As per my YouTube video a few weeks ago, I still maintain that Croatian is a logical language, but those je*eni dialects…
It is almost a decade since Professor Frank John Dubokovich, Guardian of the Hvar Dialects, stormed the Internet with his iconic Dalmatian Grunt. The Professor’s ensuing niche series on Hvar dialects brought him a cult following of (mostly young, attractive, and female) dedicated followers. But the power of his message inspired others.
None more so that Grgo Petrov, who was so taken by the Professor’s Dalmatian Grunt that he changed his university course and went on to dedicate himself to capturing Croatian dialects all over the country, as well as branching out with a whole range of dialect ideas and services. A little more about Grgo’s dialect efforts (which are quite phenomenal) below, but here is the email he sent me to explain how the Professor had changed his life all those years ago.
We haven’t met in person but you’ve had a huge influence on me and what I have been doing the last couple of years. It took me a long time to finally contact you haha.
I want to thank you for the Hvar Dialect Lessons you started posting on YouTube 5-6 years ago. I was in shock, just like the rest of my friends from Zagreb and the area. It was super entertaining but also educational. It made me think (and the rest of us) how our authentic local heritage was fading away. General unawareness of this local universe we have across Croatia.
What happened next is I started recording the “kajkavski lessons of Marija Bistrica” on YouTube with my local native speaker…in the end, I spent most of my University along with my Master’s project all about preserving and promoting local dialects and values in Croatia.
I graduated as a visual communications designer, so I wrote and illustrated a tale in Kajkavski idiom, then posters and picture books for children… Following that, I started recording other people along the coast. Just last year spent two weeks on Dugi Otok island recording the locals’ stories and their dialects. The project started connecting the locals across Croatia, raising awareness. Schools and parents are calling me for the presentations… it’s just crazy.
And all of it kind of started when I saw the first “Hvar Dialect Lesson” you posted.
Cheers from Zagreb!
You can check out some of Grgo’s dialect videos on his channel above – they are excellent.
We both thought the unthinkable – what about bringing the Professor to Zagreb to meet Grgo to do a special lesson, perhaps with one of Grgo’s own dialect specialist. Someone like the lovely Martina, who Grgo literally discovered living in a forest (ok, in a village in a forest) in Zagorje.
Below is the result – and I am genuinely interested to hear how many Croats can understand the dialects spoken by Martina and the Professor.
You can see the rest of the Professor’s iconic language series on the dedicated TCN YouTube playlist.
And now a little more about Grgo and his projects. If you would like to cooperate with him, you can reach him via his graphic design website.
Documented short interviews of Čakavski and Kajkavski dialects … around the coast, islands, and Zagorje…mostly me asking questions in standard, them answering) … I used to do research on the local dialect, talk to the linguists and local enthusiasts who connected me with interesting local speakers … camera into my backpack and off we go!
Imbra Houstovnjak – kajkavski fantasy book and a master project at the School of Design, ZG … the one I hope to publish this year as a bilingual edition…here’s the original PDF available for reading. The goal was to give the Kaj-Croats a story in their mother tongue due to lack of the same, and connect the regions as, despite the differences, all of them can understand it. (Got positive feedback from a few schools in Zagorje that children read it with delight)
Imbra Houstovnjak across Croatia (same story in different dialect)
Imbra Houstovnjak Animated Audio book (first part) – a 5-minute video on YouTube with text, illustrations and narration by Martina Premor (the girl with Šumski dijalekt)
Priča o jednom Kaju (A story of Kaj) – illustrated educational picture book about the history and use of Kajkavski language in Northern Croatia. Teamwork with Croatian linguist Bojana Schubert from Ludbreg – approved by the Ministry of Education for the elementary schools. Published last year.
Croatian local Identity through original souvenirs – illustrated and designed popular merch with some of the local Zagreb, Kajkavski and Čakavski phrases with the help of local community… the webshop and the whole project is partially incognito as it’s slowly developing in the background (working on packaging and finding local stores).
Moj prvi abecedar – a first Kajkavski illustrated alphabet for children with words from various dialects. Student project. Also in the line for funding hahaha (but Imbra Houstovnjak is a priority)
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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