The importance of vowels in Croatia
The beauty of every language is closely connected with an ability to understand the real meaning behind the words and the way we achieve accuracy in presenting our thoughts.
The accent, the vocabulary, the rhythm, all layers of each spoken thought blend together producing the meaning which perfectly fits the idea in our mind while being the product of the cultural mind as well. To express ourselves, to a certain degree means to express our heritage. Understanding that grew through everyday stories, discussions, love, war, friends, families, neighbors, and accidental conversations.
Every cultural climate shapes the local expression and means of communication. But it works vice versa. Travelling expands our horizons and shows us all the details of what language really is.
Means of local communication
Being a Dalmatian means to grow on the heritage of hard work, in the field, or on the sea. Either way, in the sun, close to family and other people. To get from one point to another was never a long-distance, but possibly was the steep one, which is why rush wasn’t necessary, nor an option. Slow pace built endurance needed for hard work and time seems to naturally adapt to the inhabitants. Everyday communication followed the same pace, taking things slowly or as we like to say pomalo*. The cultural climate of the “no rush” state of mind is equally visible today. To see two people knocking their heads and repeating the sound of the same letter is a very common thing. Not to be confused, those letters have a different accent, followed by a different eyebrow expression altogether resulting in a real conversation.
The beauty of this is that everyone can adapt and understand each other easily.
So here are few tips on how to use vowels in Dalmatia and form valuable and long-term relations with locals.
Dalmatian small talk or how to use vowels
Letter “a” (as in sofa) is mostly used as a sign of disagreement. If you don’t agree with your interlocutor you can simply say: “A-a.” Short “a” can also denote a question: “A?” and long “a” a wondering: “Aaa!”
Opposite of the mentioned, letter “e” (as in met) is used as confirmation: “E.” or “A e.”, and salutation: “Ee!” Sometimes it can also present a question or act as a requirement for further explanation: “Ee?”
The letter “i” (as in sitting) usually just waits for an answer: “I?”, and in some cases, waiting indicates the excitement that grows with expectation and it is expressed with long “i”.
Letter “o” denotes surprise in many languages. Short “o”, long “o”, both express something unexpected, something that just came to light.
And letter U (as in blue). Well, “U” is usually long and says something went wrong.
This short introduction is the first step for opening the infinite possibilities of the Dalmatian dialect. Try it out, after you do it once it just goes naturally. You will stroll downtown, say hello, sit for a coffee and make an order only by using vowels. You will agree or disagree on the quality of your neighbor’s wine and stay surprised when you see he is sitting just behind you. But it doesn’t matter, because he too wants to discuss this further: - “I”? - “A e.”
Just do it
We hope this was a helpful lesson and that you feel more confident to speak the Dalmatian dialect. Local experience grows through relations with people, learning, and accepting each other values, ways of living, and communication.
We are always proud to say that most Croatians speak English, many speak Italian, German and other languages, but every Croatian will always be happy to meet someone who appreciates their lifestyle and supports keeping their dialect alive. We are also proud to say that thanks to Dalmatian character, sense of belonging, and persistence many Croatian dialects are today alive and spoken among all generations.
The most valuable legacy is the one that is still used and continues to be part of the culture.
We wish you a great stay in Croatia & we hope you will have many interesting stories to tell. In Dalmatian :)
*take it easy, meditative state of mind that wants nothing