En poste (secteur :
When I say:
• I love my mum
• I love my wife
• I love my friend
• I love my neighbor (fellowman)
• I love my life
I am not saying the same thing in each case, am I?
Have you noticed the same mixed used of the word “love” in other languages? Can
you share what you have?
English has several words to
differentiate "love" from "friendship" and "sex,"
"to love" from "to like" and a few more verbs though less
frequent. Imagine a language like French that has only one verb
"aimer" and does not really differentiate between "amour"
which is common and "sexe" which is rare with the meaning of "sex"
("having sex") because its main meaning is equivalent to
You can love all the people you say but
sex is not covered by the word. Unluckily in a language like French it is the
same word, or the same root. I often say to people who can't say "I love
you" to myriads of people, even close to them, I mean in French because
"Je t'aime" implies or may include in common understanding
"sex": "Si tu devais faire l'amour [we could simply say
"aimer" for "faire l'amour" and that would become awkward
in this sentence since it could produce: "si tu devais aimer toutes les
personnes que tu aimes..."] avec toutes les personnes que tu aimes, tu
serais vite en maison de repos" ("If you had to have sex with all the
people you love you will pretty soon be in some resting home." I mean
"resting six feet under.
I had one case with an 18 year old in
Germany a long time ago in some summer work camp: he had to go to the doctor
because he could not sit any more because he hurt in his privates: he was
having sex several times a day every day. The doctor gave him vitamins and
advised him to rest sexually for a few days. From what I remember the Germans
can use the word "ficken" for having sex more easily than the English
or Americans would use the word "fuck" or the French the word
"baiser." In their case "lieben" and "ficken" are
two different things.
To illustrate the point compare the following English poem and my translation of it.
“For love is a celestial harmony
Of likely hearts compos'd of stars' consent,
Which join together in sweet sympathy,
To work each other's joy and true content,
Which they have harbor'd since their first descent
Out of their heavenly bowers, where they did see
And know each other here belov'd to be.”
SPENSER, Fowre Hymnes
L’amour pur exsude d’une harmonie céleste
De cœurs affines sous approbation stellaire
Qui unissent leur feu par tendre sympathie
Développant frénétiques joie et extase
Qu’ils fécondent, parent, depuis qu’ils sont descendus
Des refuges d’azur où ils se sont connus
Et découverts passionnément ensorcelés
-- Translation Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
Edmund Spenser speaks of love and what he
says does not include sex, at least necessarily. Tristan and Yseult love each
other in the most uncontrollable sexual and carnal way, but we all know it is
the result of the philter, the viagra of the 12th century. And we all know what
was the result of this mixing up of love and sex. Death without confession,
without absolution, without extreme unction, without a priest to accompany you
beyond: that was very harsh in the 12th century indeed, since it meant hell,
and yet they were saved by the miracle of the bramble or rosebush, though this
version is not everywhere in the 12th cen 13th century versions (most of them
are incomplete), a time when Christianity was the only possible referential
norm in Europe.