Writers are of course fascinated with words and their meanings.
Some write as conventionally as possible and others create and give new meanings to words. Poets are fond of creating new sensations.
And from time to time, I'm taken back to the subject of words, not as a grammatical study but as a concentration on words as to their cultural significance and as though they were physical pieces of art.
This week, a certain experience with a word brought me back to this fascination that sometimes comes over me.
A women whom I have become acquainted with who hardly understands English and is of Spanish background attempts to speak English not as one who studied the language, but as a direct translation of Spanish, just as one of my Swedish relatives after some years in this country uses English words as things inserted into a row of other things rather than as total thoughts.
Let me explain further. I asked about a common friend and my Spanish friend said, “he has affection for me.” And I could see more pleasure in her eyes and smile than in the words “he has affection,” “affection for me.”
What do I make of it. The sentence was about him more than about her. “He has affection.” Who does he have affection for? “For me.”
Would a person of American culture put it in this way and so directly? Would she say “he has love for me, or that he loves me or he likes me?”
I don't think that she'd say that he has love for her. Nor would she say to me as her friend, that “this guy's got affection for me.” She'd more likely say that this “guy is interested in me or that we are friends or in today's terms when it gets more serious that “we're dating.”
But “he as affection for me” indicates another kind of relationship and appreciation. “He has affection for me” is not a common English expression, but for this week, I find it a fascinating and gentle injection into the English language.
Now, I can say that I have many friends for whom I have affection, both men and woman. And this affection doesn't involve dating. Affection used in this way has a great deal of significance and many pleasant meanings. I can now say that my father had great affection for me and I for him.
So a word, is a word, is a word may not apply as readily as it does to a rose, that is always a rose.