Friday, May 27, 2016

Country Profile: The Languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina

It's been a couple of weeks since we did our last country profile on the languages of Oman, so we thought we'd end the week with a quick look at a different country. This time our focus is on Bosnia and Herzegovina, a small country in southeastern Europe.

The Official Languages

Bosnia and Herzegovina has three official languages, which conveniently all happen to be mutually intelligible: Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian. All three languages are standard varieties of the Slavic macrolanguage known as Serbo-Croatian to linguists.

Unsurprisingly, the most popular of these languages is Bosnian, which is the native language of over 1.1 million Bosnians. Serbian, the sole official language of neighboring Serbia, is the native language of about 850,000 Bosnians. There are also over 300,000 native speakers of Croatian, the sole official language of Croatia, which borders it to the north.

Other Languages

The Prenj mountains in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Ethnologue only lists two other native languages for Bosnia and Herzegovina: Aromanian and Vlax Romani. A significant number of Bosnians, over 380,000 people, are native speakers of Aromanian. Unlike the country's official languages, Aromanian is a Romance language. It is closely related to Romanian, but has been influenced more by Greek, while Romanian's lexicon has been influenced more by Slavic languages.

Vlax Romani, on the other hand, is only spoken by about 4,000 people in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is classified as an Indo-Iranian language, and is the most spoken Romani language in the world, with over 470,000 speakers worldwide.