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Off topic: Translating 'I love you'
Thread poster: xxxAnna Blackab
xxxAnna Blackab  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:19
German to English
+ ...
May 9, 2007

Hi everybody

I'm going to indulge my fascination with the emotional associations we have with words and whether the emotions can be translated across languages along with the words.

In another thread about untranslatable words and phrases, the phrase 'I love you' was mentioned as losing something in the translation process out of our mother tongues. I'm intrigued to know if anyone has had personal experience of translating 'I love you' to say to someone- I assume we're all a well travelled bunch here so this is fairly likely! Does it feel 'different' in some way to use the words 'I love you' if they are translated into a foreign language for you?

I'd also be interested to know if different languages have different ways of saying 'I love you' like in Italian 'ti amo' and 'ti voglio bene' and what they mean to the speaker.

Anna


I


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:19
English to Arabic
+ ...
You reminded me... May 9, 2007

... of a funny story.
One of my dad's friends, the former Egyptian ambassador to Spain, told him how, when he was posted in Spain with very little knowledge of Spanish, he would always call in his Spanish secretary with the words "te quiero" (literally translating the very innocent Egyptian expression meaning "I want you"). The secretary was too embarrassed to correct him, until much later he was overheard by someone who explained to him that he's been telling her "I love you" all that time!

---------

(Sorry that's not really an answer to your posting!!)

[Edited at 2007-05-09 18:17]


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:19
English to Arabic
+ ...
More to the point... May 9, 2007

The Arabic language famously has several words for "to love", each of which has a different nuance to express various degrees of love/infatuation

You have:
Ana uhibbuka, ahwak, aashaquka, mutayyam bika, moolaa bika...

(and I'm sure I've missed some).


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Henrik Pipoyan  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:19
Member (2004)
English to Armenian
It's untranslatable May 9, 2007

The expression "I love you" proves that there are as many languages as there are people living on the earth. Each time you say it, you mean something else than the person who hears it, even if both of you speak the same language. So for each person living on the earth "I love you" is different from what the rest of the world thinks it means, and I don't think anyone can say for sure what it really means.:)

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Ledja  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:19
Member (2008)
English to Albanian
+ ...
Të dua/Të dashuroj - Albanian May 9, 2007

Hi Anna,

There is one tiny trouble with translating "I love you" in Albanian, because the English phrase is, in a way, so universal - you can love your parents, your siblings, your friends, your partner, your pet, your food, home, film,job ... you name it!

The very word for "love" in Albanian would be "dashuroj", but you can only - I emphasise only - use this for your partner, and, in a pompous way, for other non-human things, like those mentioned above. The rest of the people that are dear to you, will have to make do with the simpler "të dua". I feel, however, that we don't use this enough either. We traditionally make use of a few endearments to express our love to our children and other close people: të kam zemër, të kam xhan, të kam shpirt.

This is all that comes to mind, but our vocabulary is rich in endearments.

Ledja


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:19
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Je t'aime May 9, 2007

Anna Blackaby wrote:

Hi everybody

I'm going to indulge my fascination with the emotional associations we have with words and whether the emotions can be translated across languages along with the words.

In another thread about untranslatable words and phrases, the phrase 'I love you' was mentioned as losing something in the translation process out of our mother tongues. I'm intrigued to know if anyone has had personal experience of translating 'I love you' to say to someone- I assume we're all a well travelled bunch here so this is fairly likely! Does it feel 'different' in some way to use the words 'I love you' if they are translated into a foreign language for you?

I'd also be interested to know if different languages have different ways of saying 'I love you' like in Italian 'ti amo' and 'ti voglio bene' and what they mean to the speaker.

Anna


I


Dear Anna,
I've often thought it quite tricky that in French "je t'aime" can mean both "I love you" and the much less passionate "I like you". This subtle distinction that exists in English seems difficult to convey in French. In English one can say "I like him but I don't love him", but how would one convey that in French? Je l'aime bien, mais je ne l'aime pas" - surely not!
And then, as someone has already pointed out, in Spanish "te quiero" can mean both "I love you" and "I want you". Fascinating. As if relationships weren't quite delicate enough already.
Regards (or should I say love?)
Jenny.


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Melissa Stanfield  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 22:19
Italian to English
+ ...
subtle distinctions May 9, 2007



Dear Anna,
I've often thought it quite tricky that in French "je t'aime" can mean both "I love you" and the much less passionate "I like you". This subtle distinction that exists in English seems difficult to convey in French. In English one can say "I like him but I don't love him", but how would one convey that in French? Je l'aime bien, mais je ne l'aime pas" - surely not!
And then, as someone has already pointed out, in Spanish "te quiero" can mean both "I love you" and "I want you". Fascinating. As if relationships weren't quite delicate enough already.
Regards (or should I say love?)
Jenny.


or even more melodramatically: "I love him but I don't like him."

[Edited at 2007-05-09 23:54]


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 09:19
English to Spanish
+ ...
Two (or three) ways of saying I love you in Spanish May 10, 2007

"Te quiero" can be told to your partner to mean "I love you", but it can also be told to a friend or somebody you really like (your kids, your grandmother, etc.).

"Te amo" is a bit 'stronger' (more romantic/erotic) and is only for one's husband/wife/lover.

We also say 'te adoro', a bit more 'enthusiastic' expression, probably used only in the first weeks of a love relationship.

Au



[Edited at 2007-05-10 00:22]


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Veronika Hansova  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 14:19
Member (2006)
English to Czech
+ ...
Czech language May 10, 2007

Hi Anna,
we distinguish two levels of expressing love. "Miluji tě" is what lovers/partners say, whereas "Mám tě rád" is what father says to his kid and vice versa. It is close to "have a fond of sb" but it does not sound so strange or distantly.
Veronika


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Iris Shalev  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 15:19
English to Dutch
+ ...
I hou van je /ani ohev(et) otcha/otach/otchem... May 10, 2007

Hi Anna,

That's interesting, I've never really thought about it! But you're right. The words 'Ik hou van je' in Dutch are definitely not something you would say to just anyone. My English friends throw 'love you's' around left, right and centre, but 'Ik hou van je' is much more loaded. You would say it only to your partner or child, or possibly to very close friends or family members, and then only in emotional situations. Maybe the Dutch just aren't very open with emotions!

In Hebrew I think it's about the same (not entirely sure as Hebrew is only my third language, if anyone wants to correct me go ahead). What threw me in the beginning is that it also depends on who says what; male to female or female or male, or plural, or the same sex... much more complicated!!

Nice discussion!

bye, Iris.


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ulla2608  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:19
German to Spanish
+ ...
Ingenious! May 10, 2007

I'ld like to come back to Henriks answer:

Henrik, your answer is ingenious! You are really a philosopher!
Regards
Ulla


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 08:19
English to French
+ ...
Most languages have several ways to say this May 10, 2007

When people here in Canada ask me how to say 'I love you' in Hungarian, I always reply with a question: what kind of love do you mean and what is the relation between the interested parties?

These different ways of expression also sometimes overlap in Hungarian. Some of them you can say to friends but not to family, but some ofthem you can say to both, but not to an elderly, etc.

A nice one is "Egyem meg a szived!", which literally means "I want to eat your heart!". This is a cuddly kind of 'I love you'. The elderly use it when they speak to children but it can be used in all kinds of situations and with people with whom you have any kind of relation, as long as you are relatively close to them.


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lingomania
Local time: 22:19
Italian to English
Italians say.... May 11, 2007

Anna Blackaby wrote:

Hi everybody

I'm going to indulge my fascination with the emotional associations we have with words and whether the emotions can be translated across languages along with the words.

In another thread about untranslatable words and phrases, the phrase 'I love you' was mentioned as losing something in the translation process out of our mother tongues. I'm intrigued to know if anyone has had personal experience of translating 'I love you' to say to someone- I assume we're all a well travelled bunch here so this is fairly likely! Does it feel 'different' in some way to use the words 'I love you' if they are translated into a foreign language for you?

I'd also be interested to know if different languages have different ways of saying 'I love you' like in Italian 'ti amo' and 'ti voglio bene' and what they mean to the speaker.

Anna


I



.................that TI AMO and TI VOGLIO BENE are very different. Most people translate TI VOGLIO BENE into I LIKE YOU, but that is NOT exact. TI VOGLIO BENE is more I'M FOND OF YOU, which is a "step down" from "I love you". MI PIACI is more I LIKE YOU. I hope that makes sense

Rob

[Edited at 2007-05-11 22:38]


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Kornelia Kowszewicz  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:19
English to Polish
+ ...
Polish and Swedish May 12, 2007

In Polish - that would be 'Kocham Cię'
and in Swedish - Jag älskar dig



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Peta79
English
Very confunsing business! Nov 30, 2007

As if this 'love' business is not confusing enough as it is, my new partner has decided to declare his feelings in his native Portuguese. As I don't speak Portuguese, I am having a little trouble figuring out what he is trying to tell me and fearing I will kill the romance, I don't want to come out and ask him. Hoping someone can help. The note reads "ola querida..Eu te adoro! Muitas saudades...beijinhos. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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