81 Zagreb Dialect

Zagreb City dialect is a Kajkavian dialect with a lot of Štokavian features. However, not all citizens speak the same dialect. Generally, older people will use more German words and more Kajkavian forms, younger ones will use a lot of štokavian features. This is the dialect used everyday by myself.

Some people who move to Zagreb from non-Kajkavian parts tend to adopt some features of Zagreb dialect (famously, mayor Bandić, born in Herzegovina, and therefore speaker of I-Štokavian, uses a lot of Kajkavian features with mixed and occasionally comic results). Others completely refuse to try speaking the local dialect.

These are common and distinguishing features of Zagreb City dialect:

  • the Zagreb scheme of vowel stress, no vowel lengths, no rising or falling tones: odlazim {Std. òdlazīm}; and stress on any syllable: kolač, vozač
  • bi as conditional verb, one form for all persons and numbers
  • a lot of colloquial words common in Inland Croatia (pegla "iron", kužim ~ s- "understand", dečko "boy", fakat adv. "really"...)
  • only one sound instead of Standard pairs č and ć, or and đ
  • not using li in questions
  • ko "as" {kao}
  • jel for introducing questions and subclauses, also meaning "because" {jer}

Frequently -äo in past part. m. is shortened to -o (reko instead of rekäo)

Some examples (all taken from the Internet)

Kam ideš? "Where are you going to?"
...pa pita jel sam čuo za njega "...so he/she asks if I heard of him"
Jel si siguran? "Are you sure?"
Jel se znamo? "Do we know each other?"
Ništ nisam našla. "I didn't find anything." (lit. "nothing")

These features vary in frequency (sorted from more to less frequent):

  • "functional" words without final consonants: kak "how", tak "so", tam "there", ak "if"... {kako, tako, tamo, ako}
  • kolko "how much", tolko "so much", etc. {koliko etc.}
  • kaj "what" and its derivatives: nikaj "nothing", nekaj "something", etc.
  • infinitives without -i: reć, pisat,...
  • niš "nothing"
  • verb nemrem "can not"
  • di "where"
  • bum as perfective counterpart of sam, si, used for forming futures with past participles
  • weakening of final consonants
  • the "Final L Rule" turned off: past participles like pisal, vozil etc., words like posel "job"
  • ins. menom vs. Standard mnom (from ja)
  • Kajkavian 3rd pers. pl. in the present tense: učiju, voziju

The last group of features is seldom encountered nowadays and used mostly by older people:

  • ekavian words: lep, bel, dete
  • kajkavian declension in nouns
  • many German loans
  • specific prepositions, prefixes and forms: zemem perf. "take", dojdem perf. "arrive, come"
  • specific Kajkavian words: furt "always", prav "true"
  • specific politeness, e.g. prosim "please"
  • preference on using diminutives
  • Kajkavian e in place of Standard ä: megla, steklo, pes

There's always only one type of e, and vowels are more open than in most Kajkavian dialects.

For an example of Zagreb dialect, listen to this song by Elemental, an ambitious pop/hop-hop group from Zagreb:

Kolko nisko idemo, može li uopće niže
možda nam se digo zanos
al standard nam se ne diže
dani ponosa i slave
i minusa na tekućem
mi ne živimo, mi preživljavamo
šta ostavljamo našem
budućem naraštaju
dugove, račune, rate kredita nas guše
a nemamo ni kune
kombiniramo kako odgodit plaćanje
bar za desetak dana
jebo život kad na karticu se kupuje hrana
di smo sad...

(Luka Tralić "Shot" & Mirela Priselac "Remi")

Observe Zagreb accents (preživljavamo, ostavljamo, etc.), di "where", al "but" and infinitives without the final -i (but šta "what" and past part. like digo {digäo})...

Some local radio stations in Zagreb use Zagreb Dialect, mostly its common features, and sometimes less frequent features, to appeal to listeners. However, the dialect is considered not acceptable by non-Kajkavian outsiders, it's a sign of being "not educated" and so.

Updated 2013-03-08


Mason said...

thanks for this article, I've been looking forward to it

pencilnpaper said...

jebote, sjajana si :)

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