WW #7: Valentines

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Let’s celebrate Valentine’s Day with words for romantic love.

In the cultures of the Three Rivers region, romance had nothing to do with marriage. The love (if any) between husband and wife was described using the same words (Muipidan nehmatade [ˈnɛ.m̥aˌta.də], Kharulian somi [ˈso.mʲi]) as the bonds within a family. The cultures differed in how tolerant they were of love affairs outside of marriage.

Kharulian philosophy taught that romance and lust were childish feelings that good citizens were supposed to grow out of. They used the verb kyurghyéryekh [cuɹ̠ʲˈʝe.ɹ̠ʲɛç] (literally “to face-drink”, i.e. to be intoxicated by someone’s appearance) to refer to romantic attraction. Of an adult who engaged in love affairs, a Kharulian might say igyurghyekhryía [i.ɟuɹ̠ʲ.ʝɛçˈɹ̠ʲi.a] (he/she is still drinking faces), in the same tone of voice that we would say someone “still lives with their parents”.

In Muipido, views of romance varied by religious sect, as with many other cultural norms. In general, though, same-sex love affairs were more tolerated than opposite-sex affairs; Muipidan society didn’t want to deal with illegitimate children, who messed up their family structure. Muipidan had two basic words for romantic love: pyatado [ˈpja.ta.do], with a positive connotation, and p’ugïtïdo [ˈpʼu.ɡɨˌtɨ.do], which had a strong negative connotation, as it was also used for animals in heat!

Nitherian culture, in contrast, viewed romance (nyeso [ˈnje.so]) as a prerequisite for marriage, though both families usually had to approve of the marriage. Nitherian families effectively ran a matchmaking service for their children, arranging with other families to pair a young couple together and see if any affection developed. Naturally, some young people fell in love with forbidden partners, and the word vosloleslano [vo.ɬo.leˈɬa.no] (“sail away with”) was used for such relationships.

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