By Anastasia Kinkusic, content writer for LingoLearn.com
English speakers who wish to learn Croatian have a definite advantage here. When I came to Croatia, I was surprised by how much Croatians are infatuated with Americans who have an “anything is possible” attitude. After the war for independence, Croatians feel they have a lot in common with the free world, and love to hear foreigners attempt to speak their language.
The first two words I learned in Croatian were Do Vidjenja (DOE VID-JEN-YUH), which means, in an upbeat kind of way, “see you later”. Croatia is a small place, so I was definitely seeing everyone again – sometimes twice in the same day!
The locals follow a cool custom. If you run into the same person three times in the same day, it is time to sit down and have a cup of coffee! No one goes to lunch here – too expensive, considering lunch costs around a half day’s wages. A cup of coffee costs ten Kuna, in most cases, which is manageable enough – about 1/10th of the daily take home wage.
American movies are the rage, so any Croatian language student will do well to watch TV. It’s a great vocabulary builder. Watch a sitcom or movie and read the subtitles in Croatian. Of course, there is a difference between theory and practice, but it is a step in the right direction!
Although it may seem that learning Croatian is a dubious advantage, I have found it to be immensely useful. At the turn of the last century – around 1900 – nearly 1/5 of the world’s population spoke a Slavic language of some type. Croatia is nestled in the middle of Europe, so there are a lot of interesting additions, depending on where you live: a little Hungarian, German, Italian, and even Turkish, believe it or not. Think of it as the California cuisine of languages and you will see – variation makes you rich, not poor.
Because it is phonetic, spelling is a cinch. You hear the word, you spell the word. In 99% of the time, each letter has one sound, so there is no need to memorize spellings like phlegm.
The Croatian language is actually quite similar to Russian (and Czech!). No, that doesn’t mean I can follow Vladimir Putin on TV, but I can catch a few words. For example, the word Trudan means “difficult” in Russian, and Trudna means “pregnant” in Croatian! OK, other words are much closer. I was in a Russian submarine once and was surprised at how many words I could decipher. Croatian is a little like the missing link between Latin languages and Slavic languages. Consider it as a baby step into a whole new method of communication. After all, aren’t languages bridges to new worlds?
I also like the way the language is so easy to use. English by nature tends to ramble. You have to use a lot of words to say something in English – whereas in Croatian you can reduce the number of words by as much as a third. It is a “smart language”, in which you can look at a word and get a lot of information, such as whether we are talking about one or more persons. On top of that, the root word is usually easy enough to determine. It was definitely a good language to learn. Learning how to pronounce it – now that is another story!
LingoLearn is an online Croatian school which offers beginners’ level Croatian courses, as well as intermediate and advanced level courses. Learn Croatian with our experienced teachers and excellent learning materials, in a state of the art virtual classroom!