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A German man I have been seeing called me meine Liebe. He is of the Hamburg dialect. Is this a strong/important word to a German? We are in a fairly serious relationship.

As a woman, can I say it back to him in that dialect? He also calls me soul partner ... is this a serious term like soulmate is to Americans?

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    It is really hard to tell out of context and there are sometimes surprising meanings. For example, "Freundchen" can mean quite the opposite of "(little) friend" and is used when repremanding someone. - At least "Liebchen" in Rhineland dialect would be absolutely harmless as it is used by men to address virtually any female. – Hagen von Eitzen Aug 17 '15 at 9:30
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This is hard to answer without context, sorry.

  • It could be a relatively neutral term of endearment which then would be translated as my dear. This could be used by (random example) an elderly shopkeeper towards his female customer without any amourous undertone. It can also mean my love, in the sense of soulmate. And probably everything inbetween. And to make it really complicated, It can be also a slightly ironic reprimand, especially if followed by the adressee's name.
    Grammar-wise, a male would be adressed as mein Lieber in all of these cases.

Or

  • It could be a full-blown declaration of love, then Liebe would be an object, something like (du bist) meine Liebe. In this case it translates to my love without ambiguity. It would remain unchanged grammar-wise for male and female subjects as "Liebe" is female.

And as both forms are identical if talking to you as a female, it really depends on context.

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    In this case it does not only depends on context but also on tone. – Em1 Aug 17 '15 at 8:01
  • Isn't it used in a reprimand to soften it somewhat? That is, you say, "I still like you, but this was not okay". Definitely not a signal of romantic feelings, though. – Raphael Aug 17 '15 at 10:01
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    I might use "Tja, meine Liebe, das hast du jetzt großartig gemacht" in an ironic, and slightly condescending, tone if someone (female) admitted a mistake to me. I certainly wouldn't like to be on the receiving end of that. However, my attitude to that person would still be "Now go, fix it, and learn something from it" or "I'll help you deal with the consequences", not "Go away and never come back again" – Guntram Blohm supports Monica Aug 17 '15 at 10:30
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    There is still ambiguity in the last point on the English side. "my luv" can be just a casual greeting of your customer in a shop. – Vladimir F Aug 17 '15 at 12:42
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Depending on context it could mean either my dear or my love.

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First of all, it does not depend on the dialect. Even people from "Schwabenland" (South-West-Germany, ~ Ba-Wü) use "meine Liebe" for addressing their loved ones.

Like @Stephie mentioned it highly depends on the context. But the possesive meine is actually a very strong sign of addressing you like in "my love" (the same ambiguity like in English still applies)

If he wouldn't use "meine" then it the phrase can be related to @runlevel0 answer: When addressing the person you can use "Liebe Frau Mustermann, ich habe eine Frage....". That would just mean "Dear Mrs. Mustermann, ...".

To answer your first question directly, yes, "Meine Liebe" has a pretty strong meaning attached in context of a romantic relationship.

The second question is again relative: There is no such thing like "Seelenpartner" but there is "Seelenverwandter" - a "soul relative" or in proper english a soul mate. Soul mate has the very same meaning in German as in English.

If you would like to answer, again, there is no particular dialect. If you really want to use dialect as a gimmick, than make yourself familiar with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_German and I guess you can use http://www.plattdeutsches-woerterbuch.de/pages/plattdeutsches_woerterbuch.html to get some clues of what to say.

Otherwise just stick to "Hochdeutsch" and adress him with "mein Lieber" if it has less meaning for you or with "meine Liebe" if it has more weight for you.

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No.

It's standard.

It's a familiar form that corresponds exactly with "dear XXX" but it's still formal.

If I had the intention of declaring love I wouldn't use "Meine liebe XXX," this is too formal an introduction and as said it's the way we use in 99% of cases when we aren't addressing somebody with "Sehr geehrte/r Frau/Herr".

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    Not quite. "Du bist meine (große) Liebe" means something entirely different. – Raphael Aug 17 '15 at 10:01
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    Wrong topic. It's not about writing a letter. – Em1 Aug 17 '15 at 20:57

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