Helen looked at my Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian textbook sitting on the table.
“Do you really think you’ll use this?” she asked when I told her it was mine. “When I went to France, even though I was taking French at the time, I was too afraid to try to say anything.”
I understood what she was saying. “I think there are some useful phrases,” I replied. “In my last set of words, I learned ‘I understand’ and ‘I don’t understand’ — it’s like, hmmm…” I tried to remember. “Rooma-zooma….?”
“Ramen noodles?” she asked.
“No, it’s roomy-something. I have time to practice though. I just learned it.” I replied.
I practiced it later on my walk. Razumijem — pronounced ra-zoo-me-yem. I guess it’s sort of like Ramen noodles.
Ne razumijem — means I don’t understand. That one will come in handy, I’m sure.
Also, Gdje je kupaonica? — Where’s the bathroom? — very important. Except that one is pretty hard for me to pronounce.
Try it, English-speaking friends, say “guh-duh-yay yeh coo-pa-on-itz-ah” really fast. It rhymes with pizza, in case I’m not writing it phonetically correctly.
Last night as I walked, I practiced my Croatian, ruminating on the rhyming words. I came up with a poem.
Gdje je kuaponica
Sviđa me se.
Where is the bathroom?
I like it.
The more I practice, the braver I’ll be when I get there.
Hopefully I won’t say something stupid.