– They are so love-love!
– What are you saying?!
– Ah! You mean lovey-dovey!
– Lovey… Dovey?
Love is everywhere. Or so you would think when you set foot in Japan, where we celebrate Valentine’s day and White Day, and where Christmas is a celebration for couples. In reality, Japanese people are rather shy when it comes to saying the 3 little words that hold a big meaning – “I love you”.
You might think it’s silly, but the Japanese seem to rely on a telepathic connection of some sort to let their chosen one know their feelings. Yes, you are supposed to guess if someone loves you or not, hence all the drama broadcast by Japanese television showing us how relationships are so complicated because people are, well… not communicating.
Origins of Love-Love (ラブラブ)
If you look back in history, Japanese vocabulary for love existed but was always surrounded with mystery and a touch of embarrassment. As foreign languages became more often used in Japan, a lot of Japanese sweet words and words related to love were, one after another, replaced by loaned words, the vast majority being borrowed from English.
In this new repertoire, you will find the famous expression love-love (ラブラブ), a slang built on the English word “love” and is read as “rabu rabu”, describing a couple (カップル) being lovey-dovey.
Other Loan words related to Love
Asking someone out can be overwhelming and some Japanese will prefer to write a love letter (ラブレター) to confess their feelings. You are very often lovey-dovey with your boyfriend (ボーイフレンド) or your girlfriend (ガールフレンド) during a date (デート). And when you start to get intimate you often share a kiss (キス) or two, leaving from time to time a discreet kiss mark (キスマーク). The romance (ロマンス) is best expressed in a gentle hug (ハグ).
Additionally, when the affection is thought to be eternal, it is time for a marriage proposal (プロポーズ). After which our lovey-dovey couple becomes fiancé (フィアンセ) to one another before a beautiful wedding (ウエディング). The bride will have an incredible wedding dress (ウエディングドレス) and the newlywed couple will leave for their honeymoon (ハネムーン). Probably in Hawaii.
Traditional Japanese words related to Love
It goes without saying that the loan words and slang expressions are often used among younger generations and that for some of them, the original Japanese love-related words are still very much used, such as:
– Boyfriend: 彼氏, kareshi
– Girlfriend: 彼女, kanojyo
– Lover: 恋人, koibito
– Marriage: 結婚式, kekkonshiki
– Fiancé:婚約者, konyakusha
– To kiss: ちゅうする, chuu suru
The original Japanese vocabulary related to love can be too outdated to be used in the daily life. Using them without thinking could create quite an awkward moment.
– To hug: 抱きしめる, dakishimeru
– A kiss: 接吻, seppun
Let’s return to our slang expression love-love and practice Japanese! “Rabu rabu”, ラブラブ, belongs to the casual speech and therefore, you should use it with your friends and close ones.
Ａ：Chotto ano futari mite.
Ｂ：Uwaa, rabu rabu dane.
A: Hey, check out that couple.
B: Wow, they sure are lovey-dovey.
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If you want to learn how to say I love you in Japanese, just check our previous blog post about the many ways to confess your feelings to your Japanese lover! Then, be sure to check out our blog on how to say dating in Japanese!