Lack of words to describe love affects love in our lives

Feb. 8, 2016

Eleanor Sturt
esturt@uccs.edu

I am not a touchy person. I don’t like hugs. I don’t like snuggles. Even high fives feel like stretching it.

But, I do love people.

When I say people, I mean humanity. Humans make me happy, sometimes giddy, and there is no other word to describe it than love.

This ticks me off.

The same word I would use to describe my pleasure for chocolate also explains my passion for people. Why aren’t there more words for different types of love?

Touch is not how I show affection, but words are one the biggest ways I express myself. There are just not enough words to work with.

“The limits of my language are the limits of my world,” said philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.

If this is true, does our lack of words for love in English make us love less?

Perhaps not.

But our language does hinder us from being able to express this love, which is almost just as bad.

“I love chocolate.” “I love that movie.” “I love you.”

The last phrase doesn’t hold as much power as it could, because it is grouped with the others.

Yes, I could use a series of words that’s almost close, but, really, I do mean “love.”

There are also several different meanings of “I love you.” It could be to a parent, a significant other, a friend, a colleague or a complete stranger.

They are all different types of love, and none are less important than others.

The lack of love in language is common. Many languages have only two or three words for love.

Sanskrit, one of the official languages in India, has 96 words for love. English has one. Greek ups us by two. One of these words, “meraki,” refers to the love of an art (painting, singing, etc.).

As an actor, I’m often left searching for the correct series of words to describe my relationship with performing. There is no correct phrase. Perhaps I am being melodramatic, but we need more words for love.

I say “I love you” a lot. It’s because I do. My passion for people is so big that there is no other way to express it. Why should I hold back my “I love you?”

Some days, people really need to hear it.

It is hard to invent new words and it isn’t done often. Instead, the definition of words slowly change, or we adopt words from other languages.

“Macho,” “kindergarten” and the newly adopted term “bae” are all words we use that are borrowed from other
languages. It’s high time we started adopting more.

I believe we can beat down hate with a little bit of love. Sappy, I know, but it’s true. You know what is also sappy and true? I love you. Crazy right? But very, very true.