November 28, 2020 – Learning Croatian is very easy if you have the right teacher. And it doesn’t come any easier than Lesson 1 – the Dalmatian Grunt.
Just over nine years ago, a few weeks after I started the Total Hvar blog which was the founding digital stone of TCN, I was having a coffee with my good friend, Frank John Dubokovich, at the Total Hvar HQ at Cafe Splendid on the main square of Jelsa on the island of Hvar.
It was November, the square was quiet, and a long Dalmatian winter was ahead of us, somewhat devoid of entertainment. Frankie had his video camera with him for some reason, and I suggested that we record a Croatian language series over the winter, with him as the Croatian language professor, to alleviate some of the boredom.
An impromptu idea, which we decided to start that very moment, with no planning whatsoever, and with only one rule – there would only be one recording for each lesson. The pressure was on to get it right first time. What happened next was hilarious.
The first lesson in the series was called The Dalmatian Grunt. Like every other lesson in the series, it was almost totally unplanned but it became an instant YouTube hit, amassing more than 50,000 views all over the world before YouTube removed my channel a few years ago for reasons I am still trying to ascertain. As the camera started rolling, I had no idea even what I was going to ask, but within seconds, a new Internet star was born – Professor Frank John Dubokovich, Guardian of the Hvar Dialects.
His perfect rendition of the Dalmatian Grunt brought an army of adoring new followers (mostly female for some reason), and many more were attracted by his fantastic teaching methods which made Croatian look incredibly easy to learn. Check out the iconic first lesson above.
The Professor’s fame spread, and it was not long before famous people were flying halfway across the world for the chance to have a ‘kava’ with The Professor, including then assistant coach of the Australian football national team, Ante Milicic, who even had The Professor’s dulcet tones on his morning wake up call, as Ante explained in the video above.
Ante’s adoring fan dash across the globe even made the national media, in an age where I was better known as Tom Bradbury…
As The Professor’s fame spread, especially that iconic Dalmatian Grunt, I was fielding media requests for appearances on national television. And then international television came calling, and The Professor agreed to share his colossal linguistic ability with a British TV reality show visiting Croatia, schooling them in the art of the Dalmatian Grunt. As you can see above, they were excellent students.
As luck would have it, the original video recording of The Professor’s first lesson was not lost once YouTube deleted the channel, and I found it on the original camera earlier this year. It has just been reuploaded to YouTube once more (see above), so that a new generation can appreciate The Professor’s linguisitc genius.
I am looking forward to the comments again. Last time, there were so many from all over the world in the Croatian diaspora. “This is hilarious and just how my Uncle Branko speaks here in Melbourne, even though he left Hvar 60 years ago.”
We will be uploading more of the once-deleted videos to our TCN Talks YouTube channel if you want to subscribe for the latest.