Serbian Language Lessons, Animal-Style
My Serbian is slowly getting better. I only know this because I’ve recently realized that my grammar over the past three months was terrible. Laughably terrible. So Serbians, thank you for your understanding. We’ve still got a long way to go, but I appreciate your patience.
Still, I’m certainly no expert (or even intermediate) in Serbian. The simplest words will leave my mind when I need them the most. Sometimes I come up with a similar word. My charade skills are quite handy. And when I’m really desperate, I start speaking English.
Or I use the speak-and-say approach. Last week I was at the butcher shop, trying to order ground turkey for chili. I even wrote the phrase down in case I forgot the words. But the butcher didn’t have any ground turkey. I decided to get ground beef instead, but I couldn’t remember the word for beef. I could remember the word for veal, but honey, RHOB doesn’t put veal in chili. And I wasn’t going to go back home, look it up, and return to the shop.
The butcher didn’t speak English. I took a deep breath. There was only one thing I could think of. With a straight face, I said, “Mooooooo. Ne junjetina (veal).” Bless this butcher, because he simply nodded, showed me a cut of beef, and proceeded to grind it himself. We both pretended that this was a totally normal transaction. And yes, I am giving him all my business from now on.
I couldn’t remember the Serbian word for beef, but I did successfully (and inadvertently) use the correct word for Moo. It’s basically the same (muuu). Other animal sounds differ. For instance, frogs in Serbia say “krik” instead of “ribbit.” Don’t say RHOB never taught you something useful!
I’m not going to resort to animal sounds if I can help it, but it’s yet another reminder that I’m a long way from the basic Serbian skills I thought I would have after four months here. Like I said, Serbians, thanks for your patience. We’ve got a long way to go…