How I Learned One of the Most Difficult Languages in the World, the Croatian Language
Learning a new language takes courage and positivism
Many of you may have read about DDE, but here is another surprise for you.
Most of my fans know about how I learned one of the most difficult languages in the world, the Croatian language. At that time my son was very young and didn't understand the reasons for us leaving South Africa.
My heart felt like it was ripped off, the pain was just too much.
I had no idea when I would return back home and what to expect from my new place. I had no choice, we had to get out of there. The increase in rape cases, and other criminal acts had put my mind in danger on numerous occasions. Leaving was our only option, as many other South Africans did in the past.
On our arrival we were fetched by a family member, and we traveled another forty kilometers to our final destination. At that time it seemed like our drive took forever. After travelling for a week all we needed was to freshen up and go to sleep. It was after ten at night when we got to the family home, they were about to have supper, so we sat to munch on something small.
After the brief introduction everybody was chatting and my son and I were on our own. I had not spoken the Croatian language, but I was familiar with ''volime te,'' meaning ''I love you.'' Our first night changed like a light switch from light to dark, the previous Sunday we were in South Africa and the Sunday after we were in Croatia. Since then everything changed in my life.
The next morning was fresh and different in the country side, the family only spoke in the Croatian language to us. We looked at them with blank stares and didn't know what to answer back.
Their way was to get us to speak the language right away, they tried to force us into speaking a language we had not spoken before that made me feel frustrated.
They were hard on us, we had to handle the situation on our own. Those who spoke English didn't speak a word to us. A foreign language as difficult as this one is, the changes in grammar is difficult to grasp and much harder to understand.
When speaking of him or her. In the English language in regards to him and her it is a straight forward and well understood but not same in the Croatian language. The names of female and male persons also has a change to the text. The many words with one meaning and of the older used words in each region have different, pronunciations.
I often sat with a number of people in a room and never said a word my speechless moments made me stronger. I felt it was unfair to us for them not speaking English when we really needed them to. If it was vice verse, definitely I would have been more helpful in communication. Mentality is different here, so thoughts like that is meaningless.
The life we had disappeared fast, living in a foreign country and not having any knowledge of the language was our down fault.
My son attended the village school during the first week, and that was a good start, he had an opportunity to mingle with other children, and it was of benefit for both of us.
I learned from our son!
With the help of my son I understood the Croatian language in two weeks. Though still I had problems in communicating with the local people. I gradually spoke and found my way to do that.
I decided to spend time on my own and to not visit any of the family. I just focused on my life. There wasn't anytime for my husband to translate he worked most of the time, and during conversations he couldn't translate either. While talking and translating was not possible.
I used to watch other foreign movies, and follow the Croatian sub-titles, that helped me tremendously. After my son attended primarily school meeting up with people wasn't much of a problem. He often helped me out with translation.
After almost three years I went back to South Africa for a two month vacation. My trip made me see things from a different perspective. Just what I needed. To go back home and know the true meaning of Croatia.
While going on to my third year in Croatia I bought a pocket dictionary, that was right after my trip back from South Africa it was my own decision. The Croatian to English Dictionary, and English to Croatian did make a huge difference to me and to learning on my own.
We were pressured by the local people to speak the language from day one. The local people did not understand my point of view and mentioned what they felt was right. Assuming if we spoke the language at home it would be easier. I wouldn't let that happen and did not want that to be.
For me it was about keeping my identity not about losing my true identity. I didn't want that for my child and I. It was up to us of how we were going cope with the language. Listening to others was not how I wanted to go about my new life in Croatia.
The pressure they put on us and the way they expected us to fall into a life we barely knew made me most unhappy for a while. I never knew happiness when I came to Croatia. My true happiness came in time.
I didn't pressure my son into learning the language. The many changes was more than enough to handle. During my third year I told my son these exact words,
It was a big step forward for me.
It all happened in my own time, and today I can speak the language almost fluently, still the grammar gets me now and again, but everyone understands me. I understand their mentality more now, than before.
Communicating with the local people is no problem at all, in fact I have fitted in perfectly but I don't have any close Croatian friends, though we get along. I have an English speaking friend, who is my best friend. She guided me along for all those years someone whom I can count on at all times.
A friend who has been living in Croatia for more years than I have and who knows the roots of this beautiful place. My son is in college, and had passed his difficult schooling years in the best way he could with very good grades.
From a Cambridge college to a foreign school,and an A+ student whom I never pressured into learning. Understanding a foreign language is easy but speaking is most difficult. This is especially, if it is the Croatian language.
I have been back home three times and still feel more at home in Croatia than in South Africa.. A crime-free region in which I live. Apart from my health, freedom and happiness is very important to me.
The photos are of the view from and around my home.
Life changed and I coped with the challenges in the positive way,
Photos of My Special Surroundings
Which is your preferred spoken language?
© 2013 Devika Primić