Volume 6, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2214-3157
  • E-ISSN: 2214-3165
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Seen from a broad cross-linguistic perspective, the English verb is quite unusual because it has very broad scope: it can apply to a mother’s love, a husband’s love, a sister’s love, etc. without any restrictions whatsoever; and the same applies to its counterparts in many other European languages. Trying to locate the origins of this phenomenon, I have looked to the Bible. Within the Bible, I have found both continuity and innovation. In the Hebrew Bible, the verb ’, rendered in the Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint with the verb , implies a “preferential love”, e.g. it is used for a favourite wife of a favourite son. In the New Testament, the concept of ‘love’ loses the “preferential” components and thus becomes applicable across the board: between anybody and anybody else.

The paper argues that the very broad meaning of verbs like in English, in French, in German, etc. reflects a shared conceptual heritage of many European languages, with its roots in the New Testament; and it shows that by taking a semantic perspective on these historical developments, and exploring them through the rigorous framework of NSM and Minimal English, we can arrive at clear and verifiable hypotheses about a theme which is of great general interest, regardless of one’s own religious and philosophical views and commitments.


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