The language of love



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THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE

WHAT IS A LANGUAGE?

Language is the human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, and a language is any specific example of such a system. Human language relies entirely on social convention and learning. Its complex structure therefore affords a much wider range of possible expressions.

WHAT IS THE “LANGUAGE OF LOVE”?

The language of love refers to the expressions that humans use to speak about love. In particular, it consist in an individual communication in which the two express their feelings. The love considered in this language is the romantic love, and not the affection between parents and friends.

WHAT IS THE BACKGROUND IN WHICH THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE DEVELOPED?

The language of love developed strictly connected with Courtly love, at the start of the twelfth century in Provence. Courtly love was a medieval European conception of nobly and chivalrously expressing love and admiration. Generally, courtly love was secret and between members of the nobility. It was also generally not practiced between husband and wife. In essence, courtly love was an experience between erotic desire and spiritual attainment. It seems contradictory as "a love at once illicit and morally elevating, passionate and disciplined, humiliating and exalting, human and transcendent", but was an attempt to conciliate the religious and the laical vision of love. Courtly love was sang by troubadours, who were people who produce entertainment at court.

WHAT ARE THE FEATURES OF THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE?

Firstly, the language of love was the language used by troubadours in their lyrics. Poetry is the literature art in which this language was used. For this, the language of love implies some figures of speech, like metaphor and allegory, alliteration and assonance, but also climax and chiasm. Secondly, the min language in the Middle Ages was the religious language. So the language of love was influenced by this one. Indeed, the main semantic field is the light, whit the function to raise up the language into a divine layer, and it was possible to find several times words like “sin” or “saint”. Finally, it was the language of courtly love, so it transport this love into the text. Effectively, considering the lexical and the organizational levels, men were lower than the women, often connoted as a supernatural figure.

HOW THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE DEVELOPED IN THE RENAISSANCE?

After the expansion of the troubadours in Europe, courtly love and then its language diffused. In Italy, for example, there was the birth of the Sicilian school, by which some Italian poets learned the language of love and its features. Courtly love was the theme of several poetry works. Authors like Guinizzelli and Cavalcanti called “Dolce Stilnovo” the language with the same features of the language of love. It is possible to find some expressions of the “Dolce Stilnovo” in literally works like the “Divina Commedia” or the “Canzoniere”. The authors Alighieri and Petrarch developed the courtly love features, but the language of love remained the same. Another example was Shakespeare, who expanded the love into all its sides: he recalled courtly love, but also unrequited love, compassionate love and sexual love. He anyway used the language of love to debate this themes, like he did in Romeo and Juliet, a tragedy written with a poetical language.

HOW THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE IS USED TODAY?

Today the courtly love lost his value, but the language of love remained. In particular some of its expressions and features live today in modern poetry, especially the idea that man is caught by the women and the semantic field of light, while the religious though fall. Today the language of love remains only in poetry because social life is more open, so long courting are not necessary and the physic love is natural. Men are not lower than women, but are on the same level. Moreover, love is not the most important thing ( now the most important things are money, work…) and the soul is not as considered as active life.

WHY THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE IS USUALLY CONNECTED WITH POETRY?

I think there are two possible answer to this question.

First, poetry raise up its content. Indeed, figurative language permits to make universal some concepts. In the past it was necessary to spiritualize physic love, which was otherwise considered a sin. Today, physic love and sexual attraction are very natural, so poetry can be an attempt to not reduce love to a mere physical level, but to valorize the sentiment of love.

Secondly, poetry helps to speak about love. Indeed love is a sentiment, not-rational, so it is difficult to find the correct words to express own feelings. Figurative language helps to express something else in respect to the objective data, so it is the language nearest to feelings.


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