It was thanks to this influx from French and Latin (it’s often hard to tell which was the original source of a given word) that English acquired the likes of crucified, fundamental, definition and conclusion […] There were even writerly sorts who proposed native English replacements for those lofty Latinates, and it’s hard not to yearn for some of these: in place of crucified, fundamental, definition and conclusion, how about crossed, groundwrought, saywhat, and endsay?

Why is English so weirdly different from other languages?

In a nutshell, if not for the French/Latin influence, English vocabulary would operate more like German, which has words like prejoy (Vorfreude), foreignshame (Fremdschämen) harmjoy (Schadenfreude), withsuffering (Mitleid), and foreignerhostility (Ausländerfeindlichkeit).

Take the English word lovesick. It is a normal, commonly used if somewhat colloquial word that’s Germanesque in the way it describes its meaning perfectly: lovesick is the negative feeling of physical, mental and emotional un-wellness resulting from unrequited love or rejection from someone you love.

It’s always wondering where they are, what they’re doing, who they’re with.

It’s thinking there’s a chance that they are HERE and spending the rest of the time looking – earnestly, pretend-nonchalantly – for them.

It’s wondering if they’re thinking about you, looking for you, hoping to see you.

It’s listening for their key to turn in the door, listening for their footsteps.

It’s willing them to look at you, walk towards you, knock on your door.

It’s repeatedly checking your email/phone for a reply from them.

It’s longing to and being afraid to close the short distance to them.

It’s constantly replaying their voice and their laugh in your head.

It’s pining. It’s more than distracting – it’s paralysing. It robs you of your sleep and your appetite. It changes your routine and your behaviour.

Most importantly, it holds you back because it – this, this feeling, YOUR feelings – cannot move forward, because in this life and in this world there is no possibility of being together in the way you want. But as long as these feelings persist, they prevent you from carrying on with your life as you otherwise would. And that is precisely the dictionary definition – uh, the wordbook saywhat – of being sick.

2 thoughts on “lovesick

  1. It is interesting to see what German does to a person, or in fact, any foreign language that one learns. I have similar encounters with all the languages that I speak, they always make me rethink how my own native language (German), and of course the other languages became to what they are today, where frases were borrowed and concepts stolen. Sometimes, I even ask myself why some concepts are so hard to describe in one language, where it seems so easy in another.

    • Learning a foreign language certainly makes us take the mechanisms and quirks of our native tongue less for granted. I think you’d find the article linked to in this blog post QI – It dispels some of the urban legends about English that tend to be passed around.

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