Brijanje: Croatia’s Strangest Word
Languages are like living things. They evolve and prosper, changing as the ages go. Croatian is no different, with one word being a key example of constant change. The word in question is brijanje and it is used for increasing number of things.
In its original sense, brijanje meant shaving. It wasn’t really used that much on daily average. About one decade ago, younger generations begun to use it for things which are miles away from keeping chin in good shape. For some reason, even older generations accepted these new contexts, recognizing novel meanings (albeit not as skilful as youngsters).
The word, used with its various prefixes and suffixes (zabrijati, brijati, brija) can have meanings such as:
(1) To passionately become interested in something.
(2) To have erroneous perception of something.
(3) To participate in activity that is odd or uncommon.
(4) To engage in kissing with somebody purely for sake of entertainment (but not necessary entering sexual intercourse).
(5) To roam a certain locality.
Of course, brijanje still means shaving as well, and all Croats recognize it as such. As time goes, one can expect new meanings of the word, since evolution obviously isn’t over with it.
Brijanje can sometimes be a foreign translator’s nightmare. Without clear insight in the meaning or experience of modern Croatian culture, translators may be greatly puzzled by its usage. Those unaware may wonder why a love scene in a novel, where a couple starts kissing, all of the sudden mentions barber’s art.
Long story short, if you don’t know what to say to Croatian, try brijanje. Chance is, he or she may find the meaning sooner or later.
What is your perception of Croatian language? Does it seem easy or hard to learn? Would you consider learning it in the future? Leave your answers in our comments section below.
Photo: Niksa Duper / Hanza Media