There, but for grace of God, go I ….
Here is a recent experience of a Crossie (Cro/Aussie) friend.
Max went to the island Vis to visit some relatives that his family had lost contact with years ago. He was warmly welcomed, and somebody asked him about his mother.
He replied “Nažalost, ona je davno krepala.” As far as he knew, this meant “Unfortunately she died long ago.”
He was a bit shocked when his rellies burst out into loud laughter. He had passed on some sad news, and they laughed their heads off! WTH? [What the heck?]
When the Višani got over their mirth, they apologised, gave him their condolences (sućut), and explained ....
There are two verbs to die: umrijeti and krepati. Umrijeti is used in reference to people, and krepati is used when we talk about animals.
Moj je otac umro (My father died)
Moj je pas krepao (My dog died)
Krepani pas? I don’t think so …. Uplašeni pas? More likely.
In fact, what Max said is even worse than to just confuse the words that are used for people and animals: the verb krepati is sometimes used when people talk about somebody for whom they have utter disdain or hatred.
Here is the entry for krepati in my dictionary (Bujas: Croatian-English Dictionary):
krepati (non-continuous), krepavati (continuous): [životinje] to die. Figuratively: to die or perish miserably, to drop dead; Slang: to croak. Colloquial phrases: ti si za krepati I like that! You’re incredible! You kill me! pa makar krepao (I’ll do it) if it kills me! krepaj od zavisti Eat your heart out! Literally; Die of envy!
The adjective krepan literally applies to a dead dog “To je krepan pas” (That is a dead dog). But one might use a metaphorical expression “Krepan/Krepana sam” to mean “I am so very tired, so run-down” (either physically or in spirit). Perhaps, to use an old expression in English … dog tired?
And then there is the derogatory term krepavalo: You lazy bum, stick-in-the-mud, couch potato!
So it’s no wonder that in the eyes of Max’s rellies, he didn’t seem to hold his mum in high regard!
It’s a treacherous path we walk learning this Croatian language! Sometimes it feels just too much? Ja bih umro, ali uvijek si kažem “Ne daj se!” [I would die, but I always tell myself “Don’t give up!”
Actually, there are words other than umrijeti for “to die” when referring to people: preminuti and izdahnuti (literally, to expire).
Krepan pas? Ne, to je “vruć pas”.
[the actual name used in Croatian is “hot dog” - perhaps with a Croatian accent.]
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