Although many Croatians speak English, they will appreciate your attempts to greet them in Croatian and think it’s cute. So, how do you say hello in Croatian?
There are several ways to say hello or greet a Croatian:
- say “bok“
- say “Bog“
- say “Dobro jutro“
- say “Dobar dan“
- say “Dobra večer“
- just say “Hello” or “Hey”
- nod your head
- lift the eyebrows
Croatians know who you are even before you open your mouth. They certainly know you’re not Croatian. Learn which greeting to use to win them over.
Basically, bok means hello or hi. Simply pronounce it as “bock” (as in mock or dock).
This is a common way to say hi in many parts of Croatia. It’s an informal way of greeting a Croatian. So you should use it when addressing children, teenagers, and older people who behave in a childish way or dress as if they’re teenagers.
Bog literally means God. Actually, the greeting “bok” is derived from Bog.
Both bok and Bog may sound the same. Well, only to an untrained ear. However, people who use “Bog” would make sure you HEAR the difference .
Bog is pronounced as “bougue” (as in vogue) or “bo:g” (as in borg).
Croatians who use Bog are usually more traditional, church-going folks, usually with a hidden agenda. They want you to know that they love their country, their region (usually Dalmatia), and also that they dislike soccer teams from northern parts of Croatia.
Some Croatians show their love for their nation more openly than the others.
Apart from a showy display of your love for the Homeland in form of a flag, carefully choosing your words is another way of confirming your Croatian identity.
Dobro jutro means Good morning. [dobb’row you’throw]
Ok. You say it in the morning, right!? Well, it’s not that simple.
You may inadvertently insult a Croatian if you fail to use it properly.
What is the proper use of Dobro jutro? It is commonly used to greet people who have just woke up. Or to greet someone who got up early to go to work. It also implies that YOU just woke up.
So, when used in a positive context, dobro jutro is a benevolent way of saying hello to someone who woke up early, commending them for their diligence and industriousness. And of course, by saying dobro jutro, you’re sending a message of YOURSELF as a hardworking and good person.
Saying dobro jutro after 8 am or, God forbid, 9 am, might be seen as an insult or a negative remark. You may deliberately use it, though, to make someone feel bad or guilty (Croatians enjoy making others feel bad or guilty).
So, if you don’t want to take your chances, use dobar dan instead!
Or Good Day! Dobar dan is probably the safest and the most appropriate way to greet someone in Croatia. BTW, you roughly should pronounce it as [“Dough Bar Down”].
You can’t go wrong with dobar dan. If you say it early in the morning, you imply that you’ve been up for HOURS before. And you want others to think well of you, don’t you?
Everybody accepts dobar dan. Bus drivers and professors, waiters and your landlords. Both people who are proud to be Croatian and those who are not that proud. And would like to move to Ireland.
You should say dobar dan even in late afternoon. As long as there is sunshine. When the sun sets, it’s about time to use…
Unlike the Italians, who start saying Good evening right after lunch, Croatians say dobra večer when it is dark. Or getting dark outside.
There is no Good afternoon in Croatian. Probably because we don’t really like afternoons. Do you like the afternoon hours when you’re at work?
Dobra večer [Dough Bra Wetcher] is a polite and acceptable way of greeting anyone in Croatia in the evening.
Croatians like their summer evenings.
That is when “život” or life begins.
Saying dobra večer sounds very pleasant to Croatians in Summer.
Just Say Hello Or Hey!
To be honest, Croatians are not overly impressed by people who can speak Croatian. We either take it for granted. Or we seek perfection (like the French, BTW).
On the other hand, they are impressed if YOU COMPLIMENT THEIR ENGLISH. “Oh, your English is so good!” “Thank you, thank you!”- they would proudly say to you.
So, if you don’t want to bother with learning these phrases, just use ENGLISH!
English is taught in Croatian schools from the 1st grade. Croatians like English so much that DUBBING has never become popular here. We like to listen to English. And find faults with the translation of the subtitles.
Nod Your Head
Croatians are not necessarily very talkative. Especially not in Dalmatia.
Croatians don’t usually want to know your name. At least not until they realise that your name is worth memorising. If they really like you, they may ask for your name AT THE END of the conversation.
What they want to know is What Do You Want?
Nodding your head is a perfect informal greeting in Croatia. If you nod your head DOWN (chin down), you’re being nice. If you nod your head UP (chin up), you’re being solemn and important and serious.
Lift Your Eyebrows
Basically, you simply signal that you have noted and recognised someone’s presence.
However, keep in mind that many Croatians would not do even that. Some DO NOT greet persons they do not know. AT ALL. They may even find it strange and suspicious if you greet them. Try to say hello to them. They might seem unprepared or even surprised.
I will never forget when I first went to France. I was in a shop, by the cash register. There was an elderly lady there. And as she made an eye contact with me, the elderly French lady who was standing there immediately said “Bonjour!” To a foreigner and a teenager! I was so unprepared for that! And a bit embarrassed. This lady has taught me how to be more polite.
Of course, things may differ, depending on the circumstances. But traditionally, people in small villages in Croatia were quite reserved towards foreigners.
The words “stranac” (stranger) and “turist” (tourist) are sometimes still used as synonyms. And a stranger is quite a negative word.
So, it they lift their eyebrows, take it as a positive sign. If they nod their head up, you’re being solemnly recognised. If they nod their head down, they find you cute. If they say hello, that’s almost an invitation to start a conversation with them. Don’t miss that opportunity!