Warning: I have zero tolerance for Serbophobia, particularly considering I’ve long had reason to suspect I might have some Serbian blood mixed in with my Slovakian blood. Any Serbophobic comments will be deleted.
The Jurić family of my hiatused WIP Newark Love Story are Serbian, and their culture is a big part of who they are. When 22-year-old Jozef Roblensky moves to Newark at the start of 1952, they adopt him as unofficial family, and he falls in love with 24-year-old Svetlana. He knows the Jurić women survived Jasenovac, the brutal Croatian Ustashi concentration-camp which turned even the Nazis’ stomachs, but not an even darker, more painful secret about what happened to Svetlana during the war. The Jurić brothers, and the oldest sister’s boyfriend (later husband), survived with the partisans in the woods.
Svetlana also appears in Cinnimin and a few of the postwar Shoah books spun off from my Atlantic City books.
The Serbian Cyrillic alphabet is one of the trickier Cyrillic alphabets to learn, since it has five letters not found in most other alphabets, and a few of its letters are transliterated differently than they are in other alphabets. As someone who learnt Russian Cyrillic first, it was super-easy to learn the Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Bulgarian alphabets. Not so with Serbian.
The easiest non-standard Cyrillic Serbian letter is J, which is pronounced like a Y just as it is in the other European languages. Then there are Љ (LJ), Њ (NJ), Ђ ђ (Đ đ, or dj), Ћ ħ (ć, called Tshe), and Џ џ (Dž, called Dzhe). Additionally, Ж (my favorite Cyrillic letter) transliterates as ž, not zh; Ц transliterates as C, not TS; Ч transliterates as Č, not CH; and Ш transliterates as Š, not SH.
Historically, Serbians have had patronymics just as many other Slavs. In practice in modern times, however, the patronymic is generally only used on legal documents. For men, it’s created by adding -ović to the father’s name. I couldn’t find any real information on women’s patronymics, but it looks like they might be created by adding -a to the father’s name.
Serbian surnames overwhelmingly end in -ić, though there are some surnames which end in -a or take other not-that-common endings. Some Serbian surnames also take the Russian endings of -ov, -ev, -in, and -ski.
Some common names and their nickname forms:
Aleksandar (Aca, Aco, Saša)
Bogdan (Boban, Boško)
Božidar (Božo) (the progressive, left-handed tutor of my Russian novels, who’s half-Slovakian, half-Slovenian)
Dalibor (Svetlana’s younger brother)
Damjan (Demian, Damian)
Danijel, Danilo (Danko)
Đorđe, Đurađ, Đuro (George)
Dragan, Drago, Dragomir, Dragoslav, Dragutin (Draško)
Dušan, Duško (Soul)
Emil (Svetlana’s father, publicly hanged by the occupying Ustashis)
Jadran, Jadranko (Adrian)
Marko (Svetlana’s next-oldest brother-in-law)
Matija, Mateja (Matthew)
Mihajlo, Mihailo (Mijo) (Michael)
Plamen (Svetlana’s older brother) (Flame)
Radmilo, Radomir, Radoslav, Raodvan
Stefan, Stevan, Stjepan (Stevo)
Veselin, Veselko (Veljko)
Vladimir (Vladan, Vlado, Vlatko)
Vladislav (Vladan, Vlado)
Zlatan (Zlatko) (Svetlana’s oldest brother-in-law)
Zvonimir (Zvonko) (My righteous Croatian who takes a stand against the Ustashis) (The sound of peace)
Anna (Anja, Anka, Anica)
Draga. Dragana, Dragica, Dragoslava
Dunja (Svetlana’s next-oldest sister)
Dušana, Dušanka (Dušica)
Jelena (Jela, Jelica)
Jovana (Jovanka) (Joanna)
Ljiljana (Lilja) (Lillian)
Maria, Marija (Maja)
Milena, Milana, Milanka
Mirna (Svetlana’s mother) (Peaceful)
Nada, Nadežda (Nadica) (Hope)
Olga (Olgica, Olja)
Rada, Radmila, Radomira, Radoslava
Snežana, Snježana (Snowy)
Svetlana, Svjetlana (Sveta)
Vesna (Veca) (Svetlana’s oldest sister) (Spring)
Višnja (Sour cherry)
Zora (Zorica, Zorka) (Svetlana’s baby sister)
Zvonimira (Zvonka) (Svetlana’s next-youngest sister)