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Teach Yourself Serbian Book/CD Pack (Teach Yourself Complete Courses) - Vladislava Ribnikar, Dr David Norris

Teach Yourself Serbian Book/CD Pack (Teach Yourself Complete Courses)

ClanBrandon Books
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Vladislava Ribnikar, Dr David Norris

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Pages: 224 (Paperback)

ISBN: 0340846224

Pub: Teach Yourself

Pub date: 2003-06-27 Sales Rank: 45517

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Reader Reviews:

5/5 stars

A very worthwhile book (3/3 people found this helpful)

This is a really excellent book for anyone starting to learn serbian. This book is ideal for anyone planning to work/travel to Serbia or Bosnia (Republika Serpska Entity) as it also teaches the language in Cyrillic as well as latin, which is essential as most road signs in the RS (save major routes) are in cyrillic (as I found out getting lost one time en route to Banja Luka). This is also suitable for Bosnian as the languages are practically identical (only some very minor differences on a small minority of words). It's also useful for Croatian (98% the same language), although using some Serb words will be corrected by the locals, but this never seemed to cause offence they were glad that I had made the effort.

5/5 stars

A useful tool... (2/2 people found this helpful)

I bought this book, in order to teach myself the basics of the language and skip a year of getting taught by a real Serbian teacher. My main goal was to save some money for tougher levels of the language in the years to follow.

I found this book very easy to use. The vocabulary was important for daily speech, the grammar was easy to follow and generally everything was suitable for a beginner. In case someone does not know the cyrillic script well, he/she might find it hard to follow from Unit 5 and on, but with a little patience all gets better soon.

The audio part was not the best I have tried, mainly because it was very fast in some parts, but generally it helped. And the voice actors were not bad, they helped you practice your speech so that it can sound normal.

All in all, this was a helpful tool. I will give it 5/5 stars because I have tried many books and I think this one has the most things to offer: some grammar, some listening practice, some exercises and decent vocabulary. Of course, you will need a teacher or a higher level book if you wanna proceed to tougher levels, but if you just wanna feel comfortable during a trip to the area, then this book is what you are looking for.

5/5 stars

The best Serbian course available (17/18 people found this helpful)

In this review I'll try to provide a brief overview of
a. The Serbian Language
b. Teach Yourself Serbian

a. The Serbian Language
15 years ago you wouldn't have found any course in Serbian, only in Serbo-Croat. For almost all of the 20th century the term Serbo-Croat covered the language(s) spoken by Croats, Bosniaks, Serbs and Montenegrins. Today there is no agreement on whether there are one, two, three or four different languages. Most people recognise the existence of Croatian and Serbian and tent to view Bosnian and Montenegrin as Serbian varieties.
I'm not from the region and I don't have any national feeling involved in this issue. Neither do I have any definite answer, but I can say this:
- Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks and Montenegrins can all understand each other. Just as Danes and Swedes or Czechs and Slovaks can understand each other.
- The difference between the forms is large enough to give away whether you're a Croat, a Serb, a Bosnian or a Montenegrin. The difference is definitely larger than between various English dialects.

The most obvious difference is between "ekavian" and "ijekavin", two different dialect named after their realisation of "e".
In Ekavian:
milk = mleko, river = reka, village = selo
In Ijekavian:
milk = mlijeko, river = rijeka, village = selo
In other words, not all "e"s are "ije" in Ijekavian but you get the picture.
Now, all Croats, all Bosniaks and all Montenegrins use Ijekavian. So do many Serbs. The majority of the Serbs use Ekavian, though.
In other words, all Ekavian-speakers are Serbs but not all Serbs are Ekavian-speakers and all Croats are Ijekavian-speakers but not all Ijekavian-speakers are Croats.

Another difference is the vocabulary. Croats are Catholics, Bosniaks are Moslems and Montenegrins and Serbs are Orthodox. Another big difference is that Serbia and Bosnia first came under the influence of Greece and later were part of the Turkish Empire for hundreds of years. Croatia first came under the influence of Italy and later was part of the Austrian empire for hundreds of years. Naturally this has left its traces. Many religious words in Serbian are Greek, in Bosnian they're Turkish/Arab and in Croatian they're Latin.
Apart from the religious vocabulary there are some other words that differ. Croatia has one set of words whereas the others have another set. In short, the picture looks like this:

Croatian: Ijekavian, religious vocabulary based on Latin, Croatian-set.
Serbian: Ekavian (mostly), religious vocabulary based on Greek, Serbian-set.
Bosnian: Ijekavian, religious vocabulary based on Turkish, Serbiat-set.
Montenegrin: Ijekavian, religious vocabulary based on Greek, Serbian-set.

Just keep in mind that there are differences but that people understand each others. I've learned Croatian but Serbs have expressed delight over how well I speak Serbian...

b. Teach Yourself Serbian
This course is great! There aren't many Serbian courses on the market, but even if there were this one would stand out. The development of courses is rather interesting. Up to the early 1980s most Serbo-Croatian courses were based on the Serbian variety because that was the language spoken in the capital. Then came the "tourist invasion" and since the tourist areas were almost exclusively in Croatia almost all courses published in 1980-1992 were in the Croatian variety. Now, those courses are often republised under the name of "Croatian". In fact, Teach Yourself Croatian is exactly the same books as the old Teach Yourself Serbo-Croat. This means that Serbian has the upper hand in courses at the moment, because now that there is a need for courses in the language publishers go for completely new courses. I guess that within five years we'll see new courses appearing in Croatian...

Comparing Teach Yourself Serbian to Teach Yourself Croatian, this one is much longer and contains more information, more explanations and more vocabulary. One particularly good feature is the use of both the Latin and the Cyrillic alphabet. Modern Serbian uses both, and this course give all words in both alphabeths in the first three lessons, then Cyrillic in every second chapter and Latin in the other. Of course, there's a thorough introduction to the Cyrillic alphabet.

As in most Teach Yourself-courses the grammar explanations have been written to suit the total beginner. In some courses that is not enough for the serious student but in this case the explanations will please everyone. The vocabulary is very up-to-date, focusing on a group of university students in Belgrade.

If you've read my other reviews of courses you will know that I consider most Teach Yourself courses too short. Teach Yourself Serbian is one of the exceptions, it is long enough to provide space for needed explanations and for a useful vocabulary that will take you far.

I strongly recommend this excellent course!

5/5 stars

At last a comprehensive guide..... (19/19 people found this helpful)

As a student of the Serbian language, I am always looking out for books to help with my studies. As many people with an interest in this area know, there are very few books on the subject, or they are based on Serbo-Croat and focus on the Croatian side of the language. This book purely focuses on Serbian and teaches the grammar and vocabulary in a very easy to manage way. I have just passed the half way mark and am now able to hold converstions with my Serbian friends, who are very impressed with the standard of my language. Very well written and very informative regarding culture and lifestyle an abosolute must.

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