There’s no doubt about it, the English language isn’t one of the sexiest-sounding in the world. Take any English dialect from the USA to New Zealand (and all of them in between): not one of them is quite as graceful on our ears as the sultry sounds of French or the exotic intonation of Italian – the languages that we naturally associate with romance. Spoken Spanish too has it’s own amorous undertones, provoking such feelings of desire that its speakers can’t seem to keep their hands off each other here in Peru. This is indeed the country of ‘enthusiastic’ Latin lovers, a place where you’re bound to see couples kissing ardently in the middle of the street, oblivious to the herds of pedestrians pushing past them. If you go to Lima’s Parque de Amor (The Park of Love) you’re sure to find couples – young and old – wrapped in steamy embraces and whispering sweet nothings. Who can blame Peruvians for such exaggerated displays of affection when the melodic sounds of their language are clearly so passion-inspiring?
In this respect, English is not aphrodisiacal in the same way as the other European ‘romance’ languages. I never would have thought that British English in particular – so tame and formal-sounding – could be described as the language of love but, in my own anecdotal experience, that’s the most evident conclusion to be drawn! English is the real intercultural matchmaker here in Peru… and it’s not for the sound of the accent or its dreamy pronunciation but for a different reason altogether.
Three couples. Four countries. English is the native language of none of them. But English is the language which brought them together in Peru’s multicultural Lima. English is the language that inadvertently inspired them to fall in love. Described as the ‘de facto language of the world’, English comes in as a surprising front-runner for ‘The Language of Love’ title. Who would have thought it.
Laura (Peru) & Jasmin (Bosnia)
These guys have such an interesting story. They were both working on a cruise ship when they met, where the rule onboard was that all the staff had to speak English so of course, they got to know each other in the Queen’s lingo. Falling in love in whilst sailing around the world on a luxury liner sounds quite romantic doesn’t it? Although from what they’ve told me, the demanding hours and ‘entitled’ cruise customers often make the fantasy more glamorous than the reality. They fell in love, moved in together (in cruise ship terms that means moving your suitcase into the other’s tiny cabin) and made plans to marry. What are the chances of a Peruvian girl, anywhere in the world, speaking Bosnian? So it looks like their sweet nothings are going to be whispered forever in English. French 0. Italian 0. English 1.
Ravil (Russia) & Kely (Peru)
English is the main language of this pair too. Ravil travelled here as a spiritual tourist three years ago and met like-minded Kely on a group hiking trip in the mountains. A medium told him that he wouldn’t leave Peru until he was very old and true enough, he’s been here ever since. I’d really be impressed if one day I heard them communicating in Russian, although I wouldn’t bank on it! Ravil’s Spanish is coming along well these days however Kely speaks English like a native and often prefers to use it over her own language. I’m sure that English will always be a part of their life together. That’s another point for English on the ‘Language of Love’ scoreboard. French 0 Italian 0 English 2.
Erika (Peru) & Mokhtar (Morocco)
These good friends of ours are from cultures (and Religions) that are worlds apart, proving that love truly is international. I’m sure that when Mokhtar first came to Peru he didn’t expect to find a Peruvian wife. Similarly for Erika, who could never have imagined that one day she’d marry an Arabic-speaker and convert to Islam, embracing the culture and dress with open arms. Soon to celebrate their nine-year anniversary, Mokhtar now has an impressive grasp on Spanish and Erika has even mastered some Arabic phrases however, the language that brought them together in the first place was English. Speaking English to each other was how they connected. When they met all those years ago, neither of them spoke the other’s native tongue but funnily enough, they both knew English. French 0 Italian 0 English 3.
These people and their stories are just a few examples, but in cosmopolitan Lima there are thousands more international couples who have the English language to thank for sparking their love. Whilst there are undoubtedly other attractions between them that surpass mere spoken words, English is the thing that brings these couples together, time and time again. Of course, such a worldly language is bound to form bonds between people of different nationalities. Lima as a prime example, with its influx of immigrants from all corners of the world, makes it easy to see why English is the language of love.