Monday, 1 March 2021

Learning Croatian: Dalmatia's Shortest and Most Common Conversation

March 1, 2021 - How hard is learning Croatian really? Take some encouragement from the shortest and most common conversation in Dalmatia - just 4 words!

Having the perfect teacher can enhance your chances of learning a foreign language considerably, and there are no finer teachers than Professor Frank John Dubokovich, Guardian of the Hvar Dialects. 

With his expert knowledge and considerable patience (although not as patient as the waiters listening to his 30-second specific way or ordering coffee), I have learned things I never needed to know about Hvar dialect. Fun fact - did you know, for example, that there are 8 different words for 'chisel' on the island of Hvar. The bigger joke, perhaps, is that it is all but impossible to actually buy a chisel on the island. 

The Professor is a master at keeping words to a minimum, unless of course, he is ordering that coffee. In terms of mastering the basic Dalmatian greetings, there is nobody who can touch the Professor in terms of making each syllable count. His legendary Dalmatian Grunt, below, quickly went global when it was unleashed on an unsuspecting Internet a decade ago.

More archive footage has emerged of the Professor demonstrating the shortest and most common conversation in Croatia. It is a conversation you hear EVERYWHERE in Dalmatia. 

And it is incredibly easy to learn. 

One question, one answer, 4 words, 5 syllables. How hard can that be?

The conversation goes as follows:

Di si?

Evo me. 

Which literally translates as ('Di' is dialect for 'Gdje')

Where are you?

Here I am. 

End of conversation.


 And there you have it. Along with the grunt, you have greeted your companion, enquired after their health (sort of), and are now free to enjoy the morning newspaper. 

When it comes to coffee, however, the Professor has a LOT more to say. 

The only footage I have of the Professor ordering a coffee is this video with former Australia Socceroos assistant coach, Ante Milicic, who was so impressed by the Professor's teachings that he has his voice both as his ringtone and wakeup call. And no, I am not kidding. 

For more inspiring lessons from the linguistic colossus that is Professor Frank John Dubokovich, visit the TCN Talks YouTube channel


Saturday, 13 February 2021

Learning Croatian: Articles of Clothing in Hvar Dialect (VIDEO)

February 13, 2021 - Continuing our look at the Croatian language through Hvar dialect, some important things to know about articles of clothing, with a cameo appearance from a famous winemaker.

Learning Croatian on a Dalmatian island is not recommended, unless you find a teacher who can teach you classic Croatian rather than the local dialect. It was a lesson I learned at great cost when I went to Zagreb some time later, only to find out that my shiny new Croatian words were actually unintelligible to most people who were not from Hvar.  

Add to that the famous Dalmatian Grunt, perfected by the one and only Frank John Dubokovich, and the concept of a video series on Hvar dialect was born.  As previously mentioned, the original YouTube series dating back to 2011 was taken down for some reason, but some of it has survived on an old camera. 

Today's lesson is probably my favourite, focusing on articles of clothing in Hvar dialect. Over the years, the lessons achieved something of a cult status on Jelsa's main square, and various people were quick to add their expertise, sometimes even to contradict the great Professor Frank John Dubokovich, Guardian of the Hvar Dialects. 

The other problem, which was probably linked to the number of cold ones consumed prior to recording, was that filming (always one take only) often coincided with the ringing of the midday church bells. This week's episode descended into chaos, with a combination of those bells, as well as the linguistic intervention of the Three Wise Men, including legendary Jelsa winemaker, Andro Tomic. 

You can subscribe to the TCN Talks YouTube channel for the latest language instructions from The Professor. 

For the latest news from the island of Hvar, check out the dedicated TCN Hvar section.

Looking to improve your Croatian as a foreigner? 25 Mistakes Foreigners Make When Speaking Croatian.

Friday, 5 February 2021

Learning Croatian: How Do People from Hvar, Dubrovnik Understand Each Other?

February 5, 2021 - Croatia is a country full of dialects. How do the people of Hvar and Dubrovnik understand each other, for example? The latest Hvar dialect lesson from Professor Frank John Dubokovich. 

My Croatian is by no means fluent but I get by pretty well and am happy to do television interviews in Croatian, for example (much to the amusement of locals), but when I moved from Hvar to Varazdin four years ago, I thought I had entered a different country.  The Varazdin dialect was REALLY hard to follow after being brought up on Dalmatian. 

Things are a little better these days, but I still struggle a lot, and I do look in wonder at my kids who switch effortlessly between the two during the school holidays back in Jelsa. 

The dialects of Croatia have fascinated me, even since we started a fun Hvar dialect video series with the self-styled linguistic colossus, Professor Frank John Dubokovich back in 2011. His iconic Dalmatian Grunt, above, took the Internet by storm, quickly racking up 50,000 views before the channel was removed by YouTube for reasons unknown. 

We are now reintroducing some of the original videos which I came across offline last year. As the series developed, we invited people visiting from other parts of the country to take part, so that we could compare the dialects of Hvar and that region with the classic Croatian dialect. 

In the latest episode, we were delighted to welcome a Dubrovnik resident to the Total Office in Jelsa, and we put The Professor, our Dubrovnik guest and classic Croatian speaker through their paces with a range of phrases to highlight some of the differences. 

It is hard for me as a foreigner to recognise that they are all speaking the same language. How about you?

For more linguistic genius from Professor Frank John Dubokovich, Guardian of the Hvar Dialects, subscribe to the YouTube channel. 

Saturday, 30 January 2021

Learning Croatian: the Hvar Dialect Language of Love

January 30, 2021 - Visiting Hvar and looking for the perfect language of love? Help is at hand in the latest in our Hvar dialect series with Professor Frank John Dubokovich.

Within a week of moving to Hvar all those years ago, I had met the girl of my dreams in the library in Jelsa and have been married to her for many years now. As such, I have never had any need for the language of love, Hvar-style, that is the focus of this week's lesson in Hvar dialect from Professor Frank John Dubokovich, Guardian of the Hvar Dialects. 

The Professor, you may recall, became an Internet sensation several years ago when his iconic Dalmatian grunt was unleashed on an unsuspecting public, quickly racking up over 50,000 views before YouTube removed it for reasons unknown. 

The Professor is the most successful man with the ladies I have ever met on all my travels to almost 100 countries in my 51 years, and while it is tempting to assume the Dalmatian grunt instantly melts female hearts, it turns out that the Professor has a whole arsenal of Hvar dialect terms dedicated to the language of love.  

In this week's episode, which was recorded in early 2013 and is now once more back online, the Professor is joined by Hvar tour guide Dijana Moskatelo, whose classic Croatian phrases of the language of love seem to be a lot more comprehensible than the Professor's utterances. But who am I to judge? 

If you would like to learn more about the dialect words spoken on Hvar, we are slowly restoring the popular series from the early days of Total Hvar to YouTube. You can subscribe to the TCN Talks YouTube channel for the latest updates. 

For the latest news from Hvar,  check out the dedicated TCN section

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Learning Croatian Vegetables the Hvar Dialect Way (VIDEO)

January 23, 2021 - Continuing our alternative look at the Croatian language through Hvar dialect, this week Professor Frank John Dubokovich shows us his moves in the mysterious world of learning Croatian vegetables.

I sometimes wonder how Croatians from other parts of the country understand each other. I know that all countries have dialects and dialect words, but Croatia seems to take the regional vocabulary to a different level. 

One of the fun projects in the early years of the Total Project, before TCN, was an occasional language series on Total Hvar looking at the Hvar dialect compared to standard Croatian with Professor Frank John Dubokovich, Guardian of the Hvar Dialects. 

What started out as a bit of fun with the infamous Dalmatian Grunt in the first episode above, quickly got quite a following, with more than 50,000 views for that first article. About 20 more videos followed until they were taken down by YouTube for reasons unknown.  

We continue to restore the Professor's linguistic colossus to the Internet with the latest in the series, a rather illuminating look at the differences in various words on the subject of vegetables and how they differ between standard Croatian and Hvar dialect. 

The Professor confessed to me before shooting this lesson that there was something about the Hvar dialect word for 'aubergine' that made his want to get up and dance. He was even kind enough to demonstrate some of his moves during the lesson. 

With thanks to Zdravko for his more understandable version for those learning Croatian vegetables, as well as to Marion in her role as Executive Aubergine Holder. 

You can follow more of the linguistic musings of the Professor as the series develops by subscribing to the TCN Talks YouTube channel

For the very latest from the island of Hvar, follow the dedicated TCN section.  

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Learning Croatian: the Dialect Words of Hvar Wine (VIDEO)

January 10, 2021 - Continuing our alternative look at the Croatian language through Hvar dialects, some essential vocabulary relating to Hvar wine. 

One of my favourite features over the last ten years writing about Croatia is a language series we started soon after the launch of Total Hvar way back in 2010. 

Sitting in The Office in Jelsa one quiet November lunchtime, I decided to film my friend with some typical Dalmatian greetings.

The unique phenomenon that is the Dalmatian Grunt hit the Internet and a new online start was born. The linguistic colossus that is Professor Frank John Dubokovich, Guardian of the Hvar Dialects, quickly amassed 50,000 views on YouTube, and a fascinating series of lectures followed, until they were inexplicably removed from YouTube a few years ago. 

Thankfully, I came across some of the offline originals recently and have been publishing them again.

Today's lesson focuses on the dialect words for Hvar wine. In some ways, it is a landmark lesson, since it was the first to be independently commissioned by someone else. 

The Professor's fame had spread so far that national television came calling, and they requested that we record an exclusive lesson for them about Hvar wine for a forthcoming primetime feature on tourism in Jelsa. 

The Professor was eager to please and was eager to expand his ever-expanding flock. We thought that the best place to record was at Artichoke Wine Bar and Restaurant in Jelsa, which became the first place the island to offer Hvar wine by the glass soon after it opened several years ago. 

You can check out the Professor's latest foray into the world of Hvar wine above, as well as checking out the entire feature on Jelsa, the only time in my life I have ever been recorded eating blitva.

You can catch up with The Professor's teachings on our TCN Talks YouTube channel

For more news from Hvar, check out the dedicated TCN section


Friday, 11 December 2020

Learning Croatian: How to Speak Dalmatian Using Only Vowels

December 11, 2020 - How hard is the Croatian language really? Perhaps it depends a little on your teacher - here is how to speak Dalmatian using only vowels. 

Anyone who has spent an extended amount of time in Dalmatia, particularly out of season, will be familiar with the Dalmatian Grunt. It is a gruff form of greeting, which can sound quite threatening, but is actually a very friendly and informal way of locals greeting each other.

In all my years in Dalmatia, never did I find a finer exponent of the Dalmatian Grunt than Frank John Dubokovich in Jelsa on Hvar. In fact, listening to Frankie speak Dalmatian was an exercise in anthropology - what the hell was he saying, and did anyone have a clue what he was saying (I certainly didn't).  

The grunt gave me an idea several years ago - to start a YouTube guide in how to speak Dalmatian, Hvar-style. It was a small project without any planning, but as longterm readers of TCN (and Total Hvar before that) may recall, the series got off to a flying start with Lesson One, above, the Dalmatian Grunt, amassing over 50,000 views on YouTube before my channel was removed for some reason.  Frankie became known as Professor Frank John Dubokovich, Guardian of the Hvar Dialects, and his unique teaching methods had him appear on both national and international television after a British TV  reality show commissioned him to teach its contestants in Croatia. 

With the loss of the YouTube channel, I feared that the videos were lost forever, but I have managed to salvage many of them and so am in the process of republishing them once more, several years later. 

Grunting of course is just a small part of the sophisticated Dalmatian language arsenal. What is even more impressive is how locals can use vowels to such incredible effect to convey meaning. So much so, in fact, that one wonders at times if one needs consonants to speak Dalmatian at all. 

In our latest episode, The Professor hopped on the catamaran to visit me in Split, where he gave a masterclass in how to speak Dalmatian using only vowels, over a coffee (or perhaps something stronger) at Brasserie on 7 on the Split waterfront. 

Nothing I have heard in any language comes close to the linguistic genius contained in the Dalmatian phrase, A e!

Not convinced by The Professor's methods? Here are 25 common mistakes foreigners make when speaking Croatian, as compiled from Cro2Go's Mihaela Sego.

Saturday, 28 November 2020

Learning Croatian with the Professor of Hvar Dialects: Lesson 1 - The Dalmatian Grunt

November 28, 2020 - Learning Croatian is very easy if you have the right teacher. And it doesn't come any easier than Lesson 1 - the Dalmatian Grunt. 

Just over nine years ago, a few weeks after I started the Total Hvar blog which was the founding digital stone of TCN, I was having a coffee with my good friend, Frank John Dubokovich, at the Total Hvar HQ at Cafe Splendid on the main square of Jelsa on the island of Hvar.  

It was November, the square was quiet, and a long Dalmatian winter was ahead of us, somewhat devoid of entertainment. Frankie had his video camera with him for some reason, and I suggested that we record a Croatian language series over the winter, with him as the Croatian language professor, to alleviate some of the boredom. 

An impromptu idea, which we decided to start that very moment, with no planning whatsoever, and with only one rule - there would only be one recording for each lesson. The pressure was on to get it right first time. What happened next was hilarious. 

The first lesson in the series was called The Dalmatian Grunt. Like every other lesson in the series, it was almost totally unplanned but it became an instant YouTube hit, amassing more than 50,000 views all over the world before YouTube removed my channel a few years ago for reasons I am still trying to ascertain. As the camera started rolling, I had no idea even what I was going to ask, but within seconds, a new Internet star was born - Professor Frank John Dubokovich, Guardian of the Hvar Dialects. 

His perfect rendition of the Dalmatian Grunt brought an army of adoring new followers (mostly female for some reason), and many more were attracted by his fantastic teaching methods which made Croatian look incredibly easy to learn. Check out the iconic first lesson above. 

The Professor's fame spread, and it was not long before famous people were flying halfway across the world for the chance to have a 'kava' with The Professor, including then assistant coach of the Australian football national team, Ante Milicic, who even had The Professor's dulcet tones on his morning wake up call, as Ante explained in the video above. 


Ante's adoring fan dash across the globe even made the national media, in an age where I was better known as Tom Bradbury... 

As The Professor's fame spread, especially that iconic Dalmatian Grunt, I was fielding media requests for appearances on national television. And then international television came calling, and The Professor agreed to share his colossal linguistic ability with a British TV reality show visiting Croatia, schooling them in the art of the Dalmatian Grunt. As you can see above, they were excellent students. 

 As luck would have it, the original video recording of The Professor's first lesson was not lost once YouTube deleted the channel, and I found it on the original camera earlier this year. It has just been reuploaded to YouTube once more (see above), so that a new generation can appreciate The Professor's linguisitc genius. 

I am looking forward to the comments again. Last time, there were so many from all over the world in the Croatian diaspora. "This is hilarious and just how my Uncle Branko speaks here in Melbourne, even though he left Hvar 60 years ago."

We will be uploading more of the once-deleted videos to our TCN Talks YouTube channel if you want to subscribe for the latest

Monday, 21 August 2017

My Life is Complete: The Professor and the Dalmatian Grunt on British TV

Linguistic colossus Professor Frank John Dubokovich, Guardian of the Hvar Dialects, makes his debut on British television on August 21, 2017.

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