Questions, comments or suggestions? email me at:
Don't miss out a chance to win in our monthly "Croatianicity" t-shirt and fridge magnet draw!

ponedjeljak, 21. studenoga 2011.

Burgenland-Croatian Included In Europe's 'Minority' Song Contest

This post is going to have to do for a while for any of those who periodically check in to see whats new. This month I started a 6 month full-time program at a college and will be indisposed for this amount of time. (Y'know, projects, studying, assignments, all that). As I've mentioned before also, I have some other internet projects that I'm a part of. However, if I do come across something that ties in perfectly with this particular blog, then I'll  add it here when time allows. In the meantime, feel free to browse a previous post as an interlude and for inspiration until my next addition...

This one was passed onto me this morning. I thought it may interest people who have an interest in the history of minority languages or of European languages and dialects in general. This post deals with Europe's "minority" languages which also includes Burgenland-Croatian, which is an old high prestigious Croatian dialect but still spoken today by Burgenland-Croats. It's 1 of the 3 historical Croatian dialects and has a long and interesting history, with origins as a prestigious high dialect used mainly in the medieval Croatian coastal Dalmatia regions, (similar to the variations of Old English to Modern English, Old Polish and Czech dialects to modern Polish and Czech etc), and it was also used as the elite royal dialect during the Croatian Kingdom centuries.

A brief history helps explain, as the Croatian crown realms had political dealings with the early Venice, (and later the post 11th century Venetian Republic),  it came about as a prestigious high Croatian dialect for communication along the economically important coastal merchant cities and towns, markets and centers of commerce, as so as well when the ruling Croatian Kings, Queens, Dukes, Princes and Nobles convened their assemblies, issued royal decrees and charters at their royal seats in those areas, or donated land and issued grants etc. It is still a minority language today in Austria, and is even found in use in Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. (the result from when some Croats along the Dalmatian coastal areas migrated north again during the Late Middle Ages and Habsburg era). Some of these minority languages you may have heard of before, some maybe not, either way it's interesting and cool to know. I mentioned previously on the topic of Burgenland-Croatian which you can read at the links below. 

Sami, Frisian and Udmurt – the obscure languages of Europe's 'Minority' song contest

Janna Eijer, the Friesian singer who won the Liet International Song Contest, Friesen being a language spoken by spoken by about 500,000 Frisian people in the Netherlands and Germany.



 "Coffeeshock Company" from Austria sang "Gusla mi se je znicila (My Violin) in Burgenland-Croatian and surprisingly took 2nd place from among 12 finalists. Today there are about 70,000 speakers of Burgenland-Croatian in Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Roya Nikkhah, Arts Correspondent

The "alternative" Eurovision Song Contest was staged on Saturday night, open only to entries in tongues which few people understand. Funding, of course, came from the public purse.

Although they might not have known it, viewers tuning in to the Liet International Song Contest for minority languages heard lyrics in Sami, Vepsian, Udmurt and Rumantsch.

Now in its eighth year, the annual jamboree is funded by European taxpayers to the tune of £86,000, including £12,000 in the past three years from the Council of Europe which Britain contributes to and is currently chairing.

Organizers claim that the contest "promotes tolerance, multilingualism, friendships and combats risks of ethnic conflicts as well as answering the growing dangers of foreign immigrant cultures influx."

Many immigrants arriving from Africa and the Middle East over the years have been promoting their own cultures and languages over the continued existence of these historical native languages and cultures, pushing aside historical languages (and dialects) that are native to the continent already for many centuries and that originated here.

One visitor in attendance at the music event said "They're coming here from other places and continents bringing their own cultures and languages, and now they treat us as 2nd class citizens in our own home and backyard, it's an influx of strange foreigners who only care about their ways and expect us to accommodate them, something had to be done".

To help thwart this recipe for disaster, the  'Minority' Song Contest" was started as a way to help remedy the growing extinction of various historical European languages, cultures and European civilizational values, through music.

Last year's winners, Orka, who sing in Faroese, the native language of the Faroe Islands, and use home-made instruments built from agricultural equipment and light fittings, have yet to make it into the charts.

Organisers are realistic about the contest's popular appeal. In 2008 they produced a CD compilation of entries, but admitted that they did not expect to sell more than "perhaps 20".

An estimated six million television viewers across Europe watched the latest contest, staged in Udine, northern Italy, and aired on Italian national television as well as channels in Norway, Spain and Sweden.

Rules of the contest state that entries must be in one of 82 tongues recognised in the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

The charter defines a minority language as one that is traditionally spoken within a European nation but is today used by less than half of its population.

Also among the 12 entries last night were songs in Asturian and Ladin.

The first prize of £1,700 (euros 2,000), as decided by a jury of music experts from the regions represented in the competition, was won by Janna Eijer, from Holland, who sung in Frisian.

The second prize of £850 (euros 1,000) went to Austrian band Coffeeshock Company, singing in Burgenland-Croatian, who won a "public vote", decided by the studio audience, online and television viewers.

Onno Falkena, the competition's international coordinator from the Netherlands, said: "We want to give artists who sing in minority languages an international stage and help them reach out to larger audiences.

"There is so much new, contemporary music being created in minority languages and the contest gives performers the platform to reach out to the outside world."

The EU has championed Liet International through the European Commission's Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity (NPLD) initiative, which held a conference alongside last year's song contest in the French city of Lorient.

While the competition has a mission statement of promoting "tolerance" and "friendships", some of the lyrics to songs that featured in the final seemed on closer inspection to be fiercely political.

An entry from the Basque region of Spain, by the band Siroko and titled Hi Vascofona (You! Basque-speaker), included the lyrics: "They want to empty our veins of 'the self', Basque language and blood/ If so, do you know what would flavour your tongue? / The same odour left by the dead."

The finalists:

1. Skama la Rede (Spain), singing Condenau (Letter Song) in Asturian – national language of the Principality of Asturias, northern Spain, around 450,000 native speakers

2. Noid (Russia) singing Kättepajo (Lullaby) in Vepsian – dialect related to Finnish, mainly spoken in the northwest Russia. Fewer than 10,000 people are believed to speak it.

3. Rolffa (Norway) singing Gulatgo mu? (Can you hear me?) in Sami – several Sami dialects exist, spoken by the Sami people, approximately 135,000 indigenous people across northernmost parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia

4. Macanta (Scotland) singing Gaol (Love) in Gaelic – Scottish language spoken by around 58,000 people, 1.2 per cent of the Scottish population, mainly in the Outer Hebrides

5. The Silent Woo Gore (Russia) singing Emeze (We will sing now) in Udmurt – native language of the Udmurt people from Russian republic of Udmurtia, in eastern Russia. Around 480,000 native speakers

6. Siroka (Spain), singing Hi Vascofana (You! Basque-speaker!) in Basque – ancestral language of the Basque Country in northeastern Spain, with around 665,000 native speakers

7. Janna Eijer (Netherlands) singing Ien Klap (One Second) in Frisian – a Germanic dialect spoken in Fresia, on the North Sea coast of the Netherlands and Germany, with an estimated 500,000 speakers.

8. Aiofe Scott (Republic of Ireland) singing Donal Ná Fág (Donal Don't Leave) in Irish Gaelic – national language of the Republic of Ireland with around 500,000 speakers, but also a "minority" language because it is less widely spoken than English

9. Rezia Ladina (Switzerland) singing Id es capital (It happened) in Rumantsch – one of Switzerland's four national languages, spoken by around 35,000 people – 0.9 per cent of the Swiss population

10. Cuntra Löm (Italy) singing La moncignosa (The pasqueflower) in Ladin – closely related to Swiss Rumantsch and Friûl (see below), Ladin is spoken in northern Italy in the border regions of Trentino, South Tirol and Belluno. Around 30,000 native speakers.

11. Priska (Italy) singing Hajra (Hajra is a girl's name) in Friûl – closely related to Ladin, Friûl is spoken in the Friûli region of northeastern Italy by around 800,00 people

12. Coffeeshock Company (Austria) singing Gusla mi se je znicila (My Violin) in Burgenland-Croatian – an historic old coastal Croatian high prestigious dialect spoken by around 20,000 people in the Austrian state of Burgenland and about 70,000 including parts of Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

nedjelja, 20. studenoga 2011.

Croatian Sweets Shop Is A Meeting Place For Chocolate And Love

Christine Scholtes Covic produces some 20 varieties of chocolate and truffles at her chocolate production factory (AFP/File, Hrvoje Polan) 



by Kathy Jones on November 20, 2011 at 6:13 PM

Croatia's Lika region (pronounced "Lee-ka" in Croatian) drew Christine Scholtes Covic with its stunning scenery. She was so drawn to it that she ended up with a husband and a new career combining Belgian chocolate with nature's bounty.

"Chocolate is the food of gods, something really noble," said the Belgian native at her tiny production facility in a village nestled among the green hills and valleys of central Croatia.

The 37-year-old had found a new home in the Lika region, famous for its well-preserved forests, mountains and crystal clear rivers and lakes, and there turned her passions for nature and chocolate into a business making truffles and bonbons.

"I always loved to cook but pastries were my specialty. As a six-year-old I was making my own birthday cakes.

Lika Chocolate products cost some two euros a piece and truffles around 33 euros for a kilo. (AFP/File, Hrvoje Polan)

"My grandmother had a restaurant so I'm like an Obelix who fell into the magic potion," she said with a grin, referring to the character from the French comic book series Asterix as she explained her "chocolate addiction".

Years later she obtained a diploma in France in bakery and pastry from the Institut National de la Boulangerie et Patisserie, and opened a small pastry shop back in Belgium.

But after discovering the beauty of Lika and its Plitvice Lake national park with 16 cascading lakes and spectacular waterfalls, she fell in love with the place and a local man and moved to Croatia in 2009.

"I was looking for a house and got a husband with it," said the short-hair brunette, smiling warmly.

When the chocolate 'addict' first spoke of setting up a luxury chocolate shop in the Lika area, picturesque but hard-hit by Croatia's 1990s independence war and with over 20 percent unemployment, the locals were surprised, even sceptical.

But she eventually won over the people in the town of Rakovica.

"It was a great idea but it was something completely new for me," said Ankica Baric, a local woman who helps out in the shop.

"When Christine asked me what I know about chocolate I replied that I only knew how to eat it," she added, bursting into laughter.

After struggling with a slow and often confusing amount of red tape and bureaucracy, the shop Lika Chocolate finally started with the production of truffles and chocolates in October 2010.

"It really combines the best of both worlds -- finest Belgian chocolate enriched with excellent Croatian ingredients -- butter, cream -- and local flavours such as honey, nuts, lavender, or local wines," Scholtes Covic said.

Christine Scholtes Covic turned her passions for nature and chocolate into a business making truffles and bonbons. (AFP/File, Hrvoje Polan)

Her shop worker Baric gushed that the truffles with locally produced plum brandy were an "absolute hit".

Visitors are greeted by the seductive warm smell of chocolate and spices when they enter the small production facility, located on the ground-floor of a building in the centre of Rakovica.

At the entrance small packages of sweets are laid out while the main part serves as a kitchen dominated by a giant granite table and a fridge -- Scholtes Covic's 'treasure chest' -- filled with handmade truffles and chocolate.

She produces some 20 varieties of chocolate and truffles -- around 150 kilos (330 pounds) monthly.

For the time being her products can be ordered through the Internet at , but Scholes Covic wants to expand to the capital Zagreb where truffles would be sold in delicatessen shops.

Chocolates made by Belgian Christine Scholtes Covic are displayed in her Lika Chocolate workshop in the village of Rakovica, in the Croatian region of Lika, some 150 kilometres (93 miles) south of Zagreb January 21, 2011. REUTERS/Nikola Solic.

Sales at the shop in Rakovica are brisk during the summer when people stop on a road connecting Zagreb and the Adriatic coast, as the reputation of Lika Chocolate has been spreading by word of mouth.

Chocolates cost some two euros (2.7 dollars) a piece and truffles around 33 euros for a kilo.

"I like the idea and the chocolate is really excellent," said Nikola, a man in his 50s, who stopped at the shop while driving to the capital. He learned about Lika Chocolate in a television reportage.

"This should be available in Zagreb," he added after tasting and buying a box of plum truffles.

View Larger Map

Belgijanka u Rakovici

Imigranti iz EU: Christine u ličkom vrtu radi belgijsku čokoladu

 Belgijka ručno stvara jedinstvene praline i čokoladne tartufe, a otvorit će i školu

Christine Scholtes Covic Belgijanka koja je doselila u Rakovicu i proizvodi praline. U planu joj je proizvodnja cokolade i bavljenje ruralnim turizmom (Foto: Kristina Stedul Fabac/PIXSELL)


autor: Ljiljana Vanjak /VLM

Jedan dolazak u Hrvatsku bio je dovoljan da odluči: tu će živjeti! Zamišljeno, ostvareno: Belgijka Christine Scholtes Čović sada živi u Rakovici i ručno izrađuje praline i čokoladne tartufe.

Našla muškarca života

Naravno, nije baš bilo tako jednostavno, ali bajkovito jest. Najprije se zaljubila u ovdašnju prirodu, a onda i u u muškarca svog života.

Sve je počelo prije četiri godine, kada je s prijateljima obišla Jadran i Plitvice. Noćenje u Rakovici, 1.200 km udaljenoj od belgijskog doma, rezultiralo je odlukom: tu će kupiti kuću! Potraga je potrajala, u konkurenciji je bilo područje do Plaškog. Ono što je željela našla je tamo gdje je tražiti i počela, u Rakovici, točnije pet km udaljenoj Staroj Kršlji.

– Kupila sam krajem 2008. kuću i imanje od devet hektara. Bilo je sve zapušteno, nitko tu nije živio 20 godina i potrajalo je dok smo to uredili. Pomagali su mi mnogi i tako sam našla i muža! Đulaga je s druge strane granice, iz Šturlića u Bosni i Hercegovini, ja iz Belgije, iz Virtona, a sada smo oboje u Rakovici. Svadba je bila našem ranču – priča, odličnim hrvatskim, Christine.

To je peti jezik koji govori: materinji francuski, španjolski, engleski, tajlandski, ne računa li se – sa smiješkom dodaje – šturlički, kojim se govori u mjestu odakle joj je suprug. Novinarka i povjesničarka, prevoditeljica i slastičarka, živjela je u različitim dijelovima svijeta.

– Iz Belgije sam otišla studirati u Južnu Afriku, razmjenom studenata stigla na Tajland, iz Etiopije izvještavala kao novinarka, u Francuskoj učila za slastičarku, ali kad sam vidjela Plitvice... Prekrasno za život, prilika za biznis – objašnjava. Seoski turizam ponajprije, jer u Staroj Kršlji, u kojoj je samo šestero stanovnika, namjerava urediti mjesto za odmor, duge šetnje, jahanje – četiri konja iz Škotske već ima! – uživanje u domaćoj hrani i prirodi kakva se malo gdje može naći. Dok toga ne bude, prionula je najslađoj ovisnosti mnogih, čokoladi. Stvara je u unajmljenom prostoru.

Prokleti papiri

– Htjela sam raditi u našoj kući, ali nemamo vode! Htjela sam i prodavati čokoladu i kolače, ali se ispostavilo da ne može biti slastičarnica i trgovina... Ovdje treba puno papira i nije jednostavno do njih doći, a i uvjeti koje treba ispuniti drugačiji su nego u Belgiji. Bilo bi dobro da je sve to jednostavnije jer bitni su i mali biznisi, ne samo velike tvornice. Ako u malom mjestu netko zaposli troje ili četvero ljudi, to je puno – smatra Christine.

Otvorila je poduzeće Lički vrt, iz Belgije je stigla oprema kojom je radila čokoladu, i počela proizvoditi Lika Chocolate – ručno rađene praline i tartufe. Dvadesetak vrsta: s malinama, marcipanom, rumom i grožđicama, narančom i medom, lješnjacima, keksima, tramincem, šljivovicom ili lavandom iz Rakovice.

– Recepti su moja tajna, ali baza je belgijska čokolada – najbolja na svijetu - a dodaci uglavnom lokalni proizvodi. Odlično se miješaju! Rado bih koristila i domaći maslac i vrhnje, no još nisam našla prodavača – priča, pažljivo umačući tartufe u čokoladnu kremu s kokosom.

Osim širenja posla i prodaje pralina i tartufa na više mjesta, a ne, kao sada, samo u jednom hotelu i trgovini u Zagrebu, te putem interneta, Christine želi proizvoditi i čokoladu s likom medvjeda i Velikim slapom. Namjerava otvoriti i školu za izradu čokolade.

– Za one koji to žele profesionalno raditi ili za one koji dođu na odmor. U Rakovici ću dočekati mirovinu; dosta sam se selila! – zaključuje.


nedjelja, 13. studenoga 2011.

Croatia One Step From Euro 2012

Three and easy: Croatia players celebrate their third and final goal in their defeat of Turkey.
Photo: EPA



Published: Friday 11 November 2011, 22.34CET

Turkey 0-3 Croatia

A 50,000 crowd in Istanbul was stunned as Ivica Olić and Mario Mandžukić put Croatia two up at half-time and Vedran Ćorluka headed a third.

Croatia celebrate at the final whistle ©Getty Images 

Croatia took a massive step towards UEFA EURO 2012 with a comfortable play-off first-leg win in Turkey.

A 50,000 crowd in Istanbul was stunned as Ivica Olić and Mario Mandžukić put Croatia two up at half-time and Vedran Ćorluka headed a third shortly after the break. Turkey will now need to produce an even more dramatic recovery in Zagreb on Tuesday than they did in the 2008 quarter-final against these opponents.

Just two minutes in and Croatia did what they had set out to do – score. A quick free-kick caught the Turkish defence by surprise, with Ćorluka getting to the byline and crossing for Olić to flick the ball past goalkeeper Volkan Demirel.

From then on Croatia were rampant. Chances were not numerous but every time they countered the Turkey defence seemed to be stretched to the limit. In the 32nd minute Croatia doubled their advantage as an attack was not cleared and captain Darijo Srna's delivery was headed in by Mandžukić.

The best Turkey could hope for was to get a goal before half-time in order to lift their spirits and assuage the growing frustration in the stands. Unfortunately for them that goal did not come; on the contrary it was Olić who could have put the visitors three up, but Demirel saved.

Just as at the start of the first half, Croatia raced out of the blocks, winning an early free-kick which was whipped in by Srna and finished off by Ćorluka. It might even have been four, as another Srna free-kick was met by Josip Šimunić but Volkan saved and Luka Modrić shot past the post. Nevertheless, Croatia are on the verge of a fourth EURO finals in five attempts.

Croatia moved a step closer to Poland and Ukraine with their win in Istanbul. Video footage of all 3 goals with that excited Mexican commentary guy.

Cautious Croatia focused on finishing Turkey job


Published: Sunday 13 November 2011, 21.05CET

Luka Modrić has told his Croatia team-mates they cannot relax "even a little bit" as they prepare to conclude their play-off with Turkey holding a handsome 3-0 lead from the away leg.

Luka Modrić is counselling his Croatia team-mates against complacency ahead of their play-off decider at home against Turkey on Tuesday, despite holding a 3-0 lead following their remarkable first-leg triumph in Istanbul.

Turkey coach Guus Hiddink had promised "a very hard night for Croatia" on Friday, but his words began to lose their power inside the first two minutes as Ivica Olić found the net. Mario Mandžukić doubled the deficit before the break and Vedran Ćorluka headed in Croatia's third shortly after half-time to stun the 50,000-strong home crowd and leave the visitors on the verge of a place at UEFA EURO 2012.

"We've only done half our job," warned Modrić. "We really need to rest a bit in the next few days and prepare well for the second match. The most important thing is that we stay focused now. "We can't relax, even a little bit. It could be very dangerous"."

The Tottenham Hotspur FC midfielder is no doubt mindful of the memorable quarter-final between the two sides at UEFA EURO 2008, when Croatia thought they had sealed a spot in the last four after Ivan Klasnić opened the scoring with a minute of extra time remaining. Turkey still found time to level, however, and Modrić was one of three Croatia players to miss from the spot as their rivals went through.

Unable to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, there had been a sense that Croatia never properly recovered from that defeat, but Modrić believes they are now returning to their proper level. "The last time we played as well as that was [our 2-1 win] against Germany at EURO 2008," he said. "That's a fact and we shouldn't run away from it. "We're back and we played like a great team again, in every position". We need to repeat that in Zagreb and seal our spot at the EURO, where we belong."

Slaven Bilić's men can expect vociferous backing at the Stadion Maksimir after a clamour for tickets in the wake of Friday's result, but the coach himself is also sounding a cautious note. "Don't be fooled: it won't be just a friendly match," he said, while refusing to reveal who he will field in place of suspended duo Ćorluka and Tomislav Dujmović.

Turkey face more pressing selection issues as Emre Belözoğlu, Hakan Balta, Sabri Sarıoğlu and Arda Turan will all be missing after incurring bans in the first leg. "I expect the players who take their place to play for their honour, for themselves, for their country," commented Hiddink, despite the sense of wariness in the opposition camp. ""Let's face facts – it's difficult, almost impossible, to qualify"."

The Dutch coach wants his side to above all restore lost pride and is urging his fringe players to show their worth. "Some will get opportunities to play themselves into the team because some young, new players will knock on the door to play," he said.

Under contract until next summer, Hiddink nonetheless feels that Bilić has been fortunate enough to call upon more hardened talents for this tie, saying: "Teams such as Trabzonspor play Champions League football and Beşiktaş play in the Europa League, but in between those games they are hardly challenged. Most of the Croatian players play in strong leagues outside of their home country, having to perform at their maximum every week."

A short highlight video of goals from the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign. The hard part though and real action will be starting in June.

petak, 4. studenoga 2011.

Eclectical Artistry, Curiosities, Queriful Unexplainable Unusualities & Comical Oddity Mosaic Interlude

Here's some images I added found from a variety of sources from all over the internets, as a break from Croatian related topics and to add some variety and an amusing intermission...enjoy. Random and in no particular order and with no special meaning, make of them what you will. (Some of these added images may be offensive or disturbing..or maybe some viewers, you'll have to take a number at the image uploading complaints department, or the people who uploaded them originally into the internets land using their internets computer-machines)

Add caption

Add caption

Add caption

Add caption

Add caption

Add caption

Add caption

Add caption

Featured post

And The Croatian City To Be A European Capital of Culture In 2020 Will Be...(Drum Roll).....Rijeka

Yep, I know it's still 2 years away and I already covered this topic last year when it was announced, but I added a few extra imag...