There are a few things which every good expat needs to do after moving to Slovenia. For instance, do some hiking, go to Bled, eat a lot of čevapčiči and burek and potica, learn some local swear words (Pismo!)… No. Seriously. It’s important to learn to speak Slovene but not only that. It is also important to learn to understand the local dialect. In Slovenia, this is extraordinarily important because everybody, literally everybody, speaks in a local dialect here and the only locals who speak the standard Slovene are the news readers (more on that next time).
Because I happen to live in Kranj, in Gorenjska region, and I am fighting with the local dialect every single day, I put together some interesting and funny features of the dialect.
So, let’s get started:
A typical start of a conversation when two friends accidentally meet in the streets of Kranj would most probably sound like this:
A: Živjo, stari. Kvaj zdej? A bo?
B: Bo! Pa ti?
As I learnt, the phrase kvaj zdej stands for kaj je zdaj, meaning what’s up. The question a bo represents something like everything’s ok and apart from the typical example above, people say it in all kinds of other situations, like to make sure that you are ok after you hit your toe on the bed, or to get you yes when picking up a movie to watch.
Next. For a foreigner in Gorenjska it may come in handy to speak some German. This is because a lot of local dialect words are derived from German. Therefore, you may hear things like:
Cajt – Time (EN) – Zeit (DE) – Čas (StSLO)
You may come across a common sentence:
A maš kej cajta? – A imaš kaj časa? (StSLO) – Do you have some time?
Cajtungi – Newspapers (EN) – Zeitung (DE) – Časopisi (StSLO)
Probat – Try (EN) – Probieren (EN) – Poskusiti (StSLO)
Štrom – Electricity (EN) – Strom (DE) – Elektrika (StSLO)
Hohcajt – Wedding (EN) – Hochzeit (DE) – Poroka (StSLO) – I actually hear people saying ohcajt (reaaallly?) but I am not totally sure
The list goes on with more words, such laufat, špilat, bremze etc.
Another language feature which I noticed in Gorenjska is omitting of vocals and general shortening of words. (Actually, omitting of vocals is typical for spoken informal Slovene regardless from the regional dialect but in Gorenjska this seems to be even more obvious).
A loh – A lahko (StSLO) – Can I?
Sm vidla – Sem videla (StSLO) – I saw (female form)
Kok je u Ljubljan – Kako je v Ljubljani (StSLO) – How is Ljubljana?
Then you may also come across some strange versions of words here, there, now and their variations created by adding a suffix –le.
Zdele – zdaj (StSLO) -now
Tlele – tukaj (StSLO) – here
Gremo do kje/gremo kjele – Gremo tja (StSLO) – We are going there
The last group which I named Miscellaneous is created by random words which everyone is saying all the time although they have their equivalent(s) in standard Slovene.
Glih – ravnokar – right now
Skos –zmeraj – always
Lej – poglej – look
As you can see it is not particularly easy to understand people in Gorenjska. My level of understanding also pretty much depends on who is talking and what is the topic of the conversation (for example, if you find yourself in the middle of someone’s conversation about which priest is about to come to a nearby village, it is hard to contribute 🙂 )
Well, I am far from being an expert on local dialects but hope you had fun reading. If you liked the article, please let me know by liking it, commenting on, sharing it, and, if you want to add, correct something or suggest a topic for another article, please send your thoughts my way 🙂
Thanks for reading and have a beautiful day!
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