Dober dan, kje je vece?

Vece, I said vece, didn't I? I meant WC, of course. For zenski. With a squiggle on top of the z. That's what it says in the section "Slovenian Survival Phrases" at the end of the guide book.

I started reading that glossary the day before our trip, but somehow nothing sank in. Except perhaps Ja and Ne. Some other words sounded vaguely familiar, like "dobro", meaning good, which sounds like the Polish word "dobre", which I heard often in my schooldays from my Polish speaking friends and their families. And "Na svidenje", meaning goodbye, which sounds a lot like its Russian counterpart, "Dasvidaniya" (please ignore spelling.) But other than that, I seemed to bump against a wall, or mental block.

How can I call myself a linguist if I can only manage mildly-foreign languages such as French, Spanish and Italian? The moment things get a bit tricky, I'm lost. In Portugal, it was the pronunciation rather than the vocabulary that killed me. Here it's both. All those impossible consonant clusters!

Before our first trip to Greece many years ago, I made a point of studying the Greek alphabet, so that I could read the signs. It did help. Here in Slovenia, the alphabet is familiar, I even know how to pronounce the c and the z with and without the "chupchik", but it all comes to naught when we're driving along the highway at 130 km/h and a sign looms with a list of half a dozen destinations, all with impossible names, and is gone within a blink.

One major mistake was not learning the names of the cardinal directions. A hit-and-miss attitude to directions is bound to result in trouble... And there is absolutely no way you can guess: North = Sever, South = Jug, East = Vzhod, West = Zahod. I couldn't think of a single mnemonic for any of them. Sever made me think of the river Severn; "Jug" made me think of the jugular vein and vampires; Vzhod looks to me like total gibberish; and Zahod brings to mind the delightful(?) Zaphod Beeblebrox which, you'll agree, is not a very helpful association.

Today, for instance, on our way to catch a train in the middle of nowhere, we were stopped because of road works. We tried to explain that we have a train to catch, even resorting to mimicry and "choo-choo", but the guy with the beret and red-and-green lanterns just shrugged.

By the time I've mastered a few basic words in Slovenian, we'll be in Croatia. Anyone have any helpful hints???

For more stories of our Slovenia & Croatia adventures, see my travel blog:

Meantime, adijo! Vidiva se kasneje gori v pubu :-)


Unknown said...

Hi Nina,

The only help I can offer (and I don't if it's any help at all) is about the cardinals: Vzhod is similiar to the Russian word meaning sunrise, so it's east, and Zahod is similiar to sunset, so it's west.
Have a lovely trip!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nina Rimon Davis said...

Thank you! Makes perfect sense. Now all I have to do is brush up my Russian :-)

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