In my continuing quest to learn the Serbian language (a quest which is often interrupted and curtailed by intervening events, obligations, and Tuesdays), I have come to realize that I have overlooked an essential part of learning this language that has nothing to do with my six-word vocabulary, my mastery of one tense and one grammatical case, or my inability to deal with multiple declensions.
If you have never heard of Star Trek, the Klingon Empire, or Kahless the Unforgettable, you may want to open a new tab and do some research before continuing. The fact is that, as a spoken language, Serbian must be enunciated and bellowed out like Klingon. Sentences are marked by exclamation marks. Words declaratively expressed in CAPITAL LETTERS! The Klingon does not brook the mealy-mouthed, the overly polite, the sycophantic, or the obsequious. In fact, the language may not even contain equivalents to these words.
Imagine, if you will, the scene in the restaurant. The room is crowded and only one or two waiters hover among the tables. You (meaning me, the Anglo-Saxon) are thirsty. You raise your hand tentatively, attracting exactly NO attention. The waiters dive and swoop around you without knowing you are there. You then assert yourself with a timid, "Excuse me?"
After about fifteen minutes of this pantomime, he finally happens to be near you and you state your request: "Excuse me, but if you would not mind, if you happen to be passing by the kitchen and if it is not any trouble, I would appreciate a glass of water, please. When you get around to it, next time you are near the table. Thank you."
Before you have completed your request, however, the waiter has completely lost interest and has flitted off to another, more decisive table. Without knowing, you have committed the unforgiveable offense of being inoffensive. It is not that that waiter actually wants you to be rude; it is just that he understands the rude and the peremptory much better. The flurry of Niceness which you have spread into the air between yourself and the waiter only gets in his eyes, and he does not know what you want until you have littered the order with 36 unnecessary words. Consequently, and having no time to work it out, he removes himself.
Imagine the same scene, however, sung in a different key. You are thirsty. You declare yourself. You cry out "DECKO!" This is already upsetting your Anglo Saxon sensibilities as you are referring to man who may be more than one decade your senior as "boy." Try SEFE! (chief) instead.
"More blood wine!" cries the Klingon warrior. And he slams his fist upon the table, breaking out in a laugh which fills the entire room. The waiter will arrive instantly. He will smile with you, he will nod, and within an instant drop off a glass of water on the table. This exchange consisted of two words, an optional gesture, and lasted about three minutes. And no one was put out or offended. The mealy-mouthed and polite Anglo Saxon way required several full paragraphs (with footnotes and disclaimers), nearly 20 minutes, and in the end, a bitter taste in your mouth and an annoyed waiter (who may never return to your table again).
It is in the attitude. It is the assertive natural tone of the language. Speak loudly Warriors! Speak clearly and proudly! Use fewer words! It is the way! It is OUR way!
I would only ask, if it is not a problem, and only if you think of it at the time, NOT to mention where you heard all this if you attempt a practical application. My bat'leth is in the shop being sharpened this week.