Language Lunedi’ – Love

Since this past weekend was the weekend of love, I got to thinking about how we express the emotion of love in English and in Italian because at times they are slightly different.  So today is all about love!

Let’s start with some terms of endearment:

In English we have:  sweetheart, honey, darling.  When you think of the words themselves, they are kind of funny.  Because in my mind “honey”…is…well…my husband…not a jar of sweet golden goodness produced from some bees.

It is the same for Italians.  They use words like :  “tesoro” or treasure to say “honey.”

They will also use the actual word “love”  when referring to their significant other or even their child:  “amore” in Italian.

Between friends they will often use the word:  “caro” or dear.  It would be “cara” for a female.

So my husband could say to a guy friend who calls him:  “Ciao caro!  Come stai?”  “Hello dear!  How are you?”  Yes, men will call each other dear.  And they will also do the two kiss thing when they see their guy friends, male cousins, brothers, etc…  Clearly the Italian men are super secure in their masculinity.

Now onto love phrases.

Things are slightly different in Italian.  Here they are and below I will explain in a little more detail:

I love you:          Ti amo.

I love you:          Ti voglio bene.

I like you:           Mi piaci.

I adoro you:       Ti adoro.

I miss you:         Mi Manchi.

Ti amo:  This phrase expresses romantic love and only romantic love.  It is an expression of passion and romance.  It is not used between friends, siblings, parents.

Ti voglio bene:  This is the way you tell your parents, your sis, your friends you love them.  To me, it represents a solid foundation of love.

Mi Piaci:  This means “I like you.”  But the literal translation is:  “You are pleasing to me.”   And I think for Italians when they say:  “Mi piaci” they view it in more of the literal translation.  It doesn’t feel quite like our:  “I like you…you are a nice guy, you seem like a nice girl.”  The “Mi piaci” seems a little more  – something – I am not sure what that something is.   You are pleasing to this person on a physical level, but also in your way of being.

Ti adoro:  This is pretty much the same as in English.  ALWAYS nice to hear.

Mi Manchi:  This means:  “I miss you.”  The literal translation:  “You are missing to me.”  Again….there are some subtle differences between the meaning in English and in Italian. I have been told the Italian phrase is much more strong than the English.   It seems to be reserved for VERY close relations.  I had one friend tell me that she would never say, “Mi manchi” to me as her girlfriend.  She said she would say something more like:  “I miss our weekly get togethers.”  Or:  “I miss living next to you.”  But not:  “I miss you.”

I guess for me these phrases do a good job of representing the people who speak them.  Americans and probably most English speakers seem to be pretty straight forward in the way they live and express themselves.  But Italians are a little more complicated in the love life department and their language reflects it.

9 Comments on “Language Lunedi’ – Love

  1. This is such a great idea! I am a total linguistics fanatic and love to learn about different languages to understand their cultures.
    Interestingly, though the two languages are very different, it seems from your post that the Italians and the Dutch have some things in common when it comes to romance. In Dutch there are at least three stages of ‘I like/love/am in love with you’ that I simply cannot distinguish. There’s something similar to the ‘mi piaci’ (ik vind je leuk) which translates literally to ‘I find you nice’ but which has so many different connotations that it’s hard to know when it’s appropriate to say!

    • “I find you nice.” Ha, ha, ha! I LOVE THAT! Sounds so sweet. But yes…there are sooo many nuances to Italian. My husband sometimes says “ti amo” and sometimes also “ti voglio bene.” the truth is…I love the “ti voglio bene” because for me….it represents a love that is solid as a rock. I mean passionate love is fun too! but the “ti voglio bene” for me means everlasting…not fleeting…

      Gosh….Dutch seems SO hard…how is that coming for you?

      • Pretty well in terms of grammar and vocabulary, but in the speaking department I’m lagging far behind … As soon as the Dutch detect any sort of accent in your speech, even if you just constructed a flawless philosophical sentence, they switch to English – not good for the confidence but also an excuse to be lazy 😛 I’m working on it!
        Do you speak to your husband in Italian? So impressive!

        • Well…..I am lazy for Italian too…for the same reasons. In northern Italy, many people speak English…or WANT to speak it… my Italian is limited. At home: ENGLISH! Even with hubby and of course with the kids. And what can I say? When I watch a movie….if given the choice, I always put it on in English. Well…Italian is one thing…but DUTCH?!!? seems very difficult….so YOU are the one that is impressive! 🙂

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