Learning Croatian: Comparing Kiwi Croatian to Hvar Dialects with Professor Frank John Dubokovich

By 4 December 2020

December 4, 2020 - Croatian has a reputation for being a difficult language to learn. It doesn't have to be, you just need the right teacher or dialect. A look at Kiwi Croatian compared to Hvar dialect. 

One of my favourite all-time interviews on TCN was with the two fabulous Aussie Croat ladies behind Zinfandel, Brasserie on 7, Split Hostel and Charlie's Bar. Apart from documenting Korana and Maria's phenomenal story over the past almost 20 years in Split (which you can read here), one thing I remember about the interview was asking if they spoke Croatian before they moved to Croatia.

"We thought we did," they answered simultaneously, before bursting into laughter. 

I can imagine how shocked they must have been at the difference in Croatian spoken back in the Homeland compared to what they were exposed to back home. Over the years, I have spoken to many people from the Croatian diaspora. Some speak better Croatian than the majority here, others have just a few words, and the majority are somewhere in between. As such, there are different levels of Croatianness in the language spoken. 

I became aware of this first several years ago when I was recording our very popular YouTube series, Learning Croatian with the Guardian of the Hvar Dialects, Professor Frank John Dubokovich. 

The series became an instant hit after the first impromptu episode. As I explained last week, The Professor's iconic Dalmatian Grunt was watched over 50,000 times before YouTube removed the channel for reasons I can't figure out. Having found some of the lessons on the original camera recently, I am starting to repost them again - here is the article on the first - and the best - lesson of all

The Professor was born in New Zealand, where he lived for 8 years before his family moved back to Hvar. During the summer, he has several Kiwi visitors from his younger days, and The Professor suggested a lesson with his schoolfriend Michael, who is proficient in Kiwi Croatian.

A great lesson with Michael on Kiwi Croatian, Vivian in standard Croatian and The Professor in his inimitable Hvar dialects on important topics such as fishing, cooking, getting married, getting a job, and taking the kids for a walk. 

I think even I could master this Kiwi Croatian version. Perhaps there is hope. 

Learning Croatian? Here are 25 common mistakes foreign students make, and how to fix them.