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Thoughts on "I love you" in other languages

Picture: Hannah Wright/Unsplash

If you want to whisper a sweet nothing in the ear of your beloved in French, it’s best to go with

“Je t’aime.” Think Serge Gainsbourg/Jane Birkin

This might sound a bit weak, translating as it literally does, as ‘I like you’. Adding the modifier “bien” makes it even less intimate, because saying “Je t’aime bien” leaves little doubt that it is very much the Platonic form of love that you are expressing. “I really like you.”

At the other end of the spectrum, the passionate Spanish go with “Te quiero” which means literally “I want you”. In English this sounds abrupt and self-gratifying, unless you interpret it as an abbreviation of “I want you in my life; I am prepared to share everything with you…”

Recently in Spanish lessons we have been looking at shopping phrases, and have realised that apparent abruptness of phrases is accepted culturally as the norm, and therefore not at all impolite – in context. More of this next time…

Busting the myth that German is a harsh-sounding language, the way to tell your German lover “I love you” contains those beautifully soft ‘ch’ sounds, and for once, the common phrase translates word for word from English: “Ich liebe dich.”

So, there you have it for starters. It would be interesting to hear of insights into how other languages express this phrase…

If you would like to learn, or improve your knowledge of a foreign language, whether or not you’d like to be able to say phrases like the one above with confidence, why not get in touch and see whether we have a class to suit the level and the language you’d like to learn:

Andrew Wenger, SameSky Languages

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