Few words in the English language convey such a range of meanings as the word "love". For many, love is the point of existence, for others it's the manifestation of the divine, for some it is a tool of oppression. No other subject has spawned so much poetry. But what is love? Is it an animalistic urge, a mystical aspiration, a social construct, a neurological glitch, or nothing at all?
It depends on the type of loveShow moreShow less
There are many different types of love. Each one is something different.
We often see language as inherently neutral, built to reflect the world around us. But language has its own biases, and in every different language, 'love' can have different connotations.
The Hebrew word for love is ahavah. The word comes from the root consonants h-v meaning "to give". In the Hebrew language, without the action of giving, there can be no love. Thus, in Hebrew, giving is an essential component of loving someone.
In Mandarin, the phrase "我爱你" (pinyin: Wǒ ài nǐ ) ("I love you") was previously rarely used. Instead, the more relaxed "我喜欢你" (pinyin: Wǒ xǐhuān nǐ) ("I like you") was used to express romantic feelings. While saying "Wǒ ài nǐ" is becoming more common with younger generations, the use of "Wǒ xǐhuān nǐ" historically was a reflection of the discouragement of romantic love in Chinese culture.
Language is a fundamental building block of how we neurologically experience life. By having different connotations and understandings of love linguistically, different cultures will experience love differently.