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Croatian dialects: Different words, same meanings

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 the 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, such as “šuster” (shoemaker) and “šnajder” (tailor), are 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 a 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?

Below is a quick dialect lesson.

Money – novac; in Hrvatsko Zagorje “penezi”, in Dalmatia “šoldi”, in Istria “munita” or “šoldi”, in Slavonia “pare” or “jaspre” (derived from Turkish)

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

To hit  – “udariti”; in Zagreb “žvajznuti” – I will hit – “žvajznul bum”, in Zagorje “vudriti” – I will hit – “vudril bum”, in Dalmatia “bonbizat” or “mlatnit”

Towel – “ručnik” in Zagreb, in Dalmatia “šugaman” – from Italian “asciugamano” and “peškir” in Slavonia

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

Doctor – “liječnik” -“doktor”; “dotur” in Dalmatia, “medigo” in Istria

Donkey “magarac” standard Croatian, “tovar” in Dalmatia and Istria

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

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

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

Belt “remen”, “Pojas” in Zagreb;  “Kaiš” in Dalmatia

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

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

Bean – “grah”- “bažulj” in Hrvatsko Zagorje, “gra” in Slavonia, “fažol” in Dalmatia, “pažul” or “fazol” in Istria

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

Umbrella – “kišobran” –  “ambrijela” in Zagorje, “lumbrela” in Dalmatia, “lumbrija” in Istria

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

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

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

Can you add any others to the list?

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