Read, Write, Run, Roam

The Rapper’s Guide to Learning Serbian


What does hip hop and Serbian have in common? More than you might think. Throughout my struggles learning the langauge, I’ve recalled the wisdom (or at least the lyrics) of rappers to remember key words. Here’s a three word guide to the RHOB/Rapper’s Way to Srpski-speak.

Lesson one: hvala (thank you). This is one of the first words visitors ask to learn. It’s not easy for Americans to pronounce an H and a V next to each other, or to semi-slur the remaining letters together. Luckily, Missy Elliott gets us most of the way there. Just listen to her Holla! and merge a “v” after the H. Hvala indeed, Missy.

Lesson two: čeka (wait). Useful when you have a fast-walking Muz, a dog that pulls at his leash, or a ringing phone that you can’t locate. Thanks to DMX, it’s as simple as remembering a microphone…checka. Forward to the 12 second mark to see what I mean.

Lesson three: omiljen (favorite). This word eluded me for months. I would struggle to remember it, stick a d or a z in there somewhere, and utterly confuse the people I was trying to compliment. (Think, Oh, krempita! My favorzheutz…hud.) I needed to remember one little trick: more accurately, one Lil’ Wayne. Omiljen sounds almost exactly like the background chant to “A Millie.” Especially if you misheard it as “uh million” for years. The first ten seconds should suffice. Then you’ll either go crazy or start dancing, depending on your musical taste.

Thanks for the tips, rappers! Maybe Kanye and Jay-Z will come out with a version of The Mountain Wreath and take my Serbian to the next level. A domaćica can dream…

Ya feel me?

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5 responses

  1. HAHAHAHAHA! This is priceless!!

    I used to listen to a lot of rap since I pretty much grew up in Memphis, TN. You’re soooo correct on these song references. This is too funny!! I’m definitely posting this one for friends to see back home! Hehehe.

    October 24, 2011 at 11:11 am

  2. Odlicno! I totally feel you on the difficultis of trying to pronounce the “lj” sounds and cringe at the thought that my Srpski will always be heavily accented, not to mention very countrified! since I live in the country and “bre” is an acceptable term. LOL

    Best wishes with your move home, I know it will be emotional. Srecan Put!

    October 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm

  3. Brilliant! I used to ‘play this game’ in Holland a lot by listening to English-language music as if it were Dutch. A nice example is ‘Let’s get physical’ , in which ‘physical’ can be heard as ‘vissekom’ (fish bowl). This way it seems that Olivia Newton John is in desperate need of a fish-bowl. The video though shows something pretty different…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWz9VN40nCA

    I’ll keep my ears open to more Serbian in hip-hop and other music!

    October 31, 2011 at 11:14 am

  4. Love the language tips – and all 3 of them apply to Croatian too! Looking forward to seeing what else you’ve posted here. Pozdrav iz Hrvatske.

    http://cultureshock-jeremy.blogspot.com/2010/04/fun-with-croatian.html

    December 27, 2011 at 1:38 pm

  5. I’m glad you liked them! Good luck with Hrvatske–the grammar kills me.

    January 29, 2012 at 3:26 pm

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