we need more words

Campanilismo — a word expressing allegiance, attachment, and pride in your town. Roughly it translates into love for your bell tower.

I learned this yesterday while sitting in on an Italian 1 class and the instructor, Luca (I love that name), asked if Americans have a similar word. Someone said patriotism (but that is for country); we tried to explain that the concept is there to a certain extent in regions (Texans are proud of that fact; Southerners and Northerners go out of their way to differentiate from each other; there is a west coast, east coast sensibility; etc.) but we lack a word that expresses that. Unless you can think of one?

The discussion re-awakened my belief in the limits of language. Last summer, I was struck by the lacking specificity of the word “love”. We use the same word for loving cats, friends, family, lovers, husbands, wives. Just love. The same is true of the word lonely. You can be lonely in a crowd, lonely alone, and the worst kind of lonely—lonely in love.

It is exquisite frustration so much meaning depends on context. Writing rewards when it overcomes the maddening ambiguities. I’ll keep trying to get it right here; my first public viewing of my words. It may not always be creative, or reasonable, but I’ll keep trying. And I love everyone’s feedback — public or not.

8 responses to “we need more words

  1. Civic pride?

  2. Maybe having just one word for love is best. I think I don’t want to categorize or prioritize my loves. Isn’t better to know that I love you and hot chocolate?

  3. We’d be more likely to have such a word, I think, if we had the concept. But I don’t think that American’s, at least, have those feelings to the same extent. We are a mobile socitety. We travel, are restless. We don’t have “campanilismo” (though I think we should start using it!) but we do have “wanderlust.”

    I have similar frustrations with words that I knew in French, for which there are no decent translations. It makes me understand why people lapse into foreign languages…

    And keep working on those words here! I’m enjoying reading them 🙂

  4. The most powerful love is motherly love, and I love you with all my heart. I love your words, your brilliant mind, and everything about you. I think gran kittie love is powerful also, and all the kitties are doing fine. Eric’s comments about “wanderlust” are so true and today I love my passport. I check the sideboard each day to make certain it is still there. New York city expressed ‘campanilismo’ with their “I Love NY” t-shirt. that is the only example that comes to mind (in America)

  5. Hey Julia, I’m a friend of Shelby’s and her site has a link to yours. I really like your writing style, and your perspectives are thought provoking. Shelby’s right, you certainly have a talent for articulation.
    I’m not sure that we need more words. I feel like we have so many words in the English language that say the same thing. This becomes a problem when I’m talking to people who don’t speak english as their first language. I’ll be talking to them and then realize I used a word they probably wouldn’t know, and I feel bad. I don’t like making them feel ignorant when they really do communicate clearly with me. The reverse happens too when I’m trying to speak Spanish, and I’m so used to using more complicated words, that I can’t think of the simple one to translate.
    However I agree with your first point that it’s sad that we don’t have a word that expresses pride in community. What I see there is perhaps a lack of value for the community. Maybe if we cared more about it, we’d create a word to express it. Maybe that will change. As a local city planner (in training) I certainly hope that it will 🙂

  6. Katie, I can see where you would really want campanilismo as an aspect. Thank goodness for city planners and all civic leaders in a community. I hope you nurture that spirit even if the word isn’t there.

  7. Julia, you are such a warm and welcoming person. No wonder Shelby raves about you 🙂

  8. Hey, I’m catching up on your journal entries today. I have also noticed your observation about the word LOVE. It can be a little strange sometimes; you might want to tell a friend that you love him/her, but perhaps don’t because you’re afraid that he/she will take it to mean romantic interest. Various “love” words would certainly come in handy. As a lover of words, I think there cannot be too many. The trick is in knowing how (and when) to use them. Or not.

    Hope you are well! Miss you! 🙂

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