Ljubljana, Marko tells me, is not a Slovenian word. However, if you change one letter, then it becomes Ljubljena, which means, ‘The Woman I Love’. We spent some time sampling the coffee there (not my favorite), followed by the food (which was good), during which time Marko educated me on the differences between Croatian and Slovenian language.
They are very similar, much like Mexican & Argentinian Spanish, and the letters are pronounced like most Germanic languages. The only difference is the addition of the single accented consonants (such as ć and ś) which are found only in Croatian, and double accented č, š and ž, which are common to both Croatian and Slovenian. An accent implies pronouncing the letter with an ‘h’ after it. The single accent being a soft h and the double accent, a hard h. The only other language I am familiar with that does this is Malayalam(ć being similar to ച് and č to ച്ച്. ś to ശ് and š to ശ്ശ്. The difference here is that they also start words with the hard č and š, unlike Malayalam where you cannot start words with ച്ച് and ശ്ശ്).
One interesting difference was in how numbers are spoken. For double digit numbers, e.g. 52, a lot of languages say fifty-and-one, such as
English: Fifty Two
Spanish: Cinquenta y Dos
While some other languages reverse it, like
German: Zwei und Fünfzig
Numbers in Croatian and Slovenian are almost the same, with a confusing difference that Croatian speaks it the English way, while Slovenian does it the German way!
So for 52, where 50 is Petdeset, and 2 is Dva:
The Croats say
While the Slovenians say
Dve I Petdeset
That should make for some interesting conversations when a Croat crosses the border, or vice versa. For instance this German friend of mine once was giving us a headcount, and said ‘We are One Fifty people here’, when there were 51 of us… Oh joy!
After Ljubljana, we drove over to Marko’s uncles farm house to spend the night. It was a cute house in the countryside with a farm! The farm had a mild mannered german shepherd named Aska, a bunch of rabbits, chickens, and horses.
Marko’s cousins Katja and Tina took care of the animals on the farm, in addition to having full time jobs. They’d wake up at the crack of dawn to feed the animals, clean the area, head off to work, come back, and continue with their farm duties. And we think we are pressed for time…!
They were expecting us, and had prepared all sorts of goodies for us to eat. It was a great Welcome!
Tina was a horse trainer, and was gracious enough to teach me how to ride a horse. Much like training dogs, where you need to be the alpha, I needed to be firm with directions and start/stops. The first few times I was being ‘polite’, and she (the horse) totally ignored my requests and decided to hang around with Tina and the others. It was only when I started being specific and deliberate that she finally decided to listen to me. Then we had a nice time trotting around the paddock.
While seeing castles and churches are all well and good during traveling, it is experiences like this, where you get welcomed into the house of new friends and get to witness how a different culture lives, that, for me, make traveling such a rewarding experience. I have Marko, Vero, Vojč, Tina, and Katja to thank for making my Slovenian sojourn such a memorable one!
P.S.: And Giovanni for introducing me to Vero. ☺
P.P.S: Check out the Slovenia Album page for all pictures of my Slovenia Trip!