Getting to grips with Croatian

We planned a little escape to the sunshine after weeks and weeks of heavy rain and wind battering the south coast of England.  There were still flights free for Dubrovnik in Croatia and it was a destination we’d been meaning to visit for many summers… but had left it too late to get a flight.

We knew that February was an ‘interesting’ time of year to visit Croatia, but we figured it was on a level with Rome and it would definitely be warmer than the UK. Speaking to people over there, we found out that we enjoyed unseasonably warm weather in Dubrovnik this year with temperatures up to 18 degrees centigrade. We were extremely lucky to have sunshine every day, albeit with quite a breeze blowing.  Sitting outside having a coffee was a delight.

I always try to do a bit of language preparation before I leave, but had been inundated with work, so time was limited.

I did a last minute search of the iTunes store the day before I left on ‘Croatian’ and saw quite a few language learning apps come up. The first was WorldNomads Croatian Language Guide and I downloaded that as it was free. I took a quick look around it – and I don’t know if it was me – but I couldn’t get any audio with the app, which seemed quite pointless. There seems to be a video lesson and I pressed play, but got nothing at all in terms of sound, nor images.

Next I thought I would revert to my old favourite, Eurotalk apps, which I’ve used many times. I downloaded that for about £6.99 and it has served me well. It’s not extensive by any means, but gives me the phrases, and importantly, the pronunciation of the Croatian language which was completely new to me. I must admit I am a bit lost with it and it reminds me what it is like to be a totally new language learner.

I have not got past the ‘First Words’ section of the app and I am almost ashamed to say that I’ve not tried that much. Everyone we’ve met – from 16 year olds to 60 year olds – has an amazing grasp of the English language. I can see that from the TV channels – nothing is dubbed and everything is subtitled. I remember going to an international trade event, where someone from the Croatian Embassy was presenting and I think he said that 80% of the Croatian workforce has a working knowledge of English. If that is so, it is an amazing feat.

So back to my Croatian… I can’t tell if it sounds more like Italian, German or Russian to my untrained ear… I have started to recognise words by listening to Sochi Olympic coverage and Champions League commentary in Croatian. I will do some research on the origins of the Croatian language and get back to you!

In fact, the only words I can actually remember are ‘Hvala’ (the only thing helping me with that is ‘koala’), ‘molim’ (please) and ‘bok’ (hello). ‘Ra?un molim’ is ‘the bill please’. That is only one word a day… a pretty lame attempt for me.

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