I had a wonderful weekend with my Poly Dollies – seven close friends I studied with at Birmingham POLYtechnic many moons ago (a long time ago 😊) and we have kept in touch ever since – especially since the arrival of WhatsApp groups and I started the Poly Dolly Prosecco Party on Zoom on boring Sunday evenings during lockdown. It’s still going strong!

Their visit got me thinking more about the word “friend” in English and “Freund” in German. In English, the word “friend” generally refers to someone you have a close bond with, someone you trust, and share experiences with. It’s someone you consider close to you. On the other hand, in German, “Freund” seems to carry a bit more weight. It also means a close friend, but I have often noticed that it is reserved for those really close connections with a deep and meaningful relationship. The word “Bekannte” is often used for someone I might call a friend or just “someone I know.” The English translation “acquaintance” is rarely used. The English often tend to say my work friends, my choir friends, my football friends but they’re not all real friends in the strict sense.

This may be due to the “soft” peachy nature of British and particularly US cultures where people tend to be very friendly from the start, move quickly to first names, share information about themselves and ask personal questions of those they hardly know. Some of you will know that on my first day at work in Germany I asked the other German secretary over lunch if she had a boyfriend. She told me in no uncertain terms it was none of my business 
 I quickly learned my lesson! Germans tend to be more coconutty at the start (and no criticism intended!) but are lovely and soft inside when you get to know them! The peach and coconut communication style is often used when talking about intercultural communication.

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