Friday, March 31, 2006

You can't "give a hug"


  • people often say "i'll give you a hug".
  • this is a preposterous idea.
  • to give something, you must first have whatever thing it is that you wish to give.
  • for example i can't give you a quarter if i don't have one in my possession.
  • to give a hug you would need to be in possession a hug. that is were the problem begins.

a hug is generally understood as two people's mutual embrace. Until the people connect, the hug doesn't exist. it is created by those two people, in that moment, and disappears into the annals of hug history when the end they complete their contact. it would be more conceptually accurate to say let's create a hug. this phrasing is not just a minor semantic improvement, it gets down to very meaning of what a hug is. if you believe that a hug is a mutually created and reinforces a relationship, than it is important to talk about it in a way that underscores that mutuality.

i can think of a few situations where the above may not apply. i have been discussing the two person hug where each person is not hugging anyone else at the time of the statement. hugs can presumably involve several people. if two people are hugging and wish to include another person they also shouldn't say can we give you a hug, for though they are involved in a hug, they can't give it away without it disappearing. earlier i said that you can offer to create a hug with someone else. in the case of a set or group of people hugging, the hug has been created, adding another person modifies the hug. it would probably create an awkward situation if you invited someone to modify your hug. perhaps better would be to offer to include someone.

any other situations to address?
is this all just ridiculous?
any one share this annoyance?

3 Comments:

At 3/31/2006 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another linguistic irritant:
"She's having a baby."
What they mean is she is pregnant. Why not just say it?

 
At 4/03/2006 , Anonymous alan said...

If the hug is being proposed as a comfort for someone in need of one, I think "giving a hug" is an appropriate term.

What about "to hug" as a verb at all? "I want to hug you [and have you hug back]". <-?

 
At 4/10/2006 , Blogger shamirpower said...

first off, i love this post. that a hug doesn't exist until you create it. let's create a hug together!!!

second, from the grammar files..."hug" is at its most basic level just like any transitive verb which means it must always have a direct object. it requires a direct object to complete its meaning in the sentence. thus, the action of the verb is transferred to the object directly. but are hugs always one way? probably not...

you may prefer "hug" to be a reciprocal verb in which both are doing the same to each other at the same time. can this always be the case? must one always first be hugging transitively in order to achieve reciprocal hugging?

 

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