Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hekwap? Pectopah?

When I first moved to Banja Luka in 2003, and encountered this logo - it was obviously "Hekwap", which is quite a funny name for beer...
And when first travelling through Bosnia and encountering a sign like this:
I immediately asked what does "PECTOPAH" mean? 

This is the funny side of Cyrillic script. The above examples are written in Cyrillic and below are clues to what they are actually in "Latin" script:

 Yes, Nektar is a better name for a beer and it makes more sense that it is "restoran". It is deceptive as there are no "classic" Cyrillic letters (well the "w" has a line above it in the Nektar, but your brain sees it as a "w" if you let it) which give away that it is anything other than our traditional "Latin" script.

Here the language can be written in both: the Serbian variant relies more on the Cyrillic, whereas the Croatian and Bosnian variants rely on the Latin. All three are essentially variations of what used to be called "Serbo-Croatian" and there are just a few dialectal differences between the three... so I can actually speak 5 languages  - English, Afrikaans, Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian!

Working with the children at the home has meant I needed to beef up my Cyrillic as although they are taught both scripts, the one the learn first (and do better at) is the Cyrillic. I still don't really write it very well - reading I am much better at - which causes great hilarity when "Teta Belinda" is worse then they are in writing... Anything to boost their confidence!

Luckily I can get mostly away with Latin script when writing in the local language as older people generally don't have a problem between the two - so much so that they sometimes don't even realise when something is in Cyrillic. And I knew that my language was getting really good when I sometimes find myself reading the Cyrillic and not realising it until afterwards! But not always, and handwritten gets me every time...

But there you go, that is the story of Hekwap and Pectopah... and tomorrow Ljilja and I go to CAPAJEBO... I still remember when my colleague asked (after seeing it on a sign) where CAPAJEBO was? (and in case you can't guess, it is the Cyrillic for Sarajevo!)

1 comment:

Victor said...

Interesting. I didn't know people wrote Cyrillic in Roman (Latin) letters. It's Roman letters but it's still different sounds than ours. It boggles my mind!! Thanks for the quick lesson.

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