...the surreal world of Slovenian prices


Lakeside of tar...mate....................................
De Mon stands guard. Locked display..................
...........................................|   They've one square of L   |

Slovenia has a point in not seeing any point in anyone competing over its domestic market.  

The difference is not between the ripoff prices of state monopolies and those of the economically viably-sized near-monopolies which will inevitably follow, but between the real world as seen on the internet and the dreamlike world of Slovenian retail.

The Walls of Jericho here are the Slovene language, which doesn't seem to be planning a mass escape over the border any time soon (and is smugly resilient to outside probing) and western Europe's most extreme future shock.

Let's shop in Slovenia.  Suppose we are learning to drive, and we want to buy some L-plates.  You might think the first thing you need to do is translate "learner" and armed with the word "učenec" go looking for some U-plates.

But you would be wrong to assume anything.  Walls can collapse in surprising ways. Learner drivers need L-plates in Slovenia, bearing the letter L - although no Slovene word for "learner" begins with L.

With a stiff drink local drivers can accept this Anglo-hegemony; luckily for their vendors, L-plates are compulsory as well as a good idea.

In that UK high street with its €8.91/hour minimum wage you might shell out as much as £5 (€6.86) for a set of fancy magnetic ones.

Or just go for the cheap sticky/tie-on learner plates for 85p (€1.17)...

But in Slovenia things are, inevitably, more concentrated and complicated.  You might go looking for magnetno zeleno tablico L or something like that - you would not get many results, the first being the local online auction site with a price of €10.

Experienced hotel guests will recognise a certain uncertainty over whether this is the price for one or two.  You really need to know your endings for six cases, three genders and five numbers to be reasonably sure - if the sellers themselves have got the endings right. The locals may get quite confused about -s meaning more than one in English - and offended if you arrive ready to pay less than twice what you expected.

In Slovenia, what you have to do in these situations is stop and study the endings used this time, and steer clear of any easy preconceptions about, for example, L-plates coming in pairs. Frustrating blithe expectations about normality is where Slovenia makes its money.

In this auction ad, we have -a and -o endings.  Prodam magnetno tablico-L - I'm selling it/them, this says.

The -o suggests it/they are either the gender Slovene does not remember it has - neuter, or possibly male. From this you know it is definitely single, featureless, generic, and the same as all the others.

The problem is, someone is doing something (selling), while the L-plate(s) is/are having that done to it/them -all at the same time as we are trying to find out how many there are.

The L-plate(s) ought to be in the accusative, we might assume.  On the other hand the heading L MAGNETNA TABLICA, which is verbless, points to a female thing, again singular.

A further possibility concerns the "ownership" of the magnetism by the plate or plates, with a genitive ending.  Well I know it isn't this. But is it one, or two?

At this point you may ask a local.  They will simply shrug and ask where you are from, how long you have been in Slovenia, and for any information you possess which might enable them to get money.  I personally prefer to believe in -e or -i endings with pairs of things.

Remember, you WANT it to be two, but here Slovenia wants you to want that too.  To me it looks certain there's only one L-plate here.  This is strongly corroborated by the fact that this would be the biggest ripoff.  You can always use this method to determine the truth when choices like this are presented.  Maybe it blew off and the guy found it.  Or his other one did, and this is what he has left.

Yes, readers, he's selling one L-plate.  His idea of a second-hand price for it is between 2.92 and 32.26 times the price in Halfords and Wilkinsons respectively.

And he - the guy - has this L-plate, he in fact leads this particular market in Slovenia in his online presence, and he sees no damn reason not to capitalise on his advantage.  And, I might add, this is a regular thing.

And we can see such sellers claim the same item is €14 at AMZS, a likely source for L-plates in Slovenia. That must mean AMZS U-plošč are 4.07 times safer than Halfords' - and 45.16 times more legally compliant than Wilkos' unmagnetic rubbish-coloured UK ones.

The UK uses red to try to warn other drivers; but Slovenia uses green, to try to calm them down.

With these prices you can see why.

You try to shop around.  AMZS have no Google results for L-plates themselves - are they really selling them individually too, or is the seller being as disingenuous as his language will allow?  To find out, I tried various expressions and no avail.

But then, AMZS probably figure, what Slovenian would need to search that?

One of many verses deemed unfit for public exposure by The Slovenia Times under the Great Hush of Miro, it previously dwelt at:
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