Croatian accents

Croatian accents

To communicate clearly in Croatian, it is important to know both the correct pronunciation and intonation of the words and sentences you are using. You can read our blog post on basic Croatian pronunciation here.

As with any language, the best way to learn the correct pronunciation and intonation is to listen to native speakers speaking. You can search the internet and find plenty of videos in Croatian and made by Croatians, or movies for you or your children.

In the meantime, here are some rules to help you understand the basics!

Types of accent

Each vowel can be either (short) or (long) and there are two types of stress, (rising) and (falling). The accent is a combination of length and stress. Because of this, there are four standard types of accents in the Croatian language: short falling, short rising, long falling and long raising.

Croatian accents

Generally, these accents aren’t marked when writing Croatian, but in this post we will use the markings explicitly to help depict the difference between them:

Croatian accents

Examples of different accents

 
short
long
falling

    (sword) → mȁč

    (our) → nȁš

  (brother) → brȁt

  (house) → kȕća

  (clean) → čȉst

  (path) → pȗt

  (key) → kljȗč

  (my) → mȏj

  (stupid) → glȗp

  (strong) → jȃk

rising

    (leg) → nòga

  (rainy) → kišòvit

  (to open) → otvòriti

  (today) → dànas

  (beauty) → ljepòta

  (sad) → túžan

  (mayonnaise) → majonéza

  (to write) → napísati

  (to play and instrument) → svírati

      (chocolate) → čokoláda

  

As in many other countries and with many other languages, each Croatian region has its own unique rules/exceptions for pronouncing words – for Croatians it’s easy to immediately guess where someone’s from as soon as he or she starts to speak.

Five basic rules on word accentuation

  • Single-syllable words always have falling accents, either long or short.

    (power) → mȏć → long falling

    (sword) → mȁč → short falling

    (square) → tȑg → short falling

    (table) → stȏl → long falling

  • If the accent is on the first syllable, it can be any of the four accents.

    (woman) → žèna → short rising

    (house) → kȕća → short falling

    (grandma) → báka → long rising

    (meat) → mȇso → long falling

  • If the accent is on an inner syllable (i.e. any syllable apart from the first or the last), it can only be a rising accent.

    (to think) → razmíšljati → long rising

    (intelligent) → inteligèntan → short rising

    (heir to the thorne) → prijestolonásljednik → long rising

    (otorhinolaryngology) → otorinolaringològija → short rising

  • There is never an accent on the last syllable, with the exception of a few exclamations such as (an exclamation expressing surprise).

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