Jel to Domaće? / Is it Homegrown?

Total Croatia News

Oprostite, jel to domaće? / Excuse me, is this homegrown? – a nicely dressed Zagreb lady in front of me asked.

There I was, standing at Dolac market on a sunny spring Friday morning, patiently waiting for my portion of fresh and homegrown Croatian fruit and vegetables.

The nice old lady seller was smiling politely at the lady in front of me until she asked the problematic question.
Jel to domaće? / Is it homegrown?

The old lady’s smile froze on her lips and she hissed:
– Of course it’s homegrown! I picked it from my garden this morning!

There are certain things that nice old ladies at Croatian markets simply can’t stand. One of those things is definitely doubting the credibility of their fruit and vegetables. The only question worse than Jel to domaće? / Is it homegrown? is Jel to špricano? / Is it treated with pesticides?

– So the lettuce is not treated with pesticides? – the lady wouldn’t give up.
– Treated with pesticides???
– Here! Take a look! Everything at my stand is eco! – the old lady took a smartphone out of her apron, tapping it with her finger. – I have a Facebook page! Look how many likes my lettuce’s got!

Croats generally love the word domaće/homegrown.

Domaće/homegrown is a magic word that everyone uses in Croatia and that opens all doors. Confirming that something is, in fact, domaće/homegrown is worth more than any eco certificate and declaration . One could easily conclude that everything is homegrown and locally produced in Croatia – fruit, vegetables, honey, fish…

But is it really?

The truth is that we really love importing things. You can easily find Croatian garlic from China, Croatian potatoes from Belgium, not to mention Croatian fish from one of the oceans.
There’s really not enough place in Croatia to plant all that garlic and potatoes or enough oceans for all the fish to swim at.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against Chinese garlic or Belgian potatoes, but it’s not just about garlic or potatoes. We love importing something else – words. Especially English words.

– Teacher, how do you say shopping centre in Croatian? –a student asked.
– Well, šoping centar. – I translate it into Croatian.
– What about parking?
– Parking is parking. – I explained patiently.

I decided to put some more effort into explaining it, so I wrote the following on the board:

Ostavio sam auto na parkiralištu u idem u kupovinu u trgovački centar.
I left the car on the parking and went to shop the shopping center.
parking – parkiralište
shopping – kupovina
shopping center – trgovački centar

It’s just that most Croats, myself included, would actually say:

Ostavio sam auto na parking i idem u šoping u šoping centar.

The English language invasion started about fifteen years ago when the first like shyly found its way into Croatian.

To press like on Facebook became everyone’s favourite hobby. We needed a verb for this action, so we thought it up – lajkati. Ok, no problem.
Lajkati – sounds great!

Day by day, like by like, we started needing more verbs for our social network-infused lives, such as “share”.
We do have a nice old Croatian verb podijeliti for share, but shareati just sounded better somehow.

Now that we can shareati, we should also downloadati something from time to time.
The formula, as you can tell, is simple: take an English verb and add a Croatian suffix –ti.

Resulting in:

to log in – ulogirati se a.k.a prijaviti se
to tag – tagirati a.k.a označiti
to share – sherati a.ka. podijeliti
to download – downlodati a.ka. preuzeti and
lajkati instead of… Seriously, what’s the Croatian equivalent for lajkati? Give me some time to think and I’ll come back to you.

It’s simple – we love English words. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no language purist and I’m well aware that park is park and internet is Internet in most languages, but when a news anchor says “U Zagrebu je danas održan jedan zanimljiv event,” my skin starts to crawl.

Or when old ladies at Dolac start using the verbs lajkati and shareati, then you know how serious the situation really is.

Another thing that makes grannies at Dolac really angry is the quantity of fruit and vegetables you wish to buy.
But more on how many potatoes you can buy at Dolac, why Croats don’t like taking their change at the store and which present you should get for your old aunt whom you haven’t seen in ten years – next time.

I have to izlogirati se (log out). And I mustn’t forget to remind you that, if you happen to like this article, feel free to shareati (share). I won’t get mad.


Find out more about how complex Croatian language really is, why not learn more about Mihaela and he CroToGo language school here?


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