If you have ever started learning a foreign language or been surrounded by one, then no doubt you would have come across some words that which for one reason or another stick in your head or make you laugh.
Some words which sound romantic to the foreign ear can sometimes be abusive or swear words.
We have asked a few foreigners who have encountered the Croatian language to pick their favourite ‘Croatian’ word.
Grah – Beans (Susan – UK)
My brother is married to a Croatian girl and first time I visited Zagreb I heard so many words that sounded crazy. But most of all, the word grah (beans). First time I heard it sounded like an evil spell or something Sauron from The Lord of the Rings would use to turn you into a poisonous virus-spreading frog.
Korumpirano – Corrupted (Douglas – UK)
This is my favourite basically because it sounds “potato like” (Krumpir is a potato in Croatian) but means something completely different. I would say it is a bizarre word for dysfunctional or corruption. But every time I hear the word in a serious context I just think of mashed spuds.
Nasip – Embankment (Mark – Zagreb – UK)
The word is frequently used in Croatia because there are lots of them, and mine along the River Sava brings to mind joggers, dog walkers, and other outdoor types. I always say I’m going on the ‘nasip’ rather than on the embankment, which is an ugly word in comparison.
Fakat – Really (Alana – Australia)
I absolutely crack up every time I hear this word used as it sounds like ‘f**k it’! I was so curious when I first heard it and when I found out that all it meant was ‘really’ I was kind of let down. Such a passionate word.
Krapina – (the town Krapina) (Peter- Australia)
My all-time favourite word is a place name. Krapina. To the English tongue, it was funny. I was to discover that ‘jug’ in Croatian means ‘south’ and when I read out the road sign for Krapina Jug (Krapina South) I could not stop laughing.
Klozet papir – Toilet paper (John – Zagreb)
Since klozet sounds like closet, it just seems kind of weird and has always stuck in my head.
Čvrst – Strong (Mary – Canada – Makarska)
I love these words in Croatian where vowels are non-existent. Čvrst just sounds awesome to me and I think it fits the word beautifully. I love just saying it.
Karlovačko – Beer brand (Julian – Zagreb)
After 4 years living here, I still can not pronounce this word properly despite drinking it on a regular basis. When I order it and say it how I do I swear the barman thinks I have had 10 and am blind drunk.
Otom potom – a phrase loosely translated as ‘about that when the time comes’ (Jelena – Rijeka – USA)
Otom potom sounds to me like a ‘Charlie & the Chocolate Factory’ song, like an oompa-loompa variation. Don’t know it just sounds fun.
Sponzoruša – Gold digger (Alana – Split)
I find this word amusing – to me this is one of those words which suits its meaning. Has a ring.
Osvježavajuća – Refreshing (Ibad – Seattle, WA)
A bit of a tongue twister for beginners. Great way to describe quality Croatian beer, or a dip in the crystal clear Adriatic Sea after a long drive to the Croatian coast.
Super – Super (Ang, Zagreb)
I know this is not really a Croatian word but I hear it a lot. Because my Croatian is still so bad I love this word as I can say it and use it with no trouble – one of the few English words which translate the same.
Pečat – Stamp (Dave – Zagreb)
This was one of the first words I learned when I was setting up business. It is such a powerful word in both its pronunciation and its meaning. Everything needs a pečat.
Majmun – Monkey (Michelle – Sydney)
Pronounced my moon. Don’t ask me why but it is my fav.
Bez veze – no good/pointless/sucks (Mike – Zagreb – UK)
I’d have to go for a phrase: bez veze. It just seems to describe so many everyday situations.