Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Love in Other Languages

A very touching posting from Jed Wolpaw at University of California, SF, on whether we feel the same thing when we say it in a different language. Just a quote here:

"This reminded me of how it felt to live in Costa Rica for a year during college and speak only Spanish. I went by a different name (they called me Jaime), lived with a different family, and spoke a different language. I was still me, obviously, but in some subtle but very real ways I felt like a different person.

Sure enough, the language of love was different in a different language. In Spanish, there are two ways to say, “I love you.” You can say, “te quiero” or “te amo.” Te amo is much stronger than te quiero, though that brief description hardly does justice to the language and I’m sure it would take chapters to tease out all of the nuanced differences.

But to me, as I was learning the language, I translated them both the same way in my head. They both meant I love you. Would it, then, be possible for me to really express my feelings correctly if I ever chose to use those phrases? Choosing one or the other would express very different meaning, yet they were equivalent in my mind.

I don’t mean to say that people can never learn to feel fully in another language. But it takes time and experience. You have to live the language in order to build up the meaning. You can’t have someone explain the difference between te amo and te quiero. You have to live the difference to truly understand it."

And the advice? If someone tells you they love you ONLY in your language but not theirs, look for an alternative partner!

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