Learning Croatian: How Do People from Hvar, Dubrovnik Understand Each Other?

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My Croatian is by no means fluent but I get by pretty well and am happy to do television interviews in Croatian, for example (much to the amusement of locals), but when I moved from Hvar to Varazdin four years ago, I thought I had entered a different country.  The Varazdin dialect was REALLY hard to follow after being brought up on Dalmatian. 

Things are a little better these days, but I still struggle a lot, and I do look in wonder at my kids who switch effortlessly between the two during the school holidays back in Jelsa. 

The dialects of Croatia have fascinated me, even since we started a fun Hvar dialect video series with the self-styled linguistic colossus, Professor Frank John Dubokovich back in 2011. His iconic Dalmatian Grunt, above, took the Internet by storm, quickly racking up 50,000 views before the channel was removed by YouTube for reasons unknown. 

We are now reintroducing some of the original videos which I came across offline last year. As the series developed, we invited people visiting from other parts of the country to take part, so that we could compare the dialects of Hvar and that region with the classic Croatian dialect. 

In the latest episode, we were delighted to welcome a Dubrovnik resident to the Total Office in Jelsa, and we put The Professor, our Dubrovnik guest and classic Croatian speaker through their paces with a range of phrases to highlight some of the differences. 

It is hard for me as a foreigner to recognise that they are all speaking the same language. How about you?

For more linguistic genius from Professor Frank John Dubokovich, Guardian of the Hvar Dialects, subscribe to the YouTube channel. 


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