POLL: Czech friend translation

Discussion in 'General Language' started by MichaelM, Dec 12, 2008.

  1. MichaelM

    MichaelM Well-Known Member

    I've read three Czech textbooks now (by Heim - 1982, Hola - recent, and Short 2nd edition) and I have noted a contradiction for the translation of 'friend'.

    Short would say that 'pritel (pritelkyne) is the closest friend and kamerad is not as close. Heim says just the opposite. Hola is quiet about the controversy. I've asked several Czechs (male and female) and have got mixed views about this.

    So, a poll - to the readership of this authoritative language forum and learners of Czech: which is the translation for the closest form of 'friend' in Czech and which means less of a friend and more of an acquaintance?
  2. Tagarela

    Tagarela Well-Known Member


    Well, I am only a learner too, but I thought that kamarád was less strong while přitel is the word for close friends and even boyfriend. But, as you, I also would like to have the opinion on this point.

  3. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    I would say "přítel" is more literary expression than "kamarád" in case of "friend" meaning.

    Another meaning for "přítel" is also "boyfriend"
  4. gementricxs

    gementricxs Well-Known Member

    Přítel (přítelkyně) can also mean boy(girl)friend.
    Kamarád does not have this connotation.

    I'm Czech and I dont feel the difference in strongness of those two words.
    I use kamarád (and even kámoš) more often than přítel.
  5. GlennInFlorida

    GlennInFlorida Well-Known Member

    I use kamarád more often than přítel because I can barely say the ř :?
  6. Tagarela

    Tagarela Well-Known Member


    It is a important point for foreigners :D př- is not easy to me too... but, Glenn, we must do our best, otherwise there will be a looong list of words that we wont say all those před- ^^

    But "kolega" is really "weaker", right? I can use it for classmate, work partners and so on?

  7. ondras

    ondras Member

    Well, I'm also Czech from Prague but I for one would never use přítel/přítelkyně when I'm talking about friends. I (and most of other people I know) use it only when referring to a boyfriend/girlfriend. This applies only to the singlar form of the word friend (přítel/kamarád). For me, the plural "přátelé" has the exactly same meaning as "kamarádi" (although I still use "kamarádi" far more often).
  8. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    My teacher told me to just say Kamerád as Přítel is quite old fashioned and has that confusing connotation of boyfriend.. But I don't know, sometimes she just makes things up on the spot! :)
  9. Tagarela

    Tagarela Well-Known Member


    But is there a specific word for boy/girlfriend?

  10. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    I asked that just last Thursday in class! And i was told no...

    I know that in German you say my friend for boyfriend or girlfriend and a friend for friend.. but of course there's the lack of any indefinite article in Czech
    So I guess people just assume when it's an a member of the opposite sex and you say Přítel/přítelkyně that you're going out?
    It must be very awkward and confusing for gay people.

    I've also noticed this problem in teaching; where students refer to their friends in English as their girlfriends and boyfriends.
    I think my girlfriends works in English without suggesting you're dating but not my girlfriend, and only if you're female.
  11. MichaelM

    MichaelM Well-Known Member

    Myslim, ze nebudu rikat nikomu nic. Particularly it seems not to be a good idea to have a female as an acquaintance, friend or semi-friend because by the time I figure out how to address her, she will already be gone!
  12. Polednikova

    Polednikova Well-Known Member

    That's just what I've picked up in my two years here. Fortunately, I'm too old to have a přitel - 'boyfriend' sounds very young in English - as partner is easier to pronounce! (Although my tandem partner is kind enough to say that my ř is actually quite good - which is lucky as it makes up for my awful 'ch'!)

    And while I'm on, Ondras, can I just say welcome? That first post was a wonderful example of perfect English - no mistakes (apart from a slight typo, singlar for singular) and exactly as I would have said it!
  13. MK

    MK Well-Known Member

    My 2 cents

    The sexual undertones are mainly present when you speak about two people.

    Petr přišel na oslavu se svojí přítelkyní.
    Petra přišla na oslavu se svým přítelem.
    but also
    Petr přišel na oslavu se svým přítelem.

    If you intensify word "přítel" then it usually lost sexual undertones.
    Nejlepší přítel, velmi dobrý přítel ...

    Sometime you need to dismiss this undertone:
    (Oni) jsou jen přátelé.

    kamarád - has no sexual undertone but has slight childish undertone, it is less "intense" (because "kamarádství" is less then "přátelství", if you wish to express real friendship then you usually choose word "přítel").

    "známý" - less then kamarád, there is no friendship, you only "know other exists".


    Such words really do not exist in Czech but...

    1. (for teenagers) - holka/kluk
    worry these words still not reached literacy czech so it is Common Czech
    holka (CC) = dívka (LC) = girl
    kluk (CC) = chlapec (LC) = boy

    "moje holka" = my girlfriend
    "můj kluk" = my boyfriend
    "Šla tam se svým klukem".
    so holka/kluk + jeho/její ... menas his/her boyfriend
    Holky a kluci = "girls and boys"

    "Máš (už) holku/kluka?" = "Do you have girlfriend?"
    with už (allready) it means always boy/girlfriend, without už it depends on context.

    ! If these words use older people then they most probably do not mean boyfriend/girlfriend but son/daughter instead.!

    "Ta moje holka dnes hodně zlobí"

    2. (for teenagers + "after teenagers") - mladá/stará

    There is some ugly form of speaking about your husband (or partner) in Common Czech:
    example: "Jestli nepřijdu včas domů, tak moje stará bude pořádně naštvaná." vs. "Můj starej je zase v hospodě".

    it influenced vocabulary of male part of younger not-married pairs (couples) but it is used more "sensually":

    "Jestli nepřijdu včas domů, tak moje mladá bude pořádně naštvaná."

    so mladá (female form) means girlfriend


    "mladej" (male form) does NOT mean boyfriend!

    "Můj mladej je zase v hospodě"- father speak about his son
  14. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    I guess it is not :) as I know few who has no problems with it.

    MK, good job!

    Btw. sorry for not being here for a while.
  15. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    MK....thanks for that thorough explanation of the
    přítel, kamarád, znamý, kluk, holka differences.

    I think I have a better grasp of it now.

    Welcome back Alexx, your posts have been absent.
  16. MichaelM

    MichaelM Well-Known Member

    Yes, MK, this is exactly what I needed on this question. Thank you so much for your time - to write all of that. With my typing skills (?), that would have taken me an hour I suppose.
  17. MK

    MK Well-Known Member

    Considering my two-fingers typing speed it should took me several days to write it but I somewhat managed to finish it sooner. :D

    I am glad it helped.

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