Most romantic nation?

Posted on: 13 Feb 2012

Written by: chris

Which nation is the most romantic? Chris investigates.

You can find wild generalisations and blatant national stereotyping anywhere you like on the Internet – a proud tradition which this blog is usually happy to uphold – but today we’re going to dispense with all that and get scientific for a change. Let’s take it as read that there’s a reason why French, Italian and Spanish are known as ‘Romance’ languages (and that reason probably has more to do with Antonio Banderas than with Silvio Berluscone or Gérard Depardieu). I asked my colleague and he said Italy was definitely the most romantic nation, but you’ll never guess where he comes from. No, today we’re going to dig a little deeper and look beyond the usual suspects.

Margaret Atwood once famously wrote, “The Eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them: there ought to be as many for love.” She may have been wrong about the first part, but I liked her subtle implication that you can use statistics to settle questions of the heart. My first thought was to take her at her word and try some research into which language has the most words for love, but this didn’t get me very far. (Popular opinion on the Internet seems to favour English and Arabic, if you’re interested, but there’s no consensus, and precious little by way of hard data.). I did discover in the process, however, that statistics conclusively prove the Welsh are the most romantic people in… well, in Britain at least, assuming you can meaningfully correlate romantic sentiment with the sales of flowers and champagne in Tesco stores around Britain on a Friday afternoon. Cardiff tops the table for both products (just don’t ask about the results for my home city of Newport, for which data is also supplied).

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"All the world loves a lover"? Apparently not...

Further afield, it would seem that women who equate romance with male willingness to do household chores (if you’re laughing at that thought, let me speculate that you’re probably a single man) could do worse than to choose a Swedish partner, and should probably avoid a Japanese or Austrian mate. Or maybe it’s care over the practical details that floats your boat? In that case, it’s hard not to be won over by the thoughtfulness of an Icelandic website that enables you to research, before you take things too far with your new prospective date, whether he/she is already related to you. Considering that the population of Cardiff (slightly) exceeds that of the whole of Iceland, I can quite see why such a website would seem like a good idea. It also got me hoping, in the apparent absence of a Celtic equivalent, that the denizens of the Welsh capital are taking care over exactly where all the champagne and flowers are going.

Lastly, we come to poll results, which initially led me to one of those publicity-seeking surveys that the media sometimes publish to fill a bit of dead space in their columns/schedules… in this case commissioned by Mills and Boon. It told me that the most romantic nation on Earth is officially France (32% of polled readers), followed by Italy (22%) and Ireland (18%). No big surp… wait, what? Oh, it turns out that the poll was conducted on a group of a thousand or so Irish men and women. In a similar vein, I stumbled upon an online survey into “Which is the most romantic language?“, where French currently leads the field with 55% of all the votes (Italian was in second place with 15%). This looked like a pretty good result even for France, but then I noticed the survey was being hosted by a website about the French language. Huh (or, as they say in French, ‘bof’).

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