Beware of expressing fondness

There are some lurking in the world that believe fondness equals an
inappropriate expression of sexual desire when fondness is actually one of the
most innocent and universal expressions for merely liking someone.

One can never know the vocabulary vault of another person — and so one risks using words that may not have universal meaning and precise definition. 

When one misunderstands the definition of a word — and then skews its meaning in use — the very language that condemns the misdeed is damaged in the exchange of a misdiagnosed context.

That unfortunate circumstance means we are forced to draw down the world into base meanings of eternal opposites instead of varying gradations of similar — but not identical — shared concepts.

So our inability to know and share lots of words in the rich tapestry of self expression with others by default forces us to live in a black and white world; to create stasis in a universe of only love and hate; and to try to survive in a state of being where fondness is perceived as a derogatory term worthy of a mocking despair.


  1. “I think she likes you.”
    “You mean likes me likes me, or just likes me?”
    “I dunno.”
    “I hope she likes me, likes me.”

  2. In many ways, we haven’t really gotten past this way of expressing ourselves 🙂

  3. I think it’s more the latter than the former, although school children have a better excuse for talking that way than people in their 30s. 🙂

  4. Hi David,
    I think it’s “not what we say, but how say it” makes the difference.
    It’s known that on 7% is communication is verbal -the remaining 93% actually conveys the message.
    I recently met a very old colleague of mine who gave me a bear-hug saying “I really missed you yaar (“yaar” is equivalent to “friend”)…
    Some of my present colleagues were slightly shocked because of his gesture (we are not very hug friendly), but I realised it was pure affection as I could read his body language.

  5. Katha —
    if you’re communicating via text only, then “reading the body” is unavailable — which adds more importance to creating shared definitions and expanded vocabulary.

  6. “Text message” is like open ended question – always evolving without any right or wrong – I guess.

  7. Katha —
    We’re talking about vocabulary growth and acquisition and understanding and comprehension. How are words open ended without right or wrong?

  8. I think our failure to develop our vocabulary is tied in with our discussion about the arts dying.
    I also think we tend to physically express ourselves more than we used to – ” Actions speak louder than words”.
    Maybe it also has something to do with the fact that when we do speak we feel that we are not listened to?

  9. Hi David,
    When I am communicating through “text only”, it is slightly utopian to expect others to derive the meaning of a particular word the way I see it.
    As we are talking about “expreesing fondness” – the word “fondness” has three different meaning –
    which in turn is connected to some other word which has ten different meaning – so the expextation of an uniform connotation is fail-safe and idiot-proof but robotic.

  10. Nicola —
    I think it has to do with the lack of studying the nuances in language. People think they know what new words mean based on their current understanding of previously defined words. That’s dangerous because new words can be wildly divergent from “sound-alike” or “spelled-alike” words.

  11. Right, Katha. Words can have more than one definition and it is up to use to consider all of those definitions and not just the first or second definition in a list of 10 usages. We imperil our future and lessen our ability to communicate by just using the base assumption for defining a word in use.

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