How similar is Italian to Spanish

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Itikar
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Re: How similar is Italian to Spanish

Postby Itikar » 2012-10-10, 20:25

In my opinion Italian and Spanish are the closest phonetically: if you try to speak Spanish in Italy you can get by, although problems may arise. And also in Spain I remeber I could get by speaking Italian. So spoken Italian and spoken Spanish are mutually comprehensible to an extent.
There are still some differences like gemination and realization of certain vowels and consonants, but nothing terrible.

Grammatically, on the other hand, they are relatively far: use of auxiliary verbs is quite different, use of article with possessive adjectives, formation of plural, use of synthetic perfect, partitive and locative pronouns, participle concordance, etc.
On this topics French is probably the closest to Italian.

My two cents. :)
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Re: How similar is Italian to Spanish

Postby linguoboy » 2012-10-10, 21:07

Itikar wrote:Grammatically, on the other hand, they are relatively far: use of auxiliary verbs is quite different, use of article with possessive adjectives, formation of plural, use of synthetic perfect, partitive and locative pronouns, participle concordance, etc.

When you say "relatively far", you're limiting your purview to Western Romance, right? Because even in comparison just to other languages of Europe, these are very minor differences.

Itikar wrote:On this topics French is probably the closest to Italian.

Really? Let's take a closer look:

use of auxiliary verbs--I'm afraid you'll have to clarify what you're referring to here.
use of article with possessive adjectives--not found in either French or Spanish
formation of plural--French nouns and adjectives rarely have distinctive plural forms and, when they do, they're nothing at all like their Italian counterparts (e.g. chevaux vs cavalli).
use of synthetic perfect--This varies by region, being more common in southern Italy than in the North and in Latin America than in Central Spain.
partitive and locative pronouns--not found in Spanish
participle concordance--not found in French except in a minority of past participles which happen to end in consonants, e.g. mis/mise.

So I see only one point (partitive/locative pronouns) where French clearly patterns with Italian against Spanish vs one point (possessive adjectives) where it's French and Spanish against Italian and two (perfect tense, participles) where French shows only slightly more similarity to Italian than Spanish.

Catalan, on the other hand, agrees with Italian on all the same points as French, plus it has possessive adjectives used with the article.
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Re: How similar is Italian to Spanish

Postby Itikar » 2012-10-11, 0:19

linguoboy wrote:When you say "relatively far", you're limiting your purview to Western Romance, right? Because even in comparison just to other languages of Europe, these are very minor differences.

Yes of course, Classical Latin and Romanian are also very different from all the Western Romance.
Except maybe plural formation where Italian is perhaps closer to them than to the other main Romance languages.


Really? Let's take a closer look:

use of auxiliary verbs--I'm afraid you'll have to clarify what you're referring to here.
use of article with possessive adjectives--not found in either French or Spanish
formation of plural--French nouns and adjectives rarely have distinctive plural forms and, when they do, they're nothing at all like their Italian counterparts (e.g. chevaux vs cavalli).
use of synthetic perfect--This varies by region, being more common in southern Italy than in the North and in Latin America than in Central Spain.
partitive and locative pronouns--not found in Spanish
participle concordance--not found in French except in a minority of past participles which happen to end in consonants, e.g. mis/mise.

So I see only one point (partitive/locative pronouns) where French clearly patterns with Italian against Spanish vs one point (possessive adjectives) where it's French and Spanish against Italian and two (perfect tense, participles) where French shows only slightly more similarity to Italian than Spanish.

Catalan, on the other hand, agrees with Italian on all the same points as French, plus it has possessive adjectives used with the article.


Let me make a foreword. Above I didn't mean that French is similiar to Italian on those topics, but on them Spanish and Italian are different, but other, most notably Portuguese and French, are closer.
That said:
use of auxiliary verbs: many intransitive verbs in Italian and French use auxiliary verb to be instead of to have. Moreover although "stare" is a bit more than a simple verb in Italian, we don't have the four auxiliary system of Spanish and Portuguese.
article with possessive adjectives: there is in Portuguese and as you say in Catalan.
plural formation: Romanian plurals are closer to Italian ones than Spanish/French/Portuguese ones.
synthetic perfect: Italian is more likely a middle way between Spanish and French on this topic. However if we don't consider too much regional variants synthetic perfect in standard spoken Italian is a sort of narrative past.
participle concordance: in spoken French there isn't a lot of concordance with past participles, but written French is very similiar to Italian on this topic.

I must also list:
enclitc use of pronouns with verbs: "por verte", "per vederti", which happens in Spanish and Italian but not in French "pour te voir".
elision: "el amigo" against "l'amico" and "l'ami".
cogemination: the phenomenon that consinsts in the doubling of the initial consonant of a word that comes immediately after certain words. I.e. in standard Italian "a Firenze" is pronounced "affirenze". This I think is only shared by (standard) Italian and Catalan. Maybe by Occitan too but I am not sure. North Italians usually don't use cogemination except for the expression "e mezzo/a".
subject drop: French isn't a subject drop language while Spanish and Italian are.
imperfect subjunctive: the imperfect subjunctive is actively used in spoken Spanish and in Italian, while in spoken French it isn't so much.

So surely I agree with you Catalan is without a doubt closer, but I didn't refer to it because a)I don't know a lot about this language b)it is a minority language, although a very very important one and with many speakers.

I didn't mean to express any absolute truth with my points and my opinion, but I think that the study of French (or Catalan) can help more the foreign learner with Italian grammar. While the ability to speak in Spanish (or Catalan) will be more helpful in order to speak Italian. :)
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Re: How similar is Italian to Spanish

Postby Levike » 2013-04-27, 15:13

There are very similar.

I don't speak Italian but I can understand 80% of it because of my Spanish and Romanian knowedge.

Vocabulary:
- There are just a few words that don't resemble each other so no huge difference.
- Without Portuguese, Italian would be the closest to Spanish.

Grammar:
- Spanish likes to use the "s" for plurals and other stuff while Italian "i" and "e".
- Italian is a bit more complex.

So they are like brothers.
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Re: How similar is Italian to Spanish

Postby onlyhuman » 2014-05-24, 21:25

Itikar wrote:On this topics French is probably the closest to Italian.



I have never learned Italian or Spanish but I think they sometimes sound very similar. When Italian and Spanish are spoken fast I can only distinguish them because of the j-sound in Spanish and plural form -i in Italian.

French is the only Romance language that I know. In the written form I think I can understand Italian better than Spanish.

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Re: How similar is Italian to Spanish

Postby Saim » 2014-05-24, 21:40

Levike wrote:- Without Portuguese,Catalan, Occitan, Asturian, Aragonese or Galician Italian would be the closest to Spanish.


Fixed for you.

(Also we'd be more likely to say "if not for" here than "without").

Babooshkerin wrote:Nope. Any Italian will tell you that Spanish is closer to Italian, definitely


The only way Spanish is closer to Italian is phonologically, but even then it's not that similar. Heck, in terms of sound Spanish is closer to Basque than to Italian.

To test this out, let's take Galician. This is a language spoken in northwestern Spain that has maybe a 95% similarity to Portuguese in grammar and lexicon but it's phonology is much closer to Spanish. Galician is much easier to understand with a base in Spanish than Italian, there's no comaprison.

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Re: How similar is Italian to Spanish

Postby IpseDixit » 2014-05-24, 21:55

Grammar:
- Spanish likes to use the "s" for plurals and other stuff while Italian "i" and "e".
- Italian is a bit more complex.


Gotta love this ultra simplistic explanations :roll:

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Re: How similar is Italian to Spanish

Postby loqu » 2014-05-24, 23:08

IpseDixit wrote:
Grammar:
- Spanish likes to use the "s" for plurals and other stuff while Italian "i" and "e".
- Italian is a bit more complex.


Gotta love this ultra simplistic explanations :roll:

Loved your response :mrgreen:

Here in Spain people get the feeling that Italian is closer because of its phonology. Spaniards and Italians yelling to each other in their languages can get to understand each other in very basic topics, whereas Portuguese sounds obscure and difficult. But taking a closer look at their grammar, Portuguese wins by a landslide. Portuguese and Spanish are *really* close. If instead of being in Europe, they were located in some remote jungle and had been 'discovered' 100 years ago, I bet some linguists would say they are dialects of the same language.

In fact, Spaniards learning Portuguese achieve fluency very quickly, while Spaniards learning Italian usually complain about its grammar -even though they achieve fluency faster than learners of German, for example-.
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Re: How similar is Italian to Spanish

Postby IpseDixit » 2014-05-24, 23:25

Yeah we are in this very weird foursome where Spanish and Portuguese are much closer grammar and lexycon-wise, and the same goes for Italian and French. But when it comes to phonology, Italian and Spanish decide to cheat on their partners and get much closer. :lol:

(I'm not counting the plethora of minority languages because, let's be honest, most people do not care about them, they usually wanna know the degree of closeness of the national Romance languages)

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Re: How similar is Italian to Spanish

Postby loqu » 2014-05-25, 6:46

IpseDixit wrote:(I'm not counting the plethora of minority languages because, let's be honest, most people do not care about them, they usually wanna know the degree of closeness of the national Romance languages)

Hey, if you're going all elitist on the languages you'll have to use another expression, Catalan is the national language of Andorra :P Plus, how big can a minority language be?
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Re: How similar is Italian to Spanish

Postby Saim » 2014-05-25, 6:55

IpseDixit wrote:(I'm not counting the plethora of minority languages because, let's be honest, most people do not care about them, they usually wanna know the degree of closeness of the national Romance languages)


They don't even got that far - ususally they forget about Romanian and even Portuguese (even here - I'm still surprised at how thoroughly ignored Portugal seems to be in the rest of Iberia). :roll:

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Re: How similar is Italian to Spanish

Postby mōdgethanc » 2014-05-25, 13:38

loqu wrote:Hey, if you're going all elitist on the languages you'll have to use another expression, Catalan is the national language of Andorra :P
And of Unilang!
Plus, how big can a minority language be?
Javanese.

IpseDixit

Re: How similar is Italian to Spanish

Postby IpseDixit » 2014-05-25, 15:05

loqu wrote:
IpseDixit wrote:(I'm not counting the plethora of minority languages because, let's be honest, most people do not care about them, they usually wanna know the degree of closeness of the national Romance languages)

Hey, if you're going all elitist on the languages you'll have to use another expression, Catalan is the national language of Andorra :P


And Monegasque (a Ligurian dialect) that of Monaco, and Romansh that of Switzerland :lol:

C'mon, don't be too picky, you know what I mean. An average person just cares about Italian, French, Spanish and Portguese. :lol: I'll leave to someone else the task to find an appropriate definition for these 4 languages :P

Plus, how big can a minority language be?


Actually I've never seen minority languages in terms of dimensions. I think you have a minority language when that language is subordinated to another language.

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Re: How similar is Italian to Spanish

Postby Koko » 2014-07-30, 4:42

From what I know, which in the three languages I will mention is equal, Catalan is much closer to Italian than Spanish, in both phonology and grammar (except vowel allophony: Spanish woops Catalan's ass). As mentioned, Catalan exhibits the article with possessive, but it also has phonemic
/ʎ/ and <qu> as /kw/ rather than to mark /k/ before front vowels exclusively, like in Spanish and French (unsure about Portuguese). (<qü> in Catalan for /kw/ before front vowels, of course.) Differences are the perfect auxiliary and merger of <b> and <v>. These are the two that I can think of that haven't already been mentioned.

Overall, Catalan is closer, not Spanish. (this seems to be the topic now, but it still answers the original question.)
Last edited by Koko on 2014-07-30, 7:33, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How similar is Italian to Spanish

Postby Lietmotiv » 2014-07-30, 6:46

I sometimes cannot tell them apart (when listening to music), but when it comes to spoken Spanish/Italian, the difference is obvious. But I think they're kinda similar in many ways.

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Re: How similar is Italian to Spanish

Postby loqu » 2014-07-30, 8:42

Koko wrote:From what I know, which in the three languages I will mention is equal, Catalan is much closer to Italian than Spanish, in both phonology and grammar (except vowel allophony: Spanish woops Catalan's ass). As mentioned, Catalan exhibits the article with possessive, but it also has phonemic
/ʎ/ and <qu> as /kw/ rather than to mark /k/ before front vowels exclusively, like in Spanish and French (unsure about Portuguese). (<qü> in Catalan for /kw/ before front vowels, of course.) Differences are the perfect auxiliary and merger of <b> and <v>. These are the two that I can think of that haven't already been mentioned.

Overall, Catalan is closer, not Spanish. (this seems to be the topic now, but it still answers the original question.)

What do you mean that Spanish woops Catalan's ass in vowel allophony? I didn't understand that part.

You can't count orthographic considerations in the debate, since they are social conventions and not linguistic features. I mean, you're right that <qu> in Spanish only can represent /k/, but because it is never used with vowels other than <e, i>. Before the other vowels it was used a couple of centuries ago (quatro, quando), even though the pronunciation hasn't differed a little bit, and then you could consider it graphically like Italian, Catalan and Portuguese.

The perfect auxiliary is indeed a difference between Catalan and Italian, but not the merger of <b> and <v>, since it only affects northern dialects of Catalan and the surroundings of Valencia. All the rest of the language doesn't merge those two consonants (Valencian Land, Balearics and Alguer).
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Re: How similar is Italian to Spanish

Postby Koko » 2014-07-30, 9:18

Hmm, doesn't standard Catalan merge those two?

And I thought I'd just throw in orthographical similarities for fun (but it certainly is a good argument for written language…) Might as well throw in the silent -r for infinitives and -ig—/tʃ/, too :) I find the oddities of the Catalan writing system a challenge— so I must learn the language!

Unstressed /a/, /e/ and /ɛ/ as [ə]. Unstressed /o/ and /ɔ/ are [u]. This is what I've learned… And as far as I know, this kind of allophony is only found in Italian dialects, but not in the standard.

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Re: How similar is Italian to Spanish

Postby Koko » 2014-07-30, 9:19

Spanish has the same allophony as Italian. (forgot to mention that.)

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Re: How similar is Italian to Spanish

Postby IpseDixit » 2014-07-30, 10:13

Unstressed /a/, /e/ and /ɛ/ as [ə]. Unstressed /o/ and /ɔ/ are [u]. This is what I've learned… And as far as I know, this kind of allophony is only found in Italian dialects, but not in the standard.


What do you mean by Italian dialects? Do you mean the regional variants of Standard Italian or the minority languages of the peninsula?

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Re: How similar is Italian to Spanish

Postby loqu » 2014-07-30, 10:25

Koko wrote:Hmm, doesn't standard Catalan merge those two?

What is standard Catalan for you?

Catalan has different standards, and I guess you mean the standard from Barcelona/East Catalonia. Yes, it merges b and v. But the standard from Valencia and the one from Palma do not, for example.
Koko wrote:And I thought I'd just throw in orthographical similarities for fun (but it certainly is a good argument for written language…) Might as well throw in the silent -r for infinitives and -ig—/tʃ/, too :) I find the oddities of the Catalan writing system a challenge— so I must learn the language!

The final -r in infinitives is only silent in Catalonia, the Balearic islands and Alguer, but not in the Valencian Land, for example - thus the Valencian standard advocates for pronouncing it.

Koko wrote:Unstressed /a/, /e/ and /ɛ/ as [ə]. Unstressed /o/ and /ɔ/ are [u]. This is what I've learned… And as far as I know, this kind of allophony is only found in Italian dialects, but not in the standard.

Oh, I didn't know you meant vowel reduction. Sure in standard Spanish there's no vowel reduction. But then again the one you described is only applicable to East Catalonia. In the West and Valencia the only vowel reduction is /e/, /ɛ/ to [e] and /o/, /ɔ/ to [o].
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