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Thread: Italian/Spanish: How similar are they?

  1. #21
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    Re: Italian/Spanish: How similar are they?

    Once you've mastered a Romance language, you may safely assume you can understand about half if not a lot more of what you read in a newspaper in any other.

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    Re: Italian/Spanish: How similar are they?

    One can certainly understand much more than 50% while reading. I think much has been written in these forums about mutual intelligibility of Spanish and Portuguese, Spanish and Italian... Well, intelligibility is almost a given, but doesn't the degree of difficulty in learning depend on the level of proficiency you set yourself as a goal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hotu Matua View Post
    Now a word of caution: It is very easy to START learning another Romanic language if you already know one, but to achieve a full command of it is a very hard task, as the similarity becomes a trap full of "false friends": words that you would guess to convey a meaning when they mean something radically different.
    Absolutely. This is exactly how I felt when I started studying Portuguese based on my knowledge of Spanish. Aaargh. Making a Spanish sentence sound Portuguese is just a trick that does not suffice to speak properly.

    I wrote about this once in the Portuguese forum. I speak Spanish well and I didn't have a clear idea of the difficulties when I started studying Portuguese using my knowledge of Spanish as a starting point. Only vocabulary is easy, but there are some false cognates even in everyday's words. Also, the verbal and pronominal system of Spanish is easy as compared to Portuguese. (And believe me, French verbs and tense concordance are already a piece of cake if you compare them to Spanish.)
    Not to speak about Portuguese phonology which is as complex as French or English...

    I can understand written Italian as well as standard variants of spoken Italian to some extent, I can fake a fairly good Italian pronunciation, but I certainly cannot speak it. If I get exposed enough to Italian, I am sure I will get started very quickly, but I will need to study seriously and to dissociate Italian from French, Spanish and Portuguese if I want to speak well.

    It is however frustrating to see that some people believe these languages are all the same. For instance, I needed Portuguese for work and I wanted something more than just basic business communication skills. But I could not convince my boss and get an approval for Portuguese lessons. He considered that Spanish and Portuguese were just the same and that I didn't need to learn what I was supposed to know!...

    Quote Originally Posted by pomar View Post
    By the way, Ronanapoirier, what makes you think that Italian pronunciation is similar to Portuguese?
    My hypothesis: the consonants. Clear b / d / g and s / z sounds, a clear b / v opposition etc. Probably not the vowels, I would say...
    Com as palavras todo cuidado é pouco, mudam de opinião como as pessoas. (José Saramago)

  3. #23
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    Re: Italian/Spanish: How similar are they?

    Well, I've just started to study Italian. I'm a Spanish native speaker and I find it quite easy to learn because there are bunches of words which are really similar, plus the pronuntiation is quite similar to spanish (or at least to my pronuntiation). On the other hand, I've read some portuguese and I've talked to brazilian people (they in Portuguese, me in Spanish) and we find easy to understand each other, nevertheless, there are some times when I can't understand a word of what they're saying and the same happens the other way around.

    My conclusion is that Italian is easier for Spanish speakers than Portuguese.
    Porque los idiomas estuvieron, están y estarán por siempre...

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    Re: Italian/Spanish: How similar are they?

    Ive heard that Brazilian Portuguese borrows a lot from Italian, one point I distinctly remember is that Brasilians use the italian grammatical structure when using the imperative, and not the portuguese one.

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    Re: Italian/Spanish: How similar are they?

    Quote Originally Posted by pomar
    By the way, Ronanapoirier, what makes you think that Italian pronunciation is similar to Portoguese?
    EXplaining it better, I'd say Portuguese phonology is closer to Italian's than Spanish's. I've been calculating and there are more identical sounds (consonants sounds) between Portuguese and Italian than between Spanish and Italian and SPanish and Portuguese. Of course I just picked up one accent to calculate it, since we know we take a step in any place and we find a different accent. And about vowels, Spanish and Italian are closer. But Portuguese is closer to Italian than to Spanish.


    Freidfysh, what do you mean by using Italian structure in imperative?
    (And yes, we have a lot from Italian. Especially here in Rio Grande do Sul and there in São Paulo. Although there's a difference: Italian people came to RS to colonizate and they went to SP to work in lieu of the slaves. I guess that made a difference of influences since here the Italians got localizated and one area and in SP they got spread throughout the state. So I guess in SP there are a biggest influence in the whole state and here we have it in some particular areas of Italian imigration.)
    "And You've Never Met Anyone As Everything As I Am Sometimes..."

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    Re: Italian/Spanish: How similar are they?

    Hello,
    Spanish and Italian do have some things in common in my opinion. I speak Spanish, and am currently learning Italian. I must say, it's not as hard as I thought it would be. When you translate something it's in the similar format as Spanish, masculine words end in an "o." Things like that make it easier to learn. Here are some words that show likeness between the two tounges...
    Note= Noche
    Bene= Bien
    Gratzi/Gratzia= Gracias
    Io= Yo
    Respirare= Respira
    Vacca= Baca

    And then there are words that are exactly the same... (Spanish/Italian to English)
    Dominante= Dominant
    Comodo= Comfortable
    Idolo= Idol
    Replica= Replica

    Suerte with whatever language you choose to learn.

    ~~LenyZaZa~~

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    Re: Italian/Spanish: How similar are they?

    Quote Originally Posted by ronanpoirier View Post
    EXplaining it better, I'd say Portuguese phonology is closer to Italian's than Spanish's. I've been calculating and there are more identical sounds (consonants sounds) between Portuguese and Italian than between Spanish and Italian
    Well, we can appreciate that.
    But it is not only a matter of having more sounds in common, but how frequently similar or different sounds are used in a conversation.

    For example, vowel sounds are extremely important because of the frequency of their appearance in normal conversation. If there are significant differences in vowel pronunciation, then the languages in question sound very diffferent.
    That's the case of Portuguese and Spanish.
    Nasal vowels emerge constantly during a conversation in Portuguese, giving this language a peculiar character that places this language far from Italian and Spanish.
    On the opposite site, Italian and Spanish vowel sounds are practically identical, so the flow of sounds makes the listener think they are indeed very closely related languages.

    Take, as a very nice example, the word "juntos" (together), which is written identical in Spanish and Portuguese, while it is "insieme" in Italian.
    I swear that a Spanish speaking person would find more difficult to pronounce properly the word in Portuguese, despite its identical spelling, that to pronounce "insieme" in Italian.
    It would be easier to prononunce "Non so" that "Nao sei" ("I don't know").
    And the examples are many.

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    Re: Italian/Spanish: How similar are they?

    Since we are each giving our personal opinions it will not matter too much if I happen to say something that has already been said.

    I can assure you that Spanish is much closer to Portuguese than Italian. In fact, a Portuguese can understand both spoken and written Spanish
    without much practice, whereas a Spaniard would be able to work out a text in Portuguese but have considerable trouble understanding the spoken language, particularly the European version, unless he comes from Galicia where the local dialect (called gallego in Spanish) is almost the same as Portuguese. The Brazilian version of Portuguese is pronounced much closer to the way it is spelt so that, for instance noite the Portuguese for night sounds like noitee instead of noitch, and all is generally much less disorted than in the old country. Thus if you want an easier task, learn Portuguese on top of your Spanish, though there is a danger of mixing them up if the first language is not well established. I do not have the statistics to hand but it is worth bearing in mind that Portuguese is far above Italian in the league of the world's most spoken languages.
    Italian is pronounced close to how it is spelt slightly more so than Spanish and the standard language is crystal clear with pure vowels - that is why it is probably the most suitable language for opera. But it differs much more from Spanish than Portuguese in its grammar and vocabulary. It has been said above that some Italian dialects are closer than standard Italian is, to Spanish, which is not surprising when you consider that various Italian states were for a long while part of the Holy Roman Empire and under Spanish rule. By the way, curiously enough, it is generally agreed that Portuguese and then Spanish are closer to their ancestor, Latin, than Italian is.

    To help you come to a decision, I would advise you to read and listen to the online audio-visual articles on the site of EuroNews, where there is, among others, an English version, if you get lost. The texts are not exact translations of one another but what you hear and see in any given language is the same and you have the videos to aid comprehension:
    http://www.euronews.net/index.php?ln...e=accueil_info

    Despite what I have said above, I have known several instances of Spaniards coming to Italy who very soon managed to communicate verbally with their Italian girlfriends! Amor vincit omnia.
    Hasta luego/ até logo/ arrivederci !
    Arrius
    PS You ask about online courses. Look at the sources listed at the beginning of the relevant language forum to see what online aids to learning exist - there is much available gratis.
    Last edited by Arrius; 24th June 2007 at 9:24 PM.

  9. #29
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    Re: Italian/Spanish: How similar are they?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hotu Matua View Post

    Take, as a very nice example, the word "juntos" (together), which is written identical in Spanish and Portuguese, while it is "insieme" in Italian.
    I swear that a Spanish speaking person would find more difficult to pronounce properly the word in Portuguese, despite its identical spelling, that to pronounce "insieme" in Italian.
    It would be easier to prononunce "Non so" that "Nao sei" ("I don't know").
    And the examples are many.
    I don´t understand what exactly would make the word "juntos" so difficult for Spanish speakers to pronounce. Actually, it´s pronounced just like "zhuntus" (with Czech ortography, I would write it like "žuntus"), whereas the "n" is slightly nasalised. The same with "não sei", the only difficulty is that the "-ão" is pronounced more or less like a slightly nasalised "-au". Indeed, the italian words would be probably somehow easier for Spanish speakers to reproduce since they don´t contain any nasal sounds, but I really don´t see anything extraordinarily difficult in the given Portuguese examples. There are certainly many tricky aspects of Portuguese phonology, but these words are probably not well chosen or something.

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    Re: Italian/Spanish: How similar are they?

    In fact, a Portuguese can understand both spoken and written Spanish without much practice, whereas a Spaniard would be able to work out a text in Portuguese but have considerable trouble understanding the spoken language, particularly the European version, unless he comes from Galicia where the local dialect (called gallego in Spanish) is almost the same as Portuguese. The Brazilian version of Portuguese is pronounced much closer to the way it is spelt so that, for instance noite the Portuguese for night sounds like noitee instead of noitch, and all is generally much less disorted than in the old country. Thus if you want an easier task, learn Portuguese on top of your Spanish, though there is a danger of mixing them up if the first language is not well established
    Touché Arrius! As you can figure it out, because of its proximity there are many argentinos living in Brasil, I don't know any, no matter how long they've lived here, that can pronounce our vowels and some other letters without the Spanish accent. Any Brazilian can at least get the main point of a conversation from a hispanohablante and any Brazilian that dedicates him/herself to, can speak Spanish without accent, perfectly.
    The Italians living here can get closer to our accent but a sharp ear for accents will soon detect the accent when this Italian says some vowels like a depending on the letter coming before or after this a.
    Eu quase que nada não sei. Mas desconfio de muita coisa...- Guimarães Rosa

  11. #31
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    Re: Italian/Spanish: How similar are they?

    I don´t understand what exactly would make the word "juntos" so difficult for Spanish speakers to pronounce. (Ayazid)

    It is difficult for a Spaniard to pronounce the J in Portuguese juntos as it is also to pronounce the English Z in azure or the second G in the usual pronunciation of English garage. But if you point out that it's the same sound as in the common pronunciation of the Ll in llueve or llama or, even more likely, the Y in yo, they get it.
    I think an hispanophone could get used far more quickly to the strange pronunciation of Portuguese (which, when one hears it for the first time one could take for a slav language) than the far more often distinct vocabulary of italian. For someone who speaks Spanish to learn to talk like a Portuguese it is somewhat similar to myself as a Southern Englishman learning to speak like a Scot from some remote peak in the Scottish Highlands, possibly even less difficult.

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    Re: Italian/Spanish: How similar are they?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grekh View Post

    My conclusion is that Italian is easier for Spanish speakers than Portuguese.
    Easier in which aspect? Do you mean that for Spanish speakers is easier to learn Italian than Portuguese, or that they understand spoken Italian more easily than spoken Portuguese?

  13. #33
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    Re: Italian/Spanish: How similar are they?

    Quote Originally Posted by Qcumber View Post
    Once you've mastered a Romance language, you may safely assume you can understand about half if not a lot more of what you read in a newspaper in any other.
    I don't think I would have been able to understand half if not a lot more of a French text if I hadn't studied it for years. I also don't think I can understand half if not a lot more of a Romanian text.

    Quote Originally Posted by LenyZaZa View Post
    Notte= Noche
    Bene= Bien
    Grazie= Gracias
    Io= Yo
    Respirare= Respirar
    Vacca= Vaca

    And then there are words that are exactly the same... (Spanish/Italian to English)
    Dominante= Dominant
    Comodo= Comfortable
    Idolo= Idol
    Replica= Replica
    Except that in Spanish there are diacritics in some of those words.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hotu Matua View Post
    On the opposite site, Italian and Spanish vowel sounds are practically identical [...]
    That depends. Standard Italian distinguishes between è and é, and between ò and ó, as does Portuguese. These pairs of vowels are replaced with just two vowels in Spanish, which has no such distinction.

    Ultimately, though, I think these comparisons lead nowhere, because which language is closer and which one is farther depends on the linguistic features you choose to compare. Still, my overall impression is that the phonetic systems of Italian and Spanish are indeed closer to each other, while in terms of the "structure" of the vocabulary and in terms of grammar Spanish is generally closer to Portuguese.

    Of course, in this comparison I am thinking of what little I know of standard Italian -- because some Italian dialects have at times surprising phonetic similarities with Portuguese.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arrius View Post
    The Brazilian version of Portuguese is pronounced much closer to the way it is spelt so that, for instance noite the Portuguese for night sounds like noitee instead of noitch, and all is generally much less disorted than in the old country.
    Actually, most Brazilians pronounce it "noitchi", and in Portugal no one says "noitch".

    Quote Originally Posted by Arrius View Post
    But if you point out that it's the same sound as in the common pronunciation of the Ll in llueve or llama or, even more likely, the Y in yo, they get it.
    Except that it isn't the same sound, for most Spanish speakers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arrius View Post
    By the way, curiously enough, it is generally agreed that Portuguese and then Spanish are closer to their ancestor, Latin, than Italian is.
    There are all sorts of opinions of that sort, all of them baseless or dubious, IMHO. In actual fact, each Romance language is more or less as close/apart from Latin as any other, though in different ways. They are all considerably closer to each other than any of them is to Latin.
    Last edited by Outsider; 25th June 2007 at 4:35 PM. Reason: added comments
    Deuparth gwaith yw ei ddechrau.

  14. #34
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    Re: Italian/Spanish: How similar are they?

    To Outsider:
    European Portuguese noite ends in a palatalized T, my transcription was the closest I could get to it, and you seem to imply that the Brazilian form is not universal so that the form noit-ee may, indeed, exist as I have been told it does in course books and recall hearing.

    The pronunciation of ll in Spanish, similar in sound to Portuguese juntos, is used by a great many people in Spain and if not used, will be known to them. The Y in yo similarly pronounced is even more widely used and is often heard in songs, including in South American songs. I have referred to these similarities with regard to both ll and y when teaching the similar English sound mentioned in my post to madrileños - and I assure you it works. In Andalusia too these letters are frequently pronounced this way.

    There are many people far more erudite than myself (which, of course, is not difficult) who believe that Portuguese,at least in the written form, is of the daughters of Latin the closest to the mother. I did not say that the Romance languages are not closer to one another than any given one is to Latin, so you are splitting hairs that are not even there.

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    Re: Italian/Spanish: How similar are they?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arrius View Post
    European Portuguese noite ends in a palatalized T [...]
    What do you mean by "palatalized"? If you mean like an English or Spanish "ch", then definitely not. Furthermore, EP "noite" doesn't necessarily end with a consonant. The "e" may be pronounced.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arrius View Post
    [...] my transcription was the closest I could get to it, and you seem to imply that the Brazilian form is not universal so that the form noit-ee may, indeed, exist as I have been told it does in course books and recall hearing.
    "Noitê" exists; I'm not entirely sure about "noiti", though it's possible. However, these two pronunciations are regional in Brazil. The most common by far is "noichi".

    Quote Originally Posted by Arrius View Post
    The pronunciation of ll in Spanish, similar in sound to Portuguese juntos, is used by a great many people in Spain and if not used, will be known to them. The Y in yo similarly pronounced is even more widely used and is often heard in songs, including in South American songs. I have referred to these similarities with regard to both ll and y when teaching the similar English sound mentioned in my post to madrileños - and I assure you it works. In Andalusia too these letters are frequently pronounced this way.
    I agree that it's a similar sound, and it may be a good first approximation for beginners, but it's not the exact same sound.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arrius View Post
    There are many people far more erudite than myself (which, of course, is not difficult) who believe that Portuguese,at least in the written form, is of the daughters of Latin the closest to the mother.
    That must depend on how one measures the "closeness"...
    Deuparth gwaith yw ei ddechrau.

  16. #36
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    Re: Italian/Spanish: How similar are they?

    I agree that it's a similar sound, and it may be a good first approximation for beginners, but it's not the exact same sound.
    I greatly disagree. If someone who studies the variation of Latin American Castellano would realize there are several approximate pronunciation for the "Ll" or "y" combination. It can be pronounced as the "y" in English, a "dj" sound very similar to "d" of Brazilian Portuguese, a "sh" sound similar to the pronunciation of "ch" in Portuguese, and a "zh" similar to the "j" of Brazilian Portuguese. I know this from experience with my mother who is Brazilian married to a Panamanian American and she has interacted and has friends from all over Latin America who speak in Castellano to her in their regional accents. She would either speak Brazilian Portuguese to them or a Portunhol but never in exact Castellano since she never learned how to formally speak it. I know the European Portuguese approximates might be different but at least according to my mother you do have Brazilian approximates to certain pronunciations in Castellano Latinoamericano because that was how she survived in the United States mostly only having Castellano speaking friends around her because there wasn't many Portuguese speakers around her in the places she lived in the United States.

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    Re: Italian/Spanish: How similar are they?

    But Arrius spoke about "the common pronunciation" of Spanish. Argentinisms are hardly universal across the Spanish-speaking world. Not to mention that the Argentinians themselves can pronounce the "y" in different ways.
    Deuparth gwaith yw ei ddechrau.

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    Re: Italian/Spanish: How similar are they?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ayazid View Post
    I don´t understand what exactly would make the word "juntos" so difficult for Spanish speakers to pronounce. Actually, it´s pronounced just like "zhuntus" (with Czech ortography, I would write it like "žuntus"), whereas the "n" is slightly nasalised. The same with "não sei", the only difficulty is that the "-ão" is pronounced more or less like a slightly nasalised "-au". Indeed, the italian words would be probably somehow easier for Spanish speakers to reproduce since they don´t contain any nasal sounds, but I really don´t see anything extraordinarily difficult in the given Portuguese examples. There are certainly many tricky aspects of Portuguese phonology, but these words are probably not well chosen or something.
    I don’t think that the problem lies in reproducing sounds as so much in hearing them, the Portuguese vowels tend to throws us off when we hear them, and some times we don’t recognize a similar word because of the different vowels involved or to us sound like truncated words. If not for the vowel system and spelling this to languages would almost look more like twins.
    By the way did any body saw the last Miss Universe beauty pageant when the Girl from Brazil was interview in the question round, she answered in Portuguese, and before it was even translated, all of the Spanish speaking people in the audience clapped because they liked her answered and didn’t even needed a translation, I notice that because I as well understood perfectly her Portuguese, and I don’t speak the language.

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    Re: Italian/Spanish: How similar are they?

    What do you mean by "palatalized"? If you mean like an English or Spanish "ch" then definitely not.(Outsider)
    No, I dont. By "palatized" I am thinking of those softened consonants so common in Russian, for example, as in съездить [ˈsje.zʲdʲɪtʲ] (to go/ travel) where what looks like a reduced lower case b in the Russian script and is represented by a faint raised lower case italic j in the phonetic transcription softens the final T. If I had used such phonetic symbols in answer to the original questioner, he would probably have been even less likely to grasp what I meant, so I approximated with the ch.

    But Arrius spoke about "the common pronunciation" of Spanish. (Outsider)
    What I said was that the pronunciation described was common (i.e. of frequent occurrence) not that it was the common pronunciation. If it were, it would be the one I use - which is not the case.
    A.

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    Re: Italian/Spanish: How similar are they?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arrius View Post
    By "palatized" I am thinking of those softened consonants so common in Russian, for example, as in [...] (to go/ travel) where what looks like a reduced lower case b in the Russian script and is represented by a faint raised lower case italic j in the phonetic transcription softens the final T. If I had used such phonetic symbols in answer to the original questioner, he would probably have been even less likely to grasp what I meant, so I approximated with the ch.
    I have never heard of European Portuguese having palatalized consonants. What is your source?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arrius View Post
    What I said was that the pronunciation described was common (i.e. of frequent occurrence) not that it was the common pronunciation. If it were, it would be the one I use - which is not the case.
    A.
    I just don't see how you can call a pronunciation that practically only exists in Argentina, and not even everywhere in Argentina, "frequent". I think such statements are more likely to be misleading than helpful to the vast majority of Spanish speakers, who will not be familiar with the sound, but will tend to think of their pronunciation for "y" instead.
    Deuparth gwaith yw ei ddechrau.

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