Americans tend to use the word “friend” much more loosely than Lithuanians. I will s0metimes refer to people as co-workers or fellow students or members of my church or cross-country skiing group. But I pretty much call anyone with whom I am acquainted and with whom I am on good terms a “friend.” It’s a fairly generic term. I rarely use the term “acquaintance” and I suspect that most American don’t use it very often either. I would only use it to refer to someone I barely know (e.g., a “passing acquaintance”).
Not so in Lithuania. There are “friends” and there are “acquaintances.” This has been an adjustment for me. Two years ago, I used the word draugas all the time to refer to people I know here and in the U.S. I also once had my feelings hurt when someone whom I consider a good friend (in the real meaning of the word) introduced me as her acquaintance.
As far as I can tell everyone is an acquaintance unless you’ve known each other for a very long time. So, while I have a lot of English-language “friends” in Lithuania, I have pažistymai [acquaintances] rather than draugai [friends] in Lithuanian. As I’ve come to understand this cultural difference, I now rarely use the word draugas and instead refer to my friends as pažistymai. And I don’t take it personally when people whom I consider my “friends” introduce me as their acquaintance. Because whatever they call me, they act like my friends and, in the end, that’s most important.