88 Baby Talk

• • • Review: Appositions, Roles and Family Relations

Grown-ups everywhere use a simplified language when speaking with small children. Croatian is no exception.

Baby talks include simple sounds and avoid irregular and difficult stuff. The most frequent words are for Mum and Dad (never capitalized in Croatian):

mama "Mom"
tata (or: ćaća Dalm.) ma "Dad"

The word tata is a masculine a-noun. These words are used even when grown-ups address their parents, especially privately. In Dalmatia, ćaća is almost always used instead of tata.

Words for grandmother and grandfather vary by regions:

[under construction]

Words for aunt and uncle are very important, since children use them to address other adults outside of their family, That is, instead of formal gospodin "mister" and gospođa "madam". The word for "aunt" is mostly:

teta "aunt" (used to address and refer to other adult women as well!)

The word for "uncle" (just "father's brother", and used to address and refer to other adult men) varies by region:

stričekkajkavian regions incl. Zagreb
barba macoast, Dalmatia except Dubrovnik
strikoLika, inland
strika maSlavonia
čikosome inland regions, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Note that adults mostly use the word stric instead of these words. The word teta is then used colloquially (and in newspapers) in meaning "kindergarden teacher" (they are almost always women!), as in this headline from Jutarnji list daily:

U Hrvatskoj jedna teta na 36 djece u vrtiću
"In Croatia, (there's) one kindergarden teacher for 36 children in kindergarden"

The verb jedem, jeo, jela, jesti "eat" is replaced by:

papam ~ po- "eat"
[to be expanded]


Galena said...

Thank you so much for this resource! My husband is an English speaker, trying to learn Croatian so he can speak to the inlaws :) Your blog is perfect since most "learn the language" books seem to focus on touristy stuff, and your overview of the grammar is so comprehensive. Thanks!

Daniel N. said...

Hi Galena, I'm glad your husband find this useful. I would be most grateful if you/he tell me what would you like me to write about...

br Daniel

pixy said...

I feel very awkward around babies and toddlers because the parents expect me to interact with their child, but I am clueless as to what to say to a baby when I can barely communicate with adults. I only know "gde si?" and "bravo!" from listening to others.
I think I just need a couple more little phrases, like "you're a little sweetie!" and... I don't know what else! Maybe a little song? :-p
Thank you!

Daniel N. said...

Ok, I'll add something :)

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