Which language is most similar to Italian?

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Re: Which language is most similar to Italian?

Postby Koko » 2014-01-10, 2:57

All of you are giving evidence for what I said that inadvertently started all of this again. "Clearly none of those three there is more closer to Italian than the other." (Paraphrasing, mind you.) However, not one so far has mentioned Português as yet since the rebirth of this topic. Does no one see the resemblances in Portuguese that I do?

linguoboy wrote:On the other hand, Spanish and Italian share a distinction between a copula verb (ser/essere) and a verb of position (estar/stare) that is lacking in French.


Actually, être shares a closer resemblance in my opinion. The circumflex(^) was put into effect to denote a silent s, making the verb (technically) estre. It isn't uncommon for /s/ to become [t] in certain forms, so now you change it to essre- just add the schwa that French often has and BAM!! you get essere /essəʁə/. Even without the explanation the similarity I'd very evident.

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Re: Which language is most similar to Italian?

Postby linguoboy » 2014-01-10, 3:13

Koko wrote:Actually, être shares a closer resemblance in my opinion. The circumflex(^) was put into effect to denote a silent s, making the verb (technically) estre. It isn't uncommon for /s/ to become [t] in certain forms, so now you change it to essre- just add the schwa that French often has and BAM!! you get essere /essəʁə/. Even without the explanation the similarity I'd very evident.

I'm not at all sure what you're trying to say here. Historically, the forms of être represents the conflation of two distinct Latin verbs, esse (source of essere and ser and stare (source of stare and estar). Sont, for instance, is clearly from Latin sunt while été is just as clearly from Latin status. The etymological meaning of stare is "stand".

Similarly, the verbs aller and ir each represent the conflation of at least three different Latin verbs, two of which contribute to the conjugation of andare.
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Re: Which language is most similar to Italian?

Postby linguoboy » 2014-01-10, 3:23

IpseDixit wrote:So, it's case closed only regarding the phonetics (but that was never really questioned) and the lexicon. As for anything else, it's case suspended.

By my point was that, if you ignore intelligibility, then there's no remotely empirical way at arriving at a formula for giving appropriate weight to respective facets such as phonology, lexicon, syntax, etc. If an Italian can use his language to order breakfast in Buenos Aires and a Peruvian can use hers to purchase theatre tickets in Florence but a Frenchman can't do either, then that to me constitutes prima facie evidence that, when it comes to similarities, phonology must trump vocabulary.

Itikar wrote:[G]iven the similarity between Italian and Spanish on the phonetic level...one tends to be surprised by the differences between Italian and Spanish, while taking the enormous similarities as something granted; whereas with French happens exactly the opposite[.]

Well put! Ben detto! Bien dicho! Bien dit!
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Re: Which language is most similar to Italian?

Postby IpseDixit » 2014-01-10, 3:27

Does no one see the resemblances in Portuguese that I do?


Portuguese is Romance too, so of course there are resemblances, as in any other romance language, but the phonetics is quite different from Italian (Italians really don't understand Portuguese) and, from what I've seen also the lexicon is probably a bit more different than [flag=]fr[/flag] and [flag=]es[/flag]. As for grammar I still cannot judge since I'm a beginner.

Actually, être shares a closer resemblance in my opinion. The circumflex(^) was put into effect to denote a silent s, making the verb (technically) estre. It isn't uncommon for /s/ to become [t] in certain forms, so now you change it to essre- just add the schwa that French often has and BAM!! you get essere /essəʁə/. Even without the explanation the similarity I'd very evident.


I think you misunderstood what he meant to say.

By my point was that, if you ignore intelligibility, then there's no remotely empirical way at arriving at a formula for giving appropriate weight to respective facets such as phonology, lexicon, syntax, etc. If an Italian can use his language to order breakfast in Buenos Aires and a Peruvian can use hers to purchase theatre tickets in Florence but a Frenchman can't do either, then that to me constitutes prima facie evidence that, when it comes to similarities, phonology must trump vocabulary.


I do understand what you mean but I don't agree with your reasoning. Spanish and Italian are more mutually intelligible in the spoken form, but that doesn't necessarily mean being more similar, even though it may seem counterintuitive.

So, if the question is simply what's the most similar language, the actual answer will be "there's no way to tell" (if we agree there's no real method to know) . And when trying to answer this question one shouldn't give more importance to phonology than other features, because we're talking about similarity in general, not about oral intelligibility.

If the question was "what's the most understandable language (in its spoken form) for an Italian?", well, only in this case phonology should come before the vocabulary and probably many other things too.
Last edited by IpseDixit on 2014-01-10, 14:43, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Which language is most similar to Italian?

Postby Koko » 2014-01-10, 6:12

Haha, yeah. I misunderstood, I read only parts of the sentence :oops: . Still, there are similarities in Portuguese that should be understandable to Italians and definitely French. While I don't know much, my friend's dad is Portuguese and passed some of it onto my friend. So, I know that tia/tio are aunt/uncle- similar to zia/zio in Italian. And song is canto in both languages(save a difference in pronunciation). Tante is aunt in French and uncle is oncle.

As for the conjugations, (I don't know about Português) but I think for most verbs, they are very similar, maybe not orally. J'aime is really just amo without the /-o/ and /ε-/ rather than /a-/. Not a very good observation, I know. Still makes for good argument because it isn't false. It is also of the -er conjugations, one of the most common, just like -are is Italian's; or so I've noticed. This is only observation of a small inventory.

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Re: Which language is most similar to Italian?

Postby Marah » 2014-01-10, 8:32

IpseDixit wrote:I do understand what you mean but I don't agree with your reasoning. Spanish and Italian are more mutually intelligible, but that doesn't necessarily mean being more similar, even though it may seem counterintuitive.


Spanish and Italian are more mutually intelligible when they are spoken but what about written French and Italian, aren't they more mutually intelligible with each other?

Koko wrote:Does no one see the resemblances in Portuguese that I do?

Well, the way I see it, while French has a closer vocabulary Spanish has a closer pronunciation. Portuguese doesn't even have a specially close vocabulary and its pronunciation can be very hard to understand, specially European Portuguese.
Par exemple, l'enfant croit au Père Noël. L'adulte non. L'adulte ne croit pas au Père Noël. Il vote.

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Re: Which language is most similar to Italian?

Postby Itikar » 2014-01-10, 11:19

Image

Let me restate my opinion from some pages ago:
a)Phonologically it is not in question that Spanish and Italian are closer. It is often easier for an Italian to understand Spanish than several minority (Romance) languages of Italy.
b)Regarding the written language I would say that instead it is easier to understand French, not just because the vocabulary is closer but also, as I experienced, because in French there are much fewer false friends. And this is not just an impression since, as Ipse showed us, lexical analysis also points in this direction.

Overall this for me is quite, how can I say it... irrelevant. But I would be forced to lie if I neglected any of the two points above. Moreover, if I were able to choose whether I wished that Italian was more close to Spanish or French overall, I would definitely pick the former because I find it nicer. But I can't do much about it. :P

Honestly I think also that it is quite strange that a weird Romance language spoken so far in the North is written in a manner that is very close to Italian. If we spoke about Occitan then it would make more sense, but the speech of Paris? How has this happened?

My impression is that until the XVI century Italian and Spanish were closer on all levels, probably also thanks to the prestige status of Spanish and Italian at that time.
Then from XVII century up until recent times this changed completely and many Italian intellectuals and writers used French extensively, sometimes even more fluently than Italian itself!
I refuse to think that this has not left any track in Italian.

And do not think that Italians liked it, since I read that in the past Italianists carried out the ruthless epuration of the construction venire + infinite, used to express a very recent past, from any form of vernacular and literary Tuscan, because it was suspected of being "a dangerous French influence". And more recently in high school I had an old teacher of Art History who corrected "dettaglio" in all our tests as an "incorrect French borrowing". In fact according to him we had to use the more Italian "particolare".

Regardless I am tired of cherrypicking so I took the map above from Wikipedia which seems me fine, at least according to my non-professional knowledges. I also liked that they use the term "South Italian" as the primary name for South Italian vernaculars, relegating the confusing Neapolitan to a secondary role. The map seems nice to me also because it shows how "distant" are the different Romance languages. So one can see that Tuscan, and therefore Italian, is reletively close to Western Romance languages in comparison for instance to the other Italo-Romance ones; but it is also possible to see that despite these influences it still belongs to a different branch of the Romance family.
So combining this with the two points above all what I can honestly say to answer the initial question is only: neither Spanish nor French is truly closer to Italian.
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Re: Which language is most similar to Italian?

Postby IpseDixit » 2014-01-10, 13:32

Marah wrote:Spanish and Italian are more mutually intelligible when they are spoken but what about written French and Italian, aren't they more mutually intelligible with each other?


I've already said that IMO French is easier to understand in the written form than Spanish, due to it's bigger lexical similarity. For example no Italian would understand words like [flag=]es[/flag] comer, querer, hablar, hacher, preguntar, tomar, esperar (we could understand the latter only in the sense of "to hope") while there would be no problem with [flag=]fr[/flag] manger, vouloir, parler, faire, domander, prendre, attendre since in Italian it's [flag=]it[/flag] mangiare, volere, parlare, fare, domandare, prendere, attendere (or aspettare). But I could be accused of cherrypicking with these examples...

Haha, yeah. I misunderstood, I read only parts of the sentence :oops: . Still, there are similarities in Portuguese that should be understandable to Italians and definitely French. While I don't know much, my friend's dad is Portuguese and passed some of it onto my friend. So, I know that tia/tio are aunt/uncle- similar to zia/zio in Italian. And song is canto in both languages(save a difference in pronunciation). Tante is aunt in French and uncle is oncle.


But that's true for basically all the Romance languages. Lots of words are similar, but in this thread we are trying to understand what the most similar language to Italian is, and to be honest tio and tia don't particularly remind me of zio and zia (unless they are in a specific context), they rather remind me of tuo and tua... And in Italian canto is the act of singing, song is canzone.
Last edited by IpseDixit on 2014-01-10, 15:00, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Which language is most similar to Italian?

Postby Marah » 2014-01-10, 13:47

IpseDixit wrote:
Marah wrote:Spanish and Italian are more mutually intelligible when they are spoken but what about written French and Italian, aren't they more mutually intelligible with each other?


I've already said that IMO French is easier to understand in the written form than Spanish, due to it's bigger lexical similarity. For example no Italian would understand words like [flag=]es[/flag] comer, querer, hablar, hacher, preguntar, tomar, esperar (we could understand the latter only in the sense of "to hope") while there would be no problem with [flag=]fr[/flag] manger, vouloir, parler, faire, domander, prendre, attendre since in Italian it's [flag=]it[/flag] mangiare, volere, parlare, fare, domandare, prendere, attendere (or aspettare). But I could be accused of cherrypicking with these examples...

So yeah, if we're talking mutual intelligibility we have to take both spoken and written forms into account. A Spanish speaker would probably struggle more to understand spoken European Portuguese than Italian and yet it's not closer...
Par exemple, l'enfant croit au Père Noël. L'adulte non. L'adulte ne croit pas au Père Noël. Il vote.

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Re: Which language is most similar to Italian?

Postby IpseDixit » 2014-01-10, 13:54

So yeah, if we're talking mutual intelligibility we have to take both spoken and written forms into account. A Spanish speaker would probably struggle more to understand spoken European Portuguese than Italian and yet it's not closer...


It's exactly what I was saying some posts above, so I can only agree with you :)

Since the question is simply "what's the most similar language" and not "what's the most mutually intelligible in the spoken form", phonology shouldn't be valued more than other parameters.

Itikar wrote: not just because the vocabulary is closer but also, as I experienced, because in French there are much fewer false friends


Yeah, that's also true.

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Re: Which language is most similar to Italian?

Postby Koko » 2014-01-11, 9:18

I understand that Portuguese isn't as close to Italian as French and Spanish are, it's closer to French.

I was still trying to back up my statement that this whole discussion is a lost cause: not one those three options(well, maybe both Spanish and French) are closer to Italian than the other. No matter what, there will always be that one thing in each language that makes closer, but less close as well. Unless Italian veers more to one than the other in the next few years, there will be no correct answer in all aspects of the languages.

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Re: Which language is most similar to Italian?

Postby Koko » 2014-01-12, 7:41

IpseDixit wrote:…And in Italian canto is the act of singing, song is canzone.


True, but canto is also hymn, charol, chant, all of these are essentially songs, just for religious practices and rituals.

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Re: Which language is most similar to Italian?

Postby Saim » 2014-01-12, 10:45

Koko wrote:
IpseDixit wrote:…And in Italian canto is the act of singing, song is canzone.


True, but canto is also hymn, charol, chant, all of these are essentially songs, just for religious practices and rituals.

The same goes for Spanish canto and canción.

IpseDixit

Re: Which language is most similar to Italian?

Postby IpseDixit » 2014-01-12, 13:27

Saim wrote:The same goes for Spanish canto and canción.


In French as well, chant - chanson

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Re: Which language is most similar to Italian?

Postby Koko » 2014-01-12, 19:29

And canto may mean song in Portuguese, so it may not be as close to Italian as I thought. I must suck at finding good sources * self pity alert* Well, Spanish and French are still equal on the close-to-Italian-scale.

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Re: Which language is most similar to Italian?

Postby OldBoring » 2014-01-15, 3:37

I could also cherrypick Portuguese to have similarities with Italian when Spanish (and/or French) don't. :P

It. Pt. Sp. Fr.
lungo* longo largo (!) long (*but longo in many Tuscan dialects)
largo amplio largo large
tempo tempo tiempo temps
sempre sempre siempre toujours
nove nove nueve neuf
cavallo cavalo caballo cheval
natale natal navidad nöel
porto porto puerto port
porta porta puerta porte
pesce peixe pescado poisson
capello cabelo pelo cheveu
pelo pelo vello poil
olio óleo aceite huille (but in Portuguese azeite for olive oil)
cane cão perro chien
uovo* ovo huevo oeuf (*but ovo in many Tuscan and Central Italian dialects)

Then Spanish has the weird -ch- for Latin -ct-... so +1 for Portuguese
otto oito ocho huite
latte leite leche lait

Written language only:
chiamare chamar llamar appeller
chiave chave llave clé

Portuguese and Italian distinguish /b/ /v/ sounds, have the intervocalic s /z/, have the /S/ sound.

And often have <ss> intervocally (pronounced unvoiced) in the same words.
massa massa masa.

Spanish weakens intervocalic b, d, g while Italian and Portuguese pronounce them clearly.

Where Italian has /dZ/ usually Portuguese has /Z/ but Spanish /x/.
/'padZina/ /'paZina/ /'paxina/ - Portuguese more similar.

Both Portuguese and Italian put the article before the possessives.
il mio - o meu - mi

Both Portuguese and Italian distinguish open/closed e and open/closed o.
Last edited by OldBoring on 2014-01-15, 3:45, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Which language is most similar to Italian?

Postby PiotrR » 2014-01-15, 3:44

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNO
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Re: Which language is most similar to Italian?

Postby TeneReef » 2014-03-09, 2:35

PiotrR wrote:Lenition is quite widespread in EP


It is not,
read what native speakers say:
Eu, por exemplo, tanto quanto me apercebo não uso habitualmente os alofones [β] e [ð]; digo sempre [b], [d], independentemente da posição na palavra. É certo que já ouvi falar assim, mas estou convencido de que muitos falantes, como eu, não usam esses alofones na fala espontânea. Nem sequer acho que a minha forma de pronunciar seja atípica neste aspeto. E no entanto os linguistas insistem em descrever a nossa língua como se nisto fosse igual ao espanhol! Refiro-me aos linguistas portugueses, porque também me parece que os linguistas brasileiros não reconhecem estes alofones. O que me leva a pensar que há aqui variações dialetais, ou mesmo idioletais, em ação, que os linguistas portugueses tendem a escamotear.

Se me atrevo a usar um termo forte como "escamotear" é porque em Portugal esta forma de falar usando [β] e [ð] (e também [ɰ] em alternância com [g]) está marcada como "fina". É a que se ouve de preferência em canções ou quando as pessoas querem soar refinadas; mas na fala espontânea a minha impressão é que esses alofones muitas vezes (não digo que seja assim com todos os falantes) desaparecem. Para ser franco, acho que neste assunto os linguistas portugueses têm tendência para serem prescritivistas sem darem por isso.


Em Lisboa ao menos, acho que muita gente simplesmente não faz essa lenição, ou fá-la apenas de modo esporádico.


http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2237666
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Re: Which language is most similar to Italian?

Postby OldBoring » 2014-03-09, 9:38

Why is it "finer"? Is it a Spanish influence?
I think in the North of Portugal they also merge b and v, like in Spanish.

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Re: Which language is most similar to Italian?

Postby PiotrR » 2014-03-09, 12:05

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNO
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