Basic Croatian for an Unforgettable Holiday
Tourism is a very important industry in Croatia, so tourists are very welcome (dobrodošli - ‘doh - broh - dosh- lee’). In fact, so welcome that they might even be greeted by a VIP when entering the country. And VIP here stands for a ‘very important politician’. Don’t be shy, talk to them - you might just have a laugh of your life. Joke aside, not all politicians speak Croatinglish nor does the general population. Truth be told, the majority of the younger population have studied English and speak it well. Older generations probably won’t shy away from communication in case you address them, but will rather use those bits and pieces of English they have picked up over the years of watching English programmes. Miming also works miracles even if you look a bit off. The point is, you’ll probably get your message through. If you speak German or Italian, it’s not unlikely to find someone who speaks those languages as well.
Making friends Croatian way
Helpful as your hosts will attempt to be in any language, you will thrill them if you attempt to communicate with a few basic phrases in Croatian. When you meet a Croatian for the first time, regardless of their age, they’ll probably be a little reserved and you’ll seal introducing yourself with a handshake. BUT. If you come and say Bok! Ja sam … (‘ bohk - ya sahm ‘ - Hi! I am) and Drago mi je (‘drah-goh mee yeh’ - Nice to meet you), they might just put their arms around you and offer you a shot of rakija (‘rah-kee-yah’). And if you say Hvala (‘hvah-lah’ - thanx) and Živjeli! (‘zheev - yeh- lee’ - Cheers) and down it, you’ve made friends for life. And with insider information, you might just have the holiday of your life. Don’t worry, if you’re a teetotaller, you won’t offend anyone by refusing a drink. Just say Ne, hvala! (‘neh hvah-lah’ - No, thanx) and say Molim vodu (‘moh-leem voh-doo’ - Water, please) or any other non-alcoholic beverage which probably sounds the same in Croatian as in English.
The road to pee-(voh) ...
Croatians like to spend a lot of time in bars - sipping coffee (kava ‘kah-vah’) for hours on end throughout the day and then go out in the evening. Regardless if you’re a guzzler or moderationist, you’ll probably want to know how to say wine (vino ‘vee-noh’) or beer (pivo ‘pee-voh’, and no, it doesn’t have anything to do with urination; well, not until you’ve had a few). But, if you’re on the piss, at some point the following phrase will come in handy: Oprostite, gdje je zahod? (‘oh-proh-stee-teh gdyeh yeh zah-hod’ - Excuse me, where is the toilet?). Note that if your Croatian friends invite you for a drink, they intend to pay for it. You might want to return the favour so after you ask the konobar (‘koh-noh-bar’ waiter) for the račun (‘rah-choon’ check), take your Croatian money kuna (‘koo-nah’ marten) and lipa ( ‘lee-pah’ linden) and pay.
Don’t say …
goodbye (doviđenja ‘doh-vee-jeh-nyah’) and leave Croatia without having learnt at least a couple of swear words. They are quite playful in terms of language, but direct translation will either appal you or make you burst out laughing. Once you’ve learnt a few, you’ll notice just how common they are as catchphrases. Also, don’t be afraid to tell your Croatian hosts you’ve had enough (Dosta mi je ‘doh-stah mee yeh’), cause they’ll shower you with expressions if you show interest. Don’t worry if they are amused when you mispronounce something, you’ll be just as entertained when they offer to change your sh*t instead of sheet and when they show you the way to the best b*tch instead of beach. And remember, whether you learn a couple of phrases or not, it’s all about crossing barriers in communication so that you can have the time of your life.
Image sources: www.aboutworldlanguages.com