71 Locative Case and Common Dialect Variations

• • • Review: Introducing Dialects

There are some characteristics shared by many WSS dialects, especially by the western ones. Here I'm going to list the most important ones. Standard forms are also given for comparison; the are marked by curly braces {...}.

Vowel Variations

This is actually a variation that's very visible, and affects many words. Now my special notation (ë and ï) comes to use. Standard sequences ï,ijë, and ë are called 'yat'.

In many dialects different sounds stand in their place. For instance, in co-called Ikavian dialects it's almost invariably i (they are actually named after that characteristic):

StandardIkavian dialects

You will find a lot of Croatian pop songs with līp, cvīt, vrīme, srića, dīte {lijëp, cvijët, vrijëme, srëća, dijëte}. They are all in Ikavian.

There are some other variations, for example (in a completely unrelated dialect) there's pẹs "dog" (compared to Std päs) where the is a vowel between Standard e and i. Such variations are called 'yer'. It affects all 'disappearing a's', and some others, e.g. mẹgla instead of mägla (I have marked most of them with ä).

Please don't ask now why the names yat and yer. It's a very long story. I'll just say that really a long ago there were two additional letters, and these were their names (a bit similar to Middle English yogh).

The Final L Rule

In many dialects the "final l rule" is not functional of is modified.

Standard: gledao, mislio, posäo
some dialects: gledal, mislil, posäl
some other dialects: gleda, mislija, posä

Various Consonant Variations

In many dialects, there are variations in how some consonants are pronounced (and consequently written!). Usually there's a smaller number of consonants than in the Standard; some possibilities are (in various dialects):

  • lj is pronounced as j
  • ć is pronounced as č
  • đ is pronounced as j
  • h is pronounced as v, or not pronounced at all
  • some difficult combinations are simplified, for instance kći, pčela, hvala, and tko are pronounced as hći (or ći), čela, fala, and ko
  • gdjë is pronounced as di, gđe, đe, gdo...
  • htio (past part. of hoću) is pronounced as tio, stija, štel, otel, ćeo...

Verbs and Nouns

In many dialects, there are verbs or verb forms that differ from the Standard. The most widespread is a different (regular) form of present for mogu.

Standardmany dialects
1 sg.mogumorem
2 sg.možešmoreš
3 sg.možemore
1 pl.možemomoremo
2 pl.možetemorete
3 pl.mogumoru

In some dialects, instead of dođem, došäo, došla, doći, prođem, prošäo, prošla, proći, nađem, našäo, našla, naći, forms dojdem, došäo, došla, dojti and similar are used — that is, jd instead of đ, and jt instead of ć — again making these verbs more regular.

In many dialects, the conditional verb is modified, often to just bi in all persons.

In many dialects, the aorist and imperfect tenses are not used. But they are seldom used in the Standard Croatian as well.

In dialects along the coast, and a bit in the interior, there's -n instead of -m in verb, noun and preposition endings, e.g. znan {znam}, gledan {gledam}, ins. ženon {ženom} etc.

There are Standard nouns and verbs that don't exist in many dialects, and others are used instead. For instance:

Standardmany dialectsmeaning
satura"watch", "clock", "hour"
tražimišćem, iskao"search", "look for" (verb)
vratimvrnem"return" (verb)

In some dialects, verbs that normally have infinitives on -eti (e.g. uzmem, uzeo perf. "take") have -est(i) instead (e.g. uzest).

There are some other variations, for instance topao, topla vs. tepao, tepla, then variations in prepositions, etc.

Short Accusative of Personal Pronouns

In many dialects and even sometimes in the Standard, one uses short forms of personal pronouns mene and tebe in acc. after prepositions:

Standard: za mene, za tebe
many dialects: za me, za te

The Locative Case

In the Standard Croatian and in some dialects, there's very little difference between the dative and the locative, but in many dialects there are some differences. So, I must re-introduce the locative case. It is used only with prepositions, chiefly u, na when meaning static location, and with po when meaning "all over, through", and o "about". The dative is used on it own, and with prepositions k and prema, meaning "toward"; with usprkos or unatoč "despite". Furthermore, the instrumental, dative and locative have the same form in plural in the Standard and some dialects; but differ in others.

To put it in another way: when in the Standard one would use the dative after certain prepositions (mentioned above), in certain dialects there's a special form that's used then, called the locative (abbreviation: loc. or L). Such a 'special form' is really another case.


An example of a song using more or less all above variations (except special locative forms) is Lipa si, lipa sung by Goran Karan (please, disregard the lame video):

Dođi u ponoć, prođi niz skaline
ako se nisi drugom obećala
za tobom noćas plaču mandoline
najlipša ružo ikad procvitala

Dođi u ponoć, prođi kraj đardina
tu di je mladost uvik jubovala
ubrat ću tebi cvitak ruzmarina
tu di je mater ocu viru dala

Lipa si, lipa, anđeli ti sliče
lipa si, lipa, usne, tvoje lice
jubi me, jubi i kad zora sviće
sa neba pada po nama cviće

Dođi u ponoć, prođi kraj fontane
da misec vidi tvoje lipe oči
a ti mu reci da ih čuvaš za me
i da ćeš noćas meni, vilo, doći

(Nenad Ninčević)

The words mean: di "where" {gdjë}, lipa "beautiful" {lijëpa}, jubi imper. "kiss" {ljubi}, misec "moon" {mjësec}, cviće coll. "flowers" {cvijëće}, đardin "garden", vira "promise"...

This song uses a superficially similar Ikavian dialect but also illustrates verbs like dojdem, and tepli "warms"; instead of h there's always v or j:

Su zrnon soli, su mrvu kruva
    i puno duše
Ova nas jubav tepli i čuva
    a vitär puše!
Su pjatom juve kad projdu dani
    i stvari luše
Ova nas jubav jača i rani
    a vitär puše!

I neka projdu sve obilance,
Svi lipi gušti i sve užance!
I neka nima ni sna ni smija
Uz tebe uvik znan ča bi tija
A vitär puše, a vitär puše

(Jakša Fiamengo)

This is how it would look in Standard (to show differences) and roughly translated to English:

Sa zrnom soli, s mrvom kruha
    i puno duše
Ova nas ljubav grije i čuva
    a vjëtär puše!
S tanjurom juhe kad prođu dani
    i stvari loše
Ova nas ljubav jača i hrani
    a vjëtär puše!

I neka prođu sva obilja,
Svi lijepi užici i sve proslave!
I neka nëma ni sna ni smijëha
Uz tebe uvijëk znam što bih htio –    
A vjëtär puše, a vjëtär puše
"With a grain of salt, with a crumb of bread
    and a lot of soul
This love warms and keeps us
    and the wind blows!
With a plate of soup when days pass
    and bad things
This love strenghens and feeds us
    and the wind blows!

And may all plenties pass,
All nice pleasures and all celebrations!
And may there be no dreams, no laughter
Beside you I always know what I want –
And the wind blows, and the wind blows"

You see, translating it to Standard destroys rhyme and rhythm. Dialect songs are rarely translated, therefore it's not uncommon that many Croatians don't actually know what all words of some popular song mean, if they are not familiar with that dialect. This might sound strange to you, but there's a lot of French, Italian and other songs popular in Croatia and majority in Croatia doesn't not speak those languages, so it's not uncommon that you like some song that you actually don't understand. In fact, I had to look into a dictionary to find meaning of word obilanca in this song!

Despite sounding traditional, it's actually a modern pop song from 1980's. This is just a different rendition.

Updated 2014-06-18 (v. 0.4)


Anonymous said...

What is the chart or guide endings for locative singular and plural nouns and adjectives?

Daniel N. said...

There's no chart, since in the Standard Croatian locative endings = dative endings for both nouns and adjectives. In dialects, endings vary so there cannot be a single chart :)

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