Do You Speak Naški?: Much Loved Semi-Compounds

By 28 September 2021

September 28, 2021 - TCN contributor and Zagreb translator Ana Juzbašić walks us through the much-loved semi-compounds of the Croatian language in our newest series Do you speak naški?

The Croatian language loves to portray a situation or a person using semi-compounds. Some have their English counterparts, some do not. They usually rhyme so they are easy to remember. Considering the fact that people learn best via context and visualization, we are going to do exactly that.

1) You are in college and your parents called. They are coming over unexpectedly and your apartment is a giant mess. Well, what you need to do is to make everything cakum-pakum (=spick and span) before they pull over on the driveway!


2) Ladies and gentlemen, may I present you with evidence of all evidence. John heard it from Katie, Katie told Jackie, so she told her sister and her sister told me. Hey, I don’t believe you, that’s all a bunch of rekla-kazala (=hearsay).


3) Were you ever in a situation where you had to pass an exam in order not to fail a year in college? Well, let me present you with the stani-pani (=when push comes to shove) situation, a situation where there is no place for procrastination, you just have to suck it up and do it.

4) When you have an idea you don’t want to give it up. You would do it no matter what and pošto-poto (=under any circumstances).

5) Moving along the same lines. There is another phrase of similar meaning. When you want to say something happens regularly regardless of the circumstances. He goes for a morning jog before work, orilo-gorilo (= rain or shine). 


6) Your friend got an idea. It makes no sense at all. Something like I’m going hiking on Kilimanjaro. You’ll probably say to him/her: You are crazy skroz-naskroz (=all the way).

Hope you learned some new words and pulled the parallel with English! Until next time!


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