Native English speakers, especially the British, tend to be the worst in the world at learning other languages. In fact, only 38% speak a second language. And yet, learning just a little of another language can make all the difference when travelling overseas, and this is as much about being welcomed as it is about communicating!
Croatia is a beautiful destination and it’s easy to enjoy the climate of the Mediterranean as well as its beauty, with scores of islands, ancient monasteries, palaces and cathedrals. English is also spoken fairly well there nowadays, but whether you’re travelling to the country independently or you’re lucky enough to enjoy an escorted tour of Croatia, it’ll really improve your experience of the place if you learn key phrases and words.
About the language
Croatian is a Slavic language, very similar to Serbian and Bosnian, and is sometimes regarded as a dialect of Serbian. It uses the Latin alphabet and is also the national language of Bosnia and Herzegovina (in case you also plan to nip over the border while you’re in the region).
There are several language rules to master and, if you do, you’ll find pronunciation relatively easy which is handy for ordering the right thing from a menu!
For starters, there are no silent letters and the language has no Q, W, X, or Y sounds. The letter J is pronounced Y, Dž is pronounced J (as in ledge), Ž is a soft J (as in leisure), and C by itself is pronounced TS. If you can remember these key tips, pronouncing Croatian will come much easier to you.
- Hello – Bok
- Good morning – Dobro jutro
- Good day – Dobar dan (the most common phrase)
- Good evening – Dobra večer
- Goodbye – Dovidenja
- Yes – Da
- No – Ne
- How are you? – Kako si?
- What’s your name? – Kako se zoveš?
- Nice to meet you – Drago mi je
- Sorry – Žao mi je
- Excuse me – Oprostite
- Please – Molim
- Thank you – Hvala
- I don’t understand – Ne razumijem
- Do you speak English? – Govorite li engleski?
- Where can I find the toilets? – Gdjeje zahod?
- Can I see a menu please? – Mogu li dobiti jelovnik?
- I’m a vegetarian – Ja sam vegetarijanac
- How much is it? – Koliko je to?
- How do I get to the…? – Kako ču doci do…?
- Left – Lijevo
- Right – Desno
The key thing is to not worry about getting it wrong. Locals will definitely appreciate you trying and will probably help you along if you get stuck. They might even share a few of their favorite places to visit, giving you a first-class experience of this most stunning of countries. You’ll almost certainly get a more positive response if you address people in their native tongue, and that goes for any country, not just Croatia!