What is the Bosnian Language?
Bosnian is one of three official languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina, along with Croatian and Serbian, and also an officially recognized minority or regional language in Serbia, Montenegro, and the Republic of Kosovo. Like the other two official languages, Croatian and Serbian it is a standardized version of Serbo-Croatian. Linguists find that the main Ptokavian dialects of Croatian, Serbian, Montenegrin and Bosnian are now recognized as separate languages on political and sociological grounds and not the basis of linguistic science, are generally mutually intelligible to a high degree.
What is Serbo-Croatian?
Serbo-Croatian is a part of the Slavic Language Family that spans from the Balkans to Russia. These languages come from an original language originating from a Slavic people in modern day Ukraine who migrating all over Europe starting in 500 AD. In the 19th and 20th century Balkan dialects of South Slavic languages were united under various empires and a communist regime.
In order to homogenize the people under one language it was standardized using a Croatian dialect spelling. In fact many Serbian dialect speakers have trouble spelling because the spelling and pronunciation of words is so different. When Yugoslavia broke apart in the early 1990’s the same forces that drove Serbo-Croatian to homogenize drove it apart. This is why Serbo-Croatian speakers will tell you they speak 4 languages (Croatian, Serbian, Montenegrin and Bosnian) just like an English speaker could tell you they speak 4 languages as well (American English, British English, Austrialian English, Bostonian English).
How many speakers of Bosnian are there?
Estimates of Bosnian speakers are around 2.5-3.5 million and 21 million Serbio-Croatian speakers
How many other Slavic Language speakers can understand Bosnian?
Mutual intelligibility is the term that linguists use to describe how much of a language someone who speaks another understands. Robert Lindsay published a paper
Mutual Intelligibility among the Slavic Languages by Robert Lindsay documenting this among Slavic language families. He also talks about it in his wordpress blog
|Mutual Intelligibility of Serbo-Croatian|
|Language Family||Pop Total||Mutual Intelligibility|
|Serbo-Croatian Speakers||21 Million||97%|
|South Slavic Speakers||30 Million||44-50%|
|Slavic Speakers||315 Million||5-27%|