Temperature: -3°C Clouds: Cloud and Visibility OK
This is a list of Frequently Asked Questions. I will try to update it occasionally, but if you have a question that is not answered here, feel free to contact me. My e-mail address is listed on the about page.
1. Are these questions really asked frequently?
2. Depends on what?
Depends on what you mean by frequent. If twice or never is “frequent” then these are definitely frequently asked.
3. Okay, let’s get serious. Why did you move to Slovenia?
That’s a constantly asked question (CAQ) so I’m not surprised you asked. Usually it’s spoken with a tone of disbelief, the way you might say: “Why did you eat that plate of earthworms?” Even Slovenes assume that there must be something wrong with me, that I’m somehow mentally unstable for coming here. Especially from a place as wonderful as New York.
4. So what’s the answer?
I’m mentally unstable.
5. Stop it. This is a blog FAQ and should be taken seriously.
Fine. You’re right. The primary reason I moved here was my wife, who is Slovene. Happy now? If you’re interested, this story from Maribor─?an magazine has more details about why and how I moved here. However, it’s only in Slovene. There’s also this interview from the magazine Gloss. Unfortunately, it’s also in Slovene. You can find a lot more of this stuff here.
6. Speaking of which: How is your Slovene?
Catastrophic. Learning Slovene is a long, hard road into Hell. And it’s made worse by the fact that Slovenes rarely appreciate how difficult it is. They’ll tell you things like: “Yeah, it’s hard, huh? Pronouncing the ┼ż and ─? and everything. That’s tough.”
No, no, my friend, saying “ch” is the least of my problems. I’ll tell you what’s tough: six cases, endless gender declensions, formal and informal divisions, the dual grammatical form — all of it spoken in 32 dialects that are further divided into 76 sub-groups. That’s my definition of tough.
7. It can’t be that bad.
Well, let me give you an idea. Imagine that you want to ask someone if they’ve eaten something for lunch. In English, the phrase:
Did you eat anything?
pretty much covers every imaginable scenario. You can say that to a woman, to a man, to your pet hamster, to your boss, to a group of circus clowns, etc…
In a language like German (usually considered difficult to learn) you have three possibilities to express the same idea. You would say:
1. Hast du was gegessen? (informal)
2. Haben Sie was gegessen? (formal)
3. Habt ihr was gegessen? (plural)
In other words, German requires triple the possiblities to express the same idea. But note that the verb “to eat” (gegessen) remains the same in all three cases. Now let’s take a look at Slovene, in which everything changes depending on the number of people you’re asking, as well as their gender AND if you’re using formal or not. Behold the possibilities: (Many thanks to Bla┼ż and Bojan for their help with this list!)
1. Si kaj jedel? (one male, informal)
2. Si kaj jedla? (one female, informal)
3. Si kaj jedlo? (neuter form, informal)
4. Sta kaj jedla? (two males, informal or formal)
5. Sta kaj jedli? (two females, informal or formal)
6. Sta kaj jedla? (one male and one female, informal or formal)
7. Ste kaj jedli? (plural, as long as at least one male is present)
8. Ste kaj jedle? (plural, females only)
9. Ste kaj jedla? (plural, neuter form)
10. Ste kaj jedli? (formal, singular form, gender unimportant)
That’s decuple the possibilities of the original English phrase. To be fair, sometimes things work in favor of Slovene. For example, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers can be expressed by a single word: Stolpa. But basically, all words (nouns/verbs/adjectives) conjugate in a hellish variety of possibilities, making the language a very tough nut to crack.
8. Well, all Slavic languages are tough.
True. But not all Slavic languages have the brain-busting dual case, which is the real killer. In fact, none of them do — except for the nearly-extinct Sorbian.
9. Oh yeah? Well, if you have so many problems with Slovene and/or Slovenes, why don’t you get the hell out?
I’ve never understood this line of reasoning, i.e. “love it or leave it.”
I mean, I don’t like it when my wife puts CDs upside-down on the cabinet so that the discs get scatched. Should I strangle her and dump her body in the woods? Or file for divorce? Why these extreme solutions to everything? Just because I joke about something or dislike learning the dual case doesn’t mean I don’t love this country and its people.
10. What would you say to the folks who read this blog and take everything you say literally, so that — for example — when you write “Slovenia has two million people, each of whom speak their own dialect of Slovene” they feel the urge to send you an e-mail and correct you?
Please don’t write to me.
11. What about the angry young men, usually from the former Yugoslavia, who occasionally write to tell you that Slovenia is a NATO slave and that you should feel bad, because YOU are a NATO slave, and also an EU slave, but especially a NATO slave, and that the only reason other ex-Yugoslav republics haven’t prospered as much as Slovenia is because they understand what honor means, and that honor means writing to complete strangers over the Internet to let them know that they are NATO slaves.
See my answer to #10.
12. I’m interested in visiting/moving to Slovenia. Can I contact you?
Sure. I do try to answer all my e-mails. Eventually I’ll try to put together a quick guide to visiting/living in Slovenia. I will do this sometime between tomorrow and the year 2050.
13. Do you do this blog by yourself?
Yes, although it would never survive without the help of others. I’m especially grateful to people like Katka, Dejan, La Flaca, Mitja, Miran, Martinovanje, bnf, Ka─?a, and all the regular commenters who help this site live and breathe. They’re all NATO slaves, but I can forgive them for that.