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Monday, March 31, 2014

The meaning of love (Bishop)

Alone in his apartment, he contemplated the meaning of love.

Many as the moments were when he'd have liked to believe that what he and Beth felt for each other was true love, he knew it wasn't. It was not the emotion, or rather the situation, that he knew in Anvallic as cariah. Though he had quickly grown to like the speech of Ashamoil...it was his view that his native language offered more precise tools for defining certain concepts and emotional states, of which love happened to be one. In Beth's language he could, if he wished, say "I love you." In Anvallic this phrase was impossible, for cariah, loving, had no form in the singular person, but could only be expressed in the plural. It was understood to be something that existed as a mutual sentiment or not at all, and it implied a voluntary blending of identities. When one person wished to affirm cariah with another, the expression most often used was, "We love as water loves water and fire loves fire."

To say precisely, "I love you," he would have needed to use naithul, which had the meaning of turning or leaning towards the object of the verb. It variously implied fond feelings, admiration, carnal desire, or even fervent devotion, but held no implication of reciprocal sentiment.... Equals rarely used the term towards each other.

K. J. Bishop, The Etched City

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