The Family Friendly Guide
10 Croatian Words to Teach Your Kids
So you’ve booked your flight to Croatia, found your perfect vacation rental, and looked at all the fun things you can do with the family? Now’s the time to get your kids excited for the destination! And what better way to do it than by teaching them key Croatian vocabulary? Here is a list of 10 essential words and phrases they will be able to use in their interactions with locals:
1. Hvala (HVAH-lah): thank you. Probably the most important word to know in any language and the best way to make a good impression! A typical response would be ‘nema na čemu!’ (You’re welcome).
2. Molim (MOH-leem): please. Here’s another golden word, which will help your children place their own orders in restaurants and cafes. For instance, if they like to drink lemonade, they could say ‘Molim vas jednu limunadu’ (One lemonade, please). Using ‘molim’ and ‘hvala’ will always be appreciated by the locals.
3. Dobro jutro! (DOH-broh YOO-troh): Good morning! This one is used to greet someone early in the morning.
4. Dobar dan! (DOH-bahr dahn): This literally means ‘good day’! This greeting is used between mid-morning and evening (and then when the night falls, you’ll switch to “Dobra večer” (DOH-brah VEH-cher).
5. Doviđenja! (doh-vee-JEH-nyah): Goodbye!
6. Bok (Bok): hi or bye. Quite similar to ‘ciao’ in Italian, this is a simple and short greeting, which works in most social situations and can be used across generations. Plus it’s easy to pronounce! Note that although it can be heard in many parts of Croatia, it is more characteristic of Zagreb’s lingo. Also, if you travel to Hvar, you’ll probably hear ‘Zdravi bili’ for ‘hello’—which roughly translates to ‘good health to you’ — to which one would typically reply ‘i veseli’ (‘and happy’).
7. Zovem se (ZOH-vehm seh): My name is. Teaching your kids how to introduce themselves to others in Croatian will boost their self confidence. If they feel brave enough, they could approach other kids on the playground and say: ‘Bok! Zovem se [their name]. Želi li se igrati sa mnom?’ (zhe-lee lee seh ee-gra-tee sah mnom). ‘Would you like to play with me?’
8. Govorite li engleski? (goh-VOH-ree-teh lee EN-gless-kee): Do you speak English? This classic question should elicit a simple affirmative ‘Da’ or negative ‘Ne’, or even a confident ‘of course’ as you’ll find that the younger generations generally speak English with ease.
9. Žao mi je, ne govorim hrvatski (zhow mee yeh, neh GOH-voh-reem HUHR-vahts-kee): I’m sorry, I don’t speak Croatian.
10. Oprostite, gdje je nužnik? (oh-PROHS-tee-teh, gd-yay yeh nu-zh-nyk): Excuse me, where’s the toilet? This one’s always good to know! Your kids could also use the word WC (vae-tse) when formulating the question.
Croatian can be difficult for a native English speaker because the pronunciation is so different. Luckily, there’s a wealth of online resources to help you get it right. And if your kids want to learn more, you can also find some online courses that specifically cater to young children. The better they speak and understand the language, the more they will be able to appreciate Croatian culture!