Rudolf Filipović and Others, Englesko-Hrvatski Rječnik. English-Croatian Dictionary.

RUDOLF FILIPOVIĆ and others, Englesko-Hrvatski Rječnik. English-Croatian Dictionary. Zagreb, Zora, 1955. XVII±1,430 pp. in quarto.


Dr. Rudolf Filipović, Assistant Professor (docent) of the English language at the University of Zagreb, in collaboration with eight Croatian specialists of English compiled this new dictionary. The dictionary comprises the author's short preface, directions for the use of the dictionary, a list of abbreviations used in the dictionary, the dictionary proper followed by a list of British and American abbreviations, a pronouncing list of proper names (persons and places), and British and American weights and measures expressed in their metrical equivalents. In a special Appehdix (pp. 1,281 to 1,430), subdivided into five parts (a short historical survey of English, its pronunciation, grammar, a survey of verbal forms and irregular verbs), the author and his helpers supply the Croatian reader with all the essentials he needs when confronted with an English text.


In order to appreciate the importance of such a publication among Croatian people, we should bear in mind that all the previously published English-Croatian dictionaries fall short of this one in size, accuracy, completeness and choice of Croatian equivalents. The names of Lochmer, Drvodelić and Bogadek deserve the honor of pioneers in Anglo-Croatian linguistic relations. Their respective dictionaries have performed an important task in helping Croatians to get acquainted with English. Filipović's Dictionary with 100,060 entries and the above mentioned characteristics, is a first-class tool for the Croatian public interested in English.


Besides the above-listed aids in pronunciation, grammar, weights and measures, it should be pointed out that the compilers of the dictionary have consistently used the symbols of the International Phonetic Association (IPA) following Jones' Pronouncing Dictionary for Southern British English. They did not take into consideration the speech of the United States except for one word "schedule [skedju:l]."l[1] I assume that they had at their disposal A Pronouncing Dictionary of American English by J. S. Kenyon and T. A. Knott (G. & C. Merriam Co., Springfield, Mass.), but the use of a double pronunciation would have resulted in too bulky a size. However, why "schedule", and not "leisure", "tomato", "caramel", "laboratory", "garage", "either", "neither", etc? Be that as it may, for a next edition we would suggest a short article on the main differences between the American and British speech. According to the dictionary's preface, the American specific meanings of a given word and the spelling peculiarities have been taken care of. According to that, one should be able to find these American expressions in the next edition of the dictionary:


to table a motion — skinuti prijedlog s dnevnog reda i odgoditi raspravu o njemu

how are you getting along? — kako ste? kako vam ide?. etc.


An interesting feature of this work is the listing of verbs followed by "prepositions", all grouped in alphabetical order under the entry of the verb itself but somewhat spaciously indented. For instance, between the entries "turn" (a verb) and "turn-bench" (a noun), both normally spaced from the beginning of the page, there are 17 indented entries from "turn about", "turn adrift" ... to "turn upon".


This is why the verb "black out" is found indented after the verb "black", whereas the noun "black-out" appears far away, in its alphabetical order. Since this book is intended for a Croatian reader, it follows his frame of mind. In a Croatian-speaking mind, a verb and a noun are much farther apart as grammatical categories than in an English-speaking mind. A Croatian accepts with reluctance the English understanding that the noun "a motor" becomes a verb in "to motor", that the expression "a rubber stamp" turns into verbal action in "to rubber stamp". As a matter of fact one would look in vain for that verb in this dictionary.


There are English or international words, especially proper names, which have entered the Croatian speech with a pronunciation almost unrecognizable for an English-speaking person. Every Croatian reader will be happy to find their correct English pronunciation. Some such words are:


Regina                           [redzaina]

Gloucester (shire)          [glostaša]

Greenwich                     [grinidz]

Leviathan                        [livaidan]

Hobbes                           [hobz]

Newfoundland                [nju:fandlaend]

Niagara                           [naiaegra]


How many Croatians have puzzled Americans when complimenting them with these words: "Oh, we have heard about your Niagara Falls" pronouncing Niagara as [njagara]?


As other good dictionaries this one helps the reader by indicating the branch of knowledge which an entry is taken from. Very often the name of a plant or the part of a machine in English means nothing to the curious Croatian inquirer if only translated with the Croatian equivalent and not given the indication "bot." for botany or "mech." for mechanics. For even more precision, this dictionary supplies in parentheses the Latin name of the plant. For instance:


blackhorn — bot. trnjina, crni trn (Brunus spinosa)

brand-ursine — bot. tratorak (Acanthus mollis)



These indications are of special help in English words which entered Croatian in a restricted sense so that all their other meanings sound very unusual. Such a word is "a nurse", accepted in Croatian only as domaća učiteljica or so (a female servant who takes care of young children). Its derivative "nursery" is unusual for a foreigner if used in fields like: hort(iculture), zool(ogy), ichth(yology),[2] game of billiards. Such indications bend the reluctant spirit, compelling it to accept meanings even if against his linguistic feelings. The same thing might be said of other similar words. To mention one more: check. This noun (not the verb!) lives in a Croatian mind only in commerce as a "cheque", whereas the idea of restraining, verifying, controlling etc. is alien to him. This might explain the fact that the expression "checkroom" is omitted. Not to speak of a "rain check" that throws a foreign forma mentis completely off the tracks.[3]


In some cases the branch of knowledge has been omitted, probably by inadvertance. E.g., for the English "brandy snap" the dictionary gives tanak paprenjak. How many Croatians are able even to classify the word paprenjak? Is it a drink, an herb, or a cooky? What does šasiranje (given under "chassé") mean? On the other hand, for the "nutcracker" one might add the onomatopoeic krcalo after the description sprava za razbijanje oraha.


It is real pleasure to read the Croatian part of the dictionary where the language is used not only in the original beauty of many idiomatic terms created by a nation of famous folk poetry and prose, but also interspersed with telling expressions that town people introducçd from different foreign sources. E.g.:



Q-boat, — ship

u ratne svrhe prerušen brod

alloy of gold

zlatna slitina

to traffic

kšeftariti (from German)


ime firme (from Italian) naslov tvrtke


šestar za izvlačenje crta

man about town

svjetski čovjek: bonvivan (from French)

for better for worse

u dobru i u zlu

This falls short of a miracle

to već graniči s čudom



Speaking of the beauty of a language, it seems appropriate to say a few words about the present situation of the Croatian language in relation to some foreign languages and to the Serbian. Before the creation of Yugoslavia, Croatians lived for centuries in the sphere of two main European cultures: German and Italian. German was spoken by upper classes in Northern Croatia (Pannonia), Italian in Southern Croatia (Dalmatia). During the 19th century Hungarians tried to impose their language, but they failed. With the establishment of Yugoslavia in 1918, German continued its influence, Italian lost a great deal of its previous ascendance, while French stepped in, thanks to its political and cultural influence. In 1941, for political reasons, Italian was introduced into schools in order to replace French, and in the same way Russian, from 1945 to 1948 following the victory of communism in Eastern Europe. This Russian pressure was greatly eased after Tito's expulsion from the Cominform. At the same time, i.e. after 1945, the prestige of the English language was so great that it has been spreading more and more in schools and among the adults desiring to get in touch with the nations of the free world. In spite of the fact that the United States is militarily, politically, economically and financially the leading nation among the English speaking people, British is still the brand of English that Croatians desire to learn first. This is why this dictionary takes only the British pronunciation into account; this is why American spellings and semantics are only added to it. However, British English, and with it, American English are today studied in Croatia not because they are imposed by the Belgrade government, but because they present an opening into a world which is free both economically and ideologically. One thing is certain, in spite of all its shortcomings, the Western World appeals to the peoples of Yugoslavia because communism is too inhuman and even economically unsuccessful.


The relationship of the Croatian language to Serbian is one of a peculiar nature. Objectively speaking, these two languages are one since a Serbian understands a Croatian without any great difficulty, just as an American understands a Britisher. Yet there is a Croatian and a Serbian way of speaking and writing, so that, as a rule, a Serbian never speaks or writes Croatian, and vice-versa. If some of them try to do so, they are looked upon as traitors to their community. The central government, always predominantly Serbian, has always pursued a policy of forced unity trying to level the differences between the two languages. Such an attitude has imposed some common terms, but, at the same time, it has also produced an opposite effect: instead of diminishing the differences between Serbian and Croatian linguistic feeling, it has created an excessive linguistic sensitiveness, so that Croatians sometimes tend to the hypertrophy of their peculiarities. E.g., where the Old Slavic language had the vowel "jat", today Croatian has (i) je and Serbian has e: Cr. mlijeko, Serb. mleko; Cr. dijete, Serb. dete. In their self-defence Croatians occasionally use (i)je even in cases where such changes are not liguistically justifiable. Thus in pre-war Yugoslavia:



vrijednota           was used instead of    vrednota

lijet                                                          let

upotijeba                                                 upotreba

pogrijeka                                                            pogreška


because for the Croatians the form with e was too Serbian. In this dictionary prijelazni is found on p. XIV, and prelazni on the next page. Be this mistake voluntary or involuntary, it is indicative of the internal situation in Yugoslavia: the second generation of Croatians fight for the survival of its own cultural heritage. If this leveling of differences were a process freely accepted by the Croatian intellectuals, well and good, but the majority feel it is an imposition of Serbian culture upon Croatian culture. For the Western World this struggle is practically invisible because very few foreigners study Serbian and Croatian and can realize these differences. Yet it is the struggle of a whole nation.


I have not lived in Zagreb since 1941 and consequently do not know what is the English influence on post-war Croatian. Yet judging by the present dictionary, I find the Cr. idiom used for the English word "idiom", indorsirati instead of the previous indosirati (derived from the French endosser). I assume that the English influence must be growing.


I am sure that the fine Zagrebian scholars will not object if I submit a few remarks to their benevolent consideration.


In pronunciation the French sound [y] in rue (p. XIII) does not have its proper place in an English dictionary because an English speaking person will never use such a sound unless he wants to speak French. On the other hand, the dictionary itself gives [hju:gou] for Hugo, just as it does for the other French rounded vowel "Ř" in [monteskju] Montesquieu.


For the words "ravine", "protege", "brassard", and so on we find in the dictionary the indication F., meaning of French origin. Yet "curfew", "kerchief", "tennis", "beef", "cutlery", "dance" and many others are also of French origin. The first are French words naturalized in English and the second not naturalized English borrowings from French. In the directions for the use of the dictionary it might be more appropriate to say: not naturalized borrowings from French will be marked by F.


In spite of the fact that in this dictionary, deceptive cognates are very successfully "transposed" into Croatian like



lobby                   kuloari

date                    rendez-vous

caterer                liferant



"love" in the meaning of "nothing" should have its own entry, "love2," because it is a completely different word from "love", meaning "feeling", the former being derived from the French l'ceuf (egg). Do we not say today "goose eggs" for "zero" in sports? If "kerchief" is marama, rubac za glavu iii vrat, we think that "handkerchief" should not have only the same two words marama, rubac, but maramica, džepni rupčić, because this is the most usual word (besides the colloquial "hankie") for the pocket handkerchief. The frequent but difficult idiom "You know better than that" meaning "you shouldn't have done that" (niste smjeli to učiniti) is quite difficult for the Croatian mind to figure out. For the exclamation "What a shame!" the dictionary has only Kakve li sramote! It should also have Šteta!, i.e. "Too bad!" besides the meaning "Shame on you!" A Croatian would never guess the former, although this meaning (French Dommage! or German Schade!) is firmly rooted in the above English expression. French, German, Spanish, Italian and Croatian draw a clear cut line between the two meanings and have two different expressions, while English can see both meanings in the same expression. "What a disgrace!" or "Disgraceful!" is the unmistakable equivalent of the Croatian Sramota!


Recently Gabriel Marcel wrote in Nouvelles Littéraires that the American occupation in Japan has failed to win the Japanese for the West because the Americans were unable to sell those people something substantially valuable, hence attractive. Throughout the world the British Kulturträgers have sowed more hatred than love. In free Europe, the British are far from being loved while the Americans enjoy a divided popularity. Yet in Yugoslavia, although Americans and British are supporting an unpopular totalitarian regime for opportunistic reasons, they nonetheless receive a sincere response and they are looked upon as heralds of a better future which never comes. ... I am sure that the hard work stored in this wonderful dictionary is the expression of a general and sincere love for the Anglo-Saxon world, as Europeans like to say, on behalf not only of Croatians but also of other nationalities in Yugoslavia. Enslaved peoples hope against hope ...


Christopher Spalatin


[1] The IPA symbols could not be used in this article for purely technical reasons.

[2] Misspelled on p. XVI.

[3] It would be useful to add the idiom "to throw off the tracks" in a non-orthodox Croatian form baciti iz koncepta.