It’s not true that the Inuit have hundreds of words for snow (although I’m told that they give great hugs), but the phenomenon of focal vocabulary is very real. What we tend to deal with more than others develops its own, granulated lexicon that isn’t used by and isn’t useful to people who don’t have to describe a subject in great detail.
Artists have words for color that the rest of us don’t need. Programmers speak of multiple programming languages, multiple types of data, but a normal computer user just clicks an icon. Hobbyist gamers know of many more types of dice than the usual cubes. Writers have many types of character, poets many types of rhyme.
Why do lovers only have one word for love?
We love, all of us, every day. We swim in love, we live in love, we are propelled by and held back by love. We are lovers, every one of us. Why do we not have more words for it? Sure, a trip to a thesaurus turns up a list of synonyms, but none of them suit my purposes. Traveling back to ancient Greek gives us more roots, but still I need more grain in my descriptions. I find myself, lately, needing words that for some reason have never existed in any language, but I think surely they should.
I need a word that says “I love you like someone I’ve always known and never knew it. I’ve always loved you, I just had to meet you to find out.”
I need a word for, “I love you, not like I love her, but not like I love my good friend here, either.”
I need to say, “I love you, and I love him/her, and I’m terrified of one love harming the other.”
I need to be able to say, “I love the parts of you that I know, and I don’t know you very well, but I’d love to find out if I love the rest.”
“I love you like you were my parent.”
“Even though you are my parent, I love you like a brother. Sometimes, I think, I love you like I was your father.”
“I love you like a brother, but not like I love my brother”
“I love you, Z, because you’re my brother, but damn you’re exasperating sometimes.”
“I don’t even know you but I love you with all my heart and it hurts me so much when you hurt yourself.”
“I loved you. I love you. I wish I’d known you better”
I have twice needed to say, “I love you with all my heart, but it is destroying me to stay with you, and it will destroy me slightly less to leave, and I hate, I hate, I hate that I have to do what I have to do, and if you hate me for it that will make two of us.” I hope that I never need to say it again, but if I do it would be nice to have a word for it.
I need to say, “I love you for loving her the way that I couldn’t. Be better for her than I was.”
I have wanted to say, “I love you, not the way that you love me, but I love you. It is more/less/different than what you want, but please stay in my life and learn to accept what I have to give.”
I need to say, “I love you, fervently but quietly and always. It underpins everything I do, twining my life, and touching everything that I touch. You have moved and changed me in ways I will never more than barely realize, and I, as I am now, this gestalt Nick of the moment, would never have existed without you. I need you, not because I want you, but because I, this me that you see, could not else be. ”
I need a word for, “I love you and I want nothing more than for you to love me back.”
I love you.