About These Languages

South Slavic Languages

Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian and Montenegrin are four extremely closely related South Slavic languages spoken in the Balkans. The forms are so closely related that many Western linguists consider them to be mutually intelligible dialects of the same language, although with minor grammatical and phonological differences. Politically though, they are treaded as separate languages.

Religion and Languages

A variety of religions are practiced by the different groups and is an important part of how different ethnic groups distinguish themselves. Although there are multiple religions and languages in each country, as a generalization the following patterns exist among the languages:

  • Croatian – Roman Catholicism
  • Serbian – Orthodox Christianity
  • Bosnian – Islam, but Bosnia is 50% Islamic, 30% Orthodox and 15% Catholic
    Note: Some people distinguish Bosniak (Islamic group in Bosnia) from Bosnian (anyone in Bosnia)
  • Montenegrin – Orthodox Christianity, but 19% Islamic in Montenegro

Yugoslavia and Serbo-Croatian

Before the 1990s, modern nations of Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro were regions of the Soviet Era country of Yugoslavia. The official language of Yugoslavia was called Serbo-Croatian and was used throughout the entire country.

This language was also very similar to Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian and Montenegrin. However, after a very difficult civil war between the different regions, the different dialects were codified as multiple standard languages. However some Slavic linguists still refer to a signle BCS (Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian) or BCMS (Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian-Montenegrin) set of languages.

Note: Within the different countries, there may be variations in how people refer to their native language.

Pre Yugoslavia

The ethnic and dialectal divisions between Serbians, Croations and Islamic Bosnians date to before the formation of Yugoslavia. Before the formation of Yugoslavia, the different regions were often parts of various empires such as the Austro-Hungarian empire and the Islamic Ottoman Empire. At those times, the official language was something other Serbo-Croatian/a BCS variety.


Wikipedia Articles

Other Articles

Writing Systems

Cyrillic vs. Western Alphabet

Any of the languages can be written in either the Latin alphabet or the Cyrillic alphabet. Generally speaking, Croatian and Bosnian are mostly written in the Western Latin alphabet, but Serbian and Montenegrin fluctuates between the two scripts.


Wikipedia Serbian Alphabet

Arabic Script

During the Ottoman Emprire, Bosnian documents were written in the Arabic alphabet and some Arabic script documents are still produced, but the Latin alphabet is more common today.


Wikipedia Arebica for Bosnian

Recommended Fonts (Latin and Cyrillic)

Latin-2 (Central European) Encoding

Although these languages use the Western alphabet, they also accented letters (e.g. č, š) which may not be found in all fonts.
Note: The term Central European is sometimes used to refer to the languages which use accented letters not common in Western European languages.

Latin and Cyrillic Fonts

Many common fonts such as Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica, Comic Sans, Calibri, Cambria, Palatinto include both the Latin 2 and Cyrillic characters needed for these languages.

Additional Cyrillic Fonts

Additional information on Cyrillic fonts is on the Cyrillic page.

Activating Keyboards for Typing

Note: Most instructions work regardless of whether you are using the Roman alphabet or Cyrillic.


Microsoft includes several keyboards utilities for Croatian and Serbian. All keyboards are in the Roman (Latin) script except for Serbian keyboards which are designated as "Cyrillic."
Note: Neither the Windows International
Keyboard or ALT code repertoire includes Central European characters.

  1. See detailed keyboard activation instructions for different versions of the Windows operating system.
  2. To see where the critical keys are, go to the Microsoft Keyboard Layouts Page.
  3. You can also input characters from the Character Map. This can be useful if you only need to insert characters into only a few words.


Mac Keyboard Utilities

Apple provides the following keyboards

  • Croatian and Croatian PC (both Latin)
  • Serbian (Cyrillic) and Serbian Latin

See instructions for activating a Macintosh keyboard for more details.

Extended Keyboard Roman Character Codes

You can activate the Extended Keyboard to input Central European characters. Once the extended keyboard is activated, you can use the following codes for different Latin 2 characters.

Mac Accent Codes, X = any letter
Hachek Caron š,Š Option+V, X
Acute ý,Ý Option+E, X
D-stroke đ,Đ Option+L, X

Example 1: To input the lower case ć (y-acute) hold down the Option key, then the E key. Release both keys then type lowercase c.
Example 2: To input the capital Ć hold down the Option key, then the E key. Release all three keys then type capital C.

Web Development and Language Codes

This section presents information specific to these languages. For general information about developing non-English Web sites, see the Encoding Tutorial or the Web Layout sections.

Test Sites

If you have your browser configured correctly, the Web sites below should display
the correct characters.
Note: If a site displays gibberish, see the Browser Setup page for debugging information.

Historic Encodings

Unicode (utf-8) is the preferred encoding for Web sites. However, the following historic encodings may still be encountered.

Latin Historical Encodings

  • win-1250 (aka "Windows Encoding")
  • iso-8859-2 (aka "Latin-2")

Cyrillic Historical Encodings

  • win-1251

Language Tags

Language Tags allow browsers and other software to process Czech and Slovak text more efficiently. The appropriate codes are listed below.

Basic Language Codes

These are the codes for the different languages in the regions

  • bs (Bosnian)
  • hr (Croatian)
  • sr (Serbian, Cyrillic)
  • sr-ME (Montenegrin = Serbian as spoken in Montenegro)
  • sh (Serbo-Croatian, Deprecated, but may be needed for older texts)
  • hbs (Serbo-Croatian/BCS macrolanguage)
  • svm (Slavomolisano, Italy)
  • kjv (Kajkavian Literary Language)

Script Codes

Because these languages can be written in multiple scripts, these ISO-15924 script tags which can be used to identify which script is being used.

  • Cyrl (Cyrillic script)
  • Latn (Latin/Western script)
  • Arab (Arabic script)
  • Cyrs (Old Church Slavonic script)
  • Glag (Glagoltic)

Script Code Examples

Some examples below show how to specify a script. Note that for Serbian s

  • sr-Latn (Serbian in Western/Latin alphabet)\
  • bs-Arab (Bosnian in Arabic script)

Note that if there is a default script set for a language, the script tag is not used. Some examples are shown below.

  • hr = hr-Latn (Croatian, Latin script)
  • sr = sr-Cyrl (Serbian, Cyrillic script)

Country Tags

Country tags can be used to distinguish some forms. The relevant country codes are:

  • -BA (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
  • -HR (Croatia)
  • -ME (Montenegro)
  • -RS (Serbia)

For Montenegran documents, the following codes could be used.

  • sr-Latn-ME (Montenegrin in Latin Script)
  • sr-ME = sr-Cyrl-ME (Montenegrin in Cyrillic)

Inserting Unicode Character Codes for HTML

Cyrillic Entity Codes

Entity codes for the Cyrillic script are available on the Cyrillic Unicode Entity page.

Latin Entity Codes

Use these codes to input accented letters in HTML. For instance, if you want
to type više you would type više.

Be sure the appropriate Encodings and Language Tags are used.

Entity Code
Let Entity Codes
Capital C acute
ć ć
Lower C acute
Capital D stroke
đ đ
Lower D stroke
Č Č 
Capital C hachek
č č
Lower C hachek
Š Š 
Capital S hachek
š š
Lower S hachek
Capital S Acute (Montenegrin)
ś ś
S Acute (Montenegrin)
Ž Ž 
Capital Z hachek
ž ž
Lower Z hachek
Capital Z Acute (Montenegrin)
ź ź
Z Acute (Montenegrin)

NOTE: Because these are Unicode characters, the formatting may not exactly match that
of the surrounding text depending on the browser.

Entity Codes for Quotation Marks
Sym HTMl Entity Code
« « (left angle)
» » (right angle)
‹ (left single angle)
› (right single angle)
„(bottom quote)
‚(single bottom quote)
“(left curly quote)
‘(left single curly quote)
”(right curly quote)
’(right single curly quote)
– (en dash)
— (em dash)

Language Identification

Wikipedia Articles

Other Articles

Writing Systems


Linux is used in the region so a search for specific issues may be useful.


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