Slavic honorifics

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Speakers of Slavic languages use two main sets of honorifics. The Western Slavs and the Ukrainians use the title of Pan, the Southern Slavs and Russians use title of Gospodin, while Belarussians use either Pan or Spadar (a simplified version of Haspadar, which is related to Gospodin). Lithuanians, although not Slavs, use the somewhat similar title Ponas.

Usage of Pan[edit]

Historically, Pan was an equivalent to "Lord" or "Master". In Polish it can also mean Master (ruler, suzerain) nowadays. The use of Pan differs in a high degree from the English honorifics. It is used as an honorific (roughly equivalent to Mr) before the name (first name and surname, only surname or only first name) and as a form of address without the name (roughly equivalent to "Sir"). In Poland use of Pan with the first name marks a combination of familiarity and respect. Unlike "Sir", Pan is used both ways between persons of both equal and unequal rank (a waiter will address a guest as Pan, and the guest will reciprocate, much like using Monsieur in French). Using Pan with the surname only is regarded as a little respectful way of addressing people, even somewhat condescending. When used to a superior, even rude. Using Pan with the surname only, however, is normally respectful if talking about somebody. Pan is never used about oneself (unlike "Mr").

Pan is also used as kind of personal pronoun in a similar way as Usted in Spanish or Lei in Italian (unlike French 'Monsieur' or German 'Herr', which require the use of 'vous' and 'Sie' respectively).

Note also the Polish collective honorific: Państwo.

Other titles[edit]

In the Eastern bloc of the Soviet era (except Poland -- see below) the titles changed to the equivalent of Comrade. In the Russian language there also was a title of Sudar which was used without inclusion of a personal name. In the Ukraine the counterpart to Russian Sudar was Pane Dobrodiu or Pani Dobrodiyka. Those titles became obsolete and now can only be found in novels. Also, compare it to the Russian title of the head of state, Gosudar. In Ukrainian the youngsters were referred as Panych, which is spelled Panicz in Polish. Another title of Vladyka (literally, ruler/master) is only used now when referring to the head of a church.

In Poland during Soviet era the title pan was changed to obywatel which exactly means citizen. This was related to the fact, that the word pan (sir) historically was a title of a nobleman. As in the Soviet communism every person was supposed to be a common, therefore the word citizen was chosen to replace sir. This was undone as soon as Poland was released from Soviet political domination and today the word pan is an official title of any Polish male citizen. On the other hand, the equivalent of Russian comrade -- towarzysz was a title reserved only for communist party members.

See also[edit]