(српски / srpski, pronounced [sr̩̂pskiː]) is the standardized variety of the Serbo-Croatian language mainly used by Serbs. It is the official language of Serbia, the territory of Kosovo, and one of the three official languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, it is a recognized minority language in Montenegro where it is spoken by the relative majority of the population, as well as in Croatia, North Macedonia, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.
Standard Serbian is based on the most widespread dialect of Serbo-Croatian, Shtokavian (more specifically on Šumadija-Vojvodina and Eastern Herzegovinian dialects), which is also the basis of Standard Croatian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin. The other dialect spoken by Serbs is Torlakian in southeastern Serbia, which is transitional to Macedonian and Bulgarian.
Serbian is practically the only European standard language whose speakers are fully functionally digraphic, using both Cyrillic and Latin alphabets.
Figures of speakers according to countries:
Serbian literature emerged in the Middle Ages, and included such works as Miroslavljevo jevanđelje (Miroslav’s Gospel) in 1192 and Dušanov zakonik (Dušan’s Code) in 1349. Little secular medieval literature has been preserved, but what there is shows that it was in accord with its time; for example, Serbian Alexandride, a book about Alexander the Great, and a translation of Tristan and Iseult into Serbian. Although not belonging to the literature proper, the corpus of Serbian literacy in the 14th and 15th centuries contains numerous legal, commercial and administrative texts with marked presence of Serbian vernacular juxtaposed on the matrix of Serbian Church Slavonic.
By the beginning of the 14th century, Serbian language, which was so rigorously proscribed by earlier local lows, becomes the mother-tongue of the Republic of Ragusa. However, despite her wealthy citizens speaking Serbian dialect of Dubrovnik in their family circles, they sent their children to Florentine schools to acquire perfect knolledge of Italian. Since the beginning of the XIII century, entire official correspondence of Dubrovnik with states in the hinterland was conducted in Serbian.
In the mid-15th century, Serbia was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and for the next 400 years there was no opportunity for the creation of secular written literature. However, some of the greatest literary works in Serbian come from this time, in the form of oral literature, the most notable form being Serbian epic poetry. The epic poems were mainly written down in the 19th century, and preserved in oral tradition up to the 1950s, a few centuries or even a millennium longer than by most other “epic folks”. Goethe and Jacob Grimm learned Serbian in order to read Serbian epic poetry in the original. By the end of the 18th century, the written literature had become estranged from the spoken language. In the second half of the 18th century, the new language appeared, called Slavonic-Serbian. This artificial idiom superseded the works of poets and historians like Gavrilo Stefanović Venclović, who wrote in essentially modern Serbian in the 1720s. These vernacular compositions have remained cloistered from the general public and received due attention only with the advent of modern literary historians and writers like Milorad Pavić. In the early 19th century, Vuk Stefanović Karadžić promoted the spoken language of the people as a literary norm.