Things to do when you’re in love with language
I like Valentine’s Day. I know it has a dubious history and is probably the most commercialized holiday after Christmas. But setting heart-shaped chocolates and saccharine advertising aside, I think it’s quite lovely to celebrate love. Love for significant others, for friends, and for the things in life that get us excited. For me, one of those things is language: words, letters, typography, grammar. I love everything about language, and in the nine-days-til-Valentine’s-Day spirit, here is a list of my favourite language-themed dates.
Play a candlelit game of Scrabble
Scrabble is more of a strategy game than a word game, but pair it with a glass of wine or take it down to the beach and you have an instant perfect date full of competition and learning new words and trying to use a ‘q’ without a ‘u’. If nothing else, you’ll have some great discussions about things like why Chinese words like li and qi are legit but tao isn’t.
Read the dictionary together
Okay, so this might be the nerdiest thing I’ve ever written, but anyone who’s ever actually read the dictionary will know what I’m talking about. It’s fun. Even the most well-read person knows only a fraction of the words in a language, and you can spend hours reading through definitions and etymologies of words you’ve never even heard. Get some take-out and curl up with the Canadian Oxford. It’s way better than a romcom—trust me. And it’s a great way to build your couplect.
Go book hunting
Not into reading the dictionary? Pick a bookstore or a library and just hang out in the stacks together. Flip through some books. Read some book jackets. Wander around and see what’s out there. And for a really romantic gesture, plan a library/bookstore scavenger hunt. This is a secret (not so anymore) dream of mine: to spend a night doing a treasure hunt through the stacks and finding clues and solving puzzles hidden inside my favourite books.
Gift a language class
This is a big one. This is a huge gesture. When you study a language with another person, you develop an interesting bond with them. I can remember certain moments in Chinese class or in China when I learned a word or a phrase, and I always remember the person I was with when it happened. Studying together, making flashcards, taping up words all over the house, maybe even working toward a trip where you can use the language—these are things that build relationships and friendship.
And my favourite idea of all: bake a cake in the shape of your favourite punctuation mark. Even if it’s a period—language lovers love those, too.