Thursday, April 24, 2008

Friendships.

One of the interesting things about learning a different language is the different categories the languages create. Categories being human constructions based on what we view as important for the grouping or defining of a type.

With other people, we have acquaintances, colleagues, and friends and best friend...most commonly. There are also slang...which I am not going to go into, as it is so regional, and changes fairly fast....for fuddy-duddies, like me, those are the main characters...

The Catalans don't have a word, that I have discovered, for acquaintance...which kind of makes sense on a village level, you already know everyone so introductions are irrelevant...they also don't seem to have an equivalent for colleague, in the sense of someone you know from work (and don't necessarily like)...instead a colleague is someone you know fairly well and like (I think), but wouldn't quite call a friend yet. Then there are friends, which is quite a tight definition as far as I can tell, and I would say that NA's are freer with the word.

To me this seems to reflect on attitude and culture.

Then you get within a culture and you get individual differences...some folks have countless acquaintances, and others are fantastically monogamous...one friend at a time, and that's nearly it. I tend to have a friend or two from each stage of my life who I am still in touch with, plus some others with whom I have formed a close relationship tossed in, and I tend to be fairly good at building up relationships with people. I have colleagues at both of my workplaces, and the Catalan version of colleagues, as in you've been to each others house, you like each other, and know each other fairly well, but you aren't really friends yet.

Then there is on-line blog buds...another category, not quite friends in the conventional self, more than acquaintances, you've never met, but you know each other well.....

Then there is family that is a friend..is your spouse or sister or brother a friend as well? We don't call them a friend though, which seems weird to me...

Friendship and grammar, the hot topics in our house these last few months...intertwined too.

What kind of friends do you have most? Really close buddies, a bit of each? Do you agree with the definitions? I am interested...

7 comments:

Beth said...

Your definitions are good. I have friends from childhood, friends I made as a "young mother" (and who are still my good friends), friends (and/or acquaintances) through various other meeting places and, yes, blogging friends. I do consider (and call) my sisters my friends.
This post has really got me thinking. I have more friends that I realized!

elPadawan said...

it's interesting, all those different friendship/relationship levels that you can have. And yes, it changes from culture to culture. The richer the language, the more granularity you'll have to classify, and categorize, all the people around you.

I'm still wondering which approach I prefer... in the end, all in all, I end up liking everyone equally, eventually, so it doesn't matter much anymore how I call so or so, they'll get their share of friendship ;)

Hilarious Catastrophes said...

I think its absolutely true what you say about language. It definitely has a bearing on the way that people from different cultures behave towards eachother. I am sure that categories exist without any deliberate intentions. I know a lot of people who apply the word 'friend' to people that barely know, as well as those they know intimately. On the other hand I know other people who are fiercely private, whos friendship has to be almost earnt, which means they tend not to have many friends and even fewer aquaintances, but those few friendships are lifelong.
I am the kind of person that has lots of individual friends, and don't really get along very well in a group of more than 3 or 4.

oreneta said...

Beth, well, I am glad I made you realise just how many friends you have. Your comment has made me realise that I need to refer to my sister as my friend more as well.

elPadawan, I am not sure I end up liking everyone evenly....though I think there are a large pool of people I could be closer friends with, but we have never bothered.

HC, I am good to slightly larger groups than three or four, but I know what you mean...you stop having any real contact with individuals if the numbers get too high...

dawn said...

I think your definitions work well. I have another category, people don't really use because it is more often thought of for kids. It is playmates. I have a wide circle of acquaintances through different associations, some of them are between acquaintance and friendship in that I have spent a good deal of time with, usually in a social fun setting. These are the people who may be a friend of a friend so end up at the same functions. The people I have blogger breakfast/lunches with, I would consider playmates. In a sense when we get together, it is a play date. We sit and visit and have a good time laughing with each other then we go our ways, read each other's blogs but don't really associate otherwise. As for friends, I think I am much like you. I have friends, and closer friends and have kept friends from each time in my life. I have my best friend from high school (Kim from Art4Life), another friend from high school which we camp with, and another one (not my best friend-I have written about). I have a friend from my first job. There is someone from my first child (where my family stays when in Abbotsford-she's at a reunion in Toronto this weekend), a friend from when we lived in our old town and the home school friends I have made along the way. Apart from those friends I have kept in touch with, there were others along the way, I have lost touch with. One can only keep up with so many people.

It is actually nice to have English as a first language for that reason. With so many nuances and variations, it would be very tough to learn.

Lynda said...

Oh Snap!!! LOL I posted something along these lines yesterday too... it is a weird thing all these different friends from different places.. some days I can't believe how lucky I am to have so many (including online blogger mates)

oreneta said...

Dawn, playmates is a great word for it, maybe we could adopt the Aussie mate, or buddies....maybe that is what I use, these are buddies....

Lynda, it is true, we are lucky to have so many, including blogger mates/buddies/pals.....it is also tricky leaving, eh?