'my special friend' too offensive?

domkrat

Senior Member
Russian
Hi

Could you guys please help me with this.

I am looking for a word (or expression) that could be used instead of 'buddy' or 'mate' (like in "Hey buddy!") But it should also have certain connotations. I'm thinking of the phrase "my special friend". I gather it could mean literally "very dear friend" and also "a retard" depending on the context, which is roughly what I'm looking for.
I have a few questions though.

EDIT: The word/expression is supposed to be a joke, when several guys use it on each other. (Not on a disabled or handicapped)


1. About "my special friend":

Would it sound patronizing and humorous at the same time?
Or is it too much of an insult?

e.g. "Not again, my special friend. I told you a thousand times!..."



2. "my special" or "special"?

Is it ok to shorten it like "my special" or even just "special"?
Would it sound totally unnatural?

e.g. "I don't know, special", "You do it, special", "It's all right, special"



3. Does "special friend" have any obvious sexual connotations? (I don't need any)



4. "My special lady"

Is it ok to say it to a wife/girlfriend when speaking to her?
e.g. "Anna, my special lady. You know I love you"
 
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  • mrr5052

    Senior Member
    American English
    If I were to hear you say this to... 1. your male friend, I would assume that you were both gay. 2. your female friend, I would assume that you were dating. No matter how you say it though, it would seem unnatural to me unless your were introducing a friend that was obviously handicapped. Saying "my special" sounds extremely weird/psychotic/very creepy. Finally, I would not use special friend to describe a girlfriend either. Altogether, it just seems completely out of place.
     

    Nena19

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (USA), Spanish (Mexico)
    Hi

    Could you guys please help me with this.

    I am looking for a word (or expression) that could be used instead of 'buddy' or 'mate' (like in "Hey buddy!") But it should also have certain connotations. I'm thinking of the phrase "my special friend". I gather it could mean literally "very dear friend" and also "a retard" depending on the context, which is roughly what I'm looking for.
    I have a few questions though. "Special" friend has the connotation of someone who is mentally challenged. I can't think of a phrase that connotes both a dear friend AND someone who is disabled.


    1. About "my special friend":

    Would it sound patronizing and humorous at the same time?
    Or is it too much of an insult? Yes, this does sound a bit patronizing. It sounds like the person is mentally challenged.

    e.g. "Not again, my special friend. I told you a thousand times!..."



    2. "my special" or "special"?

    Is it ok to shorten it like "my special" or even just "special"?
    Would it sound totally unnatural? No, you can not shorten it. It does not make sense/sounds unnatural.

    e.g. "I don't know, special", "You do it, special", "It's all right, special"



    3. Does "special friend" have any obvious sexual connotations? (I don't need any) Not really.



    4. "My special lady" This sounds unnatural. People use "My lady friend" in the US South to refer to a girlfriend. You could say, "Anna, you are special to me. You know I love you."

    Is it ok to say it to a wife/girlfriend when speaking to her?
    e.g. "Anna, my special lady. You know I love you"
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Hi

    Could you guys please help me with this.

    I am looking for a word (or expression) that could be used instead of 'buddy' or 'mate' (like in "Hey buddy!") But it should also have certain connotations. [....]
    Welcome to the forum, domkrat.

    You have helpfully provided a series of examples, but they seem to me to refer to different kinds of relationships. Could you explain what the connotations are that you have in mind? It might help people to suggest possible alternatives.
     

    xebonyx

    Senior Member
    TR/AR/EN
    Actually, you can say "a special lady friend"-- to refer to someone you're dating. Sometimes the reason behind using "special" is because you either A) want to keep it a secret or B) are using it as an indirect term to describe someone's intimate affairs with another person
     

    domkrat

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks for the replies!

    Well, I guess this "special friend" was not such a good idea.

    Sorry about the example #4 - about the lady, maybe it was a bit confusing. It is not directly related to the other examples. Here I suppose the guy can get away with calling his wife simply 'darling'.

    About this word/expression I'm trying to find:

    The original Russian word has rather broad meaning: next of kin, brotherly, soulmate, dear friend, darling, dear.
    However, a guy is using it (abusing it, in fact) every time when addressing some other guys, where normally the word 'buddy' would be used. In this context it sounds quite patronizing, kind of rude, but not overtly rude. So they all start using this word on each other.

    So the word becomes sort of a signature of the whole story, it's a catchy word, with a humorous effect.

    So to translate it simply as 'buddy' (or 'mate' in BE) -- it is not very catchy, too common a word. The same with 'friend'.

    Maybe 'dear friend' -- but it sounds too neutral to me.

    Maybe 'my dear'. I'm not sure, but isn't now used mostly by elderly ladies? kind of old-fashioned?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Welcome from me, too, domkrat!

    So it's a joke, and it's funny because it's slightly patronising?

    "My special friend" might work, then:)

    In non-humorous circumstances, I can't think of anyone I'd refer to as "my special friend" - and I certainly wouldn't use it to talk about someone with disabilities or learning difficulties...
     

    mrr5052

    Senior Member
    American English
    In America, college-aged guys like myself get amusement by calling each other names that suggest that the recipient is gay or feminine. These terms are used jokingly between close groups of friends but they might get you in some trouble if said to a stranger. Is this like the expression you are searching for?
     

    domkrat

    Senior Member
    Russian
    In America, college-aged guys like myself get amusement by calling each other names that suggest that the recipient is gay or feminine. These terms are used jokingly between close groups of friends but they might get you in some trouble if said to a stranger. Is this like the expression you are searching for?
    Right! Good point!
    There must be absolutely NO gay/feminine vibes.
    :D
    (And the guys are more like middle-aged)

    So, I take it "my special friend" is no good then.

    Also I don't like 'my darling' between the guys for this very reason - Sounds feminine. (Does it?)
     

    mrr5052

    Senior Member
    American English
    No, you definitely would not want to say darling. I don't think you quite understand me though. If I were to call one of my friends a fairy or a pansy, it means that I am suggesting that he is gay or feminine, thus irritating and slightly offending him. In no way does it suggest that I would be gay or feminine. These comments are made jokingly between friends, so nobody actually takes it all that seriously. Do you know what I mean?
     

    domkrat

    Senior Member
    Russian
    If I were to call one of my friends a fairy or a pansy, it means that I am suggesting that he is gay or feminine, thus irritating and slightly offending him. In no way does it suggest that I would be gay or feminine.
    Yeah, I know what you mean.
    But still, 'fairy' or 'pansy' or anything like that would be inappropriate, since there is no such connotation in the original. It would add a whole new... um... aspect? - and quite unnecessary.

    The closest, I'd say, would be 'brother' or 'soulmate'. A part of the humor is that the guys are anything but soulmates. They are not even friends.

    And I don't like 'brother' either. Sounds like gangsta talk.
     

    mrr5052

    Senior Member
    American English
    Ohhhh I get it. I think I know exactly what you mean. I didn't realize that you were using this word to address people that might not even be your friends.

    I would say one of the following:

    How's it going chief?
    How's it going guy?
    How's it going pal?

    These terms are not offensive but annoying. This is because of a number of reasons...

    1. The person thinks that you don't quite care enough to address them using their name or an acceptable pronoun.

    2. They might think you are pretending to be friendly in a sarcastic and pompous manner.

    3. These are very generic pronouns. Nobody prefers to be called either of the three.

    4. They might get a feeling that you think you are better than them.

    5. The expressions are almost more of a dismissal than a greeting.

    Personally, i think CHIEF is by far the funniest.
     
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    domkrat

    Senior Member
    Russian
    1. The person thinks that you don't quite care enough to address them using their name or an acceptable pronoun.

    2. They might think you are pretending to be friendly in a sarcastic and pompous manner.

    3. These are very generic pronouns. Nobody prefers to be called either of the three.

    4. They might get a feeling that you think you are better than them.

    5. The expressions are almost more of a dismissal than a greeting.
    Wow!

    Yes, I think you nailed it. Exactly.

    Personally, i think CHIEF is by far the funniest.
    This is very good. Real good. This must be it then!

    Wow! :thumbsup:


    Is 'chief' and 'pal' American, British, or both?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Neither "chief" nor "pal" sounds dismissive/humorous/patronising to me...:(
     

    mrr5052

    Senior Member
    American English
    Well, Loob, I am pretty sure they are only used in America. Also, it is only recognized my mostly younger males in their 20's or 30's.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Well, Loob, I am pretty sure they are only used in America. Also, it is only recognized my mostly younger males in their 20's or 30's.
    I'm pretty sure they're used in the UK, too - just not humorously/patronisingly:D
     

    mrr5052

    Senior Member
    American English
    Not if you say it with a long "o" sound like in "nose". In fact this is pretty common of all races. On the other hand, if you pronounce it with a short "a" sound like "draw", then that would be considered gangster. I should note that bro doesn't fall into the same catagory as the previous 3. Again, this is only applicable in the US not UK.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Chief is used quite widely, here, as a term of respect.
    Pal can be confrontational, but within a group is simply a term of friendship.

    domkrat is not going to find a term that has universal applicability.

    Perhaps it would help to define the setting for this relationship - context, you know - then it might be possible to come up with a sensible suggestion.

    Otherwise we are engaging in pointless speculation that has no chance of resolution.
     

    mrr5052

    Senior Member
    American English
    Good Idea...

    Let's say you were at a social function and you witnessed another man trying to pick up your girlfriend. This is a situation where you might approach him and say "How's it going chief/bud/guy."

    This is one of many instances where it could be used.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Good Idea...

    Let's say you were at a social function and you witnessed another man trying to pick up your girlfriend. This is a situation where you might approach him and say "How's it going chief/bud/guy."

    This is one of many instances where it could be used.
    Sorry mrr5052, but it is not your context that interests us.

    domkrat has presented the question and it is for him to explain in what context this term is to be used.
    We so far know that it is to be used by a middle-aged man.
    But we have no idea where the action is set, or when.

    If, for example, domkrat is looking for term used in 1950s Australia, what is appropriate in 2008 US colleges is not going to be a great deal of help.

    Please keep to the topic of the thread.
     

    xebonyx

    Senior Member
    TR/AR/EN
    What about 'bro' - would that be gangsta?
    "Bro" is used by anyone. :)

    Regarding "chief", I agree that we use that in AE colloquially with two contrasting meanings:

    "You already said that, chief". or "Alright, chief". (Here, you may be slightly annoyed, but it's not harsh or aggressive).

    OR

    "What's up, chief?" = "How's it going, man?" (Greeting)
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    I agree with Panj. It's not clear what the setup scene is where this guy uses this term incorrectly.

    donmkrat, please give us the excerpt where that guy uses it for the first time.

    The very first thing that came to my mind was the way guys say to each other, "My man..."

    Listen, my man...
    Okay, my man...
    This is the way it is, my man...
    Good job, my man...

    AngelEyes
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Ah, that's a good idea, AngelEyes. What about "my good man"? To me that is a bit condescending, falsely familiar, a little pretentious, slightly belligerent... in short, many of the things that donmkrat said he was looking for.
     

    Basil Ganglia

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    This is a situation where non-verbal elements are particularly important to convey meaning. The same words can have radically different meanings depending on how they are said, when they are said, the extent of relationship between speaker and listener, other people who might be present, and any number of other factors. Errors in communication frequently occur in this type of situation even when everyone involved are native speakers of English.

    There is so much nuance involved in what the original poster is attempting to do thatif the original poster needs to ask how to say this, I question if he or she is sufficiently fluent to attempt it.
     

    domkrat

    Senior Member
    Russian
    All right. Some explanations are due: the LONG story.

    It's a Russian film. There are already two versions of the English subtitles, both made by some fans. I am yet another fan of the film with a little spare time, trying to improve the translation.

    The film is a sci-fi drama-comedy, so you can imagine the plot:

    Two guys from Moscow, quite an unlikely couple, are accidently teleported to some distant planet, where they find themselves on the very bottom of an alien social "food chain". There they meet two local aliens and team up with them. The film is actually about people and social patterns. It's very funny but it's also rather melancholic, with a touch of philosophy.

    So the overall context is pretty generic: I'd say it's "the present time" anywhere on Earth.


    Concerning my particular question in this thread:

    Well, on a Russian forum I already discovered some heated discussions, but without satisfactory conclusions. So I thought I'd try some ideas on this forum. I realize that a perfect translation may be impossible. It could be a trade-off: losing some of the original humour to make a more acceptable translation.


    I think that the MOST IMPORTANT THING is:
    Because this expression is used throughout the film, it must not sound weird, silly or annoying to the viewers.


    So this word/expression is used by one of the main characters: a middle-aged man, a senior construction worker (a foreman), generally a good fellow. But he has developed a slightly arrogant attitude towards anyone of "lower rank". He probably speaks in a patronizing manner with his co-workers and sometimes even with strangers. This is where this word/expression comes in.

    In the film it is first used when the foreman meets (on a street in Moscow) a strange and rather crazy-looking person who claims to be from another planet (and no-one believes it, of course).
    Afterwards the foreman is using that expression on every alien he meets (while all those aliens actually fully deserve much harsher treatment).
    However he never uses it on his unfortunate companion - a younger and a bit naive guy.


    So the connotations listed by mrr5052 are all spot on.

    But also it may be ok to sacrifice these fine nuances, if some neutral expression would be more appropriate.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Welcom Domkrat,

    From your posts, I take it that the term should be just a little dissonant with normal
    speaking patterns. It should not be offensive, yet it needs to be sardonic in effect.

    My dear fellow
    Esteemed Sir

    Given the source, these are overly polite, perhaps patronizing, but not rude. A listener would chuckle, thinking to himself, "He's addressing the person with great respect, while implying that he's talking to a jerk". Both terms are also dated, though far from archaic.
     

    mrr5052

    Senior Member
    American English
    Are you translating this for American or British viewers? What is the rating of this movie?
     

    domkrat

    Senior Member
    Russian
    This is a situation where non-verbal elements are particularly important to convey meaning. The same words can have radically different meanings depending on how they are said
    Exactly!
    Actually in the film the aliens quickly picked it up and started using the expression all the time, changing only the intonation to make it sound either very friendly or totally insulting.

    It should not be offensive, yet it needs to be sardonic in effect.
    Yes, precisely.

    addressing the person with great respect
    This would be a bit deviating from the original meaning, but then again, why not, if it works
     
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    Basil Ganglia

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Exactly!
    Actually in the film the aliens quickly picked it up and started using the expression all the time, changing only the intonation to make it sound either very friendly or totally insulting.
    To my American ear, chief sounds like a good choice. "Chief" implies that the person to whom you are speaking is in a position of authority. Since you say they are at the bottom of the "social 'food chain'" it seems as though that application fits. But by altering the intonation it becomes an expression of disrespect for those people who are your "chiefs". It can also be used in a friendly way as the equivalent of "buddy" or "friend".

    My main reservation would be that chief is somewhat colloquial. It might not work well if used repeatedly and frequently throughout an entire film.
     

    domkrat

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Are you translating this for American or British viewers? What is the rating of this movie?
    The rating: should be ok for children. No f-words or strong language. This seems to be intentional, in the screenplay.

    However a euphemism for the f-word is used a couple of times. I chose the word 'fricking'.

    I hope 'jerk' and 'freak' are not too strong.
    Otherwise the only foul language is 'you are such a pest' and 'what the hell'

    American or British - That's also a big problem.
    I am trying to make it "generic" English, but again this may be impossible to achieve.
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    So the Russian construction foreman and his younger friend are somehow plopped in the middle of an alien planet.

    One of the aliens comes up and this foreman calls the alien this term. Have I got it right at this point?

    This is really important. What is the sentence the foreman says to this alien? There's no way we can give you a good answer without knowing this context.

    A foreman is a macho guy, even if he is middle-aged. It's not going to be a girly name or a nice, tender name, not unless he's specifically making fun of the alien's masculinity.

    But I'm still confused. I cannot grasp the context yet. Please come back and give more information.

    This foreman might call another guy "dude."

    Hey, dude.
    Listen, dude.

    AngelEyes
     

    mrr5052

    Senior Member
    American English
    Now that I think about it, does it even matter? The actors are speaking Russian anyway. You can't make a subtitle funny no matter what word you choose.
     

    domkrat

    Senior Member
    Russian
    One of the aliens comes up and this foreman calls the alien this term. Have I got it right at this point?
    Well, the plot is rather convoluted. It is actually the aliens who first start calling the foreman with this word. (Surprise, surprise!) The aliens were telepatic and they were reading the foreman's thoughts.

    However, in the first scene of the film -- when still in Moscow -- it was the foreman who called a poor "crazy" man with this word, very patronizing.

    This is really important. What is the sentence the foreman says to this alien? There's no way we can give you a good answer without knowing this context.
    Well, in that first scene in Moscow that I mentioned he uses this word in exactly two phrases (substitute for word 'mate' here):
    "We don't know the coordinates [of your planet], mate"
    "Sure we can [press your stupid button], mate"

    Basically he believes the man is a crazy person. He's not being particulary mean to him, just patronising.

    I'm not sure how much it helps.

    A foreman is a macho guy, even if he is middle-aged. It's not going to be a girly name or a nice, tender name, not unless he's specifically making fun of the alien's masculinity.
    Yes, this is correct. (Although he is really not a macho, just an average man.)

    But I'm still confused. I cannot grasp the context yet. Please come back and give more information.
    Well... I need to go get some sleep now.
    Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to come up with clearer explanations.:)

    Thanks for all your replies!

    This foreman might call another guy "dude."
    Heh... Already used the 'dude' in a couple of situations which needed an expression more comical than "the usual". But this can be re-worked :)
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    You have me so confused! :D

    You say the Moscow guys are transported to the alien planet, and yet you tell us the first time the foreman says his words it's in Moscow and he refers to the coordinates of an alien planet. Who's he talking to?

    :)

    Okay, I can tell you this. If he's addressing a crazy human person or even thinking it on the alien planet, it's going to be something like:

    weirdo
    whackjob
    nutter (British)
    you nutcase/nutjob (American)

    I'd go with weirdo. It's not too insulting, and it works for both a crazy earthling or a lunatic alien. :rolleyes:

    AngelEyes
     
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    domkrat

    Senior Member
    Russian
    You have me so confused! :D
    Sorry!

    I didn't want to go into all these details about aliens, it's seems more confusing than helping. :eek:

    the first time the foreman says his words it's in Moscow and he refers to the coordinates of an alien planet. Who's he talking to?
    He thinks he's talking to some weirdo/nutcase mumbling something about alien planets. But he speaks quite politely and friendly to him, and even pretends to be helpful. It's only that he uses "that word" to address the person - that's what gives him away. So, in this situation he cannot directly say 'weirdo/whackjob nutcase' or anything like that.

    Actually, I think your first suggestion ('my man') was more in the right direction.
     

    domkrat

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this thread.
    Thank you all! :thumbsup:

    There have been some nice suggestions:

    chief / pal
    my man
    my good man
    my dear fellow
    cousin

    Not an easy choice.

    Also, perhaps it's not absolutely necessary to use only one single expression. Perhaps the characters could use several of these expressions, in parallel.

    Another thing I was thinking about: my primary target audience for this translation are Danes and Swedes. :cool:
    So I think I'll be leaning towards an Americanized transaltion. That is, generic English whenever possible, and American otherwise.

    And, just to reiterate:
    it must not sound weird, silly or annoying to the viewers, because it is used throughout the film.
    (That's why I think that perhaps I should choose several expression, not just one)
     

    mrr5052

    Senior Member
    American English
    After re-reading all of these posts, I think you should use the word "pal". It can be used in a friendly manner and a condescending manner. It also is less restrictive than the other words.
     
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