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Love, languages and Arabic heavy metal bands

paris, france. symbols of love
in Blog, Language Connect

What is the most romantic language in the world? This question got everyone hot under the collar in the office, but perhaps that is not surprising in a company where more than 20 languages are spoken, and hundreds managed each day. If there is one thing we really love here (other than cake), it’s languages.

An internal poll produced the usual responses: French, Italian, Spanish, Arabic and Russian. And when Hotels.com ran a poll on the sexiest language in the world, French won. Of course French won! But when you look at romance and languages, things start to get really complicated.

What is it about a language that lends it a ‘personality’? Is it the melody of it to a foreign ear? Perhaps the cultural connotations of the country of origin such as its literature, geography, music, visual appeal of its people or even food? Opposites attract, and often we are drawn to that which is different from our own norm. The Russian melancholy, the drama of the Latin languages, the poetry of Asian languages like Korean and Japanese – we all have our preconceptions and these are often evident when dealing with other nationalities.

Being the ever so slightly nerdy language bunch that we are, discussion flowed to very specific examples of more tangible proof; the written word. And this is the moment of truth for most communication; it is as much what you say as how you say it. Every language has its own soul, be that ‘duende’ in Spanish or ‘душа’ in Russian. This is evident in the prose as much as the melody of the spoken word (and the reason why there are just not a lot of Arabic language heavy-metal bands around). The essence of a language is formed by the things important to those who express themselves in it, and that can vary drastically from language to language.

My heart is on fire
In my madness I roam the desert
The flames of my passion
devour the wind and the sky
My cries of longing
My wails of sorrow
Are tormenting my soul
You wait patiently
Looking into my intoxicated eyes
You accept my passion
with the serenity of Love
You are the Master of Existence
One day I shall be a Lover like You

The poem Caught in the Fire of Love by Rumi (originally in Persian) is perhaps not to everyone’s taste, but the drama and depth are undeniable and translatable to any language. But as prevalent as drama is discretion, depending on the language and culture. What may be the ultimate declaration of love in one language, could be received with mixed emotions in another language. The important thing is to understand your audience and tailor your message accordingly. So, whomever you love, make sure you chose the right words AND language this Valentine’s Day.

Take our Language of Love survey here and see what languages were voted most romantic.



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