In the task of learning Croatian, particular things stand out as problems for me. This is about one of those ....
I have had great trouble correctly pronouncing Croatian words that include the letters au in combination. I suspect that I am not the only native English speaker who has had this difficulty?
Presumably the source of this problem is that in English – at least in lazy English – these letters together form a sound like “or”. Think automobile, automatic, astronaut, aubergine, taut. Sometimes we give it a shorter sound as in Australia.
Of course, I know that Croatian is pronounced phonetically. But I can’t shake the habit that “au” is a single sound in English (one phoneme?).
So when I say autobus as “ortobus”, Croatian speakers reel back in horror! I get the picture that I haven't spoken perfect Croatian.
No, Bob… truly phonetic! The letters au are pronounced as the sound a followed distinctly by the sound u. That’s a as in kat, followed by u as in vuk …. just the same as the word što is pronounced as š followed distinctly by t, followed by o. Simple enough, eh?
I was trying to perfect this during a lesson with Mateja not so long ago. In fact, the lesson was conducted as Mateja was driving on a highway in Austria – not our usual online lesson situation.
It didn’t come easily to me, but I was determined, and she demanded perfection…
Konačno, my tongue began to behave itself. I think I was getting there! Watch the video below. You judge. Am I close?
Kao što sam vam pričao, bio sam australac u autu na autocesti u Austriji.
Try it yourself. How did you go?
What about the words euro and Europa? Strictly phonetic, remember!
If you too are thinking about learning Croatian while driving along the highways of Austria, I'm sorry but I have booked all of the available timeslots.
But if you think you would like to do it online (Skype) from Uruguay, Sweden, Mexico, Zimbabwe, or anywhere else in the world, I recommend to you Mateja (SpeakCro - Learn Croatian Online).
Click here to go to Aha! Croatian: A ROAD MAP