There are some things that, as a teacher, I’m expected to tell you about the difference between ć & č, and đ & dž. There are also some other things about it that I actually want to tell you, which, as a teacher, maybe I shouldn’t. But I will.
What I’m expected to tell you is that all of them: ć & č and đ & dž are all different letters/speech sounds and are supposed to be pronounced differently and that is correct. They should.
What I actually want to tell you is that in real life that very often doesn’t happen, the HUGE part of native Croatian speakers don’t make a lot of difference in sound between ć & č and especially between đ & dž, so it’s perfectly fine if you simplify your life and do the same. Whether native Croatian speakers will make some difference in sound or not depends on what part of Croatia they come from. In Istria, for example, they tend to make quite a big difference between ć & č, and in other parts of Croatia, there is a moderate difference or no difference at all.
For those of you who are curious and want to know more, here is how they are supposed to be pronounced:
ć – (“meko” ć – the “soft” ć) = tj. It is literally the sound that you get when t and j blend into one “soft” sound when pronounced together. Your tongue is positioned at the front end of the hard palate (i.e. the roof of the mouth), close to the front teeth.
Examples: ćelav (bald), kuća (house), cvijeće (flowers)
č – (“tvrdo” č – the “hard” č) = tš. Try to blend the sounds t and š into one “hard” sound and there you go! The tongue is positioned more backward against the hard palate.
Examples: čizme (boots), čokolada (chocolate), mačka (cat)
đ – (“meko” đ – the “soft” đ) = dj. If you can pronounce “Django”, you know the sound đ! Like with the soft ć, your tongue is against the hard palate close to the front teeth.
Examples: đak (pupil), smeđe (brown), Mađarska (Hungary)
dž – (“tvrdo” dž – the “hard” dž) = dž. Literally, d and ž pronounced and blended together into one “hard” sound. Again, like with the hard č, your tongue is more backward against the hard palate.
Examples: džem (jam), džungla (jungle), patlidžan (eggplant/aubergine)
Can you hear any difference between those letters/speech sounds when you listen to your Croatian family or friends speaking Croatian?
Learning Croatian continues… Next Tuesday we are learning about the future tense in the Croatian language. If you want us to send you an email with the next Croatian lesson, put your email address here.
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