Inlanlu tahori are deeply social creatures, and their emotions are powerful and play a large role in forming and maintaining their vital social bonds, so the concept of love is multifaceted and explicit.

A quick note before we get into the fun stuff: you’ll see four common modifiers throughout this post. -ku is a suffix that turns a root into a noun; -ri is a suffix that turns a root into a verb. -sho is a suffix that turns a root into an active person (e.g. trainer), and -sug is a suffix that turns a root into a passive person (e.g. trainee). A speaker can refer to itself with either form, depending on whom they consider to have the “active” and “passive” roles.

We have two “love” words for romantic relationships as human know them:

Root: rhom. Noun is rhomku, the relationship of lovers/consorts. Verb is rhomri, “to court” or “to consort with” in a romantic and/or sexual fashion. Person-words are rhomsho, a consort/lover (can add -am to make rhomsho-am for “girlfriend” or -chu for boyfriend, but tahori don’t use gender modifiers like that; humans would), and rhomsug (one’s consort).

Root: san. Noun is sanku, the relationship of mates. Verb is sanri, to declare mateship with (humans would say “to marry”) or to be mated to. Person-words are sansho and sansug (likewise, can add -am to feminize or -chu to masculinize, e.g. sansugchu).

And we have four “love” words for emotional love/affection/attachment:

Root: lin, the form of affection one feels towards a person who is deeply admirable and respected and well-liked, but too distant to love with any emotional intimacy. Can be nouned (linku, the emotion of respect-love) or verbed (linri, to respect-love). Humans understand this kind of love to be similar to unexcessive hero-worship, or the kind of semi-impersonal love they might feel towards great figures in history, politics, science, or art. Person-words are linsho and linsug, though linsho is almost never used, as the object of respect-love is usually of far greater importance than one of many people who linri it.

Root: dol, platonic or familial love; it is strong and intimate, non-exclusive, and frequently felt widely, towards packmates, blood-family, and friends. Can be nouned (dolku, the emotion of platonic love) or verbed (dolri, to platonically love). Humans know this when they tell their friends or extended family “I love you.” Tahori say “duku undolri” (yourself I-love). Person-words are dolsho and dolsug; a variation on “I love you” is “dolsug a-un,” or “my love” (love of mine).

Root: adh, deep adoration and 100% emotional devotion; it is felt between mates, between parent and child, and sometimes between extremely close friends. Can be nouned (adhku, the emotion of perfect love) or verbed (adhri, to deeply love). Humans think of this kind of love as “true love,” but it lacks the sexual aspect that humans associate with “true love.” This is the only form of emotional love that is almost always mutual and rarely spoken if it isn’t. Person-words are adhsho and adhsug.

Root: si, sexual desire/lust; felt between consorts and mates, or felt one-sidedly towards a physically attractive individual. Can be nouned (siku, the emotion/feeling of desire) or verbed (siri, to lust or be attracted to). There is no shame or social pressure associated with this word; it’s usually used as a matter-of-fact statement or as a compliment to someone who is a sisug (the object of desire). Humans put a lot more baggage into this concept than tahori do.

There you have it! Six words of love. Nen-na dudolri? (Who do you love?)