While many Bosnians do know a bit of English and German, because it is taught in schools, you will come to discover that once you step outside of the city, many people within rural areas will not be able to understand either English or German. Which is why we would like to give you a few phrases in the Bosnian language that will help you communicate with the locals.
Bosnian is a South Slavic language and it is very phonetic – meaning that one letter represents one sound. For example, letter A is pronounced as /a/ much like in the word car, and the letter nj is pronounced as
/ɲ/ much like in the word onion.
Many of the words used in the Bosnian language today have been taken (and adapted) from Turkish and Arabic, German, and Hungarian due to mutual history and centuries long mixing of cultures in the Balkans. In many places you can hear, often older people, greeting with merhaba, which means hello Turkish. Of course there is selam alejkum (as-salamu alaykum, which is an Arabic greeting).
Interestingly, younger generations of Bosnians often use the word ciao (Italian for hell and/or goodbye) as a common unofficial greeting.
Useful phrases in the Bosnian language
It is important as a traveler to learn and know at least a few words and phrases when they travel to a foreign country. Locals will appreciate your effort, even if the only thing you can say is “good day” or “goodbye”. Bosnians are known for their hospitality, and they will definitely help you with whatever it is you need because of this small token of appreciation.
Pronunciation is key, so we will try and explain the best way of pronouncing certain words so what you say isn’t lost.
Hello – Zdravo (drah-voh)
Good morning – Dobro jutro (doh-broh you-troh)
Good day/afternoon – Dobar dan (doh-bahr dahn)
Good evening – Dobro veče (doh-broh vech-eh), with ch like in church
Good night – Laku noć (Lah-ku noch), with c like in ciao
Thank you – Hvala (hvah-lah)
You’re welcome – Nema na čemu (neh-mah na cheh-moo)
Yes – Da (dah)
No – Ne (neh)
Excuse me (or sorry) – Izvinite (eez-vee-nee-the)
Please – Molim (moh-leem)
How are you? – Kako ste? (formal), (KAH-koh steh) or Kako si? (informal) (KAH-koh see)
What is your name? – Kako se zovete? (formal) (kah-koh seh zoh-veh-teh), or Kako se zoveš? (informal) (kah-koh seh zoh-vehsh)
My name is… – Zovem se… (zoh-vehm seh…) or I am… – Ja sam… (yah sahm…)
Nice to meet you – Drago mi je (drah-goh mee yeh)
Do you speak English? – Govorite li engleski? (goh-voh-ree-teh lee ehn-glehs-kee)
I don’t understand – Ne razumijem (neh rah-zoo-me-yehm)
I can’t speak Bosnian – Ne govorim bosanski (neh goh-voh-reem boh-sahns-kee)
It’s an emergency – Hitno je (Heet-noh yeh)
I need your help – Treba mi Vaša pomoć (treh-bah mee vash-ah poh-mohch)
I need a doctor – Treba mi doktor (treh-bah mee dohk-tohr)
I need a phone – Treba mi telefon (treh-bah mee teh-leh-fohn)
Bus – Autobus (ow-toh-boos)
The bus station? – Autobuske stanice? (ow-toh-boos-keh stah-nee-tseh?
Train – Voz (vohz)
What is the time? – Koliko je sati? (koh-lee-koh yeh -sah-tee?)
Today – Danas (dah-nahs)
Tomorrow – Sutra (soo-trah)
Now – Sad (sahd)
Morning, Afternoon, Evening – Jutro, popodne, Vece (joo-troh, poh-pohd-neh, veh-cheh)
Zero – Nula (noo-lah)
One – Jedan (yeh-dahn)
Two – Dva (dvah-dvyeh)
Three – Tri (tree)
Four – Cetri (cheh-tee-ree)
Five – Pet (peht)
Six – Ses (shehst)
Seven – Sedam (seh-dam)
Eight – Osam (oh-sahm)
Nine – Devet (deh-veht)
Ten – Deset (deh-seht)
Do you know any more common phares that we can add to this list? Let us know in the comment section! Remember to check WikiTravel for its Bosnian phrasebook. We always recommend for the correct pronunciation of certain phrases at certain youtube videos.
And, of course, vidimo se u Bosni i Hercegovini! Dobro nam došli.