I often write about all the stuff Croatians take for granted, like the free healthcare, college education, and safe streets. And often times people challenge me by saying the healthcare is insolvent, the college education isn’t like Harvard’s, and the streets are safe all over Europe. Fine. Whatever. Here’s something most Croatians don’t even think about it and do take for granted, Croatian names.
One of the best things about the Croatian language is how you introduce yourself. In English we have boring old, ‘My name is Cody.’ A statement that has no drama or excitement. But in Croatian you get to introduce yourself by saying, ‘Zovem se…,’ which literally translates to ‘I call myself… .’ And when I hear that, I think of a scene from Lord of the Rings or from some time when people called themselves names based on the image they wanted to project. And it gets better…
Better because Croatian names themselves can be translated into all kinds of awesome titles. I mean there are people in this country who are able to go up to someone and in all seriousness say, ‘Zovem se Branimir,’ which translates to ‘I call myself Peace Defender!’ Now that just sounds impressive. No, it sounds EPIC! Much, much more so than, ‘Hi, my name is Dave.’
I mean imagine a boring, corporate office meeting where everyone introduces themselves. ‘Hi I’m Steve. ‘Nice to meet you, I’m Joe.’ Ooo exciting another Steve, Joe, Mike and Dave. Our button down lives are dull and boring, the drudgery and monotony of life are so oppressive. I hate it, is what both those guys, and everyone at the meeting are thinking.
Now, imagine that meeting in Croatia. ‘Hi, I call myself Yes Peace!’ (Damir) ‘Nice to meet you, I call myself Peaceful Slav!’ (Miroslav) And then a third guy shows up and says, ‘I call myself Big Slav!’ (Višeslav) And everyone’s name and how they introduce themselves is so grand and tied to some essence of the past when people needed to call themselves ‘Peace Defender,’ and ‘Yes Peace,’ that their lives seem exciting, epic and awesome.
Actually, my wife informed me that slav in names like Miroslav and Višeslav doesn’t mean Slav, but glory. Still, calling yourself Peaceful Glory and Greater Glory is pretty epic. And so, in order to further shed my Americanness and progress further in my Croatianness, I’d like to change my name. I just can’t decide on which way to go. Should I call myself Codyslav or Codymir?