“Dobry den” was a term I knew from growing up in Chicago, or at least had been exposed to that phrase. The phrase was corrupted in my mind because of the many variations of it that I had been exposed to.
I had no clue that people were always greeting each other in different Slavic languages in my presence – dobrý deň ( in Slovak), dobrý den (in Czech), dzień dobry (in Polish), dobar dan (in Croatian), dober dan (in Slovenian), as well as all the Cyrillic alphabet language greetings for “good day” that look very different on paper, but sound nearly the same aloud – добры дзень – “dobry den” (Belarussian), добър ден – “dobr den” (Bulgarian), добар ден – “dobar den” (Macedonian), добрый день – “dobry den” (Russian), добар дан – “dobar dan” (Serbian) and which includes, of course, Ukranian – добрий день – “dobry den,” in which “good day” sounds identical to Slovak.
I always figured (until the early 90’s) that everyone was speaking the language of Czechoslovakia in my presence. Little did I know as a kid that that’s just what Slavs did in Chicago, they ran around saying hi to each other in their different Slavic languages and dialects.
This piece is excerpted from A Random Collection of Slovak Christmas Traditions Circa 2010.
Another page on 52 Weeks in Slovakia is about the Slavic ways to say “sausage.” It leads to the common and mistaken idea among Slavs in North America that kielbasa is the universal word for sausage in this part of Europe.