tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Feb 17 12:34:10 2009

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"matay'DI' jIHegh vIneH!"

Steven Boozer (

A belated Valentine's Day post...
There was an interesting column last Friday in "The Chicago Tribune" about how the word "love" does not cross cultures easily:
"I love you means... never having to say that?"
by Mary Schmich, February 13, 2009
(,0,6592846.column )

   I was once sitting in a group conversation about the differences between Americans and the Japanese when a man from Tokyo said he had never told his wife "I love you." [...] His wife had never told him "I love you" either, he went on, happily. It wasn't done in Japan. Japanese people didn't bludgeon one another with such a blunt declaration of this most complex of sentiments.
   "There is a verb for love in Japanese," said Ted Foss, the associate director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago<>. "But you wouldn't get a card that says, 'I love you." It might say, 'I like you very much' or 'You're all that I need.'"
   Better than "I love you," said DePaul professor Yuki Miyamoto, would be "I want to die with you." Better yet to show love through action.  "'I love you' sounds very cheesy," she said, "something you hear only in TV shows."
   Japanese, she said, assume that if you are close enough, you can read each other's minds. "Ironically," she said, "if you say 'I love you,' it says you are not close enough."

Money quote:

  "Better than 'I love you' [...] would be 'I want to
   die with you'."
Next Valentine's Day when you're tempted to say {qamuSHa'} - which has never been a good fit for the Federation Standard verb "love" - consider the very Klingon sentiment {matay'DI' jIHegh vIneH} ("I want to die when we're together").
BTW the last paragraph is a good illustration of another concept that doesn't translate well:
   Federation Standard has no word meaning the same as Klingon
   {tova'Daq}, a sort of mind sharing or insight into one
   another's thoughts  [KGT 204]
otherwise known as the "Well, if I have to explain it to you, you wouldnt understand" concept.

Canon Master of the Klingons

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