Friday, 29 July 2022

Swearing in Croatian: The Remarkable Diversity of the P Word

July the 29th, 2022 - Swearing in Croatian isn't quite the same as swearing in English. What makes you sound like an uneducated idiot with a poor grasp of proper vocabulary in the English language is quite the opposite in Croatian. Swearing in English is likely to make the pearl clutchers blush and the Karens come out in full force. Swearing in Croatian is much more acceptable, speaking generally of course, and it is used extremely creatively in many cases.

We're going to take a look, letter by letter, at some ways swearing in Croatian differs quite extremely from swearing in English, and try to explain (in the most politically correct way we can manage), what some of these mean, and in what type of situation they are usually used. 

First, let's delve into the P word. We've already looked at the J word in the past, with it being perhaps the most versatile of all Croatian swear words. P is a close second, but then again so is S, and so is K... but we'll look into them all in time. So, back to the P word... The P word is a term which centres itself around the female sexual organ, usually to refer to something bad happening, or as an expression of a negative emotion.

Pizdarija - This is used if ''netko je napravio pizdariju'' (if someone has well and truly f*cked something up) or when something going badly or something unwanted is happening. It can also be used to describe something toilsome that can't be dealt with or fixed very easily, or indeed the opposite of that. Context is your friend here.

A u picku materinu! - Oh God, what have I done?! Oh for f*ck's sake! It can even be ''Ouch!'' when you drop something on your foot. (I won't include the direct translation of this, it's much too vulgar. If you're curious, do Google it).

Ona picka materina - Something you're supposed to fix, deal with or do that you can't do now for whatever reason and the thought alone is irritating to you, particularly if you can't remember something about it.

Dobar u picku materinu - Something that is just great.

Pickotehnicar - A gynaecologist. 

Razbiti pizdu - When something collapses, falls, breaks or is in some other way destroyed.

Dobiti po picki - To be beaten up or to get into some sort of (usually) physical altercation in which you lost.

Pizdin dim or pickin dim - Something very easy. It can also be used to describe something useless, worthless, or of very little of either of the aforementioned. If you want to use the much more child friendly term, you could say that something very easy is ''macji kasalj'', which literally translates to ''a cat's cough.'' In British English, these terms would be ''a piece of piss'' (non child friendly) or ''easy peasy (lemon squeezy)'' (child friendly).

Ma idi u picku materinu! - In kinder terms (and if you're actually saying this to another person) it means to go back to wherever you came from, to get lost, to p*ss off, to go forth and multiply. If you're saying this to yourself, it can be an expression of surprise, or anything from ''holy shit'' to ''damn'' to ''f*ck me!'' to ''get out of here, no way!'' to ''jeez!''. Context, as ever, rules.

Mrs u picku materinu - Much like the above, this one has a much clearer intention as it is said to someone else. So, read the first line of the above explanation to catch my drift.

Pizdjen/a - To be in a foul mood, or in some other way defeated and not feeling very positive.

Pripizdina - A similar term to vukojebina, which is literally ''where the wolves f*ck'', meaning some God forsaken, middle of nowhere, rural area that nobody has ever heard of. It's commonly used when you really can't remember the name of the place you're referring to.

Pickarati - To be vulgar, unpleasant, to pout or be in a mood. This term originates from Rijeka, but is more widely used.

Pijan 'ko picka - To be extremely drunk.

Popizditi/Popickati - To lose your mind, to go crazy, to be extremely angry, to lose your sh*t.

Placipicka (sometimes plasipicka) - Someone who is easily scared or spooked. An anxious person who is always worried that something is going to happen to them, or that something bad is going to unfold in general. 

Popickatari se - To argue or get into a heated situation with someone, especially in a stupid and primitive way, with vulgar expressions and swear words (such as all of these) being used. 

Strasipicka - A coward.

Spickati se - This one has multiple meanings. It can be in reference to how someone has got dressed up (scrubbed up well), or if they've met some sort of misfortune, such as crashing their car into a road sign or falling off their bike into a puddle. 

For more letters and to learn more about swearing in Croatian, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Monday, 25 July 2022

Speaking Dalmatian - A Little Dictionary of (Mostly) Forgotten Words

July the 25th - Speaking Dalmatian isn't the same as speaking Croatian. For some people, ''speaking Dalmatian'' begins and ends with using the Split dialect, saying ''a e'' when in agreement with something, swapping the letter ''m'' for ''n'', dropping a ''j'' here and there and throwing in ''i''. I am goes from ''Ja sam'' to ''Ja san'', summer goes from ''ljeto'' to ''lito'', and a man saying I was goes from ''Ja sam bio'' to ''Ja san bija''. Speaking in a vague Split way is far from speaking Dalmatian, so let's look a little bit at just how varied Croatian in general really is.

For such a small country which uses it as their official language, Croatian is diverse. What are usually called ''dialects'' here are often almost entire languages of their own. Put someone from Brac and someone from Zagorje alone together in a room and watch them flounder in their attempts to understand each other when they speak naturally and you'll see what I mean.

Foreigners get their tongues twisted just hearing Croatian being spoken, members of the diaspora who think they can speak the language often arrive scratching their heads because the words grandma and granddad used are rarely ever spoken anymore, and when it comes to speaking Dalmatian, very many have no idea of all of the words which are sadly being lost to the cruel hands of time.

Even when it comes to speaking Dalmatian, there are words used in places on the island of Hvar that nobody would really grasp just next door on the island of Brac, and vice versa, and let's not even get started on the Dubrovnik dialect (Dubrovacki govor/dijalekt) in this article, or we'll be here all day long.

So, let's get to speaking Dalmatian by looking at some old and sadly (almost) forgotten words and what they mean. We'll compare them to the standard Croatian words and see how they differ - sometimes vastly. Let's start illogically, much like many of the rules of language appear to be to a lot of people - with the letter B.

Brav - A sheep or a lamb. In standard Croatian this is quite different, with sheep being ovca and lamb being a janjac.

Bravini konji - Nice looking horses, usually of the draft horse type. In Croatian, a horse is merely a konj, and draft horses (to which this term typically refers) are konji na vucu.

Brbat - To look for something with your hands. In standard Croatian, it would simply be to ''traziti nesto rukama'', but why bother with all that when you can use one word?

Breknut - To tap or knock on something. In standard Croatian, you'd say kucnuti, bositi or udariti.

Brgvazdat - To babble, be chatty and to jabber, or to talk a lot (to go on and on about something). In standard Croatian, this would be brbljati.

Britulin - A pocket knife or a small switch knife. In Croatian, this would simply be a noz, or a nozic if you want to emphasise the fact that it is small.

Bricit/bricenje - To shave and to be shaving. In Croatian, this would be brijati (to shave), or brijanje (shaving). You can also use this term in a context-based way if it's particularly blowy outside thanks to the harsh bura wind, for example.

Brik - A two-masted sailing vessel. In standard Croatian, this would be a jedranjak sa dva jarbola. Again, when speaking Dalmatian (or old Dalmatian), shortening it all is easier.

Briska - Olive pomace, or, in standard Croatian, komina od masline.

Brlina - A location within an oil mill used for the ''pouring out'' of the olives, or, prostor u uljari namijenjen za sipanje maslina.

Bmistra - The Dalmatian word for the Spartium plant (in standard Croatian this one isn't that much different - brnistra).

Brombul - A mix of everything and anything! In Croatian, you'd probably just say mjesavina svega i svacega.

Brombulat - This one ties in with the above as you can see with the similarity of the word used. This would be the act of mixing up that ''everything and anything'' mentioned above. In Croatian, you'd just say mjesati nesto. Isn't speaking Dalmatian so much more simple?

Brontulat - It's similar to the above to read, but it means something quite different. You'd use this if you were speak without any sense (govoriti bez smisla) or to just go on and on about something (neprestano govoriti) without a reason. You might even use this term for someone complaining (prigovarati).

Buhoserina - Literally, flea shit. In Croatian, this would just be izmet buhe.

Buherac - The Dalmatian word for the Tanacetum plant. In Croatian this is buhac.

Buganci - frost bite on the arms, legs or on the lips/around the mouth. In Croatian, this would be ozebline or smrzotine.

Bujer - A hat or cap (kapa, sesir).

Bumbit - To drink (Croatian: piti).

Bunetarka - A type of fig, in Croatian this would be bruzetka crna, or as the Italian is used by those who are into this, brogiotto bianco.

Butiga - This one is still very commonly used. A shop or a place/point of sale. In Croatian, this would just be trgovina. The person actually doing the selling, such as the cashier, would be a butigir.

Butat - The act of throwing something into a body of water, most likely the sea. Baciti nesto would be the standard Croatian version.

As you can see, speaking Dalmatian, or more precisely using old Dalmatian words, is quite different to speaking standard Croatian, and it doesn't begin and end with using a Split dialect. Some of these words (but not all) are rarely used anymore and are in danger of being lost forever - and we've only looked at the letter B so far. So imagine an entire alphabet of words like this which often sound absolutely nothing whatsoever like their standard Croatian equivalents?!

It's up to us to work to preserve this old way of speaking for future generations who want to claim being Dalmatian as part of their heritage and culture. Languages are enormous parts of cultures, and they open doors to connections which would otherwise remain closed to us. It's imperative we keep dying terminology alive.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Thursday, 21 July 2022

20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years: 12. Croatian Language & J*beni Dialects

July 22, 2022 - Twenty years a foreigner in Croatia. Part 12 of 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years - the Croatian language is the most logical I have ever learned, but the dialects will kill you. 

I am pretty good at languages, but I gave up in Croatia.

But not for the reasons that you might think, for I genuinely think that the Croatian language is easily the most logical that I have ever attempted to learn, with the possible exception of Esperanto. 

My Russian was pretty good, and I was comfortable enough to give live television interviews on the recommended uses of peanut butter on the edge of Siberia (don't ask) in 1993. My French peaked in post-genocidal Rwanda in 1995 when I was asked to educate the Minister of Agriculture on the benefits of planting Brussels sprouts (again, don't ask). And my German was polished as a bell boy on the night shift of a very posh 5-star hotel in Munich, where my duties ranged from explaining the whims of guests such as The Rolling Stones to arranging ladies of the night for German public figures (please, really don't ask). 

And then came the Croatian language, or at least the variation of it to which I was exposed. 

First, the good news for those wanting to learn Croatian. I firmly believe that it is one of the most logical languages in the world. And I mean that sincerely. 

Once you have learned the Slavic structure of language (and that is the tricky bit), there are relatively few rules or exceptions in Croatia, and they can all be learned.

For example - 'k' followed by 'i' always goes to 'ci' - Afrika but u Africi, that kind of thing. Learn the Slavic structure of language (as I had with Russian) and those few exceptions, and you are home. 

I will never forget watching my daughter learn to read in Croatian at the age of about three. It was one of the most extraordinary things I have ever witnessed. And not just because she is my daughter. 

She picked up the alphabet very quickly, and then she started to write the letters. Tell me some words, she said. Pas (dog) - she wrote it perfectly. Kuca (house), again, not a moment's hesitation. I made things a little more complex every time, but without a moment's hesitation, she produced the correct spelling. 

Strpljenje (patience) I said, fast-forwarding the task by a few layers of complexity. I hadn't finished uttering the word almost before she wrote it down flawlessly. It was an incredible spectacle, and I was very proud of her. 

"How about the English word for osam (8)?" I suggested, trying to regain the intellectual superiority. 

When I showed her that we spelled it E-I-G-H-T, she looked at me with innocent blue eyes and said:

"That is silly, Daddy, and so is your language. Mum's language is so much better."

I couldn't argue with that. 

Phonetically, Croatian is the most regular language I have come across. What you see is what you pronounce. So if the language is logical and the pronunciation is predictable, why did I give up with the Croatian language when I had mastered other languages?

Two reasons. Those j*beni dialects, as well as the excellent English spoken by most Croatians.  

When I first moved to Hvar back in 2002, I decided to learn Croatian. My Russian background helped enormously with the grammar, and I borrowed a book from the library (meeting my future wife in the process) to help me learn, as well as taking private language lessons. It was a curious experience, as I had two teachers for just me. They were used to foreigners doing battle with the Slavic structure. As I had lost my nerves with that battle learning Russian, I sailed through their lessons, and they could not keep up, as their lesson plans had predicted the Slavic wall of non-comprehension. 

I gave up and decided to learn my Croatian in the wonderful cafe culture of Jelsa, over a beer or three. And I got to be pretty good. 

Or so I thought, until I went to Zagreb on business as a real estate agent. The Croatian client wanted to buy a house on Hvar and asked me the price over a coffee on Ban Jelacic Square:

"50 mejorih," I replied. 

He looked at me blankly and asked me to repeat. I did. He was lost. Thinking it was something to do with my atrocious accent, he asked me to write it on a piece of paper. I did so. 50,000.

"Ah 50 tisuca," he exclaimed - the very same word as in Russian. A horrendous realisation came over me. I had not been learning Croatian in the cafe at all, but rather some obscure Jelsa dialect. 

It turned out that my word for thousand (mejorih) was actually a dialect word used only on Hvar - and not even on every part of Hvar. Take the catamaran to Brac, and they wouldn't have a clue what you are talking about. 

What had I done? What had I been learning all this time? A useless language which could only be understood by about 2,000 people. 

It got even worse when I started researching things a little. Croatia is FULL of dialects, not in the way the UK is, but they really speak almost different languages. On the island of Hvar, for example, there are apparently 8 different words for chisel. The bigger joke being that you cannot find a chisel to save your life even if you know all 8 variants. 

I finally gave up on the Croatian language in about 2012 on a business trip to Split. For some reason, over a coffee with my business contact, we were discussing the merits of hanging out laundry to dry. It was not a subject on which I had a lot to contribute, but I did pick up a new Croatian word from the conversation, the Croatian (or what I thought was Croatian) word for the humble clothes peg - stipunica. 

Arriving home on the catamaran, I had a coffee with my lovely mother-in-law on the terrace. She speaks no English and so we conversed in Croatian, with her asking me about my day. I told her that I had learned a new word - stipunica. She looked at me blankly. Finally, I got up from my chair and went to find a clothes peg to demonstrate what I had learned. She smiled. 

"Ah, stipaljka."

I gave up. 

Especially as the Croatian non-dialect word for clothes peg is apparently 'kvacice.'

English was so much easier, especially with the outstanding level of English spoken by most Croatians here. It is really impressive. 

I can and do speak Croatian (much to my daughters' embarrassment) but I spoke it a lot better ten years ago than I do today. The level of English is simply too good, and I have got into the habit. There is one occasion when I do speak Croatian, however, and it always gets a laugh - when I speak at a conference or am interviewed on television. I always start with the following to a Croatian audience (translation to follow):

Ako Vam ne smeta, ja cu dalje na engleskom zbog punice. Imam najbolju punicu na svijetu, i prije nekolilo godine, ona je dala meni neki savjet. Ona je rekla "Zete, ja te jako volim i slusam te vec 13 godina, i zbog ovag ljubava, je sve razumijem kad ti pricas. Ali samo zbog ljubava. Imam jednu molbu od srce. Kad ti si na televiziju ili konferenciju, samo na engleskom, zato izvuces kao neki kreten. 

(If you don't mind, I will continue in English due to my mother-in-law. I have the best mother-in-law in the world, and she gave me some advice a few years ago. She said "Son, I love you very much, and I have been listening to you for 13 years, and because of that love, I understand everything when you speak. But because of that love, I have one request from the bottom of my heart. When you are on television or speaking at a conference, only in English, as honestly, you sound like an idiot). 

I can't disagree with my punica... but the sentence is a hit. It always gets a laugh and breaks the ice and shows that I respect the culture to at least try and learn the language. And then I can relax and continue in English. 

Nobody has influenced my time with the Croatian language more than the man who helped me learn a completely different language than Croatian without telling me - Professor Frank John Dubokovich, Guardian of the Hvar Dialects. Of the few things I have achieved in my 20 years in this beautiful land, taking the Professor from a silly idea over a coffee one October to a TV star on British television makes me smile the most. 

Frankie is a Jelsa legend. Born in New Zealand, he moved to Jelsa at the age of 8 when his Croatian family decided to move back to their homeland. He has always been trilingual (English, Croatian and Jelsa dialect) although I am sure I am not the only one who cannot work out what language he is speaking half the time. He is well-known in the community for his enthusiastic greeting of people from distance - perhaps the finest example of what I coined the Dalmatian Grunt. 

And so began a journey which saw the Professor beamed into the homes of millions in Britain. 

 

One morning, we happened to have a camera with us, and so I suggested we film the Dalmatian Grunt in an educational language video. What happened next was extraordinary. The original posting of the video above quickly amassed over 50,000 views (mejorih or tisuca...) on YouTube, and the comments were gold. He sounds like Uncle Ante, who moved from Dalmatia to Australia 50 years ago, that kind of thing. 

Suddenly, we had a cool concept. Highlighting the differences between standard Croatian and Hvar dialect. We had so many topics - vegetables, months of the year, articles of clothing. We had guest dialect speakers, such as these chaps from Dubrovnik - a lesson of Hvar and Dubrovnik dialects and standard Croatian which proved beyond doubt that learning Croatian made no sense whatsoever. 

Our fame was growing.

And when the deputy head coach of the Australian soccer team, Ante Milicic, contacted me for a request to meet the Professor, I knew we were onto something. Ante confided to me that he was a little obsessed by the Professor and had his voice both as his phone ringtone and alarm, as you can learn from their first meeting below.

But the best was yet to come. 

National television got in touch. They were coming to film a show called Susur, an hour of tourism promotion of Jelsa on prime time television. They wanted to feature the Fat Blogger and record him eating blitva (Swiss chard) and also have an exclusive lesson with the Professor. 

The Professor answered the call with a majestic display of dialect words for wine, finishing with an even more majestic Dalmatian Grunt for the nation. You can see it all below, starting at 02:16.

The Professor was getting mobbed on the streets of Zagreb by his increasing (and mostly young and female) army of fans, but the best was yet to come. Among the pearls in my inbox one morning was a request from a British reality show to engage the Professor's services to teach a little Croatia to the show's participants.

To watch about a dozen Brits practising the Dalmatian Grunt on national UK television under the Professor's dedicated supervision on a beach in Zaostrog was genuinely one of the highlights of my life.  

The Croatian language at its finest. 

****

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners will be out by Christmas. If you would like to reserve a copy, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject 20 Years Book

Tuesday, 12 July 2022

What Does It Really Mean to Have a Croatian Identity?

July 11, 2022 - Passport, residence, language... when it comes to Croatian identity, what really builds it? After almost three years living in Croatia, I ask myself some questions.

Not long ago, I agreed to help a master's student with her thesis, in which she sought to learn more about South Americans of Croatian ancestry and how the experience of studying the Croatian language in Croatia has helped them forge a kind of Croatian identity. For those not so familiar, the Croatian Government offers a Croatian language study scholarship through the Central State Office for Croats Abroad, in which people who have completed secondary education and who belong to the Croatian community in one way or another, can travel to five Croatian cities (Zagreb, Split, Rijeka, Osijek and now Zadar) to learn more about the country's language and culture. The experience also allows them to explore their roots further, and even presents them with an excellent opportunity to resolve issues related to their citizenship, passport, and more.

Having studied two semesters in Rijeka and one in Zagreb, and being only a few months away from completing three years living in Croatia, I thought that my experiences and anecdotes could be useful for her research. I can now say that for me it was a very introspective conversation. I don't remember the last time I asked myself so many questions about my experience in Croatia so far, or even about my own identity. One of the questions was: ''What makes you feel Croatian?'' I didn't mean to downplay that question, but my answer was simple: ''I'm not Croatian. I am Peruvian''. It makes one wonder, what exactly makes a Croatian identity? What does it really consist of? It may be several factors, such as the following:

Croatian ancestry

I have met many people throughout the years who told me about how their Croatian-born parents taught them about the country they come from or told me about the Croatian dishes and delicacies that their grandparents prepared at home. It's something that, as a sixth-generation Croatian, I couldn't understand unless I was told about it. Little do we know about my ancestor's life and his reasons for leaving Croatia. Over time we have learned that he died young when his son was just a child. And that son grew up and had his own family, and he also died when his son was very young. Thus, in future generations, the sense of belonging was lost or simply ignored.

In my case, and surely for many like me, the only thing we knew was that our last name is Croatian... and that is it. If we really wanted to get more familiar with those roots, it depended a lot on our own will or interest in learning more. Sometimes it seems that the less you know, the less you identify with a place.

Croatian citizenship

My father obtained Croatian nationality for himself, my siblings, and me when we were still little. Back then it was easier than it is now. Although we didn't know much about Croatia, when we got older we realised the difference between knowing the origin of your last name and having the Croatian Government officially recognise your ancestry. You'd think it wouldn't make much of a difference if you'd never left your own country, but somehow I thought it was a great way to pay tribute to my ancestor by acknowledging his own legacy.

Croatian passport

I didn't have a Croatian passport until I was 23 years old. Being from Peru, the only two feasible ways to obtain it were in Croatia (with the condition of being there during the length of time the process takes) or with an appointment at the Croatian Embassy in Chile. We didn't opt for any of those alternatives because we didn't see the need, during all these years, to have a passport. Suddenly we were presented with an opportunity to obtain a Croatian passport in our own country, and even without fully understanding the advantages beyond the obvious ones, we didn't even think twice.

There are many ways to answer the question, ''Where are you from?'' Some say, ''I'm from Argentina'', and others ''are from Australia''. Just as there are those who say that "they were born in Chile.'' But something I have also heard is from those who respond "I have a Croatian passport" to explain that they also have that citizenship. The passport, in addition to being a travel document that allows you to cross borders as a citizen of a particular country, has also been a symbol to show belonging to a nation. Although I felt like I had taken a big step towards knowing more about my roots the day I got mine, I also keep wondering if having the travel document of a country is enough to feel like part of it.

Residence in Croatia

In October it will be three years since I left everything to make Croatia my new home. This time has helped me understand that having residence in a country goes beyond having the police's permission to stay or even beyond owning or renting a square metre or two in a Croatian city. Living in Croatia involves becoming familiar with what surrounds you: public transport, shopping at the store, visiting the family doctor, walking the streets... all this has helped me feel that I'm adapting better and better to a new society. Having a Croatian ID in your wallet makes you feel there's now somewhere to call home. But is it enough?

Learn the Croatian language

For most, having the above is of little use if you don't know the language. In any case, having the ancestry, the citizenship, the passport or even living in Croatia, but not knowing the Croatian language, is like keeping that cultural gap wide open. There's a common misconception about Croatia as a country where you can get by only by speaking English. Although the majority of its local population speaks English, and very well, it could be said that it is merely a resource to facilitate communication with foreigners of all kinds. After studying the Croatian language for three semesters and empirically for another sixteen months, I still believe that my whole life in Croatia falls apart when I can't keep a conversation in Croatian afloat.

But having said all this, what is it then that makes you feel Croatian? Is it just one factor? Is it a combination of many? The only thing I know is that, at least for today, I'm far from being able to feel I have a Croatian identity.

I was born in Lima. I grew up there. My parents are Peruvian, as are my grandparents, as are my great-grandparents, and so on. The closest friends I've had since I was little are also Peruvian. I know the in-depth the history of my country, its many regions, its diverse cultures, and more. Although I'm adapting better and better to this country, I think I am very far from even considering myself Croatian. Furthermore, I believe that despite having citizenship, living here, having a passport, and learning the language, changing my identity is not something I'm looking for. Maybe its something that comes along naturally and is a process of its own.

For more news about the Croatian diaspora, visit our dedicated section.

Monday, 27 June 2022

International Croatian Language Summer School Ends in Krk

ZAGREB, 27 June 2022 - The International Summer School of Croatian Language and Culture for Croatian Language Teachers and Students in the Diaspora, which began on 18 June has ended in Krk with participants receiving appropriate certificates.

The summer school is organized by the Croatian Studies Faculty at Zagreb University of Zagreb for participants from Hungary, Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy, with lessons and exercises in the Croatian language.

Participants had the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and teaching competencies and gain new acquaintances. They were also acquainted with the heritage and culture of the islands of Krk and Cres and attended the launch of a book of poems by Vlasta Sindik Pobor.

This is the fifth edition of the Croaticum Summer School of the Croatian Language and Culture and is part of the project of cooperation with ethnic Croatian communities in the Diaspora. The school is supported by the Central State Office for Croats Abroad, the Ministry of Science and Education, and this year, the City of Krk.

For more news about the Croatian diaspora, visit our dedicated section.

Saturday, 25 June 2022

Croatian Words and Phrases to Practice at a Restaurant

June 25, 2022 - Although English is widely spoken throughout the country, you may want to impress your partner, children, parents, or friends with some of these Croatian words and phrases when visiting a restaurant during your vacation by the Croatian Adriatic.

It is very difficult, if not impossible, to learn the Croatian language during your short vacation in the country. If you dare, you can probably go home with a few words you heard on the street or from your host such as dobar dan (good day), bok (hello), or hvala (thank you). Again, if you really want to learn the Croatian language, maybe you could enroll in a course or maybe make friends with a Croat. But if you want to look more interesting and improve your Croatian than just saying the magic words, maybe you could memorize some of these Croatian words and phrases that you can use to get by in a restaurant when interacting with a waiter.

- Mogu li vidjeti jelovnik? (Can I see the menu?)

A perfect way to start your Croatian show, make sure the waiter brings you the menu to see what delicacies the restaurant has to offer. It is pronounced like this: MO-gu li VID-ye-ti JEl-ov-nik.

- Mogu li dobiti...? (Can I have a...?)

The cornerstone for ordering your drinks or food. It is pronounced like this: MO-gu li DO-bi-ti. To give you an idea of what you can ask for, these are some of the most common:

  • Pivo (beer), pronounced PI-vo
  • Vodu (water), pronounced VO-du
  • Čašu vina (a glass of wine), pronounced CHA-shu VI-na
  • Malo kruha (some bread), pronounced MA-lo KRU-ha
  • Maslinovo ulje (olive oil), pronounced MAS-li-no-vo UL-ye
  • Parmezan (parmesan cheese), pronounced PAR-me-zan

- Ukusno! (Delicious!)

Croatian waiters and waitresses often ask you how your food is, and if you are really enjoying it, make sure you say this with a lot of conviction. It is pronounced like this: U-kus-no

- Još jedno, molim! (Another one, please!

During the summer, just a beer or a glass of gin won't do the job. You don't have to drink a lot, but in case you want one more, now you know! It is pronounced like this: YOSH YED-no MO-lim

- Gdje je WC? (Where is the bathroom?)

Well, after a few drinks, your bladder will probably ask you for a little break. Don't be shy, since you can ask the waiter or waitress to tell you where the toilets are. It is pronounced like this: g-d-YE ye VE-tse

- Gotov sam/Gotova sam. (I'm finished.)

In addition to asking about your food, restaurant staff will want to ask if you would like something else from the menu, a dessert, or another drink. If you're really full, they won't be offended if you tell them you can't take it anymore. It is pronounced like this: GO-tov SAM/GO-to-va SAM (side note: gotov is for the men, gotova is for the women).

- Mogu li dobiti račun? (Can I have the bill?)

If you think it's time to make a move, make sure the waiter or waitress sees you and make a gesture for them to come over. Once they approach, this is the most formal way to ask for the bill. It is pronounced like this: MO-gu li DO-bi-ti RA-chun

- Gotovina/Kartica (Cash/Card.)

Immediately upon asking for the bill, they will ask you if you want to pay with cash or with a debit or credit card by asking: Gotovina/kesh ili kartica? It is pronounced like this: GO-to-vi-na/KAR-ti-tsa

After using these Croatian words and phrases, rest assured that you will have made a great impression in front of your companions, and most likely the restaurant staff too!

 For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Croatian Language Scholarship: Public Call for 2022/23 Semesters Announced

May 22, 2022 - The Central State Office for Croats outside the Republic of Croatia has announced a public call for the Croatian language scholarship for the 2022/2023 semesters. This year, for the first time, those interested will be able to choose the City of Zadar as their preference of location when studying the Croatian language.

With the aim of learning the Croatian language, learning about Croatian culture and preserving national identity, promoting unity and cooperation, and returning emigrated Croats and their descendants to the country, the Central State Office for Croats Abroad announced a public call for scholarships for Croatian language learning in Croatia for the academic year 2022/2023.

The first period of the Croatian language scholarship, called the winter semester, runs from the beginning of October 2022 to the end of January 2023. The second, the summer semester, runs from the beginning of March 2023 to the end of June 2023. The participants, when applying, can choose between studying for one or both semesters.

Who can apply?

Members of the Croatian people, their spouses as well as friends of the Croatian people and the Republic of Croatia who nurture the Croatian identity and promote the Croatian cultural community. They must be over 18, they must have completed at least high school and reside outside of the Republic of Croatia. They can also have resided in the Republic of Croatia for no longer than three years as of the date of the publication of this public invitation.

How and until when can one apply?

The application for this public invitation is to be submitted exclusively in electronic form via the e-application form available HERE. The deadline for submitting applications is June 19, 2022.

In which cities can you study the Croatian language scholarship?

The course is being organised by the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb, Split, Rijeka, Osijek, and the University of Zadar. The scholarship implies regular attendance at classes in the Republic of Croatia in the place where the course is held.

Among other things, the canidadte must indicate their choice of language learning semester in their application (winter, summer, or both), as well as their desired place for attending the course.

For more information about the Croatian language scholarship in Croatia, write me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject ''Croatian language scholarship''.

All other details are listed in the public invitation and the attached instructions. In case of the need for additional information, candidates can send an inquiry to the e-mail address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. no later than the expiration of the above deadline or in the same period call: +385 (0) 1 / 6444-683, working on the day from 10.00 - 15.00.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Croatian Language Test for Permanent Residence, Yes or No?

May the 3rd, 2022 - One of the most common questions one tends to read on expat groups small and large from up and down the country from residents of Croatia nearing the golden five year mark of temporary residence is Do I need to pass a Croatian language test for permanent residence? 

Understandably, this question is usually bombarded with answers from different people from across the world who have residence based on all sorts of different reasons, from marriage to druge svrhe (other purposes) and everything in between, all of whom were approached differently by the authorities.

What Zdenka at the desk in Rijeka says to someone applying who happens to have a Croatian (or indeed Austro-Hungarian) distant relative and what Mirna at Petrinjska in Zagreb says to someone applying based on family reunification will likely be very different. So, let's get to the point. Do you need to take a Croatian language test for permanent residence? The answer is sometimes yes, sometimes no. Helpful, I know. Let's look into who has to take it and who doesn't.

EEA/EU/EFTA citizens

If you hold the citizenship of a European Union, European Economic Area or European Free Trade Association Area country, you do not need to take a Croatian language test for permanent residence. Pure and simple.

The EFTA countries are Iceland, Norway, the Principality of Liechtenstein and Switzerland, none of which are EU or EEA member states or part of the Customs Union and negotiate trade deals separately to the EU, but which do enjoy a similar free trade agreement with the European Union.

Third country citizens

Third country citizens or nationals are individuals who don't hold the citizenship of an EU, EEA or EFTA country. These people typically do need to sit a Croatian language test for permanent residence. The language test is at the B1 level and includes understanding, reading, writing, speaking and perhaps the worst of all for anyone who has spent time around the Croatian language - grammar. 

If you pass this test, you'll be presented with a certificate from any of the education institutes which run these tests which you can then take to MUP as part of your permanent residence application. A list of such institutes running the tests can be found on MUP's website so that you can pick and contact the one closest to your address.

Exceptions for third country citizens

You do not need to take a Croatian language test for permanent residence if you're 65 or over and are unemployed, if you're of pre-school age, or if you've already completed your compulsory (mandatory) primary and/or secondary in Croatia, or if you've completed higher education here.

Citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland who had legal residence in Croatia before the 31st of December, 2020

British citizens who had legal residence in Croatia before the 31st of January 2020 and who as such fall into the category of those who are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement do not need to take a Croatian language test for permanent residence.

British nationals were once also EU citizens, and as such had the rights to freedom of movement, one of the fundamental pillars of the European Union, until the 31st of December, 2020, when the UK's transition period out of the bloc ended. Those British nationals who held temporary or permanent residence before the UK's withdrawal from the bloc, more precisely before the end of its transition period, are protected and have acquired rights in Croatia. Their residence status and rights are unaffected.

That said, they did need to apply for a new residence document which demonstrates their protected status before the end of June, 2021. British citizens who are in this category who have not yet got their new document can still do so and their rights will not be affected, but they may face a small administrative fine for not having made the application before the specified date. The application for the new document is not a new residence application, but merely a demonstration to MUP that you are owed it. If you already held permanent residence in Croatia before the end of the UK's transition period, this will be an extremely easy exercise.

Citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland who did not hold legal residence in Croatia before the 31st of December, 2020

If you're British and didn't exercise your right to free movement across the EU before the aforementioned date, you fall under the category of a third country national and as such need to take a Croatian language test for permanent residence.

Those married to Croatian citizens

If you're an EU/EEA/EFTA citizen married to a Croatian citizen and are applying for permanent residence (which in this case can now be applied for after four years as opposed to five), you do not need to take a Croatian language test for permanent residence based entirely on your own nationality which affords you certain rights in Croatia.

If you're a third country national married to a Croatian citizen and are applying for permanent residence (which is also now after four years in your case, too, not five), you may be asked to take a test, and you may not be. I realise how unhelpful that is, but people have vastly different experiences when it comes to this depending on when they've applied, where they live (and as such which administrative police station they've used), and quite frankly, what side of the bed the clerk woke up on that morning.

For more on nationality and residence in Croatia, keep up with our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Meet Crodle, the Croatian Version of Today's Most Popular Game

February 3, 2022 - Wordle has taken the internet by storm, testing the wits of millions. What few know, however, is that it was recently adapted into the Croatian language by a group of early enthusiasts of the popular game as a method to encourage its learning. Meet Crodle!

If you're on Twitter, chances are you've seen people all over the place in recent months sharing a set of green, yellow, and gray squares. Either you're confused and don't have the slightest idea what's going on, or you're just another user of the trendy game that's now everywhere you look: Wordle.

meet-crodle-2.png

Wordle was created by Josh Wardle, a software engineer from Brooklyn, in October 2021. The game that has now taken over the internet, however, started in a very curious, and romantic way. As The New York Times recalls, it so happens that months before its launch, Wardle created it as a kind of gift for his partner, who loved word games. The concept would be one of word guessing, and the name would be a fun one that would combine the pillar on which it was designed and the last name of the person who created it: Wordle.

At first, it was played only by Wardle and his partner, and after several months of obsession, they decided to share it with their families. Shortly after, in October, it would be released worldwide. On November 1st, 90 people played it. Two months later, on a Sunday, 300,000 people were playing it.

One of the reasons why Wordle has become popular so quickly and has won the affection of millions of users is because of its friendly design and easy gameplay. In addition to having a fairly simple concept compared to others that can be found on the Internet, Wordle does not have advertising or annoying pop-ups.

How to play Wordle? You have to guess the Wordle in 6 tries. Each guess must be a valid 5 letter word. Hit the enter button to submit your guess. After each guess, the color of the tiles will change to show how close your guess was to the word. A new Wordle will be available each day! Here are some examples:

meet-crodle-3.jpg

(Screenshot/Wordle)

Today the game has millions of users around the world, but among the first loyal users, we must recognize a group of enthusiastic Croats who saw in the original concept an ingenious way to promote the Croatian language and encourage its learning. ''At our language school we were early fans of Wordle, so we decided to create the Croatian version - as a tribute to the original and a fun way to play with the Croatian language'', recalls Maja Jukić, teacher and school manager at the Školica Croatian Language School in Zagreb.

Maja and her colleagues called their Croatian version Crodle, and tell that, just like the original, it's completely free and there’s a new word to guess every day. ''Apart from our fellow citizens here in Croatia, we already have enthusiastic Crodle players with Croatian origins living in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand'', adds Jukić.

crodle.jpg

The Croatian version features the full Croatian alphabet, but to keep things simple they have considered the letters , Lj and Nj to be counted as two separate letters. (Screenshot/Crodle)

''As we became addicted to the popular word game Wordle, we decided to build a Croatian version for our language students to practice with, and for everyone else to enjoy. Crodle is built with open-source software'', can be read on the game's website.

Anyone can play Crodle from their phone or computer, it's free of ads, and it has a friendly design. To play, click here. Enjoy!

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Friday, 28 January 2022

Serbian Ombudsman Requests Withdrawal of Textbook Negating Croatian Language

ZAGREB, 28 Jan 2022 - Serbian Ombudsman Zoran Pašalić has requested the withdrawal of a Serbian language textbook for eighth-graders which denies the existence of the Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin languages, Croatian language-media in the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina reported on Friday.

The media quoted leaders of the ethnic Croat community as describing the recommendation as encouraging.

A definition on the division of South Slavic languages in the contentious textbook, written by a group of authors, says that Serbian, Slovenian, Macedonian and Bulgarian belong to the South Slavic group of languages while "Croats, Bosniaks and some Montenegrins call the Serbian language Croatian, Bosnian, Bosniak and Montenegrin."

Ombudsman Zoran Pašalić said in a statement the approval of the textbook violated the rights of ethnic minorities because it negated the existence of their languages, with Croatian and Bosnian being in official use in Serbia.

Pašalić called on the Education, Science and Technology Ministry to take the necessary steps and withdraw the textbook before the start of the school year 2022/2023 as well as to report to him within 60 days of the action taken.

The ombudsman's decision was welcomed by the Croat National Council (HNV) and the DSHV party of Vojvodina Croats, which in October 2021 said that Serbian eighth-graders were taught that Croatian did not exist.

Croatian President Zoran Milanović and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, too, have protested over the negation of the Croatian language.

For more, check out our politics section.

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