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A friend of mine wrote:

Ты скоро будешь разговаривать по-русски, как настоящий пацан.

I realize this is a compliment, however I looked it up in several dictionaries and got a basic meaning of boy, lad.

What is a meaning of пацан in this context?

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    Фразу стоит воспринимать целиком: «как настоящий паца́н» (≈ a real lad). Пацаны́ — это самоназвание (autonym, the way they names themselves) людей, которых извне часто называют «го́пниками». Если ваш собеседник относит себя к таковым или симпатизирует им, то это комплимент. Иначе же это, вероятно, напротив — подколка (a taunt) — возможно, вы используете что-то из гопнического лексикона (статья по ссылке не вполне серьезная, но как коллекция примеров того, как говорить не надо, сойдет). Aug 3 '14 at 19:03
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    хахаха Да это он шутил, потому что я написал "было б здорово" и этот "б" сводит его с ума :) Спасибо за ссылку. Этот словарь весьма интересен!
    – CocoPop
    Aug 3 '14 at 19:31
  • "было б здорово" is not that bad (not slang, just colloquial/poetic in the language in general), but yeah, somehow I use "бы". Can be your personal choice, though. At some point you are going to have your preferred style in another language. :) So it is a compliment, like "Your are cool, man!"
    – Shady_arc
    Aug 3 '14 at 19:39
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    @DmitryAlexandrov настоящий пацан. это не всегда гопник. В данном контексте это проявление уважения, что то вроде настоящий космонавт, настоящий мужик и т.д.
    – user4164
    Aug 4 '14 at 8:38
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    @DmitryAlexandrov Пацаны, давайте отвечать на вопросы постами, а не огромными комментами ;)
    – Artemix
    Aug 4 '14 at 11:23
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Although there's already a great discussion in the comments :), I'd translate this as «You'll soon speak Russian like a real Russian great guy». Here «настоящий пацан» implies not only being really a man (like, for example, if you hear «настоящий мужик», that implies your manliness), but also your «being among ours». Something like «You speak English like a true American».
So yes, it's a compliment indeed.

1
  • in other words: soon you'll be talking like the rest of us.
    – CocoPop
    Aug 5 '14 at 19:28
9

I would suggest that a good English translation is "Homeboy" (or "Homie"). The term has a similar hint of criminality, but it can also be used as (carefully) as a term of affection.

3

I'd say "Dude" is a close parallel. Пацан is literally "guy". "Настоящий пацан" is one who is to be admired and/or respected.".

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Don't forget that in contemporary Russian пацан also commonly means thug. So, разговаривать как пацан can mean "use prison slang". Obviously, if this was in response to ""было б здорово" this meaning of пацан is quite an ovekill!

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Forget about пацан :) In this sentence you have a popular way of using the word "настоящий" as a connotation for making a compliment. As you are already "настоящий пацан" the word "настоящий" should be read/understood as some adjective with positive connotation like "клёвый", "крутой", "классный", "такой же как я(мы)".

The explanation about пацан given here generally sound.

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The meaning of пацан varies depending on the context; it can denote a boy of young age (with derivatives such as пацанёнок); a slang term akin to "buddy" for a male of your age (used mainly by peers in a highly informal conversation, male to male, women NEVER address a man like this); third, пацан means "homie, thug, con etc"

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    Yes, it can be a boy: "[Когда был] Пацаном я здесь бегал на речку с удочкой".
    – Artemix
    Aug 14 '14 at 10:52
  • I'm pretty sure, the word is derived from Yiddish "potz" (פּאָץ - male body-part). Thus the term may refer to any male. ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%9F%D0%BE%D1%86
    – Mikhail T.
    Aug 14 '14 at 18:54
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I think the best translation would be "Soon you will be talking russian like a real fellow (real gangsta maybe? :) )" Or, maybe, to highlight slang nature of the word, one could say "real fellah" or something like that.

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