Use of English words in Bosnia

Something of a random question …
Having been fascinated by images of abandoned tanks that have since been adorned with graffiti and brightly coloured spray paint, I I hit on the idea of depicting (in 1/72 scale) a T-34/85 from the Bosnian Civil War that has been ‘decorated’ as such. The paint tends to be applied both by brush and aerosol can, the colours being anything available (red, pink, green, blue, orange, etc). My question … given that English is widely used around the world, would the slogans/words (‘Peace & Love’, ‘Freedom’, ‘Smile’, ‘No More Bloodshed’) be in that language, or Bosnian?



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Of course, back then it was Serbo-Croat; Bosnian as a language I believe was only recognized much later. Certainly the civilians I met during my tour were pretty adept in at least a couple of languages, however, that may have been why they were selected to work for the Brits in the first place!

Arguably, it may depend on who is doing the vandalism in the first place; if English was chosen it might be in recognition of the presence of the world’s Press, ever ready vulture like to portray whatever they wished to interpret/misinterpret, so that one’s graffiti may attract more attention in English. But you might be over-thinking this; in 1:72. If you choose a mix perhaps you’d be halfway there, but reference pics may help if you dig around enough.

Usually the first foreign words learned are the swear words! :smile_cat:
:smiley: :canada:


Ain’t that the truth!

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Boots DMS,

Thanks for the response.
As you say, it could be a mix of languages.
As for the time-frame, I am thinking of post-conflict, so perhaps Bosnian would be the appropriate language.
I have plenty of images of Bosnian Civil War AFVs, but nothing showing what I had in mind. That said,
there are various photos of military vehicles from other conflicts that have been adorned with such anti-war art and graffiti … hence my original plan.


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Well, good luck with whatever you devise; I think you’ve got a fair bit of latitude!

Think of what you want as a slogan, type it into Google Translate, select Bosnian and Bingo!
Vodite ljubav a ne rat
(Make Love not War)
Uradite oboje - oženite se… :frowning_face:
(Do Both - Get Married… :frowning_face:)




During my time there, I really don’t recall seeing any graffiti in English. Not saying that it wasn’t there, I just don’t remember seeing any. What I do remember is that the Serbs liked to use the Cyrillic alphabet, while the Muslims and Croats preferred the Latin alphabet in their graffiti. And I do remember seeing lots of graffiti around the major cites like Sarajevo and Banja Luka.


As much as i can remember, there weren-t much cosmopolitanized tanks during the war. As the civil war started and made ethnic states, the division between identities was important, so the slogans on vehicles should follow that logic (Serbs, Croats, Muslims/Bosniacs). There a lot of pics that you could find with inscriptions (usually names of crews or cities). Stardecals provides a set of decals. If you need help with cyrilic letters, don’t hesitate to contact me.

During my tour in Sarajevo in 1995-1996 there was a lot of graffiti painted on buildings, most of it was warnings (landmines) or tags (the “this is ours” kind of tags). None of it was in English.

Like Stikpusher said, Serbs tended to use Cyrillic, and Croats/Bosniaks tended to use the Latin alphabet, although there were exceptions. The general mood among the surviving population at the time was understandably one of great alarm, near paranoia, coupled with desperation and fatigue. The people had been through a lot of trauma. So the graffiti tended to reflect this.

There were local dialects that came into play, too. As iguanac states, the whole environment was all very complicated and the division of identities was intense. A person of a certain identity being found in the wrong place could prove fatal. So some graffiti was intended to help keep people in the “right” place.

Going down the same road as @Stikpusher & @Model_Monkey , while I was there I can’t recall any English graffiti on anything.
Also during those times all those countries especially Bosnia were pretty much closed up and it was probably 99% Nationals, or UN/IFOR or SFOR and we seriously had no time to worry about graffiti… I would go with local dialect slogans…

There is only one tank i can recall, it was M47 Patton used by Croats in defense of Dubrovnik, and it was named LEOPARD (actually Revell provides those decals in their rebox of Italeri kit). It was supposed to create an image of foreign support to Croatian independence (as if Germans provided Leopard tanks for Croats - but M47 was in the inventory of Yugoslav army). The other “German looking like support” was found in one T55 that had large German crosses painted (STAR decals CRO tanks 1)

Unrelated to vehicles graffiti, but I recall a great
incident" from my time in BiH (SFOR 12, '02-'03). I was working at Division HQ and we got a report of a mysterious symbol tagged on a building, I want to think it was near Zvornik castle. There was much concern over the significance of this. Now, remember, we were still amped up right after 9-11, and many people were concerned about the mood toward NATO in the years after.
Once we got the picture, myself, and a few other analysts (they were college age kids, many from Philadelphia) recognized this symbol and explained it as follows:
The symbol is from the American hip hop group Wu Tang Clan, noted for members Ghostface, ODB, and Method Man. They also produce a line of clothing called Wu Wear.
That kept us all laughing for quite a while; as did the Viking Kittens post on

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When I was there with SFOR 10, I recall seeing some graffiti in English in Zvornik. Something along the lines of “We Love Americans”. Never saw any Yugo military vehicles to speak of, so can’t really address that. In the Serb areas, you tended to see more cyrillic graffiti.

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I will be the first to say hi in the forums … hope you enjoy the craziness :grin:

Welcome aboard!

While on tour in Bosnia (SFOR11) I have never seen any derelict military vehicles, but then again they must have been cleared by then. I went through my pics of my tour, and found very few containing grafity.
These are or an old (muslim) school/gym in Jaice:

This one is of a bridge in Jaice (that is me behind the wheel):

Sarajevo (library):

Old Sarajevo (on the planters):