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September 26, 2012 10:34 AM   Subscribe

How can I learn to hand write in Serbian Cyrillic?

I'm learning Serbian (or BCSM or Serbo-Croat or whatever we're calling the language this week; though I'm specifically interested in learning the Serbian variant of these related-and-mildly-divergent-languages).

I know the alphabet and have a very very tiny basic vocabulary minus any of the relevant grammar. There appear to be some decent grammar textbooks, and I have native speakers who can work with me on the grammar so I'm less concerned about that.

But I'd like to practice hand writing in Serbian Cyrillic so that I can still do some self-study. When I learned English as a tiny tot, we had those great workbooks where you learned how to properly form the letters. Something similar must exist for Serbian Cyrillic, right? How would I get my hands on something like that? Or am I overthinking this and should I just draw the letters as I see them? Or am I EXTREMELY overthinking this and I should not even bother with the Cyrillic at all (eg Is it likely to be abandoned?)?

I like learning the language using the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet. It is a helpful mnemonic device for me, and aids me in pronunciation. (Especially with differentiating between things like the soft and hard "ch"...) So I'd like to do this, but I'm open to hearing your advice. The universities here do not offer courses in this language.
posted by jph to Education (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The handwritten Serbian Cyrillic alphabet.

Serbian is digraphic, so you may wish to become proficient in both the Cyrillic and Roman writings of it.
posted by Tanizaki at 10:49 AM on September 26, 2012

Not sure if you plan to get any textbooks, but I've really liked this set. In the textbook, there are a few pages in the beginning for practicing cyrillic and there is a short handwriting guide in the back where full words are written in cyrillic handwriting. These books do an excellent job of explaining the variations between Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian. I've found them immensely helpful in learning this language.
posted by hannahelastic at 1:15 PM on September 26, 2012

If you're just trying to be able to write basic things in Cyrillic for pronunciation purposes, you should be fine just copying the letters you see in your textbooks.

But if you're trying to learn Cyrillic handwriting (cursive) that you might use to write someone a letter, or a note, then you would probably find workbooks very useful of the kind you remember using to learn English letters. However, these can be tricky to find outside of Serbia or in an edition geared towards the foreign learner.

This page has the alphabet, with uppercase and lowercase letters, and this one has the latin alphabet.
posted by Aubergine at 2:12 PM on September 26, 2012

Oh and to answer your actual question about how to get ahold of these books, ask your native speaker friends- it might be hard to order them from the internet (a cursory search I just conducted found titles, but no means of getting them shipped) but if they still have relatives in Serbia the bookstores have tons of this kind of thing, and maybe someone could send you some.
posted by Aubergine at 2:38 PM on September 26, 2012

I think what you're looking for is a "bukvar" (Буквар). This is a workbook aimed at kids learning to write. You can see a preview of one "bukvar" here. (Sadly, the preview ends before getting to the handwritten/cursive version of the letters.) I don't know where you might get one, but maybe try some creative Googling using keywords like "pdf" and "download"?

Good luck!
posted by gakiko at 1:58 AM on September 27, 2012

Best answer: Also, for the rest of your questions:

Yes, learn the Cyrillic alphabet. The Latin alphabet is being used more and more these days, AFAIK, but Cyrillic is still in the majority. Also, you won't get by just by using the printed version of the alphabet, as they use two variants of letters in print (at least in magazines) - one is the standard "font", the other is the cursive/italic "font", used just like italic version of Latin fonts. So you'll have to learn both anyway.

Btw, seconding Aubergine - ask your native speaker friends if they can get you books from their homeland. "Bukvar" (together with "čitanka" - a selection of easy texts to practice reading) is the standard required textbook for any first-grader, so it should be dirt cheap in Serbia and available in any bookstore that carries textbooks.
posted by gakiko at 2:23 AM on September 27, 2012

Response by poster: You're all so wonderful. I even received MeMail helping me out on this question. Silly as it sounds, I hadn't even considered that my partner's mom (who lives in Belgrade) could potentially find something good for me - probably because I'm not sure I would even know where to look for the English equivalent aside from Amazon.

I'm glad that the Cyrillic isn't going anywhere. I think the digraphia in Serbian is fascinating and it makes me even more keen to learn it.

gakiko gets my extended thanks, especially for the bonus of čitanka! Wouldn't have thought to get something like that - but it sounds perfect! (A friend did, however, just bring me a tourism newspaper from Belgrade that is in both Serbian and English and it is awesome!)

posted by jph at 5:55 AM on September 27, 2012

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