Aha! Learning Croatian: Vocabulary #010
What a joke! ‘Vic’ or ‘šala’?
Have you heard the one about the guy who was so lazy that every morning he walked a snail, rather than a dog, so that he could go slowly?
Mare: Ivan, is that the same snail that you had yesterday?
Ivan: No, it’s not, Mare. The one I had yesterday got away from me!
The Croatian word for this sort of descriptive joke that tells a story is vic (pronounced like veets).
Here is an extract from Bujas’ Veliki Hrvatsko-Engleski Rječnik that illustrates the meaning of the noun vic:
Hoćete li još jedan vic? Evo .......
Došao Stipe kod doktora. U nosu mu je mrkva, u lijevom uhu je krastavac, a u desnom uhu banana.
Stipe: Doctor, what’s wrong with me?
Doctor: Well look, you are not eating properly!
This joke is stolen from a good source of Croatian jokes at vicevi.hr: https://vicevi.hr/vicevi/doktori
Kužiš li što je vic?
And the padeži, sourced from Wiktionary (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/vic) .....
Declension of vic: (muški rod imenica):
For a collection of jokes with Croatian flavour, see the blog post Vicevi.
Now, there is a different form of joke: one that you might participate in, and is probably better referred to as a jest, or a prank, for which Croatians use the word šala. This refers to an action or a statement, rather than the telling of a story. They most commonly take the form of a playful mock, or deception, best said in the presence of the person being mocked or tricked (if you want to avoid conflict). For example .........
Goran i Nikolina najavili su Mariji da će se vjenčali prvog ožujka. Marija je Goranova sestra. Marija reagira ovako.....
Goran and Nikolina announced to Marija that they will get married on 1 March. Marija is Goran's sister. This is how Marija reacted:
Marija: You really want to marry my brother, Nikolina? But you could marry someone better!
You can see the potential for offence in using this sort of “joke” or jest. Not everybody can carry it off, and if you try, you need to know the people that are the object of the joke. Finish with a smiley emoji!
Here is an extract from Bujas’ Veliki Hrvatsko-Engleski Rječnik about the meaning and usages of the word šala:
And the declension of the noun šala: (Source: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%C5%A1ala)
A šala can also take the form of a trick, or prank, played on someone:
Ivan: Marija, you have a spider on your head!
Marija: Oh no! Aaaaaaaaargh!
Ivan: Ha ha …. I am joking! There is no spider.
You can see from the last cartoon that there is a verb related to the noun šala: It is šaliti se.
Once again, an extract from Bujas’ Veliki Hrvatsko-Engleski Rječnik:
And finally ....
Since there is the noun šala (a jest), and a corresponding verb šaliti se (to jest), you might expect that in the Croatian language there is a verb that corresponds with the noun vic (a joke). Like vicati (to tell a joke)? There is no such word!
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