What Does It Mean To Be A Language Lover? (Revealed)

Languages are constantly used by us in everything we do. They are our chief way of communicating. Many learn new languages for practical reasons, like for better career opportunities. However, some learn them for other purposes. These people are commonly talked about as being “language lovers”, prompting many to ask:

What does it mean to be a language lover?

To be considered a language lover one takes pleasure in learning and using a language. This primarily revolves around enjoying a language due to the culture linked to it. But a secondary factor would be appreciating the parts of a language, like grammar or vocabulary.

Any topic regarding languages is naturally complex, since languages are just as complicated as those who speak them. Starting with saying “language lover”, as it is an informal term, what do people normally call them? More importantly, why would someone be one to begin with? I’ll answer all of these questions and more down below.

What Is A Lover Of Languages Called?

To understand better what it means to be a language lover, we should first get our definitions squared away. For starters, what is even the appropriate way to describe a language lover? What term refers to those who love a specific language?

Someone who is a lover of languages is commonly called a linguaphile. A linguaphile is one who studies a language out of fondness for it, and a language lover is one with closeness to a particular language. They are not always interchangeable, but they can be used to mean the same thing.

Others describe language lovers as language enthusiasts, or sometimes polyglots.

A lot of these terms, like linguaphile, tend to be vague and end up referring to many different definitions. This is why it’s always important to define our terms.

When using terms like linguaphile, or just “lover of languages”, in this context it normally alludes to an attachment to a particular language. There can be more than one attachment, and as such a “lover of languages” or linguaphile can be used plurally.

If we understand a little bit more about how to classify those with affinity to a specific language, we should then move on to why someone would have such an attachment in the first place. Why would someone be a language lover, or linguaphile?

Why Would Someone Be A Linguaphile, Or A Lover Of Languages?

Putting aside what we should call them, we can now focus on what it really means to be a language lover. We should ask ourselves: why would someone be a linguaphile, or more specifically a language lover?

The reason why someone would be a language lover is due to a genuine love for the culture of a particular language. One must not only find affinity towards a particular language, namely it’s aspects like grammar and vocabulary, but also its culture to be a language lover.

This is due to culture and language being inextricably linked, you cannot have one without the other.

  • Culturethe beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time
  • Language: the system of words or signs that people use to express thoughts and feelings within that culture

By nature, these two things come together. One can’t have beliefs expressed without the use of language, nor does a language have anything to express without the beliefs and customs that come from culture.

In this article, it suggests that multilingual individuals (those who know more than two languages) will act slightly differently in accordance with the culture of the language they switched to. There is transmission of culture through learning the language they speak and it comes out when even non-native use them.

Both definitions of Language and Culture are provided by Merriam-Webster (links lead to Merriam-Webster’s definitions)

The answer to why someone would be a language lover, and what it means to be one, comes to the same conclusion. They both revolve around culture, but why would anyone find a particular culture appealing? To find one as being more appealing naturally implies others lack something.

Why does the culture of one language make it more preferable than others?

Why Would Culture Encourage A Love For Languages?

One can enjoy a culture, and in turn love a language, for a variety of reasons. These generally center around three factors of a culture:

  • Value
    • the beliefs, religion, and philosophies of a culture
  • Tradition
    • the practices, customs, and ways of life of a culture
  • History
    • the lush and deep history that surrounds a culture

Notice how culture is always related to how a certain group of people interact with each other, thus their language used will be unique to them.

Some languages are inherently better in some aspects than others when it comes to its value and traditions. It can even be said that some cultures develop better beliefs and practices. This leads some languages to be “loved” more often than others.

When it comes specifically to history, and some types of customs, someone could theoretically love any culture (and in turn any language).

Despite a somewhat subjective nature, there tends to be cultures that are held above others because they hold the most good regarding it’s value, traditions, and history. Though some will want to argue about which cultures these are from their perspective, that goes beyond the scope of this article.

We should now be able to see how a love for language will spring from a love for its culture no matter which ranked list you particularly hold.

If you wouldn’t mind becoming a language lover yourself, then check out my articles all relating to language learning.

What Do You Call Someone Who Likes To Learn A Language?

We’ve talked about those who “love” a particular language, commonly referred to as a linguaphile, but there are those who just like learning languages in general. Many wonder what would be the appropriate name to call them, and what would make some enjoy the act of learning a language so much.

Starting with the former we’ll ask the question: what do you call someone who likes to learn languages?

Linguist is the normal term used when referring to those who like to learn languages. A linguist is one who studies languages, and this definition adequately corresponds in describing someone liking to learn languages. Even more so for those who learn them just for the sake of learning them.

As it is with linguaphile, terms like linguists are used in all sorts of ways. In our context we are merely referring to someone studying language, and in turn learning them for the sake of the language itself.

If that is the case, why would someone be a “linguist”? And, how is this any different than being considered a language lover?

Why Would Someone Like to Learn A Language?

Akin to discussing why someone would be a language lover, we should now talk about why some would like to learn a language. Thus, we should consider: why would someone like to learn a language?

A individual can enjoy learning a language because of two reasons:

  • The language itself
    • This refers to liking a part of a specific language, for instance enjoying learning English for its vast vocabulary or Japanese due to its unique writing system.
  • The act of learning a language
    • If this is the case, then no specific language matters, but rather the general process of acquiring language does.

Enjoying learning a language, because of the parts of it, is much closer to what a linguaphile would think.

Where we see a significant difference is with liking the act of learning a language. With this we should explore the differences between liking to learn, and loving a language.

The Difference In Liking To Learn A Language, And Loving It

How could a language lover and someone who likes learning languages be different? What is the difference between liking to learn a language, and loving it?

The significant difference between liking to learn a language and loving one is that one deals with the abstract and the other relates to the concrete. Liking to learn a language means to love the idea of language learning. Whereas a language lover favors a particular language itself.

Not everyone believes this way, but a sizable portion of those who say they like to learn languages are really referring to the concept of it. They are in love with the idea of learning a language, but not the language itself.

This isn’t exclusive to language learning either, loving the idea over the actual thing is not uncommon. The same can be said for those who say that they would like to be a Doctor. Most of the time they are in love being called a Doctor, not actually being one.

Some might like to say they know “x” amount of languages, but might not like any of the languages more than another.

This is where loving a particular language is different. By loving the culture and parts of a language, it brings a special attachment that no other language can replace.

Instead of being enamored with the idea of learning one, linguaphiles like both learning them and the language itself.

What Does A Language Enthusiast Mean?

If we now know more about what a language lover is, and how we can classify them as linguaphiles, what would a language enthusiast mean then?

An informal term, akin to language lover, a language enthusiast is one who loves and studies languages. Typically for language enthusiasts, more than one language is favored. These languages are loved by them for several reasons, the chief being their cultures and features.

Other terms are used to mean the same thing, and a few examples of those would be language junkie and language buff. The most commonly used still remains to be language enthusiast.

All of these terms are more colloquial than anything, though this doesn’t mean they don’t describe real people. For instance, one famous language enthusiast that most would know is J.R.R. Tolkien.

Tolkien enjoyed languages so much in fact, that he made one himself known as Elvish. He studied and even taught languages for a living, some of the languages he knew were Latin, Finnish, Italian, French, Spanish, German and many others.

Any Language Enthusiast, like Tolkien, must both like to learn a language and love it. What they love about languages always revolves around two things:

  • The culture of a language
  • The features of a language

To be a language enthusiast, essentially means to be a language lover. As such, the two terms are used oftentimes interchangeably.

What Do You Call Someone Learning A Language?

From language lovers, and those who like to learn languages, we’ve discussed what they are commonly called. Another similar question would be: what do you call someone learning a language?

The most common way to classify someone learning a language is simply, a language learner. Other terms that have slightly more specific definitions would be: linguist, linguaphile, polyglot, bilingual, and multilingual. All of these terms are used to describe those learning a language.

Obviously the answer to what do you call someone learning a language being a language learner, sounds pretty simple. Though, it really is the most commonly used and concise way to describe them.

Other terms like linguist or multilingual essentially refer to types of language learners. Yet, when describing an average person who is learning a language, calling them a language learner works just fine.

The Final Talking Point On What It Means To Be A Language Lover…

A language lover is one who has an affinity towards a particular language, due to the it’s culture and features. They are oftentimes called linguaphiles, or even language enthusiasts. Whatever you choose to call them, they are those who like one or more languages due to something they find special about them.

If you are interested in becoming a bit of a language lover yourself, I have plenty of articles regarding all sorts of topics about language learning.

Jackie Booe

Jackie Booe is a licensed teacher for elementary through high school in 3 states. She is a former adjunct professor at the undergraduate level and certified to teach elementary, secondary English, and English Language Learners. She was a mentor for many education interns, department leader at various levels and organizations, has taught and coordinated professional development for teachers and educators, and professionally tutored in a multitude of subjects.

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