The English vocabulary is arguably the largest and richest of all languages. So, why are there so many concepts with no word at all?
In particular, why is there no word for grown up people who are in a relationship that includes both friendship and sex, but neither children nor marriage? ‘Friend’ is too broad. ‘Special friend’ is too cute. ‘Girlfriend’ or ‘boyfriend’ is both inaccurate and insulting. ‘Mistress’ for woman … we won’t go there. The best one I’ve run into is my cousin Gamble’s term, ‘pelvic affiliate’, but that doesn’t really capture friendship.
I suspect that social inertia is involved … after all, such a relationship wouldn’t have been much discussed even thirty years ago. I’m tempted to make a new word up, since my story happens in 2050. I really need something to describe the relationship between my two protagonists, Joe Mayfield and Louise (Weezy) Napolitani. He’s 40, and she’s 36. The relationship built during my first novel, and, as Weezy thinks at one point, recalling a song lyric, “If it ain’t love, it ain’t bad.”
PS: This issue was neatly described by Professor Anne Curzan in a Teaching Company course called The Secret Life of Words. If you are a word mechanic, aka Writer, you will be made more capable by this wonderful dissection and explication of the enormous, colorful bag of tools we all use.
An interesting and unresolved dilemma. I suggest that if we are talking about each other’s spouses or two or more of our own (from various marriages), they should be referred to as our “spice.” I haven’t given much thought to the “significant other” nomenclature, since it is sci-fi (i.e., anything in the future is automatically sci-fi), how about creating a word like “frever” (could be “frover,” but it needs to rhyme with “ever” not “rover”)? It is a combination of “friend” and “lover,” and it implies a long term commitment, i.e., “forever,” although outside of marriage. If it’s just temporary or for one-nighters, perhaps “shlacker,” a slacker who shacks up. Come to think of it, maybe that’s a “frover,” a friend and lover, but a rover as well.
Some good further additions to our lexicon!
Pingback: Groped! … Help! | Pilgrimage
I started using the same term “pelvic affiliate” more than ten years ago to avoid the conflicts of political correctness, gender bias and same-sex/ambiguous relationships. Covering almost all possible sexual pairings and/or groupings, I employ the phrase frequently, often to the suprise of the listener. The look on their faces after hearing it for the first time as my intended meaning strikes them is quite amusing. This is usually followed my an akward moment of silence as their brains interpret the images the words elicit.