This guest post is brought to you by 45 Degrees Sailing, a sailing business based in Split, Croatia and run by two New Zealanders, Nick and Mahina Hathaway. Visit their website at http://www.45degreessailing.com for more information, video logs or to book a trip!
A few years ago, we got an awesomely cheap deal to fly from Amsterdam, Netherlands back to New Zealand. Of course, a cheap deal meant that it would take us the long way around and have us home in a grand total of 44 hours travel time. One of our stop overs was in Moscow, Russia. It was a relatively short layover thank goodness, but I could not pass up the opportunity to buy some Russian dolls.
I probably got royally ripped off, as is generally the case when you buy souvenirs at an airport, but I didn’t care. I took the dolls up to the counter to buy, and only then did I realise that I had no idea how to say hello or ever thank you. The sales girl wasn’t too worried, processed the transaction without a word and dismissed me with her eyes ready to serve the next customer. But I was mortified. It was the first time during my travels that I have ever not known how to say the basics in the language of the country I was visiting. I know it was a brief layover, but it has stuck with me.
We always encourage our guests to at least attempt to wrap their mouths around a few local words. Which is no easy task! Croatian pronunciation has quite a few challenging aspects to it for an English speaker (such as rolling the r’s!), and starting off with basic words that you can practise over and over will make you seem like a seasoned traveller and break the ice with the locals. And getting a head start on it and learning a few words before you arrive will be sure to impress! Let’s see how you go with the following words:
- Hello Dobar dan
- Thank you Hvala
(‘h’ is quite guttural and tends to be very soft in Dalmatia along the coast. Often, pronouncing it “vala” is still able to be understood by locals)
- Goodbye Doviđenja
(‘đ’ is pronounced like ‘j’ in “jam” is in English)
- Please Molim
(“Molim” can also be used after someone says “thank you” as a way to say “you’re welcome”)
Most of the Croatians you will encounter can speak English very well, and in fact usually speak at least one other language (often more!). And it is always a much appreciated gesture of goodwill to hear foreigners make the effort to try out the local language. Try your hand at the words above, and if you are finding them too easy and would like some more Croatian words to try out, give these a go:
- Good morning Dobro jutro
(The letter ‘j’ in Croatian is pronounced like the English ‘y’ so the word sounds like “yutro”)
- Good evening Dobra večer
(The letter ‘č’ in Croatian is pronounced like the English combination of ’ch’ so the word sounds like “vecher”)
- Bon apetit! Dobar tek!
- Cheers! Živjeli!