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I'm a 21-year-old journalism student. I spent last semester living in Florence, Italy. These are my adventures.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Diversity Diary #7

While the most obvious cultural difference here is the language, there is also something to be said about the nuances of words within that language barrier.
In intercultural communication we've talked about the difference between translation and interpretation.
For instance, "house" translates to "casa" in Italian. Simple enough. However, the only translation for "home" is also "casa." In the U.S. a house is the mere physical building in which a group of people resides, while a home is the environment and relationships inside that give the building a more emotional meaning. In the Italian language, the two are not differentiated. I find that absolutely fascinating. Is it because one can assume that a house contains a home? Or do Italians just talk about their house using adjectives to capture the meaning of a home?
The same lack of differentiating words exists in the English language as well. "Love"is an incredibly versatile word in English used for anything from your partner for life, to a good friend, to your sister, to the stranger behind you who offers a dime when you don't have enough for your coffee.
One can hear "I love you!" in so many different situations.
In Italian, there are different words to express this.
"Ti voglio bene," directly translates to "I want you good" and is often shortened to T.V.B.
T.V.B. is the version of "I love you" used for siblings, friends and parents. "Ti amo," which directly translates to "I love you" is reserved for lovers and soulmates.
Knowing the importance of differentiating between friend love and "love love" says a lot about a culture that many consider romantic.
I feel like separating these loves helps to shape a culture itself. I have to wonder what the U.S. would be like if friend and soulmate love were recognized as completely different ideas in the English language.

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