Hello dear Sirs, how are you? Have you ever dreamed about a possibility to visit a country with super warm people, willing to help and to talk a lot with you? Have you ever dreamed of eating a great food that practically melts in your mouth? Have you ever dreamed about the possibility to feel this spirit of the Serbian people and their culture?
Don't worry, I'm going to give you some advice so that you can do it without any problem. Trust me, after reading this article, you're going to feel you're more confident.
Once you're here in Serbia, don't panic. We're not "monsters" or "witches" so nothing bad will happen to you. We're pretty much talkative and we LOVE help people. If you don't know how to get from one place to other one, you can always ask with "Gde - where , je - is , .... " (ex: "Gde je ulica Knez Mihajlova? " -- Where is the Knez Mihajlova" sttreet?)
1a) Idite pravo i skrenite levo/desno ---- Go straight and turn left/right
1b) Prva / druga / treća ulica levo/desno ---- 1st / 2nd, 3rd street on the left/right
1c)posle 5,10, ... m skrenite levo/desno ---- after 5,10, ... m turn left/right
1d) tamo na ćošku (uglu) / preko puta --- over there at the angle / across the street
1e) Daleko je, morate hvatati autobus / tramvaj/trolejbus broj .... i sići na prvoj / drugoj , ... stanici --- It is far, you have to catch the bus/tram/trolley number ... and to go out on the first / second station.
If they start to speak to you in English, it would be good if you would say: "Ne želim engleski" -- "I do not want English" because if you insist on speaking Serbian that would be a win- win combination. You will melt the people's heart by trying to speak their language and you'll get some practice. DO NOT WORRY about mistakes, we're very emphatic people and we understand NOBODY knows everything and MISTAKES ARE NORMAL!! So, you'll put a smile on our faces and you'll make us happy by speaking to us in Serbian.
If somebody speaks too fast, you can always say:
"Ne razumem, možete li govoriti malo sporije, molim Vas" -- I do not understand, can you speak a bit slower, please"
If you want to sound more like native speakers, there are three ways how can you say: "I do not get it" , but they are like a slang:
A) Ne kapiram -- It is borrowed from the Italian language CAPIRE --- Kapirati
B) Ne kontam , C) Ne kopčam
Also you can say: "Šta to znači - What does it mean"
"Kako se kaže ... na engleskom/srpskom/turskom, ..." ---"How do you say .... in English/Serbian/Turkish"
if you still don't understand, you can always say:
"Možete li da to zapišete?" - Can you write it down?
"Možete li mi pokazati na mapi? " - Can you show it on the map?
If you are in the cafe/pub, there are several questions you can get, like for example:
- Izvolite? - that literally mean "How may I help you"
- Šta želite popiti? - What do you wish to drink?
you can always say "Dobro jutro / dobar dan" - Good morning / good afternoon, by following:
- Dajte mi (give me) .... (something from the menu) for example:
If you do not know what would you like to drink exactly, you can always say:
Mogu li pogledati meni, molim Vas? -- Can I take a look at the menu, please?
You can also put even in the future tense, by saying
Do not worry if you do not say "Molim Vas - I beg you". We know you are "polite" because you used the formal speech "Dajte / daćete" + "Molim Vas" instead of "Daj mi " / "daćete mi". Plus, if he/she does not give you what you asked for, he/she will not earn money, so that is why it is totally OK to use it in the future tense.
If you are done, you can call the waiter:
- Konobaru (konobarice), račun molim. --- Waiter (waitress), the bill please.
- Keš ili kartica? - Cash or card?
If you say "card - kartica" you should just follow him/her and to insert your PIN code. Otherwise the waiter will give you the bill and you will give/him your cash.
After that, he/she can tell you: "Hvala Vam puno, dođite nam ponovo" - "Thank you very much, come to us again" , or he can simply say "Prijatno".
However, that "prijatno" can have several meanings
A) enjoy your meal , B) May your day be enjoyable, goodbye
If somebody refers "A" , DO NOT say "I will - Hoću" but instead of this, you should say:
" Hvala, i Vama takođe" --- "Thank you, the same to you" (in the sense "May it be enjoyable to you as well")
Otherwise you can simply reply "Prijatno" or even better "doviđenja - goodbye"
If you are in the taxi, you could always start with
"Zdravo - Hello" or "Dobro jutro/dobar dan" and tell the taxi driver the address you need to go. Even better, you can show him/her the google maps or a hard copy of the map (of the city where you are located) so that he can know towards where it is necessary to go.
The taxi driver might ask you:
- Odakle ste? - Where are you from?
- Ja sam iz ..... " and then the name of the country. For instance:
Ja sam iz Nemačke, Španije, Italije, Rusije, ... (I am from Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia, ...)
- Kada ste stigli u Srbiju? - When did you arrive to Serbia?
Stigao (m) / Stigla sam (f) sam ....... (juče - yesterday , pre tri dana - 3 days ago, pre nedelju dana - a week ago/pre sedam dana - 7 days ago), ...
The next question could be:
- Da li Vam se sviđa (biti) u Srbiji? - Do you like (to be) in Serbia?
- Da, sviđa mi se zato što .... --- Yes, I like because ..... and then say whatever you have in your mind (devojke su lepe - The girls are beautiful, grad je lep - the city is beautiful, etc)
and trust me, step by step you are going to have a nice conversation with him/her. Taxi drivers LOVE when the customers are talkative because it keeps their attention and because they discover something new. Plus, it is always nice to hear your own native language. DO NOT start to speak English or other language because the taxi driver might put you the higher price because he/she would figure out you are a foreigner and you did not put an effort to learn a language. Apart of this, it will be perfect for your oral skills (90%) and a bit for your listening skills (10%).
Rule number 4 --- SHOPPING!!
When I say "shopping" I DO NOT refer to go to the supermarket and just to pick up the products and then to come to the cash desk and you pay and that is it. When I say "shopping" I mean by going to the REAL shop like "boutique" or to go to the market and to go to the "painting shop" etc where you are going to be capable to get a lot of listening skills because they are going to tell you some information. For example:
- What is the product the made of?
- What was the creating process like?
- How much time did it take to create this product?
If you are, for instance in a boutique, some phrases are very very important... for example:
- Izvolite? / Kako Vam mogu pomoći --- How may I help you?
- Samo gledam --- I am just watching (it means, you want to buy nothing, but you are just watching around)
- Koliko to košta? - How much is it?
- Mogu li da probam? - Can I try it on?
- To je poklon, možete li upakovati? - It is a gift, could you wrap it?
- Ako ne bude dobro, mogu li zameniti? - If there is something wrong, can I change it?
The answer on this can be: - Naravno, dođite u roku od 2-3 dana sa računom i mi ćemo to zameniti (Of course, come to use during 2-3 days with the bill and we are going to change it)
- Gde mogu platiti? - Where can I pay?
The shortest answers would be:
- Kasa je tamo? - The cash desk is over there (and he/she will point)
- Pođite za mnom - Come with me.
That were only top 4 hints of how you can benefit from being in other country 1000%, and so you can improve your language kills much faster.
One important thing: I know you can use English almost everywhere, but if you speak the target language, you will find out much better about the people's culture and habits, you'll make the people happy and you'll get a brilliant language practice --- Three in one, priceless!!
If you have any questions or suggestions, please, write me down in a comment.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/96091241@N08/8764003189/ by Eugene Trufanov