Tricky Words in this week‘s OVI
Sociálne or spoločenské? Here's a typical situation in Slovak vocabulary which doesn't happen so frequently in English. In the same area of meaning we find an original Slavic word (spoločenské) coming up against a Slovakized word from a Latin source (sociálne). In English there's just “social”, for example in the expression “social distancing”, which is what is involved in many of the counter-measures intended to protect us from COVID 19 infection. No more shaking hands, embracing and kissing. Keep your distance from other people, and reduce the amount of time you spend with them. So how should “social distancing” be translated into Slovak, if there are two words to choose from? Some way of distinguishing
Going on with the translation of “social distancing”: I'm going to stick my neck out here (risking having my head chopped off) and venture into Slovak semantics. My idea is that spoločenské refers to people's tendency to seek company and gather together because it makes them feel better, maybe for self-defence or for entertainment. This is the sense of the expressions spoločenský typ and spoločenská miestnosť. So in my view it doesn't make sense to talk about spoločenské vzďaľovanie sa, because distancing is the opposite of gathering together. This is the advantage of having a second, Latin-origin form of the word in Slovak, because sociálne can refer to things connected with people other than gathering together, e.g. when people keep apart, maybe through sociálny odstup.
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