The most powerful language of love
You may love someone dearly, but what does it mean to “really” love someone? Isn’t “I love you” enough? Love is a private matter between individuals. But when we give love a social context, it is a different story.
In an election season, aspiring politicians always sing love songs to woo voters. But if politicians feel that they have to speak about love in order to communicate, it is as if the relationship is grounded in hypocrisy and lies.
It’s a problem if talking about love helps politicians win votes even though they are not interested in love or any other emotion. Maybe that’s why the public trust is crumbling.
These thoughts occurred to me while I was watching “Opera Star,” a reality show where pop singers sing classical opera. During the show, the MC, the judges and the contestants repeatedly used the adverb “really” in every sentence. It seemed as if I were living in a really strange world where no conversation could take place without the word “really.”
The MC said things such as, “Last week, you wore a really red outfit and sang like a real player, but this time, you sang like a really serious man” and “You have the smile of a real angel. But when you speak, your voice is really low and deep. If the song was really unstable last time, today’s performance was really great.” It has really become a habit. And not just in entertainment.
A few days ago, President Lee Myung-bak gave a press conference about corruption scandals involving people close to him, and he said, “My heart is really heavy.” Maybe he thought that if he had just said his heart felt heavy, instead of really heavy, citizens wouldn’t have believed him so he added the word “really.”
“Really” is not the only problematic word. Adjectives such as “very,” “greatly,” “extremely” and “totally” are also used excessively. Language is a mirror that reflects the manners and ways of an era, and we may be living in an era of excessive language, when we cannot convey our intentions with normal expressions. We may be in an age of false emotion without trust.
When you love someone, say “I love you.” If your heart is heavy, say, “My heart is heavy.” Saying you “really love” someone or your heart is “really heavy” does not make your love stronger or your heart heavier. It only adds suspicion that what you say may not be true. Moderate and refined words are the most powerful language.
by Bae Myung-bok
* The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.