Just in time for Valentine’s day, I submit to you, worthy readers, a valentine pub crawl. Except instead of crawling pubs, I’m gonna crawl countries. And instead of sampling libations*, I’m gonna swirl words of love around my palate in different languages, see if the mouth feel is nice. Test the bouquet. See if the tannins are overpowering. In homage to Valentine’s Day, join this humble, hopeless romantic as we journey ’round the world in my flying gondola of love.*False advertising, you say? Whatev. Deal w/ it.
Let’s start in that passionately contested northeast corner of Spain, where they pronounce Barcelona with the c sounding like –th, Catalonia:
T’estimo (Catalan) – Short and sweet. But not too sweet. Sounds a bit fiduciary, in fact.
Wo ai ni (Chinese (Mandarin)) – Falls off the tongue with a touch of earnestness. Interesting, for the Chinese to sound earnest in love.
Jeg elsker dig (Danish) – Full and robust. Would sound great yelled from below a balcony, I’d wager.
Ik hou van jou (Dutch) – Melodic, strong, with a nice rhythm. I think Dutch singers probably have the edge, here, no?
Je t’aime (French) – Hello, this is the language of love, right? Making the knees of women weak for centuries.
Taim i’ ngra leat (Irish Gaelic) – Probably one of the hardest languages to learn, but oh so rewarding. This is the one that you yell out amidst the fields at twilight, and who’s to say if your heart’s true love is the girl or the island.
Ich liebe dich (German) – Frankly, German is not the most pleasant on my ears. But I’m sure if you’re German, this is one of the nicer things you get to hear.
S’agapo (Greek) – Agape! Greeks, who gave us Aphrodite, Zeus, Adonis, Cupid, the Muses, and at least three different words for love (agape, eros, philia, and possible thelema and storge). Truly this country has inspired love in the world for eons.
Szeretlek (Hungarian) – Whoa. And I thought the only cool thing to come out of Hungary was Béla Bartók. They don’t fool around when they say I love you. They fucking mean it.
Ti amo (Italian) – Ah, the Italians. I do have a fondness for the Latin languages, I must confess. They all just sound…right. Like they invented the idea of love, and the way they say it is the way the universe would if it spoke in words. They don’t call them the Romance languages for nothin!
Ya tebya liubliu (Russian) – Not what I would have expected the Russian to sound like. Sounds a bit like you’re talking to a pet instead of your lover. Meh.
Kocham cię (Polish) – Sounds a bit demanding, but musical. Still better than the German, if you ask me.
Eu te amo (Portuguese) – This is my favorite. But then, I’m biased. I freaking love this language. Eu te amo, meu amor…Sinto saudades de você.
Techihhila (Sioux) – Native American languages are so awesome. You can almost touch the desire in this one.
‘Rwy’n dy garu di (Welsh) – You know, if I could figure out how to pronounce this, I bet it would sound just beautiful. I’m sure my pronunciation is all fuckered up, and it still sounds poetic.
Well, my star-crossed lovers, I hope you enjoy my little love sampler. This Valentine’s day, when you whisper sweet nothings in your true love’s ear, try something a little exotic for a change, and whisper one of these. Impress him or her with your worldly talents. Maybe these exotic words will inspire you and your babe to try other exotic pursuits in the name of love, right?
Peace and love to you all, this day and every day.
I love it! Another in Lakhota (“Sioux” is a bit of a weird generalization for some of us) is a term of endearment. Like many other cultures, it’s not really natural to say something so direct as “I love you.” It’s more indirect in at least my culture.
I spoke in Lakhota at my wedding and started my prayer/song with “Mahassanni” (that “an” is really a very nasal “ah” sound). It translates to something close to “My second skin” and means that you wrap yourself in your lover as close to you as, well, a second skin.
What About Hebrew? You have no fear from your .il readers?
Ani Ohev Otach 🙂
Ah. Yes, well, I looked, but I couldn’t find a version that wasn’t using the Hebrew alphabet. I tried! Really! Plus, you know, the whole male/female thing. I tended to not include ones that required gender identification.