Learning Croatian

Hrvatski jezik is an excellent resource for English or Russian speakers who want to learn basic travel Croatian. It includes audio files for keys to how to pronounce. As a special bonus, if you learn the basics of Croatian, you’ll do fine in Slovenia and Serbia (although Dad and I did encounter some situations in Slovenia and Croatia where a certain word was considered “the Serbian word” for something).


Ritchie Simpson's picture
Ritchie Simpson on January 30, 2005 - 16:24 Permalink

Interesting, your use of the phrase “…was considered the “serbian” word for something…” I’ve always found it obscure how the tightly packed Balkan ethnic groups were able to distinguish one from the other; where, for the most part, the physical forms are similar to the untrained eye. But I guess (for that matter) I find it just as difficult here on the Island. At some deep subterranean level I can and do identify others on the usual Island subsets here/away, Catholic/Protestant etc. The subtlety of the observations and the communal imperative to do it still hold mystery for me.

Ken's picture
Ken on January 30, 2005 - 17:33 Permalink

After putting a lot of time into Brasilian Portuguese and German and French, to find only French useful to me now, I’d have to rank my desire to learn Croation just above Basque and below Flemish.

oliver's picture
oliver on January 30, 2005 - 19:48 Permalink

Although…I did encounter some situations in Slovenia and Croatia where a certain word was considered

Bojana's picture
Bojana on January 30, 2005 - 21:57 Permalink

Well, there is quite a big difference between Slovene and Croatian — not exactly like British English and American English. I go sailing in Croatia every summer and hence, they don’t understand me if i speak Slovene. Tho i do understand Croatian, mostly due to TV. So, Slovenians are not exatcly sensitive on Serbian words, since our language is really not so similiar. Most of Slovenians don’t even realise the difference between Croatina and Serbian.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on January 30, 2005 - 22:51 Permalink

The specific “that’s the Serbian word” I was thinking of is Izvinite, which my Dad used in Croatia in the 1970s for “excuse me.” They told us Ljubljana that Oprostite is used more commonly in Slovenia and Croatia. Let me know if that’s accurate.

Bojana's picture
Bojana on January 31, 2005 - 07:41 Permalink

Oprostiti”, meaning ” to excuse” is the only word in Slovenia for it. There was never any other. As for Croatia, I am not sure, but i do use “izvinite” when being in Crotia and so far nobody made any comments. Maybe they are just being polite cos they know i at least try to speak. So, i can’t exactly tell you for how is it with this word there. But, yeh …. in school, when i was in 5 nd grade of primary school or so, we learnt the common language called Serbo-Croatian. With decay of ex Yugoslavia, Croatians and Serbia separated their languages, and to be honest, i don’t know exactly which words are proper to use in Croatian and which in Serbian. But in Slovenia (like in Macedonia), the whole time, there was a separate language, which is a Slavic language, so some words are similar to Croatian and Serbian. Otherwise, in the history, we had to struggle with German language, since quite a while of our history before the “Kraljevina Yugoslavia”, we were under Austro-Hungarians. So, our language, especially its colloquial use, still contains loads of derivative words from German language. There was even a linguistic movement amongst Slovenian linguists against so called germanism.

Paul Pival's picture
Paul Pival on January 31, 2005 - 16:53 Permalink

Hey, thanks for the find — last year when I learned of my Croatian heritage I vowed to learn some of the language — this will make it a little harder to continue to neglect that goal ;-)

amaro's picture
amaro on April 12, 2005 - 15:08 Permalink

Because of the war many of the countries did start separating their languages from Serbo-Croatian. There still is a lot of resentment — especially from Bosnians. Even popular musicians like Dino Merlin still refuse to perform in Serbia. Also some words are being anglicized like in Croatia it’s more common to say “friendica” for female friend than the traditional “prijateljica”. When Tito unified the various nations there was the creation of the standardized language (Serbo-Croatian) for the school system. Now it’s all separating back into the various constituent languages. A lot of non-Serbs will deliberately use a different word to differeniate themeselves from Serbs in certain conversations. There’s a lot of resentment and hatred that will take decades to disappear and as a result Serbo-Croatian will be used less and less.

Tomislav's picture
Tomislav on April 25, 2007 - 12:12 Permalink

Much of what was said is true and as Bojana said, Slovenian is different from Croatian and Serbian. The latter two are very similar although there are differences in grammar and pronunciation.

P.S. The word ‘izviniti’ actually comes from Russian although most people don’t know that. Older people still use it because it was common in Yugoslavia, but after the war Croatians (especially younger ones) stopped using it.