Whorfian hypothesis and the concept of love

In David Maybury-Lewis’ anthropological documentary entitled Strange Relations, it is explained that an agriculturalist tribe in Nimba, Africa does not use any equivalent of the Western expressions for love. In fact, for those people, the closest expression to our “I love you” is “I feel good in the heart for you.” This indicates that romantic love takes the form of a friendship, an alliance. The reason for this linguistic discrepancy is that the tribe has polyandry as the typical form of marriage, and when a women is married to a man she is automatically married to all his brothers as well. Her role is to assist them in agricultural every day chores. This way property is maintained within the family, which is considered the main determinant for status in the tribe. Their expression “I feel good in the heart for you” is a product of the fact that romantic favouritism towards one of the household’s brothers is strongly prohibited, as that would disrupt the balance and cohesiveness of the family. Norms and culture generate language, and vice versa.

Documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3C2z6PwVM0

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