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Love in Different Cultures of the World Exploratory Essay


Analysis of the Word

In most cultures of the world, love is something that is highly cherished. As Anker (2004) notes, most of the world’s cultures lay a lot of emphasis on love. The culture from which this word was taken is not different. Swahili culture is found along the coast of Kenya and Tanzania, which are two neighboring countries in Africa.

Penda has a very strong cultural sense and it raises emotions whenever it is mentioned. The word may not find its rightful meaning in English due to the meaning that is attached to it by this society. It is something that is almost worshipped, even though it is not always the case. It finds its closest meaning in the word love.

The sentence ‘nakupenda kipenzi’ is a heavily loaded word. It is an expression of a deep passion, a strong sense of adoration and the need to be together always. In a normal English phrase, it would translate to ‘I love you my love’. Taken in its real context, it is beyond this English word. The love is close to worship.

The society in which this word was taken value romance. They value relationships between couples. They generated other words to describe the feeling that two individuals would develop towards each other when in love and the best word that came out among the rest was penda. In pronunciation, the word should come out in a hushed up tone, with a sense of romance.

Penda should be the right pronunciation. The first syllable should come out with a flat intonation, followed by a falling intonation just to bring emotions attached to the word.

The love for romance saw them restrict the use of the word hence limiting its use to express the feelings between two lovers and one’s love for the country. Chomsky (1973) says that this society strongly believed that the word could only be used to show one is ready to sacrifice his or her life for the sake of that which he or she is expressing his or her feelings.

The word penda was used selectively and in rare occasions. In fact, Gouran, Wiethoff and Doelger (1994) report that the society never tolerated people who misused the word. The word was meant for special occasions to express strong and genuine convictions towards certain people, one’s country or something of value.

As Meyer and Bock (1992) note, in its original context, this word could only be used when talking about issues that the society in general valued. This meant that it could not be used in reference to things the society considered childish or of lesser value (Andriacco, 2001).

Words such as ‘Sara anapenda doli’ (Sara loves dolls), would therefore lack meaning. This is because the society never valued this item and it was something that was associated with young children who were taken not to know what love really meant.

This word was used to express the deepest feelings. Schutz (1958) lamented that English vocabulary is limited of words. As used in the sentence ‘Charles na Joan wanapendana’ (Charles and Joan are in love), this sentence expresses the strong bond built out of a strong feeling of the need to belong together.

The sentence, Wale ni wapendanao (Those are lovers) has this emotional touch but from an observer’s standpoint. This is the same meaning of the sentence, ‘naipenda nchi yangu’ (I love my country). Patriotism was then a cherished virtue in the society.

Patriots of war were generously rewarded for their contribution in protecting the society. In many societies, just like in this society, love for ones country was a virtue that was encouraged because it was only through this that an individual would be in a position to defend the country if need would arise (Zueschner, 1997). For that matter, the word has the correct traditional meaning.

As time went by, this society started mingling with other societies. New things that never existed before came into existence. Words had to be developed to express the new feeling or name new objects (Stern, & Weinrib, 1978).

There was need to expand the meaning of existing words to accommodate the diversified culture due to interactivity of many cultures in this cosmopolitan region. The word had to take a relaxed meaning. It had to be used to express the feeling of liking. As Tannen (1990) notes, the word was diluted along the way.

Sentences such as Alex anapenda Manchester United (Alex loves Manchester United FC), and Solomoni apenda kuzuru. (Solomoni loves tours and travels) gained acceptance. The society had to relax its meaning of this word (Trenholm, 1995).

In the current society, the word has assumed quite a liberal meaning. Although it remains a single word expressing love or adoration in the best way possible, the word can now be used to express simple liking of things within the society.

The two sentences, Solomoni apenda kuzuru. (Solomoni loves tours and travels), Waamerika wanapenda amani (Americans love peace), and Napenda chai. (I love tea), reflect this. The sentences show a liking of an item but not to the point of adoration.

References

Andriacco, D. (2001). Screen saved: Peril and promise of media in ministry. Cincinnati, OH: Saint Anthony Messenger Press & Franciscan Communications.

Anker, R. M. (2004). Catching light: Looking for God in the movies. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Chomsky, N. (1973). Focus on the learner. Rowley, Massachusetts: Newbury House.

Gouran, D., Wiethoff, G., & Doelger, J. (1994). Mastering communication(2nd ed). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Meyer, A. & Bock, K. (1992). The tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon: Blocking or partial activation? Memory Cognition, 20(1), 715-726.

Schutz, W. (1958). Firo: A three-dimensional theory of interpersonal behavior. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Stern, H. & Weinrib, A. (1978). Language teaching and linguistics: Surveys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tannen, D. (1990). You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation. New York: William Morrow.

Trenholm, S. (1995). Thinking through communication: An Introduction to the study of human communication. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Zueschner, R. (1997). Communicating Today. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Maitai J. (2011). An in-depth analysis of Swahili culture. Nairobi. McMillan Publishers Limited.

Appendix – Examples in Sentence

  1. Nakupenda kipenzi. (I love you my love) Source: Maitai J. (2011). An in-depth analysis of Swahili culture. Nairobi. McMillan Publishers Limited. (p. 25)
  2. Napenda chai. (I love tea) Source: Maitai J. (2011). An in-depth analysis of Swahili culture. Nairobi. McMillan Publishers Limited. (p. 31)
  3. Charles na Joan wanapendana. (Charles and Joan are in love). Source: Maitai J. (2011). An in-depth analysis of Swahili culture. Nairobi. McMillan Publishers Limited. (p. 21)
  4. Alex anapenda Manchester United. (Alex loves Manchester United FC) Source: Maitai J. (2011). An in-depth analysis of Swahili culture. Nairobi. McMillan Publishers Limited. (p. 45)
  5. Solomoni apenda kuzuru. (Solomoni loves tours and travels) Source: Maitai J. (2011). An in-depth analysis of Swahili culture. Nairobi. McMillan Publishers Limited. (p. 78)
  6. Isaac anapenda siasa. (Isaac loves politics) Source: Maitai J. (2011). An in-depth analysis of Swahili culture. Nairobi. McMillan Publishers Limited. (p. 23)
  7. Waamerika wanapenda amani. (Americans loves peace) Source: Maitai J. (2011). An in-depth analysis of Swahili culture. Nairobi. McMillan Publishers Limited. (p. 78)
  8. Sara anapenda doli. (Sara loves dolls) Source: Maitai J. (2011). An in-depth analysis of Swahili culture. Nairobi. McMillan Publishers Limited. (p. 19)
  9. Wale ni wapendanao. (Those are lovers) Source: Maitai J. (2011). An in-depth analysis of Swahili culture. Nairobi. McMillan Publishers Limited. (p. 71)
  10. Naipeda nchi yangu. (I love my country) Source: Maitai J. (2011). An in-depth analysis of Swahili culture. Nairobi. McMillan Publishers Limited. (p. 63)
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IvyPanda. "Love in Different Cultures of the World." March 27, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/love-in-different-cultures-of-the-world/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Love in Different Cultures of the World." March 27, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/love-in-different-cultures-of-the-world/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Love in Different Cultures of the World'. 27 March.

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