In English, we might call someone “the apple of my eye,” “my soulmate,” “my ride or die,” or “bae.” What about in other languages? On the occasion of Valentine’s Day here in the U.S., we asked our multilingual team members to share words used to describe one’s sweetheart (and record their voices pronouncing the words!).
In Arabic, we might say حبيبي (“habibi”), حبيب قلبي – my heart’s love (“habib gelbi”), عمري or حياتي—meaning “my life.” Another phrase is “يا بعد شبدي”. The word “shabdi” comes from “kabdi” which means “my liver.” Here’s my best explanation: the liver is an important organ and you don’t want to live without it…so people will call their lover “shabdi” (my liver) or say “ya ba’ad shabdi” to mean something like “I can’t live without you/I hope to die before you because you are so essential in my life.”
They also say طوايفي. In colloquial Arabic, it means “my family/ancestors/tribe”–again, people say “ya ba’ad To-why-a-fee” to mean “I hope to die before you.” This is definitely not an exhaustive list (we love our sweethearts so much that there are too many names to list here!)
In short, the Japanese language doesn’t have a word for “sweetheart” or “my [anything]”. The word “恋人” (koibito = lover) is a term to express intimate/romantic role of the other person. However, this word is not used to address someone verbally. If people choose to, they might make up their own monikers for their special someone. Those monikers may be the closest way to display their affection. They may say “ソールメイト” (sooru meito = soulmate) but it’s just reading the word (soulmate) in Japanese from the Katakana form which is often used to conveniently manifest non-Japanese words/concepts.
Too many variations to name them all! That said, Koreans have been adopting English words into everyday Korean lexicon to convey these meanings. So,
- Soulmate would be “소울메이트” (literal transliteration of the English word)
- Darling would be “달링”
- We also say “자기야”—the colloquial expression for both genders that means something like “honey” (I laugh because this word is really hard to pin down the meaning for!).
Here are a few Spanish words and phrases:
“Mi cielo” (my sky), “Mi osito de peluche” (my teddy bear), “Mi amor” (my love), “Mi corazón” (my heart), “Mi vida” (my life).
In Turkish, we could say:
hayatım (my life), ömrüm (also to mean “my life”—ömür is the total duration of time a person has on earth), canım (my dear), bir tanem / bitanem (my only one), sevgilim (my sweetheart), aşkım (my love), iki gözümün çiçeği (the flower of my two eyes).
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