formal vs. informal when speaking

Discussion in 'General Language' started by Idler, Mar 11, 2005.

  1. Idler

    Idler Member

    My wife and I are studying Czech together (actually she's learning grammar, I'm learning the language) and we wondered about the formal and informal.
    I know when speaking to strangers or social equals you use the formal "vy" and second person plural verb forms. But do people in the Czech Republic have a protocol for switching? Is there a special celebration when, say, you begin using the informal with someone that you've known for years. I've heard that Germans will celebrate going to the informal with someone, and my wife and I were wondering what happens in the Czech Republic. Thanks.
  2. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

    Well, I would not call it a celebration, but it goes usually with a toast - "připijme si na tykání" (let´s have a drink to call each other first names) and a kiss.
  3. Jirka

    Jirka Well-Known Member

    Hi Andy,

    things depend on the social status of the people involved.

    If it's just two grownups, say colleagues or coworkers, the senior person is supposed to have the 'right' to propose the first names' terms ("tykání"); it's usually a woman or the older of the two (see also The process is most often short and informal itself: the person who proposes will say something like "Co kdybychom si tykali?" (scores of other possibilities here). A typical phenomenon is a verbal exchange of their first names afterwards, as if introducing themselves to each other, sometimes accompanied or replaced with an informal greeting, such as "Ahoj." and "Nazdar" and/or a handshake.

    I'd say that a toast for this is only typical if there is already a party of a kind in progress. Kissing is more likely between women or a man and woman while the likeliness normally correlates with the people's ages and drunkenness or other kind of intoxication.

    Unlike in the English-speaking countries (at least those where English is the sole first language of the population's majority) even people who have known each other for years may stay on the last names' terms in the Czech Republic, basically if they choose so for one reason or another, and it isn't considered very unusual...

    Jirka Bolech

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