Are We Limited by the Language of Love?

Are We Limited by the Language of Love?

Claudia has bravely offered to tackle the topic of love. Well, okay, she didn’t offer – I asked her after she made a fascinating comment on another post. I had to see what she would have to say – don’t you! Take it away Claudia!

Someone once told me that the Hindi language had over one hundred ways to express the English word “love”.  I did a little research and actually found  twelve translations of the English word love into Hindi. The Japanese language has twenty four words that express love. While it’s not one hundred, it’s still a fascinating concept to wrap our brains around, because, if we were raised speaking the English language, then our brains only knows the word “love”. In my language experience, how else can “love” be expressed?

This whole conversation started because, in one of Lori’s wonderful posts in early May, Is It Better To Have Loved and Lost… , comments went off on other tangents as they often do and the language of love was bandied about with interest.

When I say “I love tea in the morning” it means something different than when I say “I love my animals” which means something different than when I say “I love my children” which means something different yet from when I say “I love my husband”. And yet, with the limitations of spoken language that English offers us, we are almost forced to describe many of our warm fuzzy feelings with one word….love. I could, if inspired, say “I am passionate about my career” instead of using the word love. I could use multiple descriptive words to share my feelings about my husband…but the English language has, in my opinion, encouraged…perhaps even fostered…laziness.

When I bite into a wrap bursting with fresh tomatoes, avocados and cucumbers smothered in garlic hummus, I need a word that expresses the love that I have for that experience. The stand-alone word “love” just doesn’t do my feeling justice. In case you are interested in adding to our limited language, the science of making up new words is called Neologism which comes from the Greek words neo meaning new and logos meaning speech or utterance.

Do you think that the limits of a language lead to a limited ability to express ourselves? Does the English language encourage expressive laziness? Do you make up words that describe your feelings better than the English language allows?

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