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Deep Bop

How Not to Say "Goodbye" in Slovene

One of the most important things a traveller can do before setting foot in a new and foreign country is learn the language of this new place.

 

No, I of course don't mean to learn to language to fluency, but to learn the basic phrases necessary to get you around and help you when you must interact with people. Yeah, chances are if you're going to a tourist-known location or if you're exploring the European Union, locals will know a degree of English. But you will find by the expressions on their faces when you begin your English diatribe that you are being very rude by assuming it. Hey, don't trust me, just go and try it.

 

And I understand those pained and cringing looks when someone comes to another country and just assumes that English should be the second language of the world--maybe it should! But you're not in England anymore, you're in Poland or France or Estonia or wherever and the people that live there speak Polish or French or Estonian.

 

Of course, you will screw this up. You will butcher their language without a doubt. But the effort will go further than you think. I have made plenty of errors in other countries while using the native language. My favourite is the story of "deep bop."

 

We spent two days in lovely Slovenia in the summer of 2017. We could have gone to Ljubljana, but I chose Maribor as the mountains promised to be a lovely sight (and I was not disappointed). I hadn't learned a lot of Slovene, mostly because 1. We would only be there for 2 days; and 2. My husband is usually in charge of transactions in Slavic countries. But I did learn the basics:

 

Hello - Dober dan (easy to remember, because in Serbian it is "Dobar dan")

Thank you - Hvala (Хвала in Russian is "praise")

Please - Prosim (like the Czech "prosím")

Yes - Da (like in Russian)

No - Ne (Like in Czech)

Goodbye - …?

 

I was buying something in a shop and had successfully greeted the cashier. When asked if I had found everything, I'd answered "da, hvala;" when asked if I had a loyalty card, I'd answered "ne;" when asked if I needed a bag, I'd answered "ne." Everything was going great until I realised I couldn't remember how to say "goodbye."

 

As the cashier was putting my money in to the register, I panicked a little and looked around the store hoping something would somehow remind me which word I needed to use. It wasn't coming to me at all. Maybe I should just say it in Serbian or Russian and see how that goes over… I thought. No, just wait until she says it and repeat it back to her. Yes, of course. I'm a genius.

 

So I took my change and my receipt with another "hvala" and waited for her to say something. Surely it would jog my memory.

 

The milliseconds were like decades as we stared each other down.


Then she spoke.

 

And I have no idea what she said. She had said it so quietly or mumbled it or maybe it was a different way to say goodbye. I have no idea. But my brain needed to make a decision over what my mouth should do because I was still staring at her. Russian or Serbian? What are we going to go with?

 

With way too much fanfare as though I was speaking fluent Slovene, I proudly exclaimed:

 

Deep bop.

 

Yes, "deep bop." My brain malfunctioned and I went straight to robotics. I had just enough time before I turned away to see a confusion overtake her face; as though she was about to ask me to repeat myself.

 

Once outside, I pulled up my translator on my phone and learned that going with Russian probably would have been more efficient. The correct answer was "Nasvidenje."

 

I don’t know, though, I kind of like "deep bop."