Situation comparable to Hindi/Urdu
I lived in Croatia for seven years, now I am working amongst Serbs in Kosovo. They ask me 'where did you learn Serbian?', to which I reply, 'I learnt Croatian in Croatia'. Every single Serb here has then said 'but they are the same'. Imagine that in Croatia, where they have even invented new words to replace Serb or international words and thus accentuate the difference between the language! For example, you are not supposed to use avion, plane, or aerodrom, airport, any more in Croatia, they are now zrakoplov, plane, and zracna luka, airport. The differences and similarities between Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian are indeed analogous to the situation with Hindi and Urdu. They sprang from the same origins, but history, culture and religion have influenced them to a degree so that for example Serbian is often (though not always) written in the Cyrillic alphabet and has some different words. The other main difference is that standard Croatian uses ije in words where Serbian uses e, e.g. lijepo versus lepo, meaning 'beautiful'. Bosnian is a kind of mixture of the two variants (which are called ekavski and ijekavski - and Dalmatia has ikavski). Aside from some syntatical differences, and some different vocabulary (Bosnian in particular has a lot more Turkish influenced vocabulary - as does even Serbian, specially down here in Kosovo), there is still a bigger difference between the English I speak (Bristolian) and that of my Geordie relatives in Newcastle than between the language spoken by most Serbs, Croats or Bosnians. Either way, its a beautiful and expressive language.
Sent by: Alex