The Capital “L”

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More than two years have passed  when I first began capitalizing the letter L in the word Love. It was just two nights ago when my partner, Claire, asked me the reason behind it. Since then, she has read of my writings of Love, and Love still has the big L. After I explained to her my reason, she said that I must write something about it. Indeed, this topic is worthy of an article. Why spell Love with the capital L?

Capitalizing a word, I think, is an elementary thing. Proper nouns like names of people and places are often capitalized. This perhaps to distinguish those words with first letters capitalized indicate their importance. We can also find some words with first letters capitalized in many jargons, scientific terms, etc. Initials of many authors’ name like J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings) are also capitalized, with the exception of the American poet e.e. cummings, which is another story.

There is a term called capitonyms,  a portmanteau of capital and eponyms (proper nouns/names). This Wikipedia entry explains that capitonyms are words that change when the first letters are capitalized. The word god may refer to a certain mythological diety. The word God is about the well-accepted deity of Judeo-Christian tradition. China is the country, while china is a porcelain. In other words, a capitonym has a changed meaning.  The small first letter of a certain word makes the meaning ordinary and normal. The big first letter has a grand meaning, a word with magnificent power  to command attention.

I don’t know much about capitonyms. In fact, I just searched it at this writing, although I find that the idea makes sense in explaining the difference between love and Love. As a capitonym, a certain word changes in meaning.  If love becomes Love, can we identify the meaning? That would be a little difficult because even there is a distinction, people tend to define Love homogenously. So Love and love are the same, as far as our notion of Love is concerned. Unlike god, which brings a thought of different godly images like mythological gods and goddesses; and the word God, on the other hand, which has enough power over many Jews and Christians, conjures up a single image of a father.

But long before reading about capitonyms, what I am always certain about is that I capitalize L for a very basic reason. From the beginning, I wanted to shift my views on Love. Deep to its core, the truth of Love never changes, and its very essence remains the same. Being a subject to many meanings and interpretations, Love comes to the level of universality and to say that it has an absolute meaning is an absolute folly. At best, what I can discern about Love is its creative character that produces infinite meanings.

We often loosely define love, and its multiple meanings muddle up in many misunderstandings. We say love when we refer to something we fond or like, to numerous romantic thoughts and emotions, to religious platitudes, to media-saturated concepts, and to many  cultural connotations. When we define Love, there is more to these definitions. At the heart of that definition, we would find that Love is unfathomably indefinable.

Salvaging this sacred mystery of Love from its puny counterpart is an act of reverence. For me,  Love is a far cry from love. Love, with the capital L, is its sacred elevation. This little grammatic change does a very huge impact: we bring Love back to its true self.

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