E - The Story of the Most Popular Letter of the Croatian Alphabet

Meet E, and its various extensions.

So, I'm sitting on my Smartsofa yesterday evening and watching my SmartTV, being as smart as I am, and all of a sudden a scientist appears on the screen, and with a deadly serious facial expression, and demonstrates a sensor for a baby's diaper.

I turn up the volume on my Smartremote and listen to the scientist explain how the whole thing is, in fact, very simple – You put the sensor on the baby's diaper, and apparently it lets you know - on your Smartphone, I guess – if the diaper is wet.

Because, of course, as we all know, most new parents are just sunbathing on some exotic beach drinking cocktails under parasols, miles away from their crying baby and even further from any knowledge that the diaper that needs to be changed!

And there you have it. Now we have a Smartdiaper as well. I'm starting to ask myself, what's next?

Will they maybe invent Smartbabies? To go along with the Smartdiaper - babies that only cry over the Internet.

At this point, I must admit that I'm beginning to feel just a bit frightened. Everywhere I turn, there is some smart thing, just waiting around the corner. I sit on a bench in a park, it's smart. I take out my phone to answer the call, smart again. Put on a pair of gloves, they're smart, to match the phone, of course. I take out my wallet at the cash register... oh well, not everything has become smart yet... But I believe you get my point.

I have a feeling that Croats love these new smart idioms. As well as the word smart, or pametno. But, there is also one letter that Croats are just crazy about. It's the letter E, or slovo E. Seriously, Croats just love the E. A simple little letter, the ninth letter of the Croatian alphabet. What is there to love, you might wonder? And what is so fascinating about the letter E, to make Croats use it so much?

You see, the letter E in Croatian language can stand for number of words, depending on the intonation and the longitude of pronunciation. Not to forget the importance of facial expression, that goes with it!

For example, E is often used at Croatian dinner tables. If you're polite and dining with people with whom you are not familiar with you would say: Excuse me, could you pass me the salt? / Oprostite, možete li mi dodati sol?

If you're just sitting at the dinner table with your family, you would more likely say: E, dodaš mi sol / E, pass the salt.

E can also stand for a greeting. What sounds like Hej, kako si? / Hej, how are you? in Croatian text books, on Croatian streets it becomes: E, di si ti?

But you must be careful! The magic of E pronunciation is very delicate in Croatian language. Let's just take a quick look with what are we dealing with:

a) E

Dalmatians are especially fond of the letter E. In Dalmatia, it stands for Da or Yes. Idemo na kavu? / Are we going for coffee? E. A short E with a decisive facial expression can mean just one thing - Yes or Da.

b) Ee...

It's one of those Ee's you get after returning home from school all wet because you didn't take your umbrella with you in the morning, like your mother advised you! Ee, lijepo sam ti rekla... / Ee, I told you so... – my mother would say, while nodding her head.

And then, there is the Eee...

c) Eee...

One of those you would receive when talking to your long-time friend over beer about your girlfriend who has just left you.

Eee, prijatelju moj, ne ide to tako.... / You see, my friend, it does not work that way... - the friend would say while lighting his third cigarette.

Around twenty years ago some exciting European winds started to blow across Croatia. We were pretty anxious to become a part of the European Union back in those days, and with those European winds, the letter E became even more popular in Croatia. We wanted to show the world that were as modern and as dvanced as the rest of E-urope.

The E fascination in Croatia started with electronics - mails, of course, like with the rest of the world. And then it expanded into an E national obsession. So we got ourselves some E-projects, E-books, E-classrooms, E-schoolbooks E-taxes, E-citizens... and we eventually became an E – nation.

Don't get me wrong, I participate in this electronic, digitalised revolution as much as the next person and on most days I have nothing against the electronic advancements, but sometimes I just feel a bit nostalgic for those simple old days when E was just an E as in E, idemo na kavu? / E, are we going for coffee?

I ran into my postman the other day. Not an electronic postman, but a real postman with a worn out blue uniform and a leather bag on his shoulder. He handed me some bills in blue envelopes. Being curious as I am, I asked him: Do you even deliver letters and greeting cards anymore?

He waved his hand and replied: Not really, mostly just bills and letters from banks. And I'm a bit nostalgic for those warm, but still fresh early summer mornings when you'd go to your mailbox, the real one, attached to the fence in front of your house, and a bunch of postcards from the seaside would drop to the ground.

So, there I was, a few days ago, sitting on a Smartbench with a Smartphone in my hand and watching people rushing by in little smart cars and feeling... less and less smart, surrounded with all this smartness.

And then I looked above, at the bright blue sky. And saw a bunch of white clouds. What a relief, they didn't invent Smartclouds yet! The clouds are still there – old-fashioned, fluffy, made of cotton and glued to the blue sky - as they always were. Clouds are same as ever. As well as the sky. As for all the other things – I'm not so sure any more.