Biljana Sljivic-Simsic

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Biljana Sljivic-Simsic
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Born(1933-01-20)January 20, 1933
Belgrade, Serbia, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
DiedOctober 4, 2019(2019-10-04) (aged 86)
Alma materUniversity of Belgrade
OccupationProfessor emeritus

Biljana Šljivić-Šimšić (Serbian Cyrillic: Биљана Шљивић-Шимшић; Belgrade, Serbia, Kingdom of Yugoslavia, 20 January 1933 - 4 October 2019) was a professor emeritus at the University of Illinois and an author of several scholastic books, including a Serbian-English dictionary.[1]She worked closely with other Slavists, namely Nicholas Moravcevich, George Vid Tomashevich, Alex N. Dragnich, and with them founded the North American Society for Serbian Studies (NASSS), of which she was its first president.


Biljana Šljivić was born on 20 January 1933 in Belgrade to Branko and Radojka (née Pešić) Šljivić. Biljana's father Branko was a famous professor of anatomy, whose textbook in this field is known to all post-war medical students in Serbia. After graduating from the Faculty of Philology at the University of Belgrade in 1955, Biljana became an assistant to Professor Mihailo Stevanović (1901–1993), a regular member of SANU and the author of the well-known two-volume Contemporary Dictionary of Serbo-Croatian Language, in the subject History of Serbian Language.

During a visit to Yugoslavia by one of the most famous linguists of the 20th century, Roman Jakobson, Biljana was given the task of taking him along the Montenegro coast. Jacobson then suggested that she apply to graduate school at Harvard, and she was soon accepted. Thus, in 1962, Biljana Šljivić-Šimšić, now a divorced mother of an eight-year-old child set off across the ocean with her child.

Everyone who studied English before the dictionary appeared on the Internet knows about the English-Serbo-Croatian and Serbo-Croatian-English dictionary with General American English, but they do not know that it was written by Biljana Šljivić-Šimšić, who worked as Benson's assistant at the University of Pennsylvania for five years. On the third page, Professor Benson only thanks her for her help in compiling the dictionary. There is no mention whatsoever in the page three Preface of the paperback edition, published by Cambridge University Press, 9th printing in 2006.

Professor Šljivić arrived at the University of Illinois at Chicago, housed in modern buildings near the city centre, in 1973, and spent the rest of her career there. First an associate professor, then a full professor, she was also the head of the Department of Slavic and Baltic Languages ​​and Literature for many years. On the 16th floor of the tallest building on campus, which overlooked Chicago's skyscrapers and western suburbs, she worked with two other professors from Belgrade. Nicholas Moravcevich (b. 1935) was a professor of Serbian and Russian literature, as well as the author of numerous historical novels in the Serbian language, and Olga Nedeljković (b. 1936), a professor of the Russian language, studied texts in Church Slavonic and Old Russian.

Among the numerous books written by her, one of the most notable places is occupied by an extensive textbook for learning the Serbian language. In it, she presents some features of our language, such as the order of enclitics, the significance of which only a long-term lecturer to foreigners familiar with the greatest difficulties in mastering Serbian can understand. She was one of the founders of the North American Society for Serbian Studies (NASSS), its first secretary treasurer (1978-1983) and its president (1984-1986).[2]

Works (partial list)

  • Standard English-SerboCroatian, SerboCroatian-English Dictionary", Cambridge University Press, New York, First published in 1971 by Biljana Šljivić-Šimšić[3][4], from 1982 to the 9th printing 2006 by Morton Benson.
  • Co-authored with Samuel G. Armistead: "Judeo-Spanish Ballads from Bosnia", University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1971[5]
  • "Savka Subotić: The Mother of Serbian Women's Culture", Serbian Studies, 1993[6]
  • "Serbo-Croatian, Just for You: A First Year Course", Center for Slavic & East European Studies, 1985, pages 665[7]
  • Co-authored with Robert F. price: "Advanced Serbo-Croatian 2", Foreign Language Publications, 1987[8]
  • Co-authored with Krinka Vidaković: "Intermediate Serbo-Croatian 1: Instructor Manual", Foreign language Publications, 1986[9]


  1. Serbocroaian-English dictionary. Prosveta. 1971.
  3. SerboCroatian-English Dictionary. University of Pennsylvania Press. 1971. ISBN 9780812276367.
  4. Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, a Textbook: With Exercises and Basic Grammar. University of Wisconsin Pres. March 2010. ISBN 9780299236540.
  5. Judeo-Spanish Ballads from Bosnia. University of Pensylvania Press. 1971. ISBN 9780835797474.
  6. The Hidden History of New Women in Serbian Culture: Toward a New History of Literature. Rowman & Littlefield. 10 February 2022. ISBN 9781793631992.
  7. Serbo-Croatian, Just for You: A First Year Course. Center for Slavic & East European Studies. 1985.
  8. Advanced Serbo-Croatian 2. Foreign Language Publications. January 1987. ISBN 9780874151336.
  9. Intermediate Serbo-Croatian 1: Instructor Manual. Foreign Language Publications. August 1986. ISBN 9780874150698.

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