Tako je kako je

Language & Culture

Tako je kako je

This text talks about the expression 'tako je kako je' which is widely used in the Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian speaking areas.

One of my US students visited BiH a few months ago. It appears to me that she was quite happy in the Balkans, and when she moved back to America, she described in one of her messages what she had visited, where she had gone, and then concluded her text with ‘tako je kako je’.

In Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian we can say ‘tako je kako je’ which literally means ‘it is as is’. We can also say ‘Što/šta da se radi? Tako je kako je’ which more precisely means ‘What to do?’ or ‘What can we do?’ It is as is’. This expression, however, has a slightly different meaning in the two languages.

Usually when we are sad or when we cannot change something we want to see changed, we can say ‘tako je kako je’. This way we are ready to come to terms with current circumstances even though our tone shows that we are not excited about it.

In the English language, however, this expression means ‘without change’. On the other hand, if we ask someone to tell ‘it as it is’, it means that we are focused on pure facts and this example shows even deeper meanings this expression builds in English vs Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian. The fact is that we cannot change certain circumstances around us. Indeed, it sometimes makes us sad or not, but it often seems right to say ‘tako je kako je’.

NOTICE: This text is not peer-reviewed. It aims to inspire and motivate language learners of Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian to think about possible cultural patterns when learning this/these language(s).