About Learning Croatian with Berlitz
Croatian is the form of Serbo-Croatian that is written in the Roman alphabet. It is the language of the 5 million Croats, a Roman Catholic people, of whom about 4 million live in the newly independent country of Croatia. There are also about 750,000 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, though there the language is known officially as Bosnian. Some 150,000 Croatian speakers live in Austria, a number that increased about tenfold during the early 1990s.
Croatian and Serbian are essentially the same language, about as different from each other as British and American English. As in English, there are a number of cases in which one word is used in one, and another in the other. For “train” the Serbs generally say voz as against Croatian vlak, while for “dance” the Serbs prefer igra and the Croatians ples. For “music” the Serbs say muzika as against Croatian glazba, while for “theater” there is Serbian pozorište and Croatian kazalište. In each case, however, both alternatives are understood perfectly well by everyone.
The Croatian alphabet has a Roman letter for each Cyrillic letter of the Serbian alphabet. Ž, č, and š are pronounced zh, ch, and sh respectively (e.g., nož – knife, čovjek – man, šešir – hat). C, corresponding to the Serbian and Russian ц, is pronounced ts (cipela – shoe), while ǆ,, corresponding to the Serbian Џ, is pronounced like the English j (ǆep – pocket). Ć, corresponding to the Serbian ћ, is pronounced ty as in “hit you” (svijeća – candle), while đ corresponding to ђ, is pronounced dy as in “did you” (đavo – devil). The Croatian equivalents of the Serbian Љ and Њ are lj and nj respectively.
The Croatian word for Croatian is hrvatski, and for Serbian srpski. The letter r frequently serves as a vowel, as for example in the words prst (finger), vrt (garden), krv (blood), brz (fast), crn (black), and trg (market). The Italian city of Trieste is Trst in Croatian.