Croatian/Main Contents/Level 1/Lesson 1

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The Croatian alphabet[edit]

Croatian is an easy language to spell. Each letter is pronounced separately and clearly in almost every position and each word is spelt as it is pronounced (some exceptions are odsvirati pronounced [otsvirati]; another one is odšteta pronounced [otšteta]...). However, some words have a few vowels pronounced longer than others, so if you don't pronounce its vowels in correct length it might have a different meaning (for example: when "kada" is pronounced as it's written it means when, but when it's pronounced with a longer first a then it means bathtub).

The Croatian language uses a Latin alphabet, with 30 letters.

The following table lists all of the letters, together with pronunciations and "as in..." notes for easier pronunciation.

Note: Because of their similarity in pronucation, some Croatian children in certain areas don't learn to differ Č and Ć, Đ and DŽ or "je" and "ije" before fifth grade. Stress almost always falls on the second-last or third-last syllable

Croatian alphabet
Letter Name Pronunciation Note
A a a [a] like "a" in "arc"
B b be [b] like "b" in "brother"
C c ce [ʦ] like "ts" in "cats" or "zz" in "pizza"
Č č če [ʧ] like "ch" in "church"
Ć ć će [ʨ] like "tch" in "gotcha", or like "ch" with the top of the tongue slightly forward
D d de [d] like "d" in "day"
DŽ dž dže [ʤ] like "j" in "John", "jungle", but with the tongue slightly curved back
Đ đ đe [ʥ] like the "j" as in "Julian", but softer than the aforementioned dž
E e e [e] like "e" in "bed", or like "ea" in "head"
F f ef [f] like "f" in "fast", or like "ph" in "photo"
G g ge [g] like "g" in "go"
H h ha [h/x] like "h" in "huge", or like "ch" in "loch"
I i i [i] like "e" in "he", or like "y" ih "lorry", "factory"
J j j, je, jot, ju [j] like "y" in yes"
K k ka [k] like "k" in "key", or like "c" in "cat"
L l el [l] like "l" in "love"
LJ lj elj [ʎ] soft "l", like "lli" in "brilliant", or "l" in "volume"
M m em [m] like "m" In "mother", "milk"
N n en [n] like "n" in "no", or "kn" in "knob"
NJ nj enj [ɲ] soft "n", like "ni" in "onion", like "gn" in "cognac", like the Spanish "Ñ"
O o o [o] like "o" in "not", "hot", "spot"
P p pe [p] like "p" in "pot"
R r er [r] rolled, rhotic "r", like "r" in Russian, Scottish, and some rural English dialects
S s es [s] like "s" in "stop", or "ss" in "bless", or like "c" in "cell"
Š š [ʃ] like "sh" in "shy", or like "s" in "sure"
T t te [t] like "t" in "top",
U u u [u] like "oo" in "food", but it is pronounced short, like "u" in "put"
V v ve [v] like "v" in "vest"
Z z ze [z] like "z" in "zeal", or like "s" in "reason"
Ž ž že [ʒ] like "s" in "pleasure", or "zh" in foreign names (Russian, Chinese, etc.) such as "Zhivago"

To oversimplify, remember six rules:

1. For the "c" without a hat, remember "cats." In English we pronounce the cat's head ("c") but in Croatian the tail is pronounced ("ts").

2. A hat on a "c," "s," or "z" becomes an English "ch," "sh," or "zh." Pronounce "ć" like "č", because it makes learning Croatian easier.

3. DŽ is an English "j," as in "John."

4. For "h" pretend you're Scottish and saying "loch" or German saying "Bach."

5. The "i" and "u" vowels are always long, never short.

6. The "j" is pronounced like "y" in English.

Stress[edit]

Croatian language has 4 types of stress.

rising falling
short `
long ´

And there's also "ˉ". It means that the vowel is pronounced longer, but the stress isn't on this vowel. Example is pìlōt.
Every stress has it's name: short-rising (kratkouzlazni), short-falling (kratkosilazni), long-rising (dugouzlazni), long-falling (dugosilazni).
Examples: žèna (wife; it means e is short, and the intonations is rising)
kȕća (house; it means u is short, and the intonations is falling)
rúka (arm; it means u is long, and the intonation is rising)
zlâto (gold; it means a is long, and the intonation is falling)


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