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to love, to like, and "voler bene"

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to love, to like, and "voler bene"

Postby astaroth » Wed 04.01.2009 11:30 am

Hi everyone,
this question came from a discussion I had with an Italian friend who is studying Japanese as well, so the question is actually a bit linked to Italian idioms. As far as I know in English, affection, love and the like are expressed only with either to love or to like (I'm not considering jargon or slang, just "plain" English), while in Italian there is one more expression which I never quite found how to translate correctly in English, that is "volere bene" (at least to expression commonly used). This expression indicates an affection of some sort not necessarily love, so it's used for the affection between a parent and a child (in Italian amare, that is to love, would sound somewhat off in that context).
So in Japanese, to love is strictly 愛する and to like is strictly 好きです, though 好きです can be used to express a feeling stronger than the simple liking someone. So is in Japanese any expression to indicate a feeling of affection? What's the expression a father/mother would say to a son/daughter to express affection? Would be this expression, because of cultural reasons, almost never used?

Thanks, Luca
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Re: to love, to like, and "voler bene"

Postby Sairana » Wed 04.01.2009 6:57 pm

astaroth wrote:Would be this expression, because of cultural reasons, almost never used?


I think this is closer to the truth. On the about.com forums, there was recently a question similar to this regarding love between family members. One person responded with this:

tkotom wrote:Honestly, in my 5 years of living here and having conversed at length with any Japanese person who would engage in the conversation, I have never, not even once, EVER heard a family member tell another family member that they "love" them -- in any form. When I suggest that perhaps more Japanese should show their love for their family I am met with blank stares.


Here is a link to his full post.

I don't have experience with "real life" Japanese. I've watched several dramas (yes, I know, TV should be taken with a grain of salt), but the closest I heard of affection between a father and a daughter was one where the daughter was dying of a degenerative brain condition (One Litre of Tears) and he said: "きみがうちの大切な人" I may have the grammar on that wrong as it's been ages since I've seen it... but the idea was "You are a very important person to me." I took note of how serious the situation was, and that was the extent of the dialog that got close to saying, "I love you".

Just food for thought.
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Re: to love, to like, and "voler bene"

Postby kurisuto » Thu 04.02.2009 1:15 pm

I won't discuss the cultural apsect of this because obviously I'm no expert, but I think the expression 目に入れても痛くない
is pretty good (means "be the apple of one's eye", although as you can see the litteral meaning is a bit... weirder :) ).
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Re: to love, to like, and "voler bene"

Postby astaroth » Fri 04.03.2009 1:48 pm

I guess that 〜大切な人 as an idiom would sound a little off only in its literal translation. So an actual sentence/idiom exists.
Whether it's commonly used or not, it's a different question. After all, not even in Italy "voler bene" would be commonly said between parents and their children.
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Re: to love, to like, and "voler bene"

Postby coco » Sat 04.04.2009 9:41 am

Please allow me to write this with my poor English.

My parents, brother, sister and relatives have never said 愛してる to me. I, myself, haven't said the word to them before ( at least I haven't said it at a face-to-face direct conversation ). My grandparents never said it to me neither, however when I was a child, one of grandmothers always asked me "おじいちゃんとおばあちゃん、どっちが好き?" in her dialect. ( In this case, my grandmother called herself おばあちゃん. おじいちゃん was her husband.) I had to answer "おばあちゃんの方が好き".


I sometimes think that the phrase "I love you, Mom/Dad/etc." is very useful especially when a speaker is in a critical situation. (e.g. A plane which is going to be crashed, and a passenger is trying to say something to his/her family by his/her cell phone.)

I have a sense that "I love you, 〇〇" can tell everything in such cases.

I recall the farewell notes of passengers on JAL Flight 123. At that era, no one of them had a cell phone and some of them made notes in the descending plane to their cherished family.
I found them on a website.

Mr. K wrote:
「しっかり生きてくれ。(二人の子供を)よろしく頼む」

Mr.Y wrote:
「daughter's name, son's name, wife's name どうか仲良く がんばって。 ママをたすけて下さい」

Mr. M wrote:
「wife's name, son's nameと両親をたのむ。son's name, 立派になれ」

Mr. M wrote:
「みんな元気でくらして下さい。さようなら family members' name listed」

I believe that each of them tried to tell their affection that is expressed as "I love you 〇〇" in English.  

As for あなたを愛しています, this post might give you a clue to find a cultural difference.
( It doesn't mention the affection between family though.)
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Re: to love, to like, and "voler bene"

Postby ss » Sun 04.19.2009 9:58 pm

The world we live in today has so much influence on one another. With all sort of high-tech facilities made easy and convenient connecting people in just a sec, people of different cultures are getting closer to each other in many ways.

In my impression, sometimes that fine line between “I love you” in English and 「愛してる」 in Japanese become difficult to distinguish.

Even in Chinese, 「我愛你」 (wo ai ni) can be a very powerful word.
Speaking of relationship, if you asked my grandparents, they would tell you --- In my time, it needs much courage or bravery to say 「我愛你」 to that special someone. They feel awkward and you would see a warm blush rise on their cheeks.

To quote some old classic movies, where the scene was about the husband leaving his home town to study abroad. The wife would say in tears "Take good care and come back with success. I will wait for you." And you could see the husband looking at her passionately and replied with "I won’t fail you, I shall return with success. Take care." 8)

If you asked today's youngsters, they would probably tell you ---- I say 我愛你 to anyone I adore and respect, that’s it. I don't take diplomacy and emotion all that seriously --- you've got lots of things to do!!

Speaking of parents' love to children. When my sis moved to Australia a few years back, my father said 好好照顧自己 (Take good care of yourself) in Chinese to her at the airport. Then my sis responded in English "Daddy, mom, I love you." My parents didn’t respond with a “I luv you” back to her. Daddy just kept patting her on the head. It’s just beyond words. We fell silent for a good long while, at that very moment.

Not that certain people are passionless, to me, there are many ways to convey the meaning or to gain similar effect of 愛してる, this word just doesn’t come easily (even in Chinese, I don't know why), but it has powerful effect if one says it sincerely, I’d guess.
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Re: to love, to like, and "voler bene"

Postby AJBryant » Mon 04.20.2009 2:25 pm

I'm reminded of the jidai geki where the hero has been off to the wars for years, and finally, Odysseus-like, returns home to a wife he has not seen for ages. There is a long look between the two, and she just asks, "shall I bring some tea?" -- to which he sits on the verandah, looks out over the garden, and grunts, "moraô."

Very powerful scene -- but also WAY off on the cultural differences scale.


BTW, Shirley -- glad to see you again. We missed you. :)


Tony
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Re: to love, to like, and "voler bene"

Postby ss » Mon 04.20.2009 6:39 pm

Tadaima!
Thank you Papa, I missed everyone too. :P
Just came back from Japan. Coco san was being very helpful as usual, she gave me all the information like the weather forecast website and reminded me to bring along coat just in case it's cold. It was a wonderful trip!

<deleted>


** Sorry off topic, astarothさん。
Last edited by ss on Tue 04.28.2009 5:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: to love, to like, and "voler bene"

Postby AJBryant » Tue 04.21.2009 12:18 am

LOL!

Nah, just found a suitable photo to stick my face on to mess with Lonny over there. :)

Did you take a pile of photos in Japan?

T.
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Re: to love, to like, and "voler bene"

Postby tōkai devotee » Tue 04.21.2009 6:01 am

Back on the topic after that funny diversion!...

This topic reminded me that I was surprised at the lack of words of affection between family members. I observed that they loved each other by their actions, but they never said, 好きです OR 愛している。But occasionally my host mother would greet me with a hug and said, "I love you" to me, in English!! I thought this strange! But nice! :D
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Re: to love, to like, and "voler bene"

Postby astaroth » Tue 04.21.2009 11:15 am

When I moved to US six years ago, my mother didn't say a word (she was crying ...), my dad just hugged me, and my brother said something like "bye".
Well I wasn't going to die or anything, but it was when I moved out of the family hearth. I didn't find weird this lack of words or wording, thought it wasn't necessary. If I have to think about it, I'd say that the only actual sentence my parents ever told me of their love towards me was something like "Sai che ti voglio bene" which roughly translate as "You know I love you" (though "voler bene" is not "amare", to love).
But then again as Coco and others were saying, words of love from parents to sons and daughters would come out only in extreme situation (in real life, of course).
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Re: to love, to like, and "voler bene"

Postby two_heads_talking » Tue 04.21.2009 12:03 pm

astaroth wrote:But then again as Coco and others were saying, words of love from parents to sons and daughters would come out only in extreme situation (in real life, of course).


I don't necessarily agree with that. It's not common of course, but there are many families that convey a deep love for each other quite often. they speak it, they show it and they mean it.

My parents told me they loved me infrequently, but they did tell me that. I tell my daughters I loved them every day. It's heart felt, and it's about as strong as I can imagine.

Now, I do think there is a huge difference in the love I feel for my wife, and the love I feel for my children and the love I have for my brothers, sisters and parents, and for my extended family. So, if you were to nitpick, I listed it in order of strength of that love.

I do know that the average family hardly uses terms of endearment towards each other.. I do know that physical affection is looked upon as generally weak, and that we didn't show it much when I was growing up (perhaps much of that was due to me being a young man and trying to find myself) but I know I show it much more openly to my children than my parents did to me.
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Re: to love, to like, and "voler bene"

Postby astaroth » Tue 04.21.2009 12:11 pm

two_heads_talking wrote:I do know that the average family hardly uses terms of endearment towards each other.. I do know that physical affection is looked upon as generally weak, and that we didn't show it much when I was growing up (perhaps much of that was due to me being a young man and trying to find myself) but I know I show it much more openly to my children than my parents did to me.

Sorry I wasn't implying that it shouldn't be. My wording was a bit confusing, sorry about that.
What I was saying was that, even though my parents hardly told me they loved me, I know they and so does my brother. But then we are talking about Italy in the 80s which was quite a different reality from what it is today. At that time, also saying "I love you" to a person or one's partner was kind of rare, though I think things changed quite a bit now.
two_heads_talking wrote:Now, I do think there is a huge difference in the love I feel for my wife, and the love I feel for my children and the love I have for my brothers, sisters and parents, and for my extended family. So, if you were to nitpick, I listed it in order of strength of that love.

I agree with you. The only difference is that in Italian there are different words to convey different loves ... indeed when in movie "I love you" said between a parent and a son/daughter gets translated as "Ti amo", that sounds weird to the extent of sounding a bit wrong.
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Re: to love, to like, and "voler bene"

Postby ss » Tue 04.21.2009 6:45 pm

<chime in> Yes, Papa, more than 200 I think, but I haven't gotten much time to upload them. :P <out>


My mother just said, to like and to love, if you're serious about it, it does have huge difference.
Parents' love to children is pure love from the bottom of their hearts, no matter how old a child is, when they feel pain, parents feel it too, it can't be just a simple "like" to show their love, NO. But, you know there are always things which can't be expressed in words, your true inner self that touches the heart.

Being a child myself, I don't think I can convey her "thought" on such subject clearly. That's what I see that far, from her eyes, the difference of "love" and "like".
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Re: to love, to like, and "voler bene"

Postby two_heads_talking » Thu 04.23.2009 8:53 am

astaroth wrote:Sorry I wasn't implying that it shouldn't be. My wording was a bit confusing, sorry about that.
What I was saying was that, even though my parents hardly told me they loved me, I know they and so does my brother. But then we are talking about Italy in the 80s which was quite a different reality from what it is today. At that time, also saying "I love you" to a person or one's partner was kind of rare, though I think things changed quite a bit now.


And here I thought Italy was a very 'emotional' or 'romantic' country. I didn't realize there was a hesitancy to show affection there.

astaroth wrote:I agree with you. The only difference is that in Italian there are different words to convey different loves ... indeed when in movie "I love you" said between a parent and a son/daughter gets translated as "Ti amo", that sounds weird to the extent of sounding a bit wrong.


Oh, I agree with you there. I was wondering myself why English has so few ways to convey "love"
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