The Slovenia Times

Surprise: Govorim slovensko!



So last Friday evening, when Metka stayed at home and studied, Nigel went to Krizanke to see a concert and met his friend Miha, a nice Slovene chap he hadn't seen for quite some time. Before Miha could say hello, Nigel said to him in perfect Slovene - without even noticing it: Zivijo, gres na koncert? Miha, still with his mouth wide open, gaped at him with surprise...when he came round, Nigel told him about his eagerness for Slovene and asked him to speak Slovene with him for practice. Said and done. They sat down for a beer at Le Petit Caf' and Nigel told Miha how he spends his days in Ljubljana. Zjutraj zgodaj vstanem, he told Miha, priblizno ob osmih jem zajtrk. Potem grem na faks. Ob dveh jem kosilo. Popoldan se malo ucim, berem ali grem na obisk k Metki. Zvecer greva ponavadi z Metko v kino. Vcasih gremo s prijatelji tudi zurat. Miha was impressed. You can see that Nigel got to know some new Slovene phrases: ZJUTRAJ (in the morning), POPOLDAN (in the afternoon), ZVECER (in the evening). He told Miha what he usually does and when he does it. This is what he said: I get up early (ZGODAJ) in the morning, I eat breakfast approximately at eight o'clock (PRIBLIZNO OB OSMIH). After that/afterwards (POTEM) I go to uni. I eat lunch at two (OB DVEH). In the afternoon, I study a bit (se MALO ucim), I read or visit Metka; literally I go for a visit to Metka's (GREM NA OBISK K METKI). In the evening, we (me and Metka - greva z Metko) usually (PONAVADI) go to the movies. Sometimes (VCASIH) we (me and my friends - gremo s prijatelji) also (TUDI) go partying. Here's some really good news for you: in Slovene, we only have ONE type of present tense, which means that both English present simple (I do) and present continuous (I am doing) are expressed equally: DELAM. So if you want to say that you are e.g. cooking NOW, you'll say ZDAJ KUHAM, and if you want to say that you cook: often (POGOSTO kuham), usually (PONAVADI kuham - in case you want to say that it is YOU who cooks and not anyone else living with you, they only eat and probably not even do the dishes, say PONAVADI kuham JAZ), sometimes (VCASIH kuham). What if you never cook and only eat out? I never cook, you say in English, but in Slovene, never is not enough to negate the action, so you need to say NIKOLI NE KUHAM. We can learn some new verbs from Nigel: JESTI - jem, jes, je, jemo, jeste, jejo; BE CAREFUL with the third person in singular, that is MIHA JE: -e is a close ', as in a French word 't' (remember our second lecture?), otherwise you will mix it up with the verb to be (BITI): it can be quite awkward if you want to say that Miha is eating a steak (Miha j' zrezek) but you use the open e and say that Miha IS a steak (Miha j zrezek)!! Another very useful verb is ITI (TO GO), which conjugates differently than you'd expect from the infinitive: GREM, GRES, GRE, GREMO, GRESTE, GREJO (or gredo, but it's more formal). ZURATI is a colloquial verb for partying. A more polite way is to simply say grem ven - I'm going out; v soboto gremo ven - we're going out on Saturday. In the sentence GREM ZURAT you might be wondering why the final -i of the verb ZURATI is missing. You can see that the structure is similar to English I'm going to party - you have two verbs that describe some motion, in English the second one is introduced by a preposition to (I'm going to sleep - grem SPAT - so what's the infinitive for sleep?), whereas in Slovene, the second verb is still in its infinitive form, but it loses the final -i (in colloquial Slovene; in formal not always). The verb VSTATI conjugates: vstanem, vstanes, vstane, vstanemo, vstanete, vstanejo. But the one that's really interesting for us is hiding in the sentence Popoldan SE malo UCIM...What is that SE doing there? The verb UCITI SE is called a reflexive verb which basically means that it implies something that you are doing to yourself or with yourself. Some of them are reflexive all the time and some can be used without this reflexive pronoun se. The verb UCITI (SE) can be used in two ways: in the first case it means TO TEACH: ucim klavir (I teach piano) or ucim sestro (I teach my sister) - so you teach SOMETHING or SOMEONE; but if you say ucim se, it means that it is YOU who is LEARNING - so the word se implies a person who performs the action. Another example of a verb of this kind is OBLECI - oblecem jakno means I put on a jacket, but oblecem se means I get dressed. On the contrary, the verb BATI SE (to be scared)can only be used as a reflexive verb - watch the conjugation - BOJIM SE, BOJIS SE, BOJI SE, BOJIMO SE, BOJITE SE, BOJIJO SE: the se word sticks to the verb all the time. As you can see, in the sentence Malo se ucim se comes before the verb, that's because the whole verb is in the middle of a sentence, not in the beginning. If you wanted to simply say I'm learning, you'd say Ucim se. Nigel also keeps on practcing the dual which was quite a problem in the beginning. But now, when he uses it in sentences such as midva z Metko jeva, midva z Metko greva etc., the dual does make some sense... And what happens if Nigel DOESN'T want to do something? When Miha asked him Gres na koncert?, Nigel remebered that he still hadn't bought the ticket. But wait, where's the wallet? After turning his pockets inside out, Nigel realized that the concert was off for that night because he obviously forgot the wallet at home. The only answer he can give Miha, is: NE. Do you know what he needs to say? NIMAM DENARJA! Nimam (NE IMETI) is the opposite of imam (IMETI) and it means I don't have. For other verbs in negative form, simply drop NE in front: NE GREM na koncert. So if Nigel wanted to explain Miha WHY he won't go to the concert, he would have to say: Ne grem na koncert, KER nimam denarja. A very useful word - KER, which of course means because. So Nigel rushed home in panic and luckily found his wallet lying on the table. He kept saying to himself: great, now I CAN'T go to the concert, although I SHOULD go. I MUST never forget a wallet at home again...and guess what? These are the things Nigel still has to learn in Slovene. Maybe he'll pay more attention to his stuff then! You'll HAVE TO wait with Nigel till the next issue to find out what what you SHOULD and COULD know and CAN do and many other things. Until then, enjoy the summer!


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