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.

Friday, 24 July 2020

Croatian Language: Phrase it Properly

July 24, 2020 - Ever wondered what some famous Croatian phrases really mean? TCN contributor Ivor Kruljac breaks it down.

Croatian – that Russian sounding language, which isn't Russian. It is exotic and mysterious with only, give or take, around five million native speakers (plus Serbian and Bosnian speakers who can easily understand it). Apparently, it's a hard and challenging language to learn for non-Slavic native speakers, but with enough motivation and hard work, you can certainly learn more than 'dobar dan' (good day), 'hvala' (thank you) and 'doviđenja' (goodbye). Fascinating for its rich and diverse vocabulary (foul language in particular), one of the most interesting things about Croatian, as in any other language, is the phrases speakers use to paint a certain situation or express thoughts. Some are very similar or even the same as in English, but some are completely different ways to say the same thought.

Here are 12 phrases to enhance your enthusiasm to dig deeper into Croatian.

1.) Kad na vrbi rodi grožđe / When willow gives you grapes   

The phrase 'When willow gives you grapes', which is the equivalent to ‘When hell freezes over’, is a suitable phrase to say that something will never happen. Although this phrase will maybe need some alteration once genetic engineering catches its full speed.

2.) Mačji kašalj / Cat's cough

The easiness of 'eating cake' has been replaced with what used to be a typical pet for farmers and today for those who don't prefer dogs - a cat. 'Cat's cough' means that something is really easy to do, so simple and harmless that you, in fact, don't even notice it, and it can also be used to describe something as irrelevant. Might sound a bit odd, but think about it, did you ever hear a cat cough? 

3.) Pijan kao majka / Drunk as a mother

Translating to 'Drunk as a mother', this saying might suggest that Croatians are getting raised with a lot of family issues. However, the phrase comes from the past when hospitals were non-existent and home births were a regular practice. To ease the pain of childbirth, the mother would be provided with the only anesthetic people could find in their household: alcohol. Pending on the pain and the duration of labour, the new mother could be completely hammered by the time she gets to hold her baby in her arms. A bit less fun than for fiddlers who were enjoying alcohol in between their performance, but the end result is pretty much the same: a hard time recollecting last night.   

4.) Pušiš kao turčin / You smoke like a Turk 

Croatian memory didn't register that much smoke coming from the chimneys, but they do remember Turkish soldiers during the conquering spree of the Ottoman Empire. Noted as passionate smokers, even today people in Croatia would often say to you that you 'Smoke like a Turk', if you light your fifth cigarette before you even put sugar in your morning coffee.

5.) Mi o vuku, vuk na vrata / Speak of the wolf, wolf at the doors

Basically, 'Speak of the devil' only replace the king of hell with the wolf that is in front of your door just as you were talking about him. Scary not only because of his fatality for humans, the wolf was also hated among Croatian villagers for slaughtering sheep and other farm animals. 

6.) Ispeci pa reci  / Bake it and then say it

This is similar to 'Think before you speak' with some differences. With the translation being 'Bake it and then say it', it is a suitable response to everyone bragging about something while not having any proof they did it or are telling you how to do something even though they are not doing it. 

7.) Trinaesto prase / 13th pig

The unlucky 'Thirteenth pig' is truly a clever deduction. To attribute someone who always got left behind, people compared him with a rare but very possible scenario when a pig gives birth to 13 piglets. With only 12 breasts for feeding, one always loses a meal.

8.) Točan kao švicarski sat / Precise as a Swiss watch

With its Rolex and Tag Heuer, Switzerland is a known symbol of quality and precision when it comes to wristwatches. Especially for Croatians. The older generations would often say to you that you are 'precise as a Swiss watch' when you arrive on time.

9.) U tom grmu leži zec / In this bush lies the rabbit

Not just an observation in hunting, 'in this bush lies the rabbit' is a common phrase to describe a situation when someone keeps a secret from you, or reveals his/her secret motives that explain something you couldn't quite put your finger on.

10.) Pamti pa vrati / Remember and return

'Remember and return' at first may sound a bit revengeful, and it is. But it can also mean to return a nice favour to someone. Basically, how you treat others, others will treat you. If someone was nice to you, remember that and be nice as well and if not, remember, so you don't make the same mistake twice.

11.)  Bez muke nema nauke / Without suffering there is no knowledge

The Croatian version that's most similar to 'No pain, no gain' translates as 'Without suffering, there is no knowledge'. Guess it was easier for Croatians to learn from their own mistakes and not from others.

12.) Što se praviš Englezom? / Why are you pretending you are English?

In the past, Croatian territory was under the rule of the Romans, Austrians, Hungarians, Turks, French and even had close clashes with Tatars during Genghis Khan. The colonial force of the British empire does not go further in Croatia than Vis island, where in the 19th century, the Brits raised fortresses seeable today as you enter St. Juraj port. Despite that, English folks entered Croatian phrasing nevertheless. 'Why are you pretending you are English?' is a question for someone who had done something wrong but acted like he/she didn't do anything and didn't know what you are talking about. It can also be used to describe someone who acts more important than he/she really is, which might have been inspired by the aristocracy or even the Royal family itself. Good news for Britain, however, is that this phrase is less used among younger generations (which can also, let's be frank, be said for all of these phrases). Still, don't be surprised if you meet a cute and wisecracking Croatian group that might remember this and use it as a suitable joke for their English friends.