10 February 2017

This Valentine's Day try a new language of love

With Valentine's Day fast approaching, why not ditch the clichés and look to a different language of love?

Forget being head over heels or being the apple of someone’s eye – how about ‘kicking like a horse’ or declaring your ‘heels are on fire’ instead.

An expert in psycholinguistics at the University of Aberdeen has been looking at how love is expressed in different languages and has found the language of love may be a little lost in translation.

Dr Emily Nordmann from the School of Psychology is an expert in idioms – a term used to describe commonly used expressions with a meaning not easily deducible from the words.

Dr Nordmann explains: “Some studies estimate that nearly 50% of our utterances are fixed expressions (“I love you”), idioms (“wear your heart on your sleeve”), proverbs (“hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”) and a whole range of clichés that blur the lines (“love conquers all”). These phrases have become a fixed part of our language because they are good at expressing particular concepts. But because they’re so good they get overused and their literal meaning becomes obscured.

Familiarity blinds us to the hilarity of our mother tongue which is why we find non-English phrases odd." Dr Emily Nordmann

“Familiarity blinds us to the hilarity of our mother tongue which is why we find non-English phrases odd.  For example, in Finnish- ‘Even horses kick out of love’ is used when someone acts silly out of love;  in German, lovers have aeroplanes rather than butterflies in their tummies and in Serbia, ‘love- like a cough or a mange cannot be hidden.’

“The literal meaning of these unfamiliar phrases may seem peculiar but we will quite happily go on a ‘blind date’, 'have the hots for someone’, say ‘those three little words’, be ‘all loved up’, 'pop the question’, ‘tie the knot’, realise ‘love is blind’ and end up with our ‘marriage on the rocks’.

"In a nutshell, maybe there is no universal language of love but instead all languages are as weird as each other!”

 

Notes for Editors

Issued by the Communications Team
Directorate of External Relations, University of Aberdeen, King's College, Aberdeen
Tel: +44 (0)1224 272014

Contact: Wendy Davidson
Issued on: 10 February 2017


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