How to like in BCS?

Language Thoughts

How to like in BCS?

This text explains how to properly say 'I like + SMTH/SB' instead of 'I love + SMTH/SB' in Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian given that what we feel about chocolate vs a long-term life-partner are usually different emotions.

One of many issues Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian language learners encounter is the verb ‘to like’. In English, we say ‘I like + something/someone.’ The subject that likes something or someone is an active sentence executor. What we like is an object.

The BCS language, however, uses a different sentence structure, and this structure exists, for instance, in the Italian language too (‘I like animals’ vs ‘Mi piacciono gli animali‘). The object of our positive emotions becomes a subject. The closest English example might be the verb ‘to please’ given that something or someone can ‘please us’.

The BCS verbs are: ‘dopadati se’ (imperfective v.) and ‘sviđati se’ (imperfective v.), but also ‘dopasti se’ (perfective v.) and ‘svidjeti/svideti se’ (perfective v.). The object making us happy will be the subject of the phrase. Let’s see what it means in reality. In English, we can say:

  • I like a red car.
  • I like red cars.
  • He likes a red car.
  • He likes red cars.

So, ‘I’ and ‘he’ are the subjects of the phrases, but ‘a red car’ and ‘red cars’ are the objects (singular vs plural). The form of the verb ‘to like’ depends on the personal pronouns we use. On the other hand, in BCS, we say something like this:

  • A red car pleases me.
  • Red cars please me.
  • A red car pleases him.
  • Red cars please him.

Indeed, the verb ‘to please’ doesn’t carry the same meaning as the verb ‘to like’ (‘dopadati se’). In this case, the sentence structure is, however, the same and that’s why we say:

  • Crveni auto se dopada meni.
    • A red car makes happy (pleases) me.
  • Crveni auti se dapadaju meni.
    • Red cars make happy (please) me.
  • Crveni auto se dopada njemu.
    • A red car makes happy (pleases) him.
  • Crveni auti se dopadaju njemu.
    • Red cars make happy (please) him.

Now let’s remember that BCS (although an SVO language) is not as strict as contemporary English in terms of its sentence structure. That’s why the phrase ‘Crveni auto se dopada meni’ or ‘Crveni auti se dopadaju meni’ in the end gives these structures:

  • Dopada mi se crveni auto.
    • Pleases me a red car.
  • Dopadaju mi se crveni auti.
    • Please me red cars.

Finally, we can use the verb ‘to love’ (‘voljeti’/’voleti’) because the sentence structure in the two languages will be the same: ‘He loves her’ vs. ‘On voli nju’. But we should try to understand how to like in BCS given that what we feel about chocolate or a long-term life-partner are usually slightly different emotions.

Language learning can catch the main point of this explanation even though there are additional explanations such as the reflexive pronoun ‘se’ or the third case of the personal pronouns ‘ja’, ‘ti’… (‘meni’/’mi’, ‘tebi’/’ti’…). In addition, those unfamiliar with at least Russian, Ukrainian, Spanish, Italian… might need more time to master this grammar point.

NOTICE: This text is not peer-reviewed. It aims to inspire and motivate language learners of Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian to think about possible cultural patterns when learning this/these language(s).

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