Dialect Killers: What Happens When You Learn Croatian on a Dalmatian Island?

Paul Bradbury

September 12, 2023 – People learn languages in different ways. And if you are trying to learn standard Croatian, learning in a cafe on a Dalmatian island is not the way. Meet the dialect killers.

Some people have a natural ability to learn languages.

And then there are those who find a great teacher or language school.

And then there are those who think that they can pick up the language by chatting to locals in a cafe on a Dalmatian island.

I spoke fluent Russian, so I had conquered the fear of Slavic grammar. Coming from Somalia to Hvar, I did not have any exposure to standard Croatian on the mainland, and I rather naively thought that the language I was picking up in the local cafe in Jelsa was actually Croatian.

How wrong I was!

And far from having a great teacher, I had managed to find the most unintelligible speaker of any language as my prime source of Croatian language education.

If you think Croatian all sounds the same, watch the video and see how the iconic Dalmatian grunt and Jelsa dialect went from a couple of fun videos to get us through the boredom of winter, to my teacher – Professor Frank John Dubokovich, Guardian of the Hvar Dialects – starring on a British reality TV show. The latest from the Fat Vlogger, above.


You can subscribe to the Paul Bradbury Croatia Expert YouTube channel here.

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning – Business and Dalmatia.

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