Serbian Cyrillic Alphabet
Get Serbian Cyrillic Alphabet essential facts below. View Videos or join the Serbian Cyrillic Alphabet discussion. Add Serbian Cyrillic Alphabet to your topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
Serbian Cyrillic Alphabet
Serbian Cyrillic
Time period
1814 (modern)
Parent systems
Child systems
ISO 15924Cyrl, 220
Unicode alias
subset of Cyrillic (U+0400...U+04F0)

The Serbian Cyrillic alphabet (Serbian: /srpska ?irilica, pronounced [srpska: tir?lit?sa]) is an adaptation of the Cyrillic script for the Serbian language, developed in 1818 by Serbian linguist Vuk Karad?i?. It is one of the two alphabets used to write standard modern Serbian, Bosnian and Montenegrin, the other being Latin.

Karad?i? based his alphabet on the previous "Slavonic-Serbian" script, following the principle of "write as you speak and read as it is written", removing obsolete letters and letters representing iotified vowels, introducing ⟨J⟩ from the Latin alphabet instead, and adding several consonant letters for sounds specific to Serbian phonology. During the same period, Croatian linguists led by Ljudevit Gaj adapted the Latin alphabet, in use in western South Slavic areas, using the same principles. As a result of this joint effort, Cyrillic and Latin alphabets for Serbo-Croatian have a complete one-to-one congruence, with the Latin digraphs Lj, Nj, and D? counting as single letters.

Vuk's Cyrillic alphabet was officially adopted in Serbia in 1868, and was in exclusive use in the country up to the inter-war period. Both alphabets were co-official in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and later in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Due to the shared cultural area, Gaj's Latin alphabet saw a gradual adoption in Serbia since, and both scripts are used to write modern standard Serbian, Montenegrin and Bosnian; Croatian uses only the Latin alphabet. In Serbia, Cyrillic is seen as being more traditional, and has the official status (designated in the Constitution as the "official script", compared to Latin's status of "script in official use" designated by a lower-level act). It is also an official script in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro, along with Latin.

The Serbian Cyrillic alphabet was used as a basis for the Macedonian alphabet with the work of Krste Misirkov and Venko Markovski.

Official use

Cyrillic is in official use in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.[1] Although the Bosnian language "officially accept[s] both alphabets",[1] the Latin script is almost always used in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina,[1] whereas Cyrillic is in everyday use in Republika Srpska[1] (and is used only by the Serbs in the country).[2] The Serbian language in Croatia is officially recognized as a minority language, however, the use of Cyrillic in bilingual signs has sparked protests and vandalism.

Cyrillic is an important symbol of Serbian identity.[3] In Serbia, official documents are printed in Cyrillic only[4] even though, according to a 2014 survey, 47% of the Serbian population write in the Latin alphabet whereas 36% write in Cyrillic.[5]

Modern alphabet

The following table provides the upper and lower case forms of the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet, along with the equivalent forms in the Gaj's Latin alphabet and the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) value for each letter:

Serbian Cyrillic (Times New Roman)
Cyrillic Latin IPA value
? ? A a
? ? B b
? ? V v
? ? G g
? ? D d
? ? ? ?
? ? E e
? ? ? ?
? ? Z z
? ? I i
? ? J j
? ? K k
? ? L l
? ? Lj lj
? ? M m
Cyrillic Latin IPA value
? ? N n
? ? Nj nj
? ? O o
? ? P p
? ? R r
? ? S s
? ? T t
? ? ? ?
? ? U u
? ? F f
? ? H h
? ? C c
? ? ? ?
? ? D? d?
? ? ? ?

Early history

Serbian Cyrillic, from Comparative orthography of European languages. Source: Vuk Stefanovi? Karad?i? "Srpske narodne pjesme" (Serbian folk poems), Vienna, 1841

Early Cyrillic

According to tradition, Glagolitic was invented by the Byzantine Christian missionaries and brothers Cyril and Methodius in the 860s, amid the Christianization of the Slavs. Glagolitic appears to be older, predating the introduction of Christianity, only formalized by Cyril and expanded to cover non-Greek sounds. Cyrillic was created by the orders of Boris I of Bulgaria by Cyril's disciples, perhaps at the Preslav Literary School in the 890s.[6]

The earliest form of Cyrillic was the ustav, based on Greek uncial script, augmented by ligatures and letters from the Glagolitic alphabet for consonants not found in Greek. There was no distinction between capital and lowercase letters. The literary Old Church Slavonic language was based on the Slavic dialect of Thessaloniki.[6]

Medieval Serbian Cyrillic

Part of the Serbian literary heritage of the Middle Ages are works such as Vukan Gospels, St. Sava's Nomocanon, Du?an's Code, Munich Serbian Psalter, and others. The first printed book in Serbian was the Cetinje Octoechos (1494).

Karad?i?'s reform

Vuk Karad?i? (1787-1864) fled Serbia during the Serbian Revolution in 1813, to Vienna. There he met Slovene Jernej Kopitar linguist and slavist, who along with Austrian Serb philologist Sava Mrkalj helped Vuk reform the Serbian language and its orthography. Karad?i? finalized the alphabet in 1818 with the Serbian Dictionary.

Karad?i? reformed the Serbian literary language and standardised the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet by following strict phonemic principles on the Johann Christoph Adelung' model and Jan Hus' Czech alphabet. Karad?i?'s reforms of the Serbian literary language modernised it and distanced it from Serbian and Russian Church Slavonic, instead bringing it closer to common folk speech, specifically, to the Eastern Herzegovinian dialect which he himself spoke. Karad?i? was, together with scholar ?uro Dani?i?, the main Serbian signatory to the Vienna Literary Agreement of 1850 which, encouraged by Austrian authorities, laid the foundation for the Serbian language, various forms of which are used by Serbs in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia today. Karad?i? also translated the New Testament into Serbian, which was published in 1868.

He wrote several books; Mala prostonarodna slaveno-serbska pesnarica and Pismenica serbskoga jezika in 1814, and two more in 1815 and 1818, all with the alphabet still in progress. In his letters from 1815-1818 he used, ?, ? and ?. In his 1815 song book he dropped the ?.[7]

The alphabet was officially adopted in 1868, four years after his death.[8]

From the Old Slavic script Vuk retained these 24 letters:

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

He added one Latin letter:

? ?
Vuk's dictionary

And 5 new ones:

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

He removed:

? ? (y?) ?, ? (yat) ? ? (i) ? ? (i) ? ? (u) ? ? (?) ? ? (small yus) ? ? (big yus) ? ? (yeri, hard i)
? ? (yu) ? ? (?t) ? ? (t) ? ? (dz) ? ? (sht) ? ? (ks) ? ? (ps) ? ? (hard sign) ? ? (soft sign) ? ? (y?)

Modern history


Orders issued on the 3 and 13 October 1914 banned the use of Serbian Cyrillic in the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, limiting it for use in religious instruction. A decree was passed on January 3, 1915, that banned Serbian Cyrillic completely from public use. An imperial order in October 25, 1915, banned the use of Serbian Cyrillic in the Condominium of Bosnia and Herzegovina, except "within the scope of Serb Orthodox Church authorities".[9][10]

World War II

In 1941, the Nazi puppet Independent State of Croatia banned the use of Cyrillic,[11] having regulated it on 25 April 1941,[12] and in June 1941 began eliminating "Eastern" (Serbian) words from the Croatian language, and shut down Serbian schools.[13][14]


The Serbian Cyrillic script was one of the two official scripts used to write the Serbo-Croatian language in Yugoslavia since its establishment in 1918, the other being Latin script (latinica).

With the collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Serbo-Croatian was divided into its variants on ethnic lines (as it had been in pre-Yugoslav times) and Cyrillic is no longer used officially in Croatia, while in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro the Serbian Cyrillic stayed the official constitutional script.[15]

Contemporary period

Under the Constitution of Serbia of 2006, Cyrillic script is the only one in official use.[16]

Special letters

The ligatures?⟩ and ⟨?⟩, together with ⟨?⟩, ⟨?⟩ and ⟨?⟩ were developed specially for the Serbian alphabet.

?⟩, ⟨?⟩ and ⟨?⟩ were later adopted for use in the Macedonian alphabet.

Differences from other Cyrillic alphabets

Allowed italic variants of some letters in different languages

Serbian Cyrillic does not use several letters encountered in other Slavic Cyrillic alphabets. It does not use hard sign (?) and soft sign (?), but the aforementioned soft-sign ligatures instead. It does not have Russian/Belorussian ?, the semi-vowels ? or ?, nor the iotated letters ? (Russian/Bulgarian ya), ? (Ukrainian ye), ? (yi), ? (Russian yo) or ? (yu), which are instead written as two separate letters: Ja, Je, J?, Jo, Jy. J can also be used as a semi-vowel, in place of ?. The letter ? is not used. When necessary, it is transliterated as either or ?T.

Serbian and Macedonian italic and cursive forms of lowercase letters ?, ?, ?, ?, and ?, are allowed to differ from those used in other Cyrillic alphabets (in Serbian ? can optionally be underlined, whereas in Macedonian it is never underlined[][dubious ]). The regular (upright) shapes are generally standardized among languages and there are no officially recognized variations.[17][18] That presents an obstacle in Unicode modeling, as the glyphs differ only in italic versions, and historically non-italic letters have been used in the same code positions. Serbian professional typography uses fonts specially crafted for the language to overcome the problem, but texts printed from common computers contain East Slavic rather than Serbian italic glyphs. Cyrillic fonts from Adobe,[19] Microsoft (Windows Vista and later) and a few other font houses[] include the Serbian variations (both regular and italic).

If the underlying font and Web technology provide support, the proper glyphs can be obtained by marking the text with appropriate language codes. Thus:

  • <span class="notice sr" style="font-style: italic"></span> gives , and
  • <span class="notice ru" style="font-style: italic"></span> produces .

Since Unicode unified different characters in same script,[20]OpenType locl (locale) support must be present to display the correct variant. Programs like Mozilla Firefox, LibreOffice and some others provide required OpenType support. Starting from CSS 3, web authors also have to use this: font-feature-settings: 'locl';. Of course, font families like GNU FreeFont, DejaVu, Ubuntu, Microsoft "C*" fonts from Windows Vista and above must be used.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Ronelle Alexander (15 August 2006). Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, a Grammar: With Sociolinguistic Commentary. Univ of Wisconsin Press. pp. 1-2. ISBN 978-0-299-21193-6.
  2. ^ Tomasz Kamusella (15 January 2009). The Politics of Language and Nationalism in Modern Central Europe. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-55070-4. In addition, today, neither Bosniaks nor Croats, but only Serbs use Cyrillic in Bosnia.
  3. ^ Entangled Histories of the Balkans: Volume One: National Ideologies and Language Policies. BRILL. 13 June 2013. pp. 414-. ISBN 978-90-04-25076-5.
  4. ^ "?eranje ?irilice iz Crne Gore". Retrieved 2018.
  5. ^ "Ivan Klajnirilica ?e postati arhai?no pismo". Archived from the original on 11 October 2017. Retrieved 2018.
  6. ^ a b Cubberley, Paul (1996) "The Slavic Alphabets". in Daniels, Peter T., and William Bright, eds. (1996). The World's Writing Systems. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507993-0.
  7. ^ The life and times of Vuk Stefanovi? Karad?i?, p. 387
  8. ^ Vek i po od smrti Vuka Karad?i?a (in Serbian), Radio-Television of Serbia, 7 February 2014, archived from the original on 24 September 2015
  9. ^ Andrej Mitrovi?, Serbia's great war, 1914-1918 p.78 Archived 2017-01-17 at the Wayback Machine-79. Purdue University Press, 2007. ISBN 1-55753-477-2, ISBN 978-1-55753-477-4
  10. ^ Ana S. Trbovich (2008). A Legal Geography of Yugoslavia's Disintegration. Oxford University Press. p. 102.
  11. ^ Sabrina P. Ramet (2006). The Three Yugoslavias: State-building and Legitimation, 1918-2005. Indiana University Press. pp. 312-. ISBN 0-253-34656-8. Archived from the original on 2016-06-10.
  12. ^ Enver Red?i? (2005). Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Second World War. Psychology Press. pp. 71-. ISBN 978-0-7146-5625-0. Archived from the original on 2016-05-15.
  13. ^ Alex J. Bellamy (2003). The Formation of Croatian National Identity: A Centuries-old Dream. Manchester University Press. pp. 138-. ISBN 978-0-7190-6502-6.
  14. ^ David M. Crowe (13 September 2013). Crimes of State Past and Present: Government-Sponsored Atrocities and International Legal Responses. Routledge. pp. 61-. ISBN 978-1-317-98682-9.
  15. ^ Yugoslav Survey. 43. Jugoslavija Publishing House. 2002. Retrieved 2013.
  16. ^ Article 10 of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia (English version Archived 2011-03-14 at the Wayback Machine)
  17. ^ Peshikan, Mitar; Jerkovi?, Jovan; Pi?urica, Mato (1994). Pravopis srpskoga jezika. Beograd: Matica Srpska. p. 42. ISBN 86-363-0296-X.
  18. ^ Pravopis na makedonskiot jazik (PDF). Skopje: Institut za makedonski jazik Krste Misirkov. 2017. p. 3. ISBN 978-608-220-042-2.
  19. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2009-02-06. Retrieved .CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "Unicode 8.0.0 ch.02 p.14-15" (PDF). Retrieved 2018.


  • Bonkovski, R. (2009). "Srpska pisma". Nasle?e. Kragujevac. 6 (14-1): 99-105. ISSN 1820-1768.

Further reading

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes