This is the new definitive reference grammar for Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (BCS), serving the needs of language learner and linguistic scholar alike. Dr. Danko Sipka, a polyglot professor of Slavic Languages and Linguistics in Arizona State University's School of International Letters and Cultures, is a native speaker of BCS who has spent considerable portions of his life in all three dialect areas of the former Yugoslavia and has a profound knowledge of the language's culturally conditioned variations as well as the historical animosities among its speakers. The grammar is laid out most essentially as a comprehensive yet user-friendly reference for elementary to intermediate English learners. The basic grammar text gives rules in the form of "Decision Trees," tables and figures. Longer lists of exceptions are given in the appendices. Most sections are divided into a "Structural Description" and a "Contrastive Section," and some, for example the sections on verbal aspect, feature innovative graphic "Mental Image" diagrams to aid the reader in the subtleties of perfectivity, iterativity, and durativity. All descriptions are admirably, almost mathematically concise, yet, although they are pedagogically effective, they sacrifice no accuracy or completeness for the linguistic scholar. Copious examples are given from all dialect areas. Along with the sections containing grammatical information and exemplification in the narrower sense (i.e. Phonology with Prosody, Inflectional and Lexical Morphology, Syntax), the grammar also contains practical Meta-grammatical information such as that on Orthography and its history and the use of Pragmatic Operators, which the learner will need in everyday communication. The main differences between standard and substandard grammatical forms are also explained and exemplified. There are concise and accurate sections on the place of BCS in linguistic history and taxonomy, and a treatment of the primary historical documents in the language with explanations of what they reveal about the language's development.
Three principal theoretical approaches deployed in the grammar include Minimal Information Grammar, the application of Decisionist Theory in modeling language structures as an ordered hierarchy of dependent decisions, and Cognitive Linguistics. Dr. Sipka's overarching goal is to equip the grammar's users with the means to enable a swift learning process as well as the rapid finding of solutions to any problem in the use of the language. This reference grammar is a useful masterpiece and should be on every South Slavicist's bookshelf.