Central European languages: to love

sokol

Senior Member
Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
This thread is inspired by this thread in the Slavic languages forum where I discovered that Czech too has several verbs to cover the meaning of English 'love' (which means everything from simple affection to having an affair to romantic love; and although you could use 'like' instead of 'love' sometimes personally I've got the impression that 'love' is preferred, overall).

It states that in Czech there are three verbs:
- mít rád (literally = 'to have' + German 'gern' which doesn't translate well into English)
- líbit se
- milovat ('líbit' and 'milovat' both might go back to the same IE root as English 'love' and German 'lieben', but anyway they are no composites like mít rád which here's the point, as I'll point out later)
Where the first one, mít rád, seems to be the 'weakest' (and not referring to romantic love) and the last one, 'milovat' seems to be the strongest, as stated there e. g. by Jana337; for connotations, see the postings there, I won't repeat them here as they aren't mine ;).

In Austrian German we have these:

- gern haben:
once this was widely used in Austria for being in love, and in some regions it is still possible to say "i hob di (so vü) gern" (transliterated into standard German "ich hab dich (so viel) gern") or similar and meaning that you are in love, and not simply fond of the other person without romantic love being involved - but for most Austrians this would not work any more and more likely will be understood only as 'being fond of' someone (something), like with Czech mít rád (well: I can only speak of personal experience here, I cannot claim to having declared love to Austrians all over the country, obviously - not even close, I can tell you :D ;)), and certainly you won't find any new pop or rock song*) where 'gern haben' is used in the sense of being in love (though there are some older songs where you'll find it used in this way)

- lieben: the classical cliché love song or any film about love affairs will almost always give "ich liebe dich" if someone wants to declare that he or she is in love, and this has transpired into society here in Austria, but still "ich liebe dich" sounds rather strange to my ears, I'd say that "ich hab dich lieb" would be more usual; you know that the use of "ich liebe dich" is not local (Austrian) because it was never used in dialect in my experience except in the last years when I've heard it a couple of times as "i liab di"

I guess that in Germany (at least in the northern parts) "ich liebe dich" always was very common - in Austria, however, this certainly was not the case.

Now the question: I know of at least three other Central European languages (globally speaking, the region of the Habsburg Empire as it once was) where constructions like "gern haben" are used (or at least were used) also in the sense of being in love:

- Slovenian: imeti rad = formally identical to Czech mít rád, but in Slovenian still used for being in love, and certainly also in modern language (I know a Slovenian pop song with the title 'rad te imam', or at least it's in the refrain, not quite sure anymore) besides ljubati = Czech root of líbit (I'd guess) and also used for romantic love (in pop songs*) too)

- Croatian/Serbian:
there it is imati rad vs. ljubati with I think similar connotations as in Slovene (but of that I'm not so sure) except for the fact that there's also voljeti which (I think) is stronger than the other two and probably associated specifically with erotic love, and Slovene (I think) covers the meaning of voljeti with Slovene ljubati

- Italian: te voglio bene
(actually I know it as te voglio ben from some film) = "I want you >gern<": not quite like "gern haben" but similar nevertheless and, to my knowledge, used for romantic love too, vs. amare - ti amo = being in love

Do you know similar phrasings of "gern haben - mát rad - imeti rad - ..." in your language and what can you say about the different connotations of the different expressions in your language (or compared to other languages if you are bilingual)?
Is this a Central European speciality or does this exist elsewhere too?

*) Why should I refer to pop songs? Simple: me, I'm an old fart, as you can see when you're looking up my age in the profile, and no more a good judge on the speech of the youth. So pop songs probably will give my posting some authority. ;) :D
 
  • Bilma

    Senior Member
    USA
    Spanish Mexico
    Querer: It is used to show affection family members, animals. It is also used as to want. I want an apple.

    Amar: I would dare to say it is only used in the romantic way between two people. Husband-wife, boyfriend-girlfriend, lover-lover. I would not say "Amo a mi perro" o "Papá, te amo". In these two cases I would use "querer".

    Encantar: When you like something very much like I love singing. Me encanta cantar.
    I love tacos. Me encantan los tacos.


    At least that is how I see it. :)
     

    Orreaga

    Senior Member
    USA; English
    In Hungarian no parallel construction exists to my knowledge (the language lacks a verb "to have" and instead uses possessive or genitive constructions).

    "To love" is szeretni, which can be used toward people or things, and can range from mild "liking" to stronger "loving". "Love" (the noun) is szerelem or szeretet (I think having amorous and platonic connotations, respectively).

    A related adjective, szerelmes (like "amorous") is used toward people, as in:
    Szerelmes vagyok beléd (lit., I'm amorous toward you), or "I'm in love with you."

    Corrections and additions welcome!
     

    dudasd

    Senior Member
    Serbo-Croatian
    - Croatian/Serbian: there it is imati rad vs. ljubati with I think similar connotations as in Slovene (but of that I'm not so sure) except for the fact that there's also voljeti which (I think) is stronger than the other two and probably associated specifically with erotic love, and Slovene (I think) covers the meaning of voljeti with Slovene ljubati
    Imati rad is a German construction and though it's used of some parts of Croatia/Serba, it doesn't belong to literary language. Voljeti /voleti covers "like", "love", "be fond" etc. (can be applied to anything from cookies over cats to your girldfriend or husband). Ljubiti (not "ljubati") means both "to kiss" and "to love". It's mostly archaic in this second meaning, and nowadays can have a nuance of sarcasm maybe (like in "ne ljubim taj posao" - I am not crazy for that job, I don't adore that job). When one wants do make distinciton between "like" and "love", he will probably use sviđa/dopada mi se construction ("Sviđa mi se ta d(j)evojka" - I like that girl; "Volim tu d(j)evojku" - I love that girl).
     

    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Imati rad is a German construction and though it's used of some parts of Croatia/Serba, it doesn't belong to literary language.
    Thank you for clarification, but would you say that where 'imati rad' is used that it corresponds (could correspond) to 'volim te'/'I love you' to a girlfriend, boyfriend, partner?
    Because, as stated above, though it seems that the Austrian German equivalent 'gern haben' still could work as 'I love you' but that it isn't the most common phrasing anymore.

    As far as Slovenian and Croatian/Serbian is concerned there's obviously a 'false friend' with Slovenian ljubiti = to love and Serbian/Croatian ljubiti = to kiss (and only archaic to love as you wrote). Slovenian 'poljubiti' is 'to kiss', by the way.

    Orreaga, thank you for clarification on Hungarian: so it seems with this language there's a 'missing link' as far as the Central European languages are concerned.

    And Bilma, as far as querer/amar is concerned this seems to give a rather similar distinction although no similar construction as in 'gern haben - imeti rad - etc.'.
    Do you think it is the same in peninsular Spanish or is this probably a Latin American, or even Mexican speciality, namely the reduction of 'amare' only to erotic or romantic love?
     

    Joannes

    Senior Member
    Belgian Dutch
    Do you know similar phrasings of "gern haben - mát rad - imeti rad - ..." in your language and what can you say about the different connotations of the different expressions in your language (or compared to other languages if you are bilingual)?
    Is this a Central European speciality or does this exist elsewhere too?
    In Belgian Dutch you could say ik zie u graag 'ich sehe dich gern' to mean 'I love you'. Ik heb u graag ('ich habe dich gern') would mean 'I like you'.
     

    sam1978

    Senior Member
    italy - italiano
    [...]
    - Italian: ti voglio bene
    (actually I know it as te voglio ben from some film) = "I want you >gern<": not quite like "gern haben" but similar nevertheless and, to my knowledge, used for romantic love too, vs. amare - ti amo = being in love [...]
    "Ti voglio bene!". However, in which film did you listen to "Te voglio ben"?
    It doesn't sound good very much!:confused:
     

    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    "Ti voglio bene!". However, in which film did you listen to "Te voglio ben"?
    It doesn't sound good very much!:confused:
    It could have been 'ti voglio ben', of course - I've made the same mistake with standard Italian, thanks for correcting.
    Unfortunately, I can't recall any more which film, I've seen it with subtitles and I think even the 'n' in 'ben' has been deleted (probably the 'e' nasalized, don't recall any more - it was some time ago).
    Anyway, the phrase was mentioned several times in the film. Could it have been 'The naked Cello'? (German title Das nackte Cello, Italian Il merlo maschio. Well yes, not 'great' cinema but just some nice comedy, but that's not what this thread is about. ;-) But it could have been any other film, really.
    As far as Il merlo maschio is concerned I think this one could have been situated somewhere in Tuscany? Anyway, more likely north from Rome than south from it. Certainly this version was some kind of colloquial speech.
     

    dudasd

    Senior Member
    Serbo-Croatian
    Thank you for clarification, but would you say that where 'imati rad' is used that it corresponds (could correspond) to 'volim te'/'I love you' to a girlfriend, boyfriend, partner?
    I think I heard it several times in my life only, but always as a joke, it was more making fun with language. ("To have someone" can also mean to "have sex with someone", so at least it was joke when I was young.) As much as I can conclude from books of our older writers, it had value similar to "you are dear to me" and it was often used in flirting/courting (not quite open statement of love). It was used only in the northern parts.
     

    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    As much as I can conclude from books of our older writers, it had value similar to "you are dear to me" and it was often used in flirting/courting (not quite open statement of love). It was used only in the northern parts.
    I think this is clear enough to make the connection with similar use in Slovenia and Austria - especially as there would be a geographical connection too (to Slovenia, for once, and the Habsburg Empire as well as the German settlers in Slavonija + Vojvodina).
     

    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    With respect to the Italian and the Spanish phrases, see this earlier thread.
    Thank you very much for the link, so a short summary of the ones I feel now rather confident about (I am leaving out languages of which I know too little to even being half confident about summarizing the posts of the - already - four threads with similar topics as this one) - of course, even though the summary is mine the content isn't, as most of the statements are taken from the four related threads (the Czech one, the Romance thread, the Italian one, and then this one), and corrections of course welcome if there's a misunderstanding (and if there are please accept my excuses in advance ;-):

    1.) to love ('romantic' love, being in love):
    the use of the phrases differs in the different languages, which is only to be expected; nevertheless similarities are obvious:
    1.1.1) rather 'weak', type auxiliary verb + adverb, but in the sense of 'to love' to a boyfriend or girlfriend and in some languages even regularly used in pop songs in this meaning (as for German, the phrase to my knowledge is used only in older Austrian songs and not anymore in newer ones), and partly considered less 'direct' (as the meaning of 'romantic love' is implicit and depends on context) and therefore more charming and polite than the second possibility = 1.2) = expressed with one (single) verb:
    imeti rad/rad(a) te imam (Slovenian), mít rád/mám tě rád(a) (Czech), imati rad (does not fit perfectly: Croatian/Serbian regionally/northern region, not standard language and probably already outdated), gern haben/ich hab dich gern (German, especially Austrian and probably Switzerland/Southern Germany too), volere bene/ti voglio bene (Italian), jerg er glad i deg (Norvegian), jeg holder af dig (Danish)
    1.1.2) rather 'weak', but a single verb - otherwise in meaning probably very similar to 1.1.1):
    gostar (Portuguese), querer/te quiero (Peninsular Spanish and partly (?) LA), voler/et vull (Catalan)
    1.2) stronger, more to the point, expressed by a single verb: used primarily for romantic love and not in the sense of a sexual relationship (even though this is, of course, too is meant when one uses this verb):
    ljubiti (Slovenian), milovat (Czech), voljeti (Croatian), voleti (Serbian), lieben (German), amare (Italian), amar (Portuguese), amar (Spanish -> diegodbs is not completely clear here in the Romance thread, probably in Peninsular Spanish it is 'te quiero' only!), estimar (Catalan), jeg elsker deg (Norvegian; 'elsker = love'), jeg elsker dig (Danish)
    2.) languages where both these meanings usually are expressed by the same verb:
    - English: to love (to like only ever seems to be acceptable if it is not about romantic love which suggests this post by an 'Englishman with a stiff upper lipp' as he describes himself; there seems to be no 'weaker' form of expressing one's love to a boyfriend or girlfriend in English, except probably 'I really like being with you' when a relationship begins to start as stated here)
    - Hungarian: szeretni
    - French: aimer (or is there any other expression commonly used? - except for the stronger 'adorer' - see below)
    - Spanish (Latin America): amar (it seems - according to Bilma in this thread and diegodbs in the Romance thread that Spain and LA (partly?) go their own ways here)
    - Bolivian Quechua: munay

    3.) other meanings:
    3.1) physical attraction when usually (or: not necessarily) one is not in love nor wants (or isn't sure about wanting) to start an affair: gustar (Spanish), líbit se (Czech), gefallen (German)
    3.2) more explicitly referring to sex or the desire for a sexual relationship and mostly not considered very polite as it may refer first and foremost to the intention of picking someone up: želeti (Slovenian), željeti (Croatian), želeti (Serbian), to want (English), wollen (or) begehren (German), desear (Spanish), jeg har lyst på deg/ jeg begjærer deg (Norvegian), ik wil je (Netherlands Dutch)
    3.3) still 'romantic love' but much stronger than the 'ordinary expression:
    adorer (French)

    Other languages that seem to have two expressions (a milder one and a stronger one for 'romantic love') seem to be Tagalog, Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese and probably Greek [and Palaestinian Arabic, but this seems to be quite complicated as posted on the Romance thread by elroy] and then Dutch which I didn't include because the situation seems a little bit complicated (with Flanders and Netherlands use involved so that I can't be sure what's what); and others that don't seem to be Finnish, Lithuanian, Estonian, Hindi, Turkish and Azeri, but the posts aren't always quite clear on the distinctions I made here.
    These are mentioned in the Romance thread and not included here - if someone feels confident enough to add them in the typology above, then just go on and do it!

    And if you've got another addition to make then feel free to quote this post and make the necessary adjustments.

    Anyway, one thing now is clear: this distinction with 'love' most certainly is not a Central European speciality - so one mystery solved. :)

    [And please don't discuss here what someone says to someone in a particular situation because such a discussion did lead to the Italian thread being closed, and we don't want that, do we?]
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    1.1.1) rather 'weak', but a single verb - otherwise in meaning probably very similar to 1.1.1):
    [...] te quiero gostar (Portuguese) [...]
    1.2) stronger, more to the point, expressed by a single verb: used primarily for romantic love and not in the sense of a sexual relationship (even though this is, of course, too is meant when one uses this verb): [...] te amo/amar (Portuguese)[...]
    ;)
     

    Koenigsberger

    New Member
    Hungary; Hungarian (Magyar)
    In Hungarian no parallel construction exists to my knowledge (the language lacks a verb "to have" and instead uses possessive or genitive constructions).

    "To love" is szeretni, which can be used toward people or things, and can range from mild "liking" to stronger "loving". "Love" (the noun) is szerelem or szeretet (I think having amorous and platonic connotations, respectively).

    A related adjective, szerelmes (like "amorous") is used toward people, as in:
    Szerelmes vagyok beléd (lit., I'm amorous toward you), or "I'm in love with you."

    Corrections and additions welcome!
    Hello! Just a small addition: true, we only have one verb, but the two nouns that originate from the same stem do make a distinction: szerelem is the 'romantic love' ("amourousness" between the two sexes), while szeretet is more general and its meaning is closer to the English "like" (to like sg) than "love".
     
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