37 Talking, Eating, Drinking

• • • Review: Knowledge, Fear, Purpose


Croatian has several verbs regarding speaking. Some of them are used chiefly in present, some have special, others generic meaning. This list summarizes verbs:

govorim "speak, talk"
kažem, kazao ~ rečem, rekäo, rekla, reći "say"
pričam ~ is- "tell"
razgovaram "talk, discuss"
objašnjavam ~ objasnim "explain"

The verb govorim is generic, it stands for any speech, even if you don't understand what is said:

Ana će govoriti. "Ana will speak."
Nëšto je govorio. "He was saying something."

A related noun govor means "speech".

The verb rečem, rekäo, rekla, reći is mostly used as perf. counterpart of govorim, implying something was said (even if you didn't understand it):

Nëšto je rekäo. "He said something."

To indicate what was said, you can use an object (in acc.) or a whole da-clause:

Rekäo je istinu. "He told the truth."
Rekäo mi je da je gladan. "He told me he was hungry."

Note that the tenses in Croatian and English do not match in the inserted clause!

The verb razgovaram always implies a conversation, that is, at least two sides talking.

To say what you are/were talking about something, use o + dat.:

Razgovarali smo o projektu. "We were talking/discussing about the project."
Razgovarali smo o Ani. "We were talking/discussing about Ana."

If you were talking with someone (two-sided!), use s(a) + ins.:

Razgovarao säm s Anom. "I was talking with Ana."

The verb razgovaram is intransitive, cannot have an object, so in Croatian you cannot "talk business", you can only "talk about business". The same goes for govorim.

If you were talking to someone (one-sided!), use govorim + dat.:

Govorio säm Ani. "I was talking to Ana.", "I spoke to Ana."

A related noun razgovor means "conversation, discussion".

The verb pričam chiefly is used for one-sided "story-telling":

Pričala säm o svom poslu. "I was talking about my job."

(Note that the example implies female speaker, and uses reflexive possessive).

There's a related noun priča meaning "story".

Colloquially, pričam is often used in a generic manner, instead of razgovaram and govorim:

Pričali smo o projektu."We were talking about the project." (not Standard)
Pričali smo o Ani."We were talking about Ana." (not Standard)
Pričao säm s Anom."I was talking with Ana." (not Standard)
Nëšto je pričao."He was telling something." (not Standard)

This is often heard, but it's not standard. The verb ispričam is a perf. counterpart of pričam, but it's not used in such colloquial meaning at all.

The verb kažem, kazao is seldom used.

Telling Lies

The Croatian verb pair lažem, lagao ~ s- means "lie" or "tell lie", and can be used in the same way as verb govorim ~ rečem/kažem:

Ana je lagala Ivanu da je kupila auto. lit. "Ana lied to Ivan that she bought a car."

This sounds weird in English, but it would be perfectly acceptable if we would use the verb "tell" or "say". In Croatian, the verb "lie" or "tell a lie" behaves in the same way as "tell"!

Food and Drink

Let's explore verbs regarding eating and drinking:

jëdem, jëo, jëla, jësti ~ po- "eat"
pijem, pio,... ~ po- "drink"
žderem, žderao,... ~ po- perf. "eat grossly"
ispijam, ispijao... ~ ispijem, ispio,... "drink all"

Preparation of food frequently uses these verbs:

kuham,... ~ s- "cook"
pečem (peku), pekäo, pekla, peći ~ is- "bake"

Some more verbs:

točim,... ~ na- "pour" (water, wine)

Often used nouns are:

janjetina "lamb meat"
juha "soup"
kelj "cabbage"
krumpir (also krompir) "potato"
kupus "cabbage"
meso "meat"
piletina "chicken meat"
pivo "beer"
    puretina "turkey meat"
salata "salad"
svinjetina "pork"
sol f "salt"
šećer "sugar"
teletina "veal"
tjestenina (also pašta) "pasta"
vino "wine"

People in Croatia usually have three meals a day: ručäk (pl. ručkovi or ručci) "lunch" is the main meal, it was once at noon, but it's now mostly from noon to 2 pm. doručäk is in the morning, and večera "supper" is in the evening.

Sometimes there's a light meal between breakfast and lunch, usually in school or at work. People call it gablec (inland, pl. gableci) or marenda along the coast. The "official" name is užina, but it's seldom used, only in school schedules, etc.

Satiative verbs

So-called satiative verbs (or sative, both meaning "satisfy") are perf. verbs that can be derived from many impf. verbs, meaning roughly "have enough of doing that", "do that a lot", "do that too much", or "overdo that".

All satiative verbs have a prefixed na-, use a filler se, and have an object in gen., since acc. is blocked by the se:

Jëdem kolače. "I eat cakes." / "I'm eating cakes." (kolače = acc.pl.)
Jëo säm kolače. "I was eating cakes."
Pojëo säm kolače. "I have eaten (the) cakes."
Najëo säm se kolača. "I have eaten enough cakes." (kolača = gen.pl.)

You will often hear:

Jesi li se najëo? (to a male person) "Have you eaten enough?" = "Are you fed?"
Jesi li se najëla? (to a female person)
Najëla se kolača. "She has eaten enough cakes." (so she cannot eat anything else)

There are too many verbs to list, I will just indicate when a sative verb can be formed. But not all the verbs have a satiative one. Few examples are:

Načekao säm se. "I have waited long enough."
Naradio säm se. "I had enough of work."
Nakuhao säm se. "I had enough of cooking."

Sometimes, satiative verbs have an additional meaning:

Napio säm se vode. "I have drunk enough water."
Napio säm se vina. "I have drunk enough wine." = "I got drunk of the wine."

Therefore, napijem se means also "get drunk" (perf.).

Updated 2014-09-12


pixy said...

Very clear, thank you!
Just two corrections in English; instead of "he was telling something", we usually say "he was saying something." Instead of "he told something" - "he said something".

Daniel N. said...

So, you cannot say "tell" if you don't understand it, or it's something short? I'll correct it. thanks Daniel

pixy said...

I think 'tell' is used for communicating information, instruction, something specific. "Tell me about your country." "I told her what time to come." Also you usually say who is being told. "Tell me another story."

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