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This page contains cultural views on the topic of love.
- Ai (愛) is used as a verb (e.g. Wo ai ni, "I love you") or as a noun, especially in aiqing (愛情), "love" or "romance." In mainland China since 1949, airen (愛人, originally "lover," or more lterally, "love person") is the dominant word for "spouse" (with separate terms for "wife" and "husband" originally being de-emphasized).
- Lian (戀) is not generally used alone, but instead as part of such terms as "being in love" (談戀愛, tan lian'ai—also containing ai), "lover" (戀人, lianren) or "homosexuality" (同性戀, tongxinglian).
- Qing (情), commonly meaning "feeling" or "emotion," often indicates "love" in several terms. It is contained in the word aiqing (愛情); qingren (情人) is a term for "lover". It is comparable to the English word "dear".
In Confucianism, lian is a virtuous benevolent love. Lian should be pursued by all human beings, and reflects a moral life. The Chinese philosopher Mozi developed the concept of ai (愛) in reaction to Confucian lian. Ai, in Mohism, is universal love towards all beings, not just towards friends or family, without regard to reciprocation. Extravagance and offensive war are inimical to ai. Although Mozi's thought was influential, the Confucian lian is how most Chinese conceive of love.
Gănqíng (感情), the feeling of a relationship. A person will express love by building good gănqíng, accomplished through helping or working for another. Emotional attachment toward another person or anything.
Yuanfen (緣份) is a connection of bound destinies. A meaningful relationship is often conceived of as dependent strong yuanfen. It is very similar to serendipity. A similar conceptualization in English is, "They were made for each other," "fate," or "destiny".
Zaolian (Simplified: 早恋, Traditional: 早戀, pinyin: zǎoliàn), "puppy love" or literally "early love," is a contemporary term in frequent use for romantic feelings or attachments among children or adolescents. Zaolian describes both relationships among a teenaged boyfriend and girlfriend, as well as the "crushes" of early adolescence or childhood. The concept essentially indicates a prevalent belief in contemporary Chinese culture that due to the demands of their studies (especially true in the highly competitive educational system of China), youth should not form romantic attachments lest they jeopardize their chances for success in the future. Reports have appeared in Chinese newspapers and other media detailing the prevalence of the phenomenon and its perceived dangers to students and the fears of parents.
In Japanese Buddhism, ai (愛) is passionate caring love, and a fundamental desire. It can develop towards either selfishness or selflessness and enlightenment.
Amae (甘え), a Japanese word meaning "indulgent dependence", is part of the child-rearing culture of Japan. Japanese mothers are expected to hug and indulge their children, and children are expected to reward their mothers by clinging and serving. Some sociologists (most notably, Takeo Doi) have suggested that Japanese social interactions in later life are modeled on the mother-child amae.
Linguistically, the two most common words for love are ai （愛）and koi (恋). Generally speaking, most forms of non-romantic love are expressed using the former, while romantic love is expressed using the latter. "Parental love", for example, is oya no ai (親の愛), while "to be in love with" is koi suru (恋する). There are of course exceptions. The word aijin (愛人) means "lover" and implies an illicit, often extra-marital relationship, whereas koibito (恋人) has the connotation of "boyfriend", "girlfriend", or "partner".
In everyday conversation, however, ai (愛) and koi (恋) are rarely used. Rather than using ai shiteiru (愛している) or koi shiteiru (恋している) to say "I love you", for example, most Japanese would say daisuki desu (大好きです), which literally means "I really like you" -- suki (好き) being the same word used to express preferences for food, music, etc., as in sushi ga suki desu (寿司が好きです), or "I like sushi." Rather than diluting the sentiment, however, the implied meaning of "love" is understood.
Greek distinguishes several different senses in which the word love is used. For example, ancient Greek has the words philia, eros, agape, storge and xenia. However, with Greek as with many other languages, it has been historically difficult to separate the meanings of these words totally. At the same time the ancient Greek text of the Bible has examples of the verb agapo being used with the same meaning as phileo.
Agape (ἀγάπη agápē) means love in modern day Greek. The term s'agapo means I love you in Greek. The word agapo is the verb I love. It generally refers to a "pure", ideal type of love rather than the physical attraction suggested by eros. However, there are some examples of agape used to mean the same as eros. It has also been translated as "love of the soul".
Eros (ἔρως érōs) is passionate love, with sensual desire and longing. The Greek word erota means in love. Plato refined his own definition. Although eros is initially felt for a person, with contemplation it becomes an appreciation of the beauty within that person, or even becomes appreciation of beauty itself. Eros helps the soul recall knowledge of beauty, and contributes to an understanding of spiritual truth. Lovers and philosophers are all inspired to seek truth by eros. Some translations list it as "love of the body".
Philia (φιλία philía), means friendship in modern Greek, a dispassionate virtuous love, was a concept developed by Aristotle. It includes loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality and familiarity. Philia is motivated by practical reasons; one or both of the parties benefit from the relationship.
Storge (στοργή storgē) means affection in modern Greek; it is natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring.
Xenia (ξενία philoxenía), means hospitality in modern Greek, was an extremely important practice in ancient Greece. It was an almost ritualized friendship formed between a host and their guest, who could previously be strangers. The host fed and provided quarters for the guest, who was only expected to repay with gratitude. The importance of this can be seen throughout Greek mythology, in particular Homer's Iliad and Odyssey.
The Latin language has several different verbs corresponding to the English word 'love'.
Amare is the basic word for to love, as it still is in Italian today. The Romans used it both in an affectionate sense, as well as in a Romantic or sexual sense. From this verb come amans, a lover, amator, 'professional lover', often with the accessory notion of lechery, and amica, 'girlfriend' in the English sense, often as well being applied euphemistically to a prostitute. The corresponding noun is amor, which is also used in the plural form to indicate 'love affairs' or 'sexual adventures'. This same root also produces amicus, 'friend', and amicitia, 'friendship' ed on mutual advantage, and corresponding sometimes more closely to 'indebtedness' or 'influence'). Cicero wrote a treatise called On Friendship (de Amicitia) which discusses the notion at some length. Ovid wrote a guide to dating called Ars Amatoria (The Art of Lovers), which addresses in depth everything from extramarital affairs to overprotective parents.
Complicating the picture somewhat, Latin sometimes uses amare where English would simply say to like; this notion, however, is much more generally expressed in Latin by placere or delectare, which are used more colloquially, and the latter of which is used frequently in the love poetry of Catullus.
Diligere often has the notion 'to be affectionate for', 'to esteem', and rarely if ever is used of romantic love. This word would be appropriate to describe the friendship of two men. The corresponding noun diligentia, however, has the meaning 'diligence' 'carefulness' and has little semantic overlap with the verb.
Observare is a synonym for 'diligere'; despite the cognate with English, this verb and its corresponding noun 'observantia' often denote 'esteem' or 'affection'.
Caritas is used in Latin translations of the Christian Bible to mean 'charitable love'. This meaning, however, is not found in Classical pagan Roman literature. As it arises from a conflation with a Greek word, there is no corresponding verb.
Indonesian and Malaysian
Cinta is a word that defines lust or love that involves physical attraction.
Jatuh cinta literally means falling in love: the initial action that triggers love.
Kasih literally means giving, but it also means lover.
Sayang is a word to express unconditional love, but also to express deep regret in losing something.
References & Bibliography
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