For the love of English

I love English.

Not just like,

LOVE.

Or maybe worship.

At the very least, my respect for it is high in awe factor, but with enough good natured familiarity to know the flaws.

My favorite thing about English is probably that it’s motto starts something like,

“One language to devour them all…”

English is the master of eating other languages and keeping the good parts, and knowing THAT makes me happy to have the deeply satisfying working partnership with it that I do.

Yet,

with that in mind,

it is all the more odd that English has a glaring failing in the word department regarding one of the most important concepts in existence.

That’s right.

I’m talking about the word I used back at the beginning.

Love.

C’mon English?

Just one? ONE WORD FOR LOVE?

Seriously.

The Ancient Greeks had four.

Or maybe six.

Or MORE THAN THAT, if you combine the various articles on the subject into a single list.

Oh, right, English does have adore. That’s two.

So, we have a word that means “Love you with a love that borders on worship.”

I’ll go back to the top and switch out “I love English” for “I ADORE English” and cut out a few redundant lines.

Ancient Greek still has English beat, and it’s been dead for two thousand years. It seems English could have stood for a little grave robbing, again, but it hasn’t happened in this case.

It needs to.

One word for Love, an emotion that comes in a hundred complex varieties and which, when the particular variety is not understood, can result in pain and agony on all sides.

“I love you.”

Okay. Does that mean you want to jump in bed with me? (Side note: Totally not happening, whoever you are, so don’t ask.) Or does it mean you want to be lifelong friends? Or are you confused and thinking you’re a member of my family?

Perhaps you just want me to know that you value me as a fellow human and place my life at equal or greater value to your own, regardless of how little we know each other.

English expresses all of those as “love”.

Ancient Greek would render them as “eros”, “philia”, “storge” and “agape”, respectively.

Other Greek words for love include “ludus”, or playful love, “philautia”, or healthy self-love, and “pragma”, or deep and abiding love such as that between a couple that’s been married for decades and learned how to put the other before themselves on a constant basis.

Pragma. Yeah.

I pragma you.

I’d like to be able to say that to someone some day. And get it back. And know it’s true.

But it would still sound weird, because it’s Ancient Greek, not English.

Darnit, English. Step up your game.

By my count Ancient Greek is up on you by five.

Go out and mug a lexicon or something.

I suppose “charity” counts.

Can I say I “charity” you?

Cherish?

I guess that means love. But it’s probably a close synonym for “adore”, so it isn’t really expanding my utility.

Anyway…

Think how much clearer it would be in a conversation, if a guy said,

“I eros you!”

A girl could immediately respond with,

“Well, that’s nice and all, but I’d much prefer some philias to start with, along with a side helping of agape, and a touch of storge until I know you’re serious and that I want you to be. And don’t forget the pragma. Until I’m sure you’ve got plenty of pragma for me, your eros can just stay packaged up in the chest freezer over there.”

Isn’t that clearer?

Okay, maybe it’s not.

But it’s a start, I think.

C’mon. Show me some agape and pitch in.

For the storge of English.

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2 thoughts on “For the love of English

  1. Pingback: My Favorite Things | What Has Jesus Done?

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