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Diminutive first names

Danky Franky  
22 Mar 2008 /  #1
Polish has informal diminutive names that are used among friends. Is it also true that some Polish diminutive first names are used among intimate friends and with children? If so, is there a way to recognize the diminutives of the second type?

For example, among the following names, are there any of the second type?

Bogdan, Bogdanek, Boguś
Henryk, Heniek, Henio, Heniuś
Stanisław, Stasiek, Stasio, Staś, Stacho
Ewa, Ewunia, Ewcia, Ewusia, Ewka
22 Mar 2008 /  #2
AFAICT diminutives of names are a question of individual convention.

That is, what diminutive a person prefers (or family or friends prefer) is based above all on the preferences of both sides. So the same person might go by different diminutives with different people or the person might have a strong preference for one.

The best guide is to pay attention to what other people call a person (and how they refer to themselves). With very good friends you have more leeway in imposing your own preferred diminutives on them (they'll usually be sports and make allowances for your foreign ways).

But beware, different diminutives have different emotional connotations, from more neutrally friendly, to strong affection, to more rough and ready pals. Use a form with -cha with a girl you're interested in and she'll assume you aren't. Use a form ending with -uś with a guy (especially in the vocative) and he may think you are interested in him.

Maybe even more interesting is diminutive use with regular nouns. Where I live ticket inspectors usually ask for bileciki instead of bilety, the dimunitive makes the request more polite. People in stores (especially their own) also use diminutives to make their merchandise more appealing.

English pet names are nowhere near as interesting or expressive as Polish (or other Slavic) diminutives and English simply cannot express the emotional connotations a well chosen Polish diminutive. They are a linguistic marvel and always repay any interest you show in them.
22 Jul 2009 /  #3
22 Jul 2009 /  #4
But about how well does one have to know the other person before, say, a foreigner can naturally switch from 'Pan Bryszewski' to 'Jakob' to 'Kubek' etc..., especially with a male, without being miscontrued either as a homosexual or just plain rude?
31 Jul 2009 /  #5
Guys don't use diminutive names for male friends. It's OK for children, not for an adult male friend. You just don't call some guy at work Maciuś.
31 Jul 2009 /  #6
Interesting. This then would seem to differ considerably from Russian or Ukrainian, where, I was told, calling a bosom buddy f. ex. 'Grigorij' and not the hyper-familiar 'Grischa', is a sign of deep disrespect, indicating a problem with the friendship!

Again though, the Russians have a saying which the Poles perhaps only borrowed, 'Sluzhba nyeh druzhba!' = friendship is friendship and work is work-:)
1 Aug 2009 /  #7
Men also use diminutives for male firends: Staszek instead of Stanisław, Wojtek (Wojciech), Kuba (Jakub)... of course trhey would probably not normally use super-diminutives such as Stasiunio, Wojtusio, Kubuś.
1 Aug 2009 /  #8
I see a slight difference of opinion as to usage here-:)
1 Aug 2009 /  #9
But about how well does one have to know the other person before, say, a foreigner can naturally switch from 'Pan Bryszewski' to 'Jakob' to 'Kubek' etc..., especially with a male, without being miscontrued either as a homosexual or just plain rude?

Not sure about most people...but I was introduced to a former boss as was only after a week I realised it was short for Jakub.
1 Aug 2009 /  #10
Guess then the exception confirms (or negates, resp.) the rule!
Thanks for the input, folks-:)
1 Aug 2009 /  #11
Guys don't use diminutive names for male friends.

They do.
Example: Witold/Tolek

trhey would probably not normally use super-diminutives

Perhaps not the ones you showed, but what about Kiazimierz/Ziutek. Lesław/Lesio, Czeslaw/Czesiu and pretty much any male name.
Different social variables come to play (not homosexuality at all) such as the phase of the party that is under way and how much alcohols has been already consumed.

"Jasiekńku, no nie pierdol chłope".
1 Aug 2009 /  #12
Witold = Witoldzie! Witek! Witku!, Tolku!

1 Aug 2009 /  #13
Toluś! To ty?
No to po maluśkim!
1 Aug 2009 /  #14
-:) Tak, tak! Czy 'Kusiu!' > Witku???
1 Aug 2009 /  #15
Kusiu doesn't sound right at all..


Sweet way to say Marta?

see what. what sweet thing do you want to say to Marta? martunia, martusia:)
2 Aug 2009 /  #16
I thought Ziutek was from Józef, Witek from Witold and Tolek from Anatol or Antoni???
3 Aug 2009 /  #17
I'd say that diminutives sound natural with some names and don't with others.
Tomek, Wojtek, Kuba, Witek, Zosia, Kasia, Ola can usually be used for everyone who you just got to know, while using diminutives for:

Marcin, Mariusz, Robert, Jacek, Marta, £ukasz etc. usually will require a little closer relationship.

It may also depend on your and the other person's age.

3 Aug 2009 /  #18
I wasn't aware of that fact that certain names in Polish lent themselves more readily to 'diminuation' than others LOL Should have guessed though. Foreign, i.e. non-Polish, especially non-Slavic, names such as "Robert" etc.., I'd imagine would be difficult to form into a diminutive-:) In English, we don't take it anywhere nearly as far as do the Slavic languages. German however can make "Robertchen" out of "Robert", but it sounds a little strange)))

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