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Different Words for the Same Thing in Different Parts of Croatia


By Iva Ralica

A small country with a lot of historical, natural and cultural differences, but one language to rule us all? It is all true, except for the linguistic differences. Even though we speak the same language, we are still partially determined by the idiom of the place we grew up in or live in.

People from different parts of Croatia, while speaking their idiom, seldom understand each other. Something like Chinese and German. Not really, but for the sake of comparison. For a foreigner, it is important to learn standard language – dialects leave you lost in translation! Istria and Dalmatia were historically under the influence of Italy, so their dialect is full of Italian words, especially in household and food preparation.

In the north, in Hrvatsko zagorje, German words had an impact all the way to Zagreb and it’s “purgerski” dictionary. Common words, even more than standard ones, are “šuster” (shoemaker) and “šnajder” (tailor), beautiful German words!

In Slavonia words are of Turkish (such as “komšija” – neighbour ), Hungarian and German origin. But every region has its own parts or cities (like Bednja in Hrvatsko zagorje) where completely different dialect is spoken – so sometimes you can’t even understand your neighbour! This is a traditional Christmas song from Bednja:

Će bi mi mëglji nemestiti krilo/Il neke bi drüge në plaćö mi dëlji/Bi spërhnul ne nabe ëbloka jö strasti/Dö detatu sökem Böžiću bu bielji./Dëk miesec zësvijeti, pëgladöš pe pütu/Tek sniëgek sa ijskri, si sale vać spi/Detace nestünjiš në slümicu žutu/Gö v nöručju svämu nöj Böžić zbudi.

Croatian? Yes. But probably not what you are used to seeing?

Well, winter is coming, so let’s learn at least some of the words one might use (more or less) in these coming months:

Standard word for money, always used – “novac” ; in Hrvatsko zagorje “penezi”, in Dalmatia “šoldi”, in Istria “munita” or “šoldi”, in Slavonija “pare” or “jaspre” derived from Turkish

Wallet – “novčanik”; In Zagreb “gertašlin”, in Zagorje “tašlin”, in Dalmatia “takujin”, in Istria “portafojo” or “portamunida”

To hit ( hopefully you won’t use it much, but it’s beautiful to pronounce it) – “udariti”; in Zagreb “žvajznuti” – I will hit – “žvajznul bum”, in Zagorje “vudriti” – I will hit – “vudril bum”, in Dalmatia “bonbizat” or “mlatnit”

Towel – “ručnik” is in Dalmatia “šugaman” – from Italian “asciugamano” and “peškir” in Slavonija

Socks – “čarape”; in Zagorje, “štumfi”, in Dalmatia and Istria “bičve”, in Međimurje “štumfe”

Doctor – “doktor”; Dalmatian “dotur”, Istrian “medigo”

Blanket – “deka”; Istria “punjava”, Zagorje “gunj”

Sheet – “plahta” in Zagreb, Dalmatia “lancun”

Pillow – “jastuk”; Zagorje and Međimurje “vanjkuš”, Dalmatia and Istria “kušin”

Store – “trgovina”; Zagorje “štacun”, Dalmatia – “komeštibil”, Istria “butiga”, Međimurje “zadruga”

Breakfast or brunch – “doručak” or “užina”; in Zagreb “gablec”, in Zagorje “fruštuk”, Međimurje “zajtrik”, Dalmatian is “marenda”, in Istria “fruštik” or “marenda”

 (photo credit:Tim Ertl)

(photo credit:Tim Ertl)

Bean – “grah”, in Hrvatsko zagorje “bažulj”, Slavonija “gra”, Dalmatian word is “fažol”, in Istria it’s “pažul” or “fazol”

Cucumber – “krastavac”; Zagorje and Međimurje – “vugurek”, Dalmatia – “kukumar”, Istria “kugumar”, Slavonija “krastavac”

A special kind of ‘relaxation’ – do not use “laziness” – in Dalmatian “fjaka”

Relaxation (photo credit: Sail Week Croatia)

Relaxation (photo credit: Sail Week Croatia)

Umbrella – “kišobran” – in Zagorje it’s “ambrijela”, Dalmatian is “lumbrela”, Istria “lumbrija”

To sing – “pjevati”; Zagorje “popievati”, Dalmatia – “kantat” or “pivat”, Istria “pojati” or “kantati”

To talk – “razgovarati”; in Zagreb and Zagorje “pripovedati”, in Dalmatia “čakulat”, in Slavonija and central Croatia “divaniti”

A friend – “prijatelj”; Zagreb – “frend” or “pajdaš”, Zagorje “pajdaš”, Dalmatia “kumpanjo”, Istria “kumpanjon” or “amiko”

(photo credit: Marija Gašparović)

(photo credit: Marija Gašparović)

Can you add any others to the list?


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