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Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, a Grammar: With Sociolinguistic Commentary Paperback – Jun 30 2006

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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  • Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, a Grammar: With Sociolinguistic Commentary
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition (June 30 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0299211940
  • ISBN-13: 978-0299211943
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 2.8 x 27.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #367,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"Well written and admirably organized, this work is a milestone in the study of Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian. It is the first unified description of BCS since the break-up of former Yugoslavia and includes Professor Alexander's vitally important sociolinguistic commentary."—Victor A. Friedman, University of Chicago

“An invaluable volume, both for the early twenty-first century and for the emerging situation within the former Yugoslavia. Such works cannot but help ease the wounds inflicted and suffered over the last decades.”—Forum for Modern Language Studies

“Comprehensive. . . . Could be profitably used by everyone from beginners to the most advanced learners.”—Keith Langston, Slavic and East European Journal

About the Author

Ronelle Alexander is professor of Slavic languages and literatures at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of the two-volume Intensive Bulgarian:  A Textbook and Reference Grammar.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This combo of books and audio cd were exactly what I was expecting. I'm on my way to speaking Bosnian
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xab1b08ac) out of 5 stars 15 reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xaaa107d4) out of 5 stars You couldn't wish for better March 30 2007
By Bel Gufo - Published on
Format: Paperback
This elegant book does it all. It presents a thorough, linguistically rigorous grammar of a sometimes extremely foreign language in a form accessible to everyone from beginners to practiced speakers. The discussion is lucid, with plenty of examples, and is infused with a good teacher's enthusiasm for the subject and sensitivity to the reader's needs. Anything but dry, it abounds with useful observations, many focusing on the particular difficulties presented by "BCS" to English-speaking learners.

The grammatical material is presented in an order that presumably complements the companion volume, a textbook with exercises. That could take some getting used to for an experienced speaker of the language: if you want to read all about verbs, for instance, you have to locate and read many short sections distributed through the book. A complete discussion of the verb or any similar topic is thus presented in segments a beginner can grasp, laid out in an order that a beginner can follow, with no compromise of scholarly detail and accuracy. The attractive layout and typography aid in the endeavor.

The descriptive grammar is followed by a "sociolinguistic commentary" which raises a fine scholarly achievement to a yet more useful level. The student of BCS must deal with a situation in which people who understand each other with ease insist that they speak different languages, others who understand each other barely or not at all admit only to speaking different dialects, and the cultural history apparently entitles anyone to despise half of his or her colinguists according to whether or not they pronounce a "y" sound before the letter "e." All of this receives careful, clear explanation, illustrated with maps and complemented by painstaking notes to the grammatical examples. As in the grammar, the author's eagerness to help the reader understand is everywhere apparent.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xaa62b234) out of 5 stars First-rate June 2 2007
By Slovakophile - Published on
Format: Paperback

- Comprehensive and detailed treatment of grammatical topics in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (BCS)

- Balanced presentation and comparison of grammatical topics and examples.

- Includes a readable and accessible introduction to the history and sociolinguistics of "old" Serbo-Croatian and "new" BCS


- None

The grammatical sections are set up in the same sequence as that of the corresponding BCS textbook by Alexander and Elias-Bursac. This reference of grammar is useful in that it goes into greater detail than what's in the textbook and may provide a "second opinion" to someone who is unsure about something in the textbook. The examples that are used to illustrate grammatical topics also have the added benefit of being marked as being used most frequently by Bosnians, Croats or Serbs.

The history and sociological survey should be required reading for anyone who is just starting to study BCS or wondering why some people from the former Yugoslavia still become emotional or sensitive about their language(s). In fact I would venture to say that these same people of the former Yugoslavia would do well to read Alexander's survey for it's a detached and balanced description of the subordination/hijacking of language to fulfill political or sociological aims. I found that reading it was instructive and a reminder than most of us English speakers are relatively fortunate in not having questions about language usage tied as closely or violently to being part of "good guys" or "bad guys".

Overall, it's a valuable source of information and no one can go wrong by having it on his/her shelf when studying BCS.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xaaae1b10) out of 5 stars Useful information, but the presentation and the format make this less competitive than other grammars Sept. 14 2013
By Christopher Culver - Published on
Format: Paperback
Ronelle Alexander is the author of Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, a Textbook, one of the first textbooks for American universities that taught what was formerly "Serbo-Croatian" as a set of three distinct but closely related languages. This reference grammar is designed to accompany that textbook. It is divided into two parts. The first twenty chapters are the reference grammar proper, that is, all the paradigms and information about uses of the cases and tenses. If the Bosnian, Croatian or Serbian forms differ from one another, each possibility is given (even if it is something as minor as an ekavian/ijekavian distinction). The second part is titled a "sociolinguistic commentary", general description of the three varieties -- or four, rather, as Montenegrin is also mentioned. Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian each get their own chapter, and we learn about the history of the language, the first figures to standardize it, and its continuing evolution after the breakup of Yugoslavia.

The discussion of everything is really long-winded and contains much that ought to go into a textbook of the language and not a grammar that one wants to quickly consult when unsure of paradigms. Also, I really dislike the format of this book: it is gigantic to the point of unweldiness, and the paperback binding is cheap and not durable enough for something designed for taking back and forth between home and classroom. Studying Serbian, I found that an introductory textbook together with Routledge's Serbian An Essential Grammar was enough to get me to the level where I could make use of reference grammars written directly in Serbian (or Bosnian or Croatian). If you have access to Alexander's grammar at a library, then reading the chapter on the tonal accent -- which gets a decent five pages here when it gets as little as half a paragraph elsewhere -- and Part Two will prove instructive. However, it's hard to recommend a purchase.
HASH(0xaa95f798) out of 5 stars This is not an easy language to learn Jan. 3 2015
By R. Friederich - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For less than $100, I acquired all three pieces of this BCS set. Textbook; Grammar; Audio. I feel I am well on my way to grasping the Bosnian language. Not just phrases, which I have from other sources, but knowledge about what's going on under the hood. I find all three pieces to complement each other. The design of this system actually helps you to come across conclusions on your own along the way.

This is not an easy language to learn. Especially when you have nobody to practice with. However, this three piece series is a heckuva good way to start.

I have read complaints about the audio being 'too fast'. Well, I have spent time in Bosnia and that is how the people speak. The audio does a good job of forcing you to keep up with the natural flow of the conversation as it really would be in the real world. I am more than okay with that because people in Bosnia are not going to be slowing down their conversation for you.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xaa624c54) out of 5 stars Necessary to true students and native speakers Dec 27 2012
By heres_looking_at_you - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I find the chapters 21 to 26, the SOCIOLINGUISTIC COMMENTARY, essential for understanding the history of the language. Author Ronelle Alexander appears to respect the three strains of the languague that have recently emanated from the dismemberment of the nation of Yugoslavia: Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian. No treatment is given to Slovenian, Kosovo-ian or Macedonian. Some words are mentioned about Montenegrin, if it too shall begin to independently develop its own language and spelling. Copyright 2006, maps are from 2005.

Since the great attempt at peaceful cooperation that was the nation of Yugoslavia is now gone and done, we must face the brave new world and what will come of it. This book helps gain perspective.