Thursday, January 01, 2015


What is Love. Thoughts for 2015

Applied Linguistics

What is love?

En poste (secteur : Études/recherche)
Top Contributor
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?

     Jacques Coulardeau, Independent Researcher at Academia Edu

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 "gender." 

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.”
― Edmund 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. 

Have a good year 


Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?