So there I was sitting in the garden enjoying the fruit of my labour. Birds were cheeping, the sun was shining and the only thing disturbing me was the occasional cloud.
In short, I was pretty chilled when all of a sudden this thought popped into my head:-
What is the Croatian word for bird?
It was totally random, and maybe if I practised mindfulness this wouldn’t have happened. My internal monologue would have been non-existent and instead I would be focused on the sun beating down on me, the sound of the aforementioned birds, leaves rustling and the general relaxing vibe.
I’ll leave out the sound of traffic, and the sound of rocks being smashed for the purposes of this bucolic scene.
But it happened.
I couldn’t remember the (Croatian) word for bird, and that was despite having recently proudly declared myself as having a B1 level in Croatian.
I could remember it in Spanish, Italian and French (pajaro, ucello and oiseau) but not in Croatian.
It’s not exactly a disaster, but it brought home a rather unpleasant fact, and it left me feeling distinctly dechuffed.
My basic Croatian vocabulary is starting to drift away.
Like the clouds.
Croatian isn’t a straight-forward language for numerous reasons. One of these is vocabulary acquisition. I am not trying to improve the Croatian that I know (for the now), nevertheless I definitely do not want to forget the vocabulary that I have so painfully learnt.
Of course, I immediately looked up the Croatian for bird which is ptica with and for the sake of completeness a plural of ptice.
The act of looking the word up (as I didn’t have a phone, dictionary or access to the internet) to hand, disturbed my tranquil state and also made me consider language maintenance. My comfortable period of loafing about in the garden brought abruptly to an end.
My Croatian is most definitely not at the level where I can read, listen to the radio or carry out any of the fun, accessible and obvious ways of maintaining a language.
For example with Spanish, I read the news, listen to the radio and occasionally chat with friends. Ditto with Italian. I learnt most of my French at school many moons ago, and it has remained firmly entrenched in my skull (as has Latin) ever since. Perhaps a passing neuroscientist could explain why this is so?
My most recent and favourite of all languages is disappearing fast.
I need to halt this slide – especially as at some point I want to continue learning and improving.
So in essence I’m talking about language maintenance. This would have made a better title for SEO purposes but is too obvious for my liking.
The slightly tangential link appeals to me.
So how am I going to do maintain my Croatian?
And crucially do so without spending too much time on it.
I don’t know.
I have various ideas, which I will outline in my next post.
By the way, if you read Spanish I thought this article was interesting. It can be summed up by ‘stop looking at your phone the time kiddos!’.
And finally, if you are in the UK and are an EU citizen who hasn’t applied for pre-settled status, do it now!
The deadline for this expired on June the 30th 2021 but the government is likely to be lenient with late applications. Apparently.