AUGUST 1, 2008
More than once I heard that some Chinese students coming to the US said the word "romantic" and caused confusion to Americans. For instance, when he (she) found a beautiful view and uttered "How romantic!", an American would ask, "Why? There's no boy or girl falling in love in this scene." It seems that in America, the word "romantic" strictly means "displaying or expressing love or strong affection". Last night I was watching Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" on TV. When the Dashwood family moved to the seaside cottage, the lady praised the view with the word "romantic". So the British, at least back then, did not have the restriction on this word. In fact, dictionary.com lists 8 meanings, and about half of them are not related to love. If it was restricted, the word "romanticism" in arts would be hard to understand.
I just read a conversation in a German language textbook (Active German, 1962, p.111):
Betty: ... Ein Verwandter von mir hat ein altes Haus in Michigan an einem kleinen See. Da bin ich schon seit langer Zeit nicht mehr gewesen. (A relative of mine has an old house on a small lake in Michigan. I haven't seen it for a long time.)
Inge: Das klingt sehr romantisch. (That sounds very romantic.)
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