Love in Any Language… by Lynn Stanley

Chinese mother


In how many languages does this cry make every mother in the vicinity go on high alert? We can think of many without even leaving the borders of the Americas; and if we travel a bit further, across the Pacific for example, we find the sound carries right along with us. The “ma” sound, seemingly instinctive and certainly encouraged by proud parents, comes to mean mother long before a child can read or write it.

This complex  character has a  simple sound: MA!
This complex
character has a
simple sound: MA!

Another similarity of Chinese with numerous other languages is that there is both a more formal and a more casual word for mother. The formal “Mother” is generally used when referring to rather than addressing someone.

A mother’s love is a common concept and phrase in Chinese as well as in English. The formal character for Mother is used — some think it represents a mother’s tears — and the character for love.The latter is a combination of several other words. The top part signifies a cover which keeps something safe; the middle part is the word for heart, a pictograph shaped much like the organ it describes; and the bottom segment implies movement, a going toward … a Chinese poet might read it as “I hold my heart out to you.”

The word for love has the image of a heart at its center.
The word for love has the image of a heart at its center.

The celebration of Mother’s Day has become very popular in China in recent years; it is held on the same day as in most Western countries in 2015, on Sunday, May 10. In China the most popular flower to give one’s mother is the carnation; its dense petals are seen as symbolizing a mother’s constant care and love. Flower shops take care to stock a large variety and number of them for the event.

On Mother’s Day, gifts and cards are now common in China too; and often the cards include a message that would be understood in any language: A mother’s love lasts forever and ever.

The Crier wishes a very Happy Mother’s Day to all, in all the languages we speak, and most especially in the language of the heart.