “working book”: you need to “activate” it in your “opština” (your local government) or in my case in the opština where your company is registered. My radna knjižica has not been activated since, yet, ok, we will solve this relic from the good old days. I personally hope that this “icon” will be the first victim of harmonization of EU laws and I think many Serbs will join me.
С-S from Sudovi (=dishes)
The dishes has to be done in Serbia as well, but don’t dare to not rinse them well after you washed them with soap. Not rinsing away the soap is a sin, so if you do the “sudovi” just rinse them with water so you will not have a fight.
Т-T from Turbofolk (=a music “style” in Serbia)
Turbo folk is a music style in Serbia: some people hate it, some people love it, Turbofolk is a mixture of Serbian folk music with modern Pop music elements, with similar styles later appearing in Greece (Skiladiko), Bulgaria (Chalga), Romania (Manele) and Albania (Tallava). Personally I like it, but when I started to live with my love I can only listen to it via a transistor radio in the dining room next to the computer….
Ћ-Ć from Ćirilica (Cyrillic)
Serbian Cyrillic (no Russian is not the same and since a couple of years also Montenegrin is not the same) is the official script of Serbia, but good for me Latin script is widely used. I have recently started to understand it more and more, but come on give me a break, would you understand the difference between ч, ћ ор ц ? Оr з,ж ор ђ. But now we know, because you are reading this blog and it is the Serbian alphabet with both ćirilica and latin script.
У-U from Ulica (=street)
As Belgrade is a big city it can be quite a mess on the streets. Surprisingly it always seems to happen when it is raining, question is: are drivers in Belgrade afraid of the rain? When it is not raining they do not seem afraid at all….
Ф-F from Filmovi (=movies)
During the Yugoslav times the film industry started the boom and until today the film industry is still booming. Of course you have the world famous movies from Emir Kusturica, and during the Yugoslav times a lot of partisan movies came out, but there are many others. A good partisan movie on a lazy Sunday afternoon is hurting nobody. I can recommend you “Montevideo” (part 1-2) and of course Kusturica’s movies. There are many other good movies, just google yourself or ask me.
Х-H from hleb (=bread)
Serbia has of course the best bread in the world, no discussion about that –next-.
Ц-C from Crkva (=church)
There are a lot of churches in Serbia and they are mainly Orthodox, because that is the main religion of Serbia. Other religions have their churches, synagogues or mosques as well, that is not a problem as well. The Orthodox churches or monasteries are beautiful and some are modern and some are really old. There is a special atmosphere in Orthodox churches and monasteries which I cannot describe, but I felt always welcome. Personally I like Žiča, a monastery near Kraljevo, a lot.
Ч-Č from Čestitam (=congratulations)
This word is used for several occasions when you want to congratulate somebody with something, nothing special actually 🙂
Џ-Dž from Džem (=Jam)
Welcome to your introduction course Serbian: this word sounds so exotic, but it is nothing more than just jam. Serbian language is a language of “what you see is what you get”. By the way the first Serb who like to eat sweet things in the morning, like jam, I still have to meet. We have a friend and his name is John, in Serbian it is Džon 🙂 for example.
Ш-Š from Šalter (=counter)
Serbia has šalters (unfortunately) for a lot of things, for too much unfortunately I have to write. The E-Government (E from Electronic) is far, far away. Personally I find it quite surprising, because there are so many skilled IT-technicians in this country ( I have —the privilege to work with them), why don’t use them and reform the government to improve services to the citizens via the Internet ? But on the other hand, this is Serbia and you should not worry too much in front of a šalter : ovo je Srbija: sve je moguće !
Special thanks to / posebno hvala :
Mojoj dragoj i Srbiji i Srbima!
(My love, Serbia and its people)