Are you and your partner from different countries, yet fluent in each other’s native tongue (or at least able to carry on a conversation, if not fluent)?
What language do you use to show each other affection, and why?
Language is often the best way to a romantic partner’s heart. Hearing the soothing inflections of one’s home language can arouse or soothe by tapping into a reservoir of emotionally infused memories. Words may be the prelude to a first kiss; they could make up a phrase uttered when partners affectionately touch each other. Language may infuse scenes from a whirlwind love affair.
And language can set up expectations.
But what adaptations and accommodations come into play when you’re in an intercultural/multilingual relationship? How do you whisper sweet nothings into your partner’s ear?
Do you use terms of endearment in the other’s native tongue when you want to show deeper affection? Do you use your spouse’s language (or do they use yours) because it may sound “prettier,” and therefore more romantic? Are there gradations of romantic love designated in your partner’s language but not in yours?
For a Valentine’s Day project about language and love, The Times is inviting readers who’ve had past or present multilingual or cross-cultural relationships to share stories of how they communicate affection.
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