1. Grammar and Spelling
Section One - Grammar and Spelling
1. Gender: There are three genders in Croatian: masculine, feminine and neuter.
2. Case: There are seven cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, vocative, locative and instrumental. They cannot be easily recognised by non- Croatian speakers and they require agreements.
3. Articles: Croatian does not have definite or indefinite articles.
4. One-letter words: One-letter words are a, e, i, o, u, k (ka before words beginning with s, š, z, or ž), s (sa before words beginning with s, š, z, or ž).
5. Accents: Accents exist, but they are rarely written and they never appear on upper case characters.
6. Plurals: To non-Croatian speakers, singular and plural forms are indistinguishable, as their distinction requires the knowledge of the language.
7. Capitalisation: Except for the capitalisation rules or abbreviations there are no in-capped words. The formal forms of address are not capitalised, unless they are used to introduce a sentence. The titles (e.g. president, member of the board) should not be capitalised unless they refer to a particular person mentioned in the text, although they are often capitalised in administrative texts.
Only the first word of a heading is capitalised, unless there are proper, geographical names etc. The product names are capitalised if they are brands/trademarks. The beginning of the sentence, the beginning of direct speech unit and a new sentence after colon are capitalised. The names of days/seasons/months are not capitalised.
8. Polite forms: Polite forms are mostly used in private or business correspondence, not in catalogues, brochures, modern literature, etc. The capitalised polite form 'Vi' is used only in the singular.
Section Two - Punctuation
The only forms of punctuation that might appear odd to the English speaker are « ... » or - ... -.
1. Full stops: Full stops are mostly used:
2. Speech marks: Croatian uses three forms of speech marks: “- ”, ,, - ”, " - " and « - ». The first two are used in handwritten, electronic and printed texts and the third only in electronic and printed texts.
1. “Give me more work!”, shouted Chloe.
2. “Would anyone like some tea?” asked George.
3. “I’m bored – can I go home now?”, Michala said.
3. Apostrophe: The apostrophe is used where a letter has been omitted (or if 'I' has been omitted in the question word li (je l').
4. Colons and ellipsis: There is no significant difference in the use of semi-colons and colons in English and Croatian. The ellipsis is also mostly used as in English, except for the conjunctions (structural ellipsis) that cannot be omitted.
5. Brackets: The brackets are used as they are in English for explanations and supplements of the text or sentence, and they can be placed at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the sentence. The text unit in the brackets is capitalised if placed at the beginning of the sentence or if it is a new, separate sentence within the text; in the latter case, the text unit/sentence ends with a full stop.
Section Three - Measurements and Abbreviations
1. Measurements: The official measurements are metric and the imperial measurements are mostly converted into metric. However, for computer monitors the inches are used (19¨), for diameter of pipes/tubes metric and sometimes also imperial measurements are used. The nautical miles are not converted and the imperial measurements are used for the size of computer disks.
There are no other measurements specific to Croatia, except 'jutro' (5754 m2) which is an archaic land measurement.
Numbers are written using a decimal comma. However, because of the influence of the computer industry and English, the decimal point is creeping in and can be found particularly in computer magazines.
For example, you would write 4,5 cm. 4000 does not require any dot and 50 000 can be written either as 50.000 or 50 000.
Numbers over 9999 can be separated by a dot - more common - (200.000) or a space (200 000). Millions are separated by a comma (23,545.000) or by a dot (23.565.000) and a dot MUST be used to separate thousands in this case.
Times can be written 10:30 h, 10.30 h, 10.30 sati / podne or 12:00 h or 12.00 sati / 4.30 h or 16:00 h / 16.00 sati / ponoc or 24:00 h.
Dates are written to correspond to the following English formats:
20 February 2004 = 20. veljace 2004.
There should always be a space between a figure and a measurement abbreviation. The only exception is percentage (7%) where there is no space. There is no space before a % symbol, but there is a space left before °C, e.g. 30 °C.
2. Currency: The currency symbols are put behind the figure and separated by a space, e.g. 45 €, 230 £, 587,67 kuna, 98 milijardi kuna. The international 3-letter code is much more frequent on the exchange rate lists.
The 3-letter code for Croatian national currency 'kuna' is HRK.
N/a = no equivalent
Days of the week: Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
Months: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec
Normally not abbreviated in the text, only in Excel tables: sij., vlj, ožu., tra., svi., lip., srp., kol., ruj., lis., stu. and pro..
Seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter (not normally abbreviated in English)
g. or gosp. = Mr
There are no abbreviations of measurements which may look strange to the English eye.
Section Four – Hyphenation
The hyphens are mostly used:
· to connect the equally important semi-compounds (spomen-ploca)
· to connect two or more words into a compound that contains a number (30-godišnjak = 30-year-old)
· to connect two family names of a female person (Ivana Brlic-Mažuranic)
· to split words over the line
· to mark prefixes and suffixes if written separately (pri-, -ost)
· to connect abbreviations with case endings (HTV-om)
· with negation 'ne' used as a prefix in formation of words (ne-clanstvo)
· to form co-related adverbs (manje-više = more or less)
· to divide the words into smaller phonetic, morphological or syllabic units (m-e-d, pceli-njak, so-ba)
· to write some foreign words (Cang-Kai-šek).
The rules of end-of-line hyphenation are:
· try not to hyphenate monosyllabic words
· try not to hyphenate before/after a single letter (unless separating a grammatical element)
· do try and hyphenate between two syllables and between grammatical elements
Words are rarely joined together using hyphens.
The prefixes/suffixes are rarely joined to words using hyphens, except in such examples as stated above (ne-clanstvo).
Dashes are used, but only the short 'N' dashes.
Section Five – Miscellaneous Peculiarities
Regarding place names, some have the original spelling of that particular country. However, as Croatian is a language in which the vast majority of words are written the way they are pronounced, very often the spelling would be different (Stockholm/Štokholm, Paris/Pariz, Vienna/Bec (Hungarian origin!).
Surnames are normally written after the first name and they are not written all in upper case.
There is no general rule for the use of bold (mostly emphasis ), and italics are used to emphasise certain words and to mark foreign words (not proper names) that may not have been completely accepted in the language (jeans).
Because Croatian is an inflectional language with a complex declension/conjugation system, it is almost impossible to translate words or strings of words taken out of context. 'Yellow' in English is simply 'yellow'. In Croatian, depending on the number, gender and case it can be žut, žuta, žuto, žutog, žutom, žutim, žute, žutu, žutoj, žuti or žutih!!
Section Six – Geographic Distribution
Croatian belongs to the Indo-European and Eastern European group of South Slavic languages written in the Roman alphabet that is primarily spoken in Croatia (former Yugoslav Republic). The major regional languages, i.e. dialects are štokavski (Slavonia and eastern part of Croatia), kajkavski (surroundings of Zagreb and Zagorje) and cakavski (Dalmatia and coast). The dialect 'štokavski' has been standardised and has become an official language used in written, legal and official texts and on the national and private TV channels, although dialects are also present in the media and the literature. 96% of the population of Croatia speak Croatian. The remaining 4% speak languages that include Italian, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak and German.
Croatian is officially spoken/used in the following countries: Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria, Italy and wherever Croatian ethnical groups are present. The closest languages in terms of grammar, spelling and pronunciation are Serbian and Bosnian.
The World Factbook: Field Listing - Language. Central Intelligence Agency.
Jojic, Liljana. Pravopisni prirucnik. Zagreb. Novi Liber. 2003.
Anic, Vladimir. Veliki rjecnik hrvatskoga jezika. Zagreb. Novi Liber. 2003.
Section Seven – Character Set
[ ] = Alt key codes
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