Croatian language

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Pronunciation [xř̩ʋaːtskiː]
Native to Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia (Vojvodina), Montenegro, Romania (Caraș-Severin County), Slovenia, and diaspora
Native speakers 5.55 million  (2001)
Language family
Writing system Latin (Gaj's alphabet)
Croatian Braille
Official status
Official language in  Croatia
 Bosnia and Herzegovina
 Serbia (Vojvodina)
 European Union
Recognised minority language in Flag of Montenegro.svg
 Austria (in Burgenland)
 Hungary (in Baranya County)
 Italy (in Molise)
 Romania (in Carașova, Lupac)
Regulated by Institute of Croatian Language and Linguistics
Language codes
ISO 639-1 hr
ISO 639-2 hrv
ISO 639-3 hrv
Linguasphere part of 53-AAA-g
Croatian shto dialects in Cro and BiH.PNG
Traditional extent of Serbo-Croatian dialects in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Croatian language is spoken mainly throughout the countries of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the surrounding countries of Europe. Croatian grammar is the grammar of the Croatian language. As the Croatian language consists of three vernaculars[2] (Kaikavian, Chakavian and Shtokavian), here are presented both the histories and present states of all three vernaculars of the Croatian language.

Croatian language Baska tablet 1100.
Croatian Prayer Book 1380-1400.

Croatian grammar books show that the codification of the language is rich, and started at the beginning of the 17th century (the first grammar was written by Bartol Kašić in Latin in 1604). From 1604 to 1836 there were 17 grammars, most of them dominantly Štokavian, but some were Kajkavian. The grammar written by Bartol Kašić (17th century) described supradialectal form of Ikavian Štokavian with Čakavian admixture. In the 19th century, grammars dominantly based on Štokavian were written. They were "Nova ricsoslovnica illiricka", written by Šime Starčević (1812), and "Grammatik der illyrischen Sprache", written by Ignjat Alojzije Brlić (1833),[3] although it is not formally so. Even before the 19th century, the Croatian language had three dialects that were almost equally used (Kajkavian, Chakavian and Štokavian), but the orthography of each dialect differed on the Adriatic coast to that used near the Hungarian border, as one was under influence of Italian, and the other under the influence of the Hungarian language.[3][4] All grammars of the above period (1604-1836) used three accents: acute, grave and circumflex, Starčević's grammar is an exception as it uses a system of four accents.[3] In 19th century, Ljudevit Gaj proposed new letters from Czech (č,ž,š,ľ,ň,ď and ǧ). The letters that were accepted were č, ž and š, from Polish ć. For other phonems, the digraphs that were accepted were ie, lj, nj and . Later dj or gj was changed to đ (according to proposal by Đuro Daničić).[4]

Orthography[change | change source]

The Croatian language uses a Latin script of 30 letters and one diphthong "ie" or "ije", and "ŕ". This system is called gajica in Croatian (or Croatian Gaj's Latin alphabet). The name came from Ljudevit Gaj.[5] The letter order (and whole alphabet) is called abeceda in Croatian, because the first 4 letters are spelled "a, be, ce, de".[6] For writing foreign names and words, and in some professions, the Croatian language uses letters which do not belong to gajica, like "X, x (iks), Y,y (ipsilon)" and others.[6]

Croatian alphabet (Gaica) 1830.c

Grammatical cases[change | change source]

In Croatian, nouns change form depending on the composition of the sentence. This is called declension. Declension has been proved the most difficult to master for people who are learning Croatian. It is very complicated and time consuming to explain it and because of that we will use simpler techniques. However, many languages have noun and pronoun declension including English. In English, though, only pronoun declension remained through the course of years. Let us start by explaining all of the seven Croatian grammatical cases. The technique that is most frequently used in determining grammatical cases (the same technique is used in Croatian schools when taught to children) is by asking yourself a question when you are trying to figure out which case a noun should be in. In Croatian, grammatical cases are called padeži (plural) and padež (singular).

  • Example:
  1. In this example you will be shown how to determine a noun's grammatical case by using the table below.
  2. Krešimir is going to school. (Krešimir ide u školu.)

The question you will ask yourself here is: “Where is Krešimir going?”. And the answer is that he's going to school. By looking at the table below you will see that the question 'where' is used for the Locative case. Grammatical case The question you should ask yourself when determining the grammatical case *Example:

Nominativ (Nominative) Tko? Što? (Who or what?) Jabuka je fina. (The apple is delicious.)
Genitiv (Genitive) Koga? Čega? Čiji? (Who or what is missing? Who's?) Ovo radim zbog jabuke. (I'm doing this because of the apple.)
Dativ (Dative) Komu? Čemu? (Whom or what am I going toward?) Idem prema jabuci. (I am going toward the apple.)
Akuzativ (Accusative) Koga? Što? (Whom or what?) Ne vidim jabuku. (I do not see the apple.)
Vokativ (Vocative) Oj! Ej! (Oi! Hey!) Oj, jabuko! (Oi, apple!)
Lokativ (Locative) Gdje? U komu? U čemu? (Where? In what? In who?) Živim u jabuci. (I live in the apple.)
Instrumental S kime? S čime? (With whom or with what?) Trčim s jabukom. (I am running with the apple.)
  • exercise - key:

Determine the grammatical case of the underlined nouns in the following sentences:

  1. Zvonimir je u svojoj sobi. (Zvonimir is in his room.)
  2. Domagoj ide kući biciklom. (Domagoj is going home by bike.)
  3. Hrvatska je pobijedila na nogometnom natjecanju. (Croatia won the football tournament.)

Genders[change | change source]

Croatian nouns are divided into three genders: the masculine, feminine and neuter gender. To know a noun's gender is very important because it affects all the words that are tied to the noun, such as adjectives. There is a way of telling what gender a noun is without memorizing it for each and every one. A gender is determined by the noun's ending (with some exceptions). See the table below. It is also vital to know that nouns retain their gender in plural. For instance, the noun 'žene' (women) is of the feminine gender and not neuter which would be easy to think because the word ends with the letter -e.

Ending -a -e, -o -k, -l, -r, -d... (and all other)
Gender Feminine Neuter Masculine
  • example:
Neuter nouns: Feminine nouns: Masculine nouns:
sunce, dijete, more, drvo, tijelo, oko, jezero. žena, kuća, grana, stolica, knjiga, noga, slika. metak, zvučnik, okvir, krov, toranj, prozor, medvjed, podložak, prag.
  • exercise - key

Determine the gender of the following nouns: Krov, dolina, papir, staklo, panj, igra, brak, jaje, hitac, iskra, stablo, ljuljačka, zelje, karton.

Grammatical aspects[change | change source]

Croatian verbs have two grammatical aspects; the perfective and imperfective. The perfective aspect depicts an action that has already been finished or done with. The imperfective aspect depicts an action that is still going or underway. So, each verb in its infinitive form can be written in 2 ways; in its perfective and imperfective aspect. The table below is showing 5 verbs both in their perfective and imperfective aspects.

Imperfective aspect in infinitive Perfective aspect in infinitive
Trčati. (To run. infinite action) Odtrčati. (Definite action, the running has been done with.)
Sjediti. (To sit. infinite action) Sjesti.
Plivati. (To swim. infinite action) Odplivati.
Graditi. (To build. - infinite action) Izgraditi.
Popravljati. (To fix/repair/mend. infinite action) Popraviti.

Grammatical tenses[change | change source]

In Croatian, there are seven grammatical tenses. They can be divided in two ways. By the time they take place in and by their complexity. Simple tenses consist of only 1 word (simple tenses are aorist, imperfect, present) while complex tenses consist of 2 or even 3 words (complex tenses are pluperfect, perfect, first future, second future) because they also consist of auxiliary verbs. Also, some grammatical tenses cannot be formed with both grammatical aspects, they work with only.

Tense Description Example
Pluperfect An action that has happened before another action (same as English past perfect). Mladen je bio ručao. (Mladen had had lunch.)
Imperfect Past tense that is formed only by imperfective verbs. An unfinished past tense. Mladen trčaše. (Mladen was running.)
Aorist Past tense (not used much nowadays). It is the same as Perfekt. Can be formed only with verbs in perfective states. Mladen odtrčaše. (Mladen was running but he finished sometime in the past.)
Perfect Main past tense. Can be formed by both imperfective and perfective verbs. Mladen je trčao. (Mladen was running).
Present Present tense. Mladen ruča. (Mladen is having lunch.)
First future Future tense. Mladen će ručati. (Mladen will have lunch.)
Second future Before-future tense. Used in expressing a future action that will happen before another future action. Ako bude kiša uskoro pala, suša će prestati. (If rain soon falls, the drought will end.)
  • exercise - key

Determine the tenses of the underlined verbs:

  1. Jučer sam bio na poslu. (I was at work yesterday.)
  2. Rekla je da ga bude nazvala prije nego što će otići kući. (She said she would call him before she goes home.)
  3. Večeram. (I am having dinner.)
  4. Rekoh mu. (I told him.)
  5. Jučer cijeli dan pecijah peciva. (I was baking rolls the whole day yesterday.)
  6. Bio sam kupio novi auto ali mislim da nisam trebao. (I had bought a new car but I think I should not have bought it.)

Phrasebook[change | change source]

  • Basic and common expressions:
Croatian English
Da Yes
Ne No
Što What
I And
Ili Or
Bok Hi, bye
Zbogom Goodbye
Dobar dan Good day
Dobro jutro Good morning
Dobra večer Good evening
Laku noć Good night
Možda Maybe
Kada When
Gdje Where
Kako How
Hvala Thanks
Dođi Come
  • Colours:

Zlatna Golden

Croatian English
Zelena Green
Crvena Red
Žuta Yellow
Smeđa Brown
Narančasta Orange
Crna Black
Plava Blue
Ružičasta Pink
Ljubičasta Purple
Siva Grey
Bijela White
Tirkizna Turquoise
Srebrna Silver
  • Days, months & seasons

The Croatian week starts with Monday and ends with Sunday, unlike weeks from some other countries where Sunday is the first day and Saturday the last.

  • Days:
Croatian English
Ponedjeljak Monday
Utorak Tuesday
Srijeda Wednesday
Četvrtak Thursday
Petak Friday
Subota Saturday
Nedjelja Sunday
  • Months:
Croatian English
Siječanj January
Veljača February
Ožujak March
Travanj April
Svibanj May
Lipanj June
Srpanj July
Kolovoz August
Rujan September
Listopad October
Studeni November
Prosinac December
  • Directions

Sides of the world:

Croatian English
Sjever North
Jug South
Istok East
Zapad West
Gore Up
Dolje Down
Lijevo Left
Desno Right
  • Prepositions
Croatian English
Na On
Uz By
Ispod/pod Under, below
Iznad/nad/ober Above
U In
Ispred In front of
Iza Behind
  • Numbers
Numerically - Alphabetically
0 - Nula
1 - Jedan
2 - Dva
3 - Tri
4 - Četiri
5 - Pet
6 - Šest
7 - Sedam
8 - Osam
9 - Devet
10 - Deset
11 - Jedanaest
12 - Dvanaest
13 - Trinaest
14 - Četrnaest
15 - Petnaest
16 - Šesnaest
17 - Sedamnaest
18 - Osamnaest
19 - Devetnaest
20 - Dvadeset
30 - Trideset
40 - Četrdeset
50 - Pedeset
60 - Šezdeset
70 - Sedamdeset
80 - Osamdeset
90 - Devedeset
100 - Sto
1,000 - Tisuću
1,000,000 - Milijun
1,000,000,000 - Milijarda

Areas where Croatian language is spoken of central South Slavic dyasistems (as of 2006)

Different languages[change | change source]

English Croatian Serbian
Compare Usporedba Поређење (Poređenje)
Europe Europa Европа (Evropa)
Netherlands Nizozemska Холандија (Holandija)
Italians Talijani Италијани (Italijani)
Universe Svemir Васиона (Vasiona)
Spine Kralježnica Кичма (Kičma)
Air Zrak Ваздух (Vazduh)
Education Odgoj Васпитање (Vaspitanje)
Week Tjedan Седмица (Sedmica)
History Povijest Историја (Istorija)
Pantaloons Hlače Панталоне (Pantalone)
Belly Trbuh Стомак (Stomak)
Science Znanost Наука (Nauka)
Personally Osobno Лично (Lično)
Persona Osoba Лице (Lice)
United Nations Ujedinjeni Narodi Уједињене Нације (Ujedinjene Nacije)
Bread Kruh Хлеб (Hleb)
Artificial Umjetno Вештачки (Veštački)
Cross Križ Крст (Krst)
Democracy Demokracija Демократија (Demokratija)
Detection Spoznaja Сазнање (Saznanje)
Island Otok Острво (Ostrvo)
Officer Časnik Официр (Oficir)
Road traffic Cestovni promet Друмски саобраћај (Drumski saobraćaj)
Autobahn Autocesta Аутопут (Autoput)
Length Duljina Дужина (Dužina)
Association Udruga Удружење (Udruženje)
Factory Tvornica Фабрика (Fabrika)
General Opće Опште (Opšte)
Christ Krist Христoс (Hristos)
I'm sorry Oprosti Извини (Izvini)
Native language standard Materinski jezićni standard Матерњи језички стандард

References[change | change source]

  1. "Linguistic Lineage for Croatian". Retrieved 2010-01-26.
  2. Milan Moguš, "Povijest hrvatskoga književnoga jezika", Globus, Zagreb, 1993, ISBN 953-167-014-5, p. 12
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Sanda Ham, "Povijest hrvatskih gramatika", Globus, Zagreb, 2006, ISBN 953-167-185-0, p. 16
  4. 4.0 4.1 Težak-Babić, "Gramatika hrvatskoga jezika", Školska knjiga, Zagreb, 1994, ISBN 953-0-40008-X, p. 13
  5. Babić, Ham, Moguš, "Hrvatski školski pravopis", Školska knjiga, Zagreb, 2008., ISBN 978-953-0-40026-9, p. 11
  6. 6.0 6.1 Babić, Ham, Moguš, "Hrvatski školski pravopis", Školska knjiga, Zagreb, 2008., ISBN 978-953-0-40026-9, p. 12