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Croatian: što and šta

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WANNABEAFREAK
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 Message 1 of 17
29 April 2010 at 5:08pm | IP Logged 
Can someone tell me the difference between što and šta. Seems my Croatian dad, Croatian god brother and serbian friend have different answers.

1) Serb friend said što is an abbreviation of zašto which is "why".

eg. što radiš = why you doing..., while šta radiš = what are you doing

2) My dad who is native Croatian and my God brother who is native Croatian said that:

šta is common slang. što is the correct way of saying it. so "šta radiš = što radiš", and hence one is just a slang way, while the other is a traditional "proper" way.



I seriously have never heard anyone say što radiš, but rather only hear šta radiš - though I only ever hear my dad speak Croatian when I was a child so my exposure was limited to just a very few people.
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Chung
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 Message 2 of 17
29 April 2010 at 6:03pm | IP Logged 
Your dad and godbrother are right when they say that "što" means "what" in "proper Croatian" (not to mention as a relative pronoun for "that"/"what"). However it is considered bookish, formal or purist (largely because it's distinguishable from the Bosnian of Serbian variant "šta"). In most conversations it's less jarring and thus more common to use "šta".

To the Serbs, "što" is viewed now as a shortened form of "zašto" or as a relative pronoun for "that"/"what". "Što?" used as "what?" is viewed by them today as a "Croatianism", and in "proper Serbian" (but also colloquial Serbian), they recognize only "šta?".

Here's an example of ŠTO used as a relative pronoun.

Imam sve ŠTO trebam / mi treba.
"I have everything that (what) I need"
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bushwick
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 Message 3 of 17
29 April 2010 at 6:23pm | IP Logged 
Actually, I don't think it's generally considered bookish or too formal. Most people won't even notice and it is entirely normal for some people to use što, while some will use šta. At least so in everyday speech, it can become a different matter in the written language.

But yes, they are the same.

Oh and; I just remembered one thing when I tried to question myself with "što radiš" thinking of it as why (very interesting, wasn't aware of that difference in Serbian) and I recalled that it can occasionally can have the same function. And mostly in cases like "a što?" or "ma što?"

That is;
"Imao sam jako loš dan danas." (I had a very bad day today)
"A što?" (basically meaning why, replacing what would commonly be "Zašto" or just "Kako to?")

I can only think of cases like this having the function, but only in this very shortened form, "Što radiš?" would never be understood as "Why are you doing?"

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Fazla
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 Message 4 of 17
29 April 2010 at 8:34pm | IP Logged 
I can speak for Bosnian, in Bosnian "što" always means why hence in Bosnian the phrase "Što radiš" or "što učiš" are actually used with no problems and in these cases I presented, they mean why do you work and why do you study respectively. Šta is the only way of saying "what".

When I didn't know that Croats used Što meaning "what" it made me have this very interesting msn conversation with a Croat who asking me "what?" 3 times got the same reply from me 3 times "Šta što?" (roughly translated as "what do you mean with why?")

Btw I recalled now,"što" can mean "that" in Bosnian too, just never "what".

Edited by Fazla on 29 April 2010 at 8:37pm

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WANNABEAFREAK
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 Message 5 of 17
30 April 2010 at 8:56am | IP Logged 
Can someone sum this up?

We have a Croatian, Serbian and Bosnian view point on this... and from my knowledge the languages are quite mutually intelligible, but something so simple like "što" couldn't possibly be so different.


Can we get to a final agreement:

što = what (croatian), why (serbian), that (bosnian)?
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Fazla
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 Message 6 of 17
30 April 2010 at 10:21am | IP Logged 
In Bosnian it can mean both "why" (in that case it is just considered an abbreviation of "zašto") and "that".
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WANNABEAFREAK
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 Message 7 of 17
30 April 2010 at 10:28am | IP Logged 
Fazla wrote:
In Bosnian it can mean both "why" (in that case it is just considered an abbreviation of "zašto") and "that".



The follow correct:

što = what (croatian), why (Serbian/Bosnian), that (bosnian)?
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Danac
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 Message 8 of 17
30 April 2010 at 12:07pm | IP Logged 
First off, I'd like to say what we've been learning (at my local university) about šta/što.

Što is the Croatian word for "what", and "šta" is the Bosnian and Serbian word for "what". While it might not be the whole truth, it should certainly not be wrong. There might be situations amongst native speakers which are different, but I wouldn't know that. :)

Then again, the words have other uses when combined with different words as well. Especially "što" pops up in expressions all the time in Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian, with no possibility for using "šta" instead. (Nego što, kao što, zato što, što brže to bolje)

Interestingly, both šta and što might be used to express "why" (According to Benson), while it does look more tricky with šta.

11. inter. adv. why; (a.) (only što ); što ste došli tako kasno? why did you come so late? (see zašto ) (b.) (šta in E) (expresses surprise, astonishment, displeasure); ~ pričate! why do you talk all the time! ~ bleneš u mene! why are you staring at me!

So, summing up, both "šta/što" might mean "why", with "što" in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian and also "šta" in Serbian.


Edited by Danac on 30 April 2010 at 2:59pm



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