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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Language of Love Revisited

Love worked out on a blackboardAlso read: Language of Love | Language of Love Rewritten

In a Valentine's Day post two years ago I had written about the Turkish word for love, "aşk", and presented one theory for its origins. The word has always held magical qualities for me.

Six months ago I posted a collection of poetical works entitled "A Sum of Thoughts", the basis of which was the concept that if we turned problems in our lives to mathematical equations we could work out the problems easier.

To some degree, a recent BBC News Magazine article I read indirectly merged these two together for me.

Prepared by Garth Sundem, the light-hearted BBC article covers the topic of human decision making and love, suggesting our process of selection is seriously flawed when it comes to a mate - but that it can be fixed with a few simple sums.

Those interested will enjoy reading the article, which discusses means and averages and tries to rationalise love's irrationality. American professor Sundem's piece also provides a "mathematical equation" to help work out your chances in a potential relationship.

And what does the Turkish word for love have to do with it?

The product of the professor's equation is ASK.

Word Trails

I've always thought that the origins of words help us to see how different cultures have viewed certain concepts.

If one loves words, the subject of love is a good way into the field, because the epistemology (knowledge) of love is intimately connected to the philosophy of language and theories of the emotions.

So, let's continue with the word "love" to make a final point:

In English, the word "love", is derived from Germanic forms of the Sanskrit lubh (desire) which leaves love as a hazy general term that generates problems of definition and meaning.

Greeks have attempted to resolve this to some extent, they categorise different types of love in their language by the reference to the Greek terms, eros (passionate desire), philia (fondness), and agape (brotherly love).

This indicates that the language of love, as it is found in other languages as well as these two major languages of the West, is similarly broad and deserves more attention.

Our own words suggest that we must give love more attention. Now, who can argue with that?

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