Friendship, Part Two

While writing about friendship earlier this week, I realized there was so much more to say. I'll probably revisit the subject at least a couple more times in the coming months. One of the thoughts I mulled over while writing that post was how the English language is grossly inadequate sometimes.

I wish English had more words for friend. We seem confined to either the word acquaintance or the word friend to describe people we know. It would be handy to have some other words for the people who are more that acquaintances, but less than kindred spirits, which is where most of my friendships  lie.

What should we call those people we've known for many years and are cordial with, but don't know well? How about those we're developing a relationship with, but haven't reached a level of intimacy with yet? Then there are the people we know from work, church, clubs or groups - we might enjoy their company and know them rather well, but are not intimate friends with them. What should we call these different types of people?

We need more "friend" words that include subtle variations and nuances.

I thought perhaps other languages could provide a solution, but after attempting several searches and modifying my search several times, I could not come up with an answer to which language had the most words for friend.  However, during my search I tried the question, "How many ways are there to say friend in Swedish?" The first search result that appeared was, "20 ways to annoy a Swede". Not exactly what I was looking for.

Do you think we could use more words to describe different levels of friendship or would this just blow up in our faces and our "friends" would hate us because we ranked them at Friendship Level Five when they ranked us at Friendship Level Three?

Image: digitalart/freedigitalphotos.net


  1. We really should have more words for friend. I'm an aspiring hyperpolyglot, and English seems like such an uninspired, dull language next to some of the others I've studied. I love the Georgian words for friend, with translations such as "Me instead of you," "I encircled you," "Your troubles upon me," and "My day." English just doesn't have the same lingual nuances as some other languages.

  2. Our forever changing language..when I was young, friend meant friend. Someone you hang out with, someone you share life with, someone you cared about. Now it seems with social media being what it is, a friend is simply someone who gets permission to hang out ON YOUR PAGE - not even necessarily WITH you. They may not even know you. I think I preferred the tine when friend meant something.

    Maybe we should come up with some words that have the different nuances of our day incorporated into their definition. Like Carrie-Anne mentioned about the Georgian words from friend. Maybe it's time the English language borrowed some words from another country again :)

    By the Way, hello from the A to Z challenge. I've just started my pass through to hop around some blogs...Enjoy the challenge!

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