10.09.2013

Five weeks, three countries and a handful of words


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Crno Jezero, Montenegro
As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been longing to travel abroad. Yes, I know I just got home a few weeks ago but I guess travel is something I crave. This desire becomes stronger as we reach that time of year when good days for biking season are limited but skiing hasn’t started in earnest. I still get outside often but it’s not  as satisfying as when it's the height of winter or summer.

One of the things I miss about traveling is hearing the sound of a foreign language spoken daily, which is captivating.

Alley cats of the Balkans
on a "crvena" car
Through phrase books, talking and listening to native speakers, and simple fact that I spent five weeks in the Balkans, I picked up a bunch of words. I already knew a few words from previous travels to Eastern Europe so I was off to a very basic start. One of the cool things is that the languages spoken in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia are very similar so as I traveled from country to country the words I learned in one were usually the same in the next.  

Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian are all national variations of the Serbo-Croatian language. It is part of the Southern Slavic language family so it is possible to know one language and be able to get along conversation-wise in a few others. This is also true of other Slavic languages (Czech, Slovak, Polish, Russian and probably a few others). Very cool indeed. 

Taking a break for pivo with
the volunteers in Stara Pazova
During my travels I wrote down the words I learned each day so I thought I’d include them here before I lose the slip of paper. I also like saying the words while I dream of sipping a pivo at an outdoor cafe on a trg in Sarajevo. 

Dobar dan = hello. Change this to dobry den and you’re saying it in Czech.


Hvala = thank you
Kako ste? = How are you?
Doviđenja - Goodbye. Note that the cool looking đ letter is pronounced as a J. So in Serbian, tennis star Novak Djokovic spells his name Novak Đoković.

Dobar = good
Veče = evening
Noć = night.
The ć is pronounced as ts.

Volim = Waiters often approach guests and ask “volim” as is “what would you like?” I think a more literal translation is "Love" 
Someone has corrected me. The word the waiter says is “Molim,” which is am guessing is similar to the Czech “Prosim.” It means “Please” or is the equivalent of “May I help you?” if asked as a question. That's one more word I know.

Muška = Men or men’s room
Ženska = Women or woman’s room
Not sure which of these is correct but that’s what it said on the bathroom door.
Note that the symbol over the S and Z give the word a Sh or a ZH sound

Crno or crna = black
Crvena = red
Bijela = white


Lots of letter J in the Slavic languages, which is pronounced as a Y. So is Yugoslavia is Jugoslavija. See above.

Voda = water
Pivo = beer
Kafa or kava = coffee
The words for coffee and beer are the same in many countries from Russia to Macedonia so you can share a drink with folks no matter where you go. And really what more do you need than that?

Bijela Yugo
Sunce = sun
Srce = heart
Dragan/Dragana (M/F) = Sweetheart or darling. Also a popular name. Interestingly there is a Dragan living in Bozeman who is from Macedonia. He is your typical dreamy Balkan man.

Veliki = big
Mali = little
Stara = old
Novi = new

Trg = square
Gora = mountain

Jezero = lake



Ulaz = entrance
Izlaz = exit

Gora, Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
Ulca = street
Put = road

Auto šlep – I’m assuming this is auto towing and not repair because many of these shops stenciled “Auto šlep” on the rocks on the side of the windy seaside and mountain roads in Montenegro. Additionally, the accent on the S makes the pronunciation “Schlep,” which is “Carry” in Yiddish.
Mostar, Bosnia. For Darren Purcell,
who loves to find good deals on property

Namještaj = furniture. Interestingly, big box furniture stores were popular in small towns and big towns a like in Serbia and Montenegro.

Prodaje se = for sale 
Russia's Lada Niva
Mali yet powerful


My car of choice if I move
to the gora in Eastern Europe























Cyrillic is a common
in Serbia & Montenegro






"A Place for Kissing"
As seen on a scenic bridge in Novi Sad, Serbia