The lexicon of love

Every relationship on Earth is different.

I’ve always thought the English language is disappointingly limited when it comes to love.

The term is too broad; too throw-away. You know how innuits are supposed to have 52 (or some other large number) words for snow? I think we need more words for love. We should have specific nouns to describe all the different states of love, because loving your husband of 60 years is very different to loving your friend’s new haircut (I assume), or your dog, and even though the difference is insinuated by the context, we shouldn’t have to insinuate. We should be able to explicitly convey just how big a difference that is in a single word.

By giving love such a broad definition, we are not really defining it at all. It has taken on a shadowy, shapeless form that, in its shroud of mystery, becomes godlike to us. We’re all supposed to ‘look for love’, to ‘fall in love’, as if love is some higher state of nirvana we’re all expected to achieve in life. We all chase it but we don’t even know what love is. I think Foreigner made a lot of money out of this.

I’d go so far as to blame our limited lexicon for the high rates of divorce in modern Britain. Language has a massive impact on behaviour and thought patterns. Love is such a meaningless, yet massively inflated word that we’ve convinced ourselves that it’s something much more than it is. We think that if we don’t find the huge magical state of ‘love’, then we have failed as human beings. It leaves us dissatisfied.

Even if we do find someone we like enough to forge a relationship with, we can find ourselves sabotaging that connection by wondering if it matches up to other people’s love. Is it the right sort of love? The best love? Or is there a better love out there waiting just around the corner? We think that if we don’t love someone like we first loved them all those years ago then the love has gone, that we should move on and find a new love. A better love. It’s not as simple as that.

I think a lot of us are a bit confused about love and the only way to clarify it is to make up some new words.

I think we should for example, have specific words to distinguish platonic and sensual love, a word to describe the first exciting blush of young love, a word to describe fancying someone you don’t actually like, a word for that little surge you get when you love someone so much you want to eat them or squish them. That companionable love when you’re sitting on the sofa together in your pjs eating pizza and one of you farts but it’s ok. A word for the sad, aching love you have for someone who’s gone, or someone who doesn’t love you back. These feelings are all so different. How can we define them all with one word?

There’s room for a whole new vocabulary to be developed here. The lexicon of love.

I just googled that phrase and it’s actually an album by ABC released in 1982. Who knew?

Anyway, it’s well past my bedtime now. If you have any suggestions for a new word to describe any state of love, shoot!

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