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'Ai shiteru' and 'I love you' - different concepts?

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  • 'Ai shiteru' and 'I love you' - different concepts?

    My g/f freely uses 'I love you' and it's Russian equivalent, but refuses to say 'ai ____eru', and she had asked me not to say it either. She says it's a different concept and she does not like the thought that what we are experiencing is 'ai ____eru'.

    I would love to understand what do you guys think.

    Of note, my earlier South Korean g/f did not mind using 'saran heyo' of whatever it is in Korean for 'I love you'

  • #2
    I think the problem here is that you dear lady doesn't understand what "I love you" means in English.

    Either that, or she's leading you along old son. She could be avoiding 'ai ____eru' as it might signify to others that she intends to marry you, or hopes it's your intention.

    Sorry, but my wife says there's no difference.
    Last edited by ballbags; 2004-10-15, 11:37 PM.

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    • #3
      Thanks... well, she speaks fluent English (near native) so I'd guess she understands the meaning of 'I love you'.

      As for leading me alone... we both know that we both want the marriage, and I am planning to propose some time next year. All our friends realise it, too. So there should be no reason to lead me...

      What's the concept of 'ai ____eru' anyway? Is it close to what we westerners put into it, or is it closer to 'I am ready to devotedly perform my spousal duties'?

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      • #4
        From what I hear, ai ____eru is just not commonly said by Japanese because it's just not expressed as frequently and casually as I love you in English. But the meaning is exactly the same. Maybe your gf is more comfortable saying it in English and other languages because it's a more common phrase in those languages.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ktothet
          From what I hear, ai ____eru is just not commonly said by Japanese because it's just not expressed as frequently and casually as I love you in English. But the meaning is exactly the same. Maybe your gf is more comfortable saying it in English and other languages because it's a more common phrase in those languages.
          My girlfriend says the same thing. Your girlfriend probably just fells akward about the one phrase. I love you is so commonly used in English..

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          • #6
            Originally posted by madmaxxam
            My girlfriend says the same thing. Your girlfriend probably just fells akward about the one phrase. I love you is so commonly used in English..
            Sorry, but she feels awkward about using her own language??

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            • #7
              Originally posted by ballbags
              Sorry, but she feels awkward about using her own language??
              Just because a word or phrase is a part of one's native language doesn't mean one is automatically comfortable saying it. There are plenty of phrases in English that I can't say because they make me feel embarrassed or uncomfortable because of the connotations associated with them or other embedded cultural meaning. In fact, "I love you" falls into that category, so is it that hard to beleive?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by ballbags
                Sorry, but she feels awkward about using her own language??
                Yeah, Maki has no trouble saying "F**k this" or "F**k" that in front of her parents, but lets face it, when I was still able to be around them, I felt quite uncomfortable using such language, even though I knew they don't understand. I mean, let's face it, there are some social situations in which you really know you shouldn't be using certain words. It's hard to break old habits, and if it's not expected to use certain language in a relationship in one language, but it is in another language... well you do the math. It's not about using her own language, it's that the words aren't necessarily an exact translation due to cultural differences. For example, I can be drunk and tell my male friends "I love you man.", but I don't think I'd get drunk and tell my Japanese friends 愛している。 I find myself constantly saying this to people in real life and on the web, but... "THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK!!!" Really, it's easy to make yourself look dumb.

                Edit: And especially with a name like ballbags...
                Last edited by madmaxxam; 2004-10-17, 01:48 AM. Reason: your name

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                • #9
                  Ai____eru/daisuki

                  In the early days of my relationship, I found Ai ____eru in a book (my Japanese at this point was non-existent) and decided the time was right to say it to my girlfriend. While she seemed pleased, it wasn't something she was ready to say, despite being able to say "I love you", so I can see where you're coming from. She reckoned at this early stage it was too early to say, and implied that this word was reserved for a depth of love that only comes with time. So in these early days, she'd use 'daisuki' instead, which doesn't quite stretch to I love you, but implies some hardcore affection...

                  After a month or so more, as things grew between us, Ai ____eru steadily became the norm. So it obviously has a certain weight to it.

                  Having said that, that might not be a cultural difference, so much as an individual thing, some people can bandy 'I love you' around pretty easily, where others are pretty loathe to say it, for fear of any number of things, from sounding too clingy, to just being cliched., to not being sure that they actually do...

                  If you two are talking about being together in the long run, though, maybe it is just a problem she has with the over use of the word itself. Maybe its become less meaningful too her than the english equivalent?

                  If she speaks good english though (i'm assuming at a higher level than your japanese?) why not try to find out exactly what the issue is, and why she doesn't want to feel that she's experiencing Ai ____eru? The worst you'll endure is three days of icy silence

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                  • #10
                    Thanks a lot guys for the interesting opinions. Gave me a good food for thought.

                    I think Coaxialjack hits close to the reality when he says that the Japanese phrase might have lost some meaning for her. I asked her last night to explain to me why she felt so, and she said 'everyone says ai ____eru - on TV, in families, in songs...' so basically she explained to me that 'I love you' and the Russian phrase felt unique for her.

                    I guess I understand her - I said this thing in Russian to so many different women in my life that the phrase rings a bit hollow to me now (in Russian) - or if not hollow, it has association with specific relationships in the past, and these relationships tend to pop up suddenly in my head when I say it.

                    So my guess is, she might not want to be reminded of her Japanese ex-husband every time we say 'ai ____eru'... maybe.

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                    • #11
                      I've got a different take on this. Japanese people don't say ai____eru. They'll say something like anatanokoto ga suki/daisuki desu, but they don't say ai____eru. I've never seen a Japanese person actually say this, probably because it is too direct. And just hearing it is probably embarrassing for them.
                      Let's face it, Japanese isn't a sexy language, and if you're going to make pillow talk, English is much more appropriate.

                      I may have said ai____eru early on in my Japanese language learning, but after enough negative reactions I've eliminated it from my vocabulary. I love you is also thrown around in English more than most Japanese care for, so I limit that one to special occasions.

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                      • #12
                        I heard that in old Japan, people never said they loved their partner, just because it was assumed they naturally loved their partner. They used to think that when they got married, they became one person -- so in the words of Tina Turner, "What's Love Got To Do With It"? Just imagine -- if I walked on to a bus and suddenly proclaimed: "I'm breathing oxygen!" everyone would say: "What are you talking about, fool? Of course you're breathing oxygen, we all are. Why bother telling us about it?" So from a traditional Japanese point of view, if a lover tells a beloved that he loves her/him, it sounds strange and exhibitionist. It sounds decadent and western. Traditional Japanese would think: "Why would you marry someone/or be with someone, if you didn't love them? And if you do love them, you don't have to talk about it -- your love should be obvious and apparent." I agree with that - talking about love only ruins it. I think the famous Icelandic singer Bjork would agree with me on that.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Code Rot
                          I heard that in old Japan, people never said they loved their partner, just because it was assumed they naturally loved their partner. They used to think that when they got married, they became one person -- so in the words of Tina Turner, "What's Love Got To Do With It"? Just imagine -- if I walked on to a bus and suddenly proclaimed: "I'm breathing oxygen!" everyone would say: "What are you talking about, fool? Of course you're breathing oxygen, we all are. Why bother telling us about it?" So from a traditional Japanese point of view, if a lover tells a beloved that he loves her/him, it sounds strange and exhibitionist. It sounds decadent and western. Traditional Japanese would think: "Why would you marry someone/or be with someone, if you didn't love them? And if you do love them, you don't have to talk about it -- your love should be obvious and apparent." I agree with that - talking about love only ruins it. I think the famous Icelandic singer Bjork would agree with me on that.
                          Beautiful. Even though I suspect there had been quite a few arranged marriages in the old Japan. Just like anywhere else.

                          Could it be that 'duty' was more important at that time then 'love'?

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                          • #14
                            Ok, I'll throw my 2cents in here. My girlfriend never says 'ai ____eru', however she uses 'daisuki' constantly. Since we usually speak only Japanese together I've started to say 'daisuki' as well. Strangely enough we use 'I love you' when we're being more serious or romantic, I guess language can evolve depending on the couple?

                            I've heard from various people that ai ____eru is kind of old fashioned, kind of like Shakespearian English, one doesn't use it because it sounds too flowery or poetic or something like that. Same with utsukushii, it's not usually used to describe a woman's beauty, nowadays people say kirei, or kawaii, etc.

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                            • #15
                              Shocked

                              My ex used the 3 magic words back in UK after our 3rd date....needless to say I was shocked...

                              She was very embarassed....but as we dated for nearly 3 years then it became something to say in certain circumstances.....never did we say this in any japanese form....

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