Love to Hate: America's Obsession with Hatred and Violence

By Jody M. Roy | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
Hate Talk:
The Mind/Language Connection

“I hate you!” We've all heard it. We've all said it. As small children we spat “I hate you” at those we most loved—our parents—before we really even understood what the words meant. But while we may not have understood the meaning of “I hate you,” we already understood at a very early age the power of the word “hate.” As adolescents, we blazed through our first romances, often falling into “I love you” only to crash down into “I hate you” within a matter of days. As adults, most of us reserve “I hate you” for the most extreme situations. Wenow understand not only the power, but also the tragically terminal meaning of saying these words to another human. Yet circumstances do arise that inspire us to utter “I hate you.” And more often than we say thewords aloud, we think them about another person in the privacy of our own minds.

“I hate you” has meaning in the English language and power within our culture. We can look “hate” up in the dictionary. Ifwe speak the word “hate” to other English speakers, they will identify rather precisely the emotional state to which we are referring. But what if “hate” had no meaning? What if the word “hate” never had been in dictionaries of the English language? What if you screamed “I hate you” at an enemy and they looked quizzically into your eyes and said, “What does that mean?” Hate Talk:

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