Me: “Can you help me take something out of my a***?”
Friend: “Are you normal?”
Me: “What? It’s not difficult. It won’t take a minute”
This is how one word changed the whole meaning of a conversation and I have been mocked about it ever since. What I meant was ‘storage room’ however, by adding just one letter to the word, it became a very inappropriate favor to ask for. Nonetheless, I continue to speak my pigeon Croatian without too many misunderstandings… I hope.
My Croatian mother who is fluent in Danish never taught me her language but despite that I have spent every single summer holiday in Croatia since my birth. With my Danish father towing along, all family and friends always spoke English to us. As I child I of course learnt the most important word of all, ‘sladoled’ meaning ice cream and I vividly remember fluttering my eyelashes at my cousin, Ana, signaling an ice-cream licking action and saying sladoled with enthusiasm five times per day.
They say that love grammar is the best way to learn a language so instead of cashing out on expensive language courses, I fell in love with a local who didn’t speak English. As first it was body language doing the talking but eventually our way of communicating resorted in him speaking Croatian and me, English. At least something positive came out of that relationship; I started understanding a wee bit of this complicated language.
A year ago, I didn’t dare to whisper a Croatian sound in fear of rejection but now I realize that the locals only appreciate my effort so I am feeling more confident with my Croatian gibberish. By mingling with local friends, my ears have been more exposed to the language and my natural curiosity has given me an understanding of mainly the Split dialect. Locals find it quite humorous to ear a so-called foreigner speaking in dialect. Given, my command of their seven cases is useless and I often speak to men in feminine form but I am getting the message across.
Essential words and phrases to get you by in Split dialect
A café latte with a glass of water on the side
Veliku stoplin mlikon i čašu(chasu) vode
Gimme a beer!
Daj (Die) pivo!
Do you want to come with me? Just the right pick-up line.
Očeš (Ochesh) ić (eech) smenon?
Thanks so much
Alo brale (bralé)
Where should we go?
I don’t understand
A filling word when you have nothing wise to say
Any other Split dialect recommendations for visitors in Split?