Bird Is The Word / Ptica je riječ

In my first blog I mentioned that as I am learning Croatian, I am often using words in the wrong context or using a word in place of another that sounds similar to my ear. This is referred to in English as a “malapropism.” I dare any Croat to drop this word into a conversation with the English. I guarantee they will be impressed with your knowledge of our language as for sure they will have to look this word up just as I did!

 

My first malapropism was when I was trying to convey detest for mosquitoes to Mama & Papa Franić. In pockets of Split, the heat is often too much for them but on the island of Ciovo, where there’s a constant breeze, the mosquitoes are rife. And I honestly believe that they have the ability to home in on the tourists! I think I’m justified in this belief because since I have started living here my mosquito bites have halved. A day in Slatine (a village on Ciovo) now means 10 bites rather than 20… Hey! It’s progress!

Maybe they feel my transition. Maybe it’s because I no longer parade around in shorts when the sun is low - I am always wearing ankle-length skirts these days! Maybe it’s their aversion to my garlic-based, Mediterranean style diet that has changed their tune… Either way, I’ve certainly done my fair share of research on how to avoid getting bitten and how to deal with their bites most effectively.

 

So, I’m in the kitchen showing my 18 bites to Mama Franic and I explain that they are from the “Kukumarac!” The kitchen stops dead as everyone turns to one another in confusion… then the howling of laughter commences. What I had said was not even a word but some cross between the word Kumarac (mosquito) and Kukumar (cucumber)….  There’s nothing like a room full of people laughing at you to encourage your learning!  The worst part is when they laugh so hard that all I can do is smile and wait for Ante (or someone that speaks English) to translate what everyone is laughing at! To this day the family still affectionately refer to the little blood-suckers as kukumarac.

 

One big lesson I have learnt here is acceptance. I’ve had to accept that as I am learning I will continue to make mistakes. The problem is that I’ve always been so confident in communication. I’m a singer for God sake! I’ve always had a way with words. But now I find myself vocally bound at times and it is really unnerving and frustrating. I’ve questioned how to get my personality across to strangers when I don’t have the words as my aid? How do I know that I’m not being taken the wrong way? The truth is I don’t. I just have to put vanity aside and try any which way to make myself understood.

 

I definitely feel that in the last 6 weeks I’ve managed to pass through a mental barrier - my knee jerk reaction now when I mess up is certainly closer to nonchalance than embarrassment. I once described goosebumps as “kose na ruke je gore.” Directly translated it means “the hair on my arms is up.” Mama Franic still giggles about this one because the term in Croatian is “naježiti se“… and what I said would never be used as a description. I laugh because at least she understood what I was trying to convey! So I feel like I’m winning at life in these moments!

 

There certainly will be more to come but right now I shall leave you with my best boo-boo to date:

I was walking home with Ante one day when I heard a beautiful bird singing in the tree. I found where the bird was hiding and I turned to Ante and said, “ahhhh… vidi mala pićka!” AHEM!! Ante’s expression said it all...a mixture of shock and amusement before he quickly regained composure and said, “yeah… vidi, vidi”

What I had wanted to say was, “look at the small bird.” The word for bird however, is PTICA… What I had just referred to was the female genitalia.

Superb! On that day, in that moment, I felt grateful and blessed for an audience of one.

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Ptica je riječ -   Preveo Mario Miše

U svom prvom blogu spomenula sam da, dok učim hrvatski, često koristim riječi u krivom kontekstu ili pak koristim neku riječ umjesto druge koja mi slično zvuči. Ovo u engleskom nazivamo „malapropism“. Izazivam Hrvate da ubace ovu riječ u razgovor s Englezima. Jamčim da će biti zadivljeni vašim znanjem našeg jezika i da će trebati potražiti ovu riječ, baš kao što sam i ja trebala!

 

Moja prva situacija s nekom krivo upotrebljenon riječi dogodila mi se kad sam pokušala pokazati svoj prijezir prema komarcima mami i tati Franić. Među uličicama Splita, vrućina je često previše za njih, ali na Čiovu, gdje stalno puše povjetarac, sve vrvi komarcima. I ja iskreno vjerujem da imaju sposobnost da se udomaće kod turista. Mislim da je moje vjerovanje opravdano jer su se moji ubodi komaraca prepolovili otkad živim ovdje. Dan u Slatinama (mjestu na Čiovu) sada znači 10 uboda, a ne 20... Ej! To je napredak!

Možda osjećaju moj prijelaz. A možda je to i jer više ne paradiram u kratkim hlačama kad se sunce spusti – ovih dana stalno nosim suknje do gležnja! A možda im je moja mediteranska prehrana, koja se temelji na češnjaku, odbojna, pa im je to promijenilo mišljenje. Bilo kako bilo, ja sam sigurno pridonijela u istraživanju kako izbjeći ubode i kako najučinkovitije tretirati ubode.


I tako, u kuhinji pokazujem svojih 18 uboda mami Franić i objašnjavam da su od „kukumarca“! Kuhinja utihnu dok se svi zbunjeno okreću jedni prema drugima... I onda svi počnu zavijati od smijeha. Ono što sam rekla nije ni bila riječ, već neki križanac između riječi komarac i kukumar... Ne postoji ništa kao prostorija puna ljudi koji ti se smiju kako bi te ohrabrili u učenju! Najgori je dio kad ti se smiju tako jako da je jedino što mogu činiti smješkati se i čekati da mi Ante (ili netko tko govori engleski) prevede čemu se svi smiju! I do dana današnjeg cijela rodbina male krvopije sa zadovoljstvom naziva kukumarac.

 

Jedna velika lekcija koju sam naučila je prihvaćanje. Trebala sam prihvatiti da ću, dok učim, i dalje činiti greške. Problem je što sam uvijek bila vrlo samouvjerena u komunikaciji. Pa Bože moj, pjevačica sam! Uvijek sam znala s riječima. Ali sad se povremeno nađem ograničena u govoru pa to zna biti vrlo obeshrabrujuće i frustrirajuće. Pitam se kako pokazati svoju osobnost neznancima ako mi riječi nisu na pomoć... Kako znam da me ne shvaćaju krivo? Istina je da ne znam. Samo trebam staviti svoju taštinu sa strane i truditi se bilo kako da me razumiju.

 

Definitivno osjećam da sam u zadnjih 6 tjedana uspjela prijeći psihičku barijeru – sad mi je refleksna reakcija kada nešto zabrljam bliža nemaru nego tome da sam se osramotila. Jednom sam se naježila i to sam opisala ovako: „kose na ruke je gore“. Mama Franić još se uvijek hihoće zbog ovoga jer se na hrvatskom to kaže trnci, a ono što sam ja rekla nikad se ne bi koristilo kao opis. Ali sretna sam jer je barem razumjela što sam joj pokušavala priopćiti. Tako da se osjećam da trenutno pobjeđujem u životu.

 

Sigurno će biti još materijala za objaviti, a zasad vas napuštam sa svojom najboljom bazom do danas:

Jedan dan sam išla kući s Antom i čula prekrasnu pticu kako pjeva na stablu. Otkrila sam gdje se ptica skriva, okrenula se prema Anti i rekla: „Aaa, vidi, mala pička!“ Šta!? Antin izraz lica je sve rekao... Neki miks šoka i zabave... Onda se pribrao i rekao: „ Je... Vidi, vidi!“ Ono što sam htjela reći je: „Vidi malu pticu!“ A pročitali ste što sam rekla... Krasno! Taj dan, u tom trenutku, bila sam zahvalna i osjećala sam se blagoslovljeno jer mi je publiku činio samo jedan čovjek.