Monday, 10 June 2013

Serbian: Possibly The Harshest Slavic Language



There are many complaints that Nordic languages are too harsh, ugly, unmelodious, and sometimes even involve too much spitting. While that may be true, many people seem to ignore the existence of Serbian, a Slavic language that can take on any of them in the arena of hard-ass guttural sounds (aside from the spitting). It’s a language in which vowels are like scattered little drowning ducklings gasping for air, forever choked by bullying consonants. Unlike French, Spanish or Italian, Serbian is all about grrdrbrrrr and strppppp and less about ouieauuuu or alalilaaa.

Here’s a list of the hardest Serbian words I could come up with. The objective was to find not just hard-sounding words (that’d be too easy) but words with as many consonants lined up in a row.

But first a few basic reading tips: 

1) Serbian is easy to read (at least in theory). One letter = one sound. There are only a few exceptions to this rule. You'll find them all in (3).

2) Each letter has always the same sound regardless of the word it’s in, i.e. none of that English-language nonsense where you have to guess how a vowel is pronounced each time or whether a consonant’s existence should even be acknowledged. And you certainly won’t be seeing any vowel-salads in the worst French tradition, i.e. Bordeaux is simply written as Bordo. 

3) Ć = ch, Č = ch, Š = sh, Ž = like the French “J”, DŽ & DJ = similar to “J” as in “joke”, J = Y as in “yodel”, LJ = like the Spanish “LL”, C = TS as in “that’s”.

Keep in mind that DŽ, DJ, NJ, and LJ are one-sound consonants, so they do not count as two consonants.


Let’s begin with all-consonant words first. I don't know how many other languages have such non-vowel words, but odds are you'll be surprised because your mother-tongue probably doesn't have any, or just a handful, especially if you're from Latin America, Spain, or Italy. I've not included translations because I doubt anyone gives a shit.


2-letter words:

RT    

Fucking hell, a two-consonant two-letter word! I bet your own soft little pussy-ass language has nothing of the sort. There's only one word like this, as far as I know, so it's worth its weight in gold. Try saying it without laughing. It's as ridiculous as the Asian name Ng. Even a fart has more dignity than these words.


3-letter words:

GRB   

CRV   

VRT

BRK   

BRZ   

SRK

KRT   

TRK

GRK 

GRM

GRČ

CRN

TRN 

Over a dozen, ey? I bet you didn't expect that. Perhaps only the Turks with their similarly consonant-obsessed language can match this. But have they got twelve of these? I doubt it. If there are any Turks reading this, I'd be happy to read your opinions - unless you tell me you've got more than us.


4-letter words:


TVRD

ŠKRT

KRST

PRST

STRM 

ZVRK

When you consider how crazy it is to have 4-letter words with no vowels in them (to give your vocal chords a breather), you've got no choice but to admit that half-a-dozen of those is a huge number.


5-letter words:

ČVRST

Amazing. I speak this language all my life, yet even I am flabbergasted that there is such a thing. FIVE! The word means "firm" in the sense of hard, so that makes perfect sense. These words are anything but soft or cuddly.


6-letter words:

I am quite disappointed to inform you that there are no all-consonant 6-letter words. If I eventually come across one, it will probably break the world record for that sort of thing - if the 5-letter word hadn't already done that.


Now on to long lines of non-stop consonants within words that have vowels. I have avoided using variations of the same word as well as the words listed above unless when I deemed it appropriate to include them.


4 consonants in a row:

ISPRLJAN    
UZDRMAN   
PREGRŠT   
IZMRLJAN   
FRKĆE   
BRSTI   
VRLJNUO    
KRKLJA
ISPRLJAN
KRŠTEN
SPRŽEN   
ZBRKA
MRKVA
CRKVA
KVRGA
ČVRGA
ŠKRGE
DRZNUO
KRHKO
KRNTIJA   
GRMLJAVINA  
GRMLJE
STRPATI
HRSKAVICA
GRDNA
PRDNUO   
MRDNUTI   
IZGRDJEN
BRČKATI   
ZGRNUTI
GRDNJA
IZDRKAN   
PROŽDRLJIV
KRKLJATI   
NAFRĆKAN
DEJSTVO
PRSKA
TRSKA
NIZBRDO
BRVNARA
VRSTA
ZGRBAVLJEN
FRFLJATI
KRZNO 
OKRZNUT
IŽVRLJAN
CVRKUT
ŠVRLJATI
ISCRTAN
SKRHAN
GRNČARIJA
BRČNEM
ISKRCAN
VRCKATI
PRŠLJEN
ŠMRKATI
ISTRLJAN


5 consonants in a row:

ŠTRCNUTI
PODVRGNUT
IZBRBLJAO
SVRGNUT
SMRDLJIV
ISCRPLJEN
IZDRNDAN
IZVRGNUTI
KVRCNUTI
SRPSKI
STRPLJIV
SMRZNUT
UČVRŠĆEN
SKRNDELJ
ZVRČKA
ZBRČKAN
SVRDLO
STRŠLJEN
SKVRČEN
SMRSKAN
ISPRSKAN

SKRCKAN
ZVRNDOV
SKRPLJEN
IZDR
ŽLJIV 

ŠTRKLJAST

Impressed? You should be.


6 consonants in a row:

And finally, the unofficially hardest, toughest, most aggressive-sounding word in the Serbian language - or perhaps any language.


STVRDNUT!!!


Yes, this word might be the world champion in consonant overkill. If you know any word in the world that rivals this one or even beats it (fat fucking chance!), let me know. Fittingly enough, this word means "hardened".

Try to pronounce it. Just try it. I bet you can't.


26.7.2016.
 

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