Friday, February 14, 2003

Mr. Grammar Strikes

English is an impressively flexible language, it is true, but it is sadly weakest at the point of human strength. It ought to be possible, without sounding like a pedant, to distinguish between transitive and intransitive love. A lot of conversations would be very much simpler. A lot of times, one says, "I love you," but really means by it, "I have love for you,"--the intransitive notion, where the verb takes an indirect object. At the same time, the other, hearing the transitive "I actively love you," does not believe it. And, when the imperative form comes to us in the Gospel "Love one another," we allow ourselves to think what it really means is "Have love for one another."

Having love for someone is a fine and noble thing, and not always easy to do, as I noted about Osama the other day. Actively loving someone--that is, doing by your actions love--is very much harder. Hardest of all is confusing the one for the other.


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