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Thread: Which Latin languages are more closely related to each other

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    Which Latin languages are more closely related to each other

    I've been told French is more similar to Spanish. but Spanish more similar to Portuguese. but Portuguese more similar to Romanian. but Romanian more similar to Italian. and Italian the closest language to original Latin. is this true?

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    Re: Which Latin languages are more closely related to each other

    Sorry, but I do not understand your question.
    What do you mean by more similar? More similar than what?

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    Re: Which Latin languages are more closely related to each other

    It's a subjective thing.
    Personally, I find that the similarities between French and Italian are much higher than between French and Spanish or Spanish and Italian. In terms of both grammar and vocabulary.
    Also I think, spellingwise French is more similar to Latin than Italian is.
    Anyway, what do you need such a classification for?

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    Re: Which Latin languages are more closely related to each other

    I don't think it's an entirely subjective question. For example, Italian fare and French faire can be seen as closer to Latin facere than are Spanish hacer / Portuguese fazer, in the sense that the first two preserve the root accent of the Latin verb, whereas the Spanish and Portuguese words have generalized it to the suffix.

    Similarly, Portuguese fez "s/he/it did" is closer to Latin fecit than Spanish hizo "(id.)" in the sense that Spanish has (I think?) analogically changed the suffix to -o on the basis of other verb classes.

    You'd have to do a pretty extensive comparison of the Romance languages in order to get a full picture of how similar each one was to the others, and I don't know what the results of such a comparison would be, but that doesn't mean the comparison is inconceivable.
    Last edited by Gavril; 8th January 2014 at 9:07 AM.

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    Re: Which Latin languages are more closely related to each other

    Quote Originally Posted by Gavril View Post
    You'd have to do a pretty extensive comparison of the Romance languages in order to get a full picture of how similar each one was to the others, and I don't know what the results of such a comparison would be, but that doesn't mean the comparison is inconceivable.
    In terms of cognate words, compared in sound or in writing "statically", out of a dictionary, – possibly conceivable. But this is only one account, and not the most important one. What about meanings, use? What about the overall sound? Meanings are especially hard to compare. I have to agree with Rallino, who said, "it's a subjective thing".

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    Re: Which Latin languages are more closely related to each other

    Quote Originally Posted by learnerr View Post
    In terms of cognate words, compared in sound or in writing "statically", out of a dictionary, – possibly conceivable. But this is only one account, and not the most important one. What about meanings, use? What about the overall sound?
    What do you mean by the overall sound?

    Meanings are especially hard to compare. I have to agree with Rallino, who said, "it's a subjective thing".
    You're right that we don't yet have a precise scale for determining the degree of semantic drift. But, we can at least identify whether a word's meaning has changed or not: for example, French bête still means "animal" in a neutral sense, like Latin bestia, whereas Spanish bicha has developed into more narrow meanings.
    Last edited by Gavril; 8th January 2014 at 8:34 AM.

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    Re: Which Latin languages are more closely related to each other

    Quote Originally Posted by Gavril View Post
    What do you mean by the overall sound?
    On the objective level, how sounds and intonations are organised in most common words, phrases, sentences, etc. But there is also the subjective level, which is more important for comparison, because subjective differences are what makes us act, feel, and think. I have encountered most amusing descriptions of how some people characterised different foreign languages soundwise.
    You're right that we don't yet have a precise scale for determining the degree of semantic drift. But, we can at least identify whether a word's meaning has changed or not: for example, French bête still means "animal", like Latin bestia, whereas Spanish bicha has developed into more narrow meanings.
    I think that such numerical scale is impossible, because meanings are too context-dependent, too rich, and too uncertain. Too subjective, as the result. What makes us understand words is past experience with them, and not only; also, our momental inclination to remember, and depend on, some kinds of experience, and reject, or not remember, other kinds. Even for a subjective record, we cannot wholly gather how we understood a word. No way, unless someone directly observes the neurons, astrocytes, and what else, and is able to make the gathered knowledge language-like, that means to interpret it.
    Last edited by learnerr; 8th January 2014 at 12:30 PM.

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    Re: Which Latin languages are more closely related to each other

    I thing that a general meaningful comparison is impossible to make.

    See for example the 3rd pers. sg. of "to be": the French est seems to be the most similar to Latin est (Sp. es, It. è, Port. é). But taking in consideration also it's pronounciation [e] (or [et] in case of liaison), which is more similar to Latin, the French est or the Spanish es?

    Or which is more similar to the Latin amatis: the Italian amate or the Spanish amáis? (perhaps both, but in a diferent way... )

    Even in case of the verb facere: it is discutible whether the Sp. hacemos or the It. facciamo is more similar to the Lat. facimus.

    etc.
    Last edited by francisgranada; 8th January 2014 at 12:59 PM.

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    Re: Which Latin languages are more closely related to each other

    Hi! I'm italian and I can say that I have a spanish friend with whom I could chat (on line) writing her in italian and she writing me in spanish. We could understand each other pretty well (in case of troubles, we switched to english).

    More, when I was in Spani (Galicia), it happened to me to speak to shopkeepers in italian and they could understand me ("somos todos latinos" one of them said).

    This would not be possible with french.

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    Re: Which Latin languages are more closely related to each other

    In fact, the original question, untill not specified more concretely, leads to the question of mutual intelligibility. As to the Latin, we would need someone whose native language is Latin (e.g. a Roman gladiator ) who could tell us which of the modern Romance languages is the most understandable for him.

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    Re: Which Latin languages are more closely related to each other

    Off the cuff, French is the most divergent from Latin, whereas modern Italian the closest. French and Italian are quite closely related grammatically. Occitan and Catalan constitute a boundary between Franco-Italian and the Ibero-Romance languages of Castilian, Galician, and Portuguese.

    I don't know enough Rumansch or Romanian to speak with any authority on them.

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    Re: Which Latin languages are more closely related to each other

    From the little Romanian I've studied, it seems to have more grammatical affinities with Italian/French than Spanish/Portuguese.

    E.g., Romanian preserves the contrast between root-accented verbs (such as a face "to do") and suffix-accented verbs (such as a avea "to have").

    It also treats the -i- conjugation in a similar way to French/Italian, with the "-sco" verbs on the one hand (a plăti "to pay" : plătesc "I pay"), and the "-o" verbs on the other (a simţi "to feel" : simt "I feel" -- compare Italian sentire/sento).

    There are also similarities in basic vocabulary: Romanian uses words such as acest "this" (cf. questo, cet), acel "that" (quel, celle), and a mânca "to eat".
    Last edited by Gavril; 15th January 2014 at 5:37 PM.

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    Re: Which Latin languages are more closely related to each other

    As a native French speaker (but no other Romance language) I can say that written Italian isn't difficult for me to understand to some extent (of course it depends of the context) and Spanish is a bit more difficult. But I think it depends of many factors, like the person, the context, the vocabulary, etc.
    For example, in the underground, we have texts written in French, English, German, Spanish and Italian. Italian is the easiest for me to guess (about words' meaning). But I won't say it's a general rule

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    Re: Which Latin languages are more closely related to each other

    Well, it is a complex question to be answered, but I'm going to write some impressions that I have, as for my Catalan point of view (and speaker of Spanish and French too):

    - Portuguese: almost any difficulty for me with the written language. In the spoken language, sometimes it seems like they are speaking Catalan adding -o and -e, but however I have to pay attention to understand them. Portuguese is like Italian in phonology but with the French r and nasalisation. The vocabulary is very similar to that of Spanish.
    - Spanish: no problem neither in the spoken nor written language, of course. It's like a Romance language with a quite different phonemic inventory (no [ʒ], no [ɛ], no [ɔ], no [ʃ], no [z], but [x] and [θ]...) and with some diphthongs like -ue and -ie where most Romance have open o and e (nuevo, mierda...).
    - Catalan: it's like a mix between Spanish and French. Vocabulary is maybe closer to French/Italian (menjar, llit, voler - manger, lit, vouloir), and phonetics is very similar to Italian (with the schwa in Eastern Catalan). It has no final -o, as in French, except for 1st pers. singular endings.
    - French: with almost no doubt, the furthest language from Latin, if we only consider spoken language. Lots of final letters have fallen, and it has plenty of vowels. Vocabulary is similar to Italian.
    - Italian: easy written language for me, though not as much as Portuguese, and a quite clear spoken language that allows me to understand them rather well when they speak.
    - Romanian: needless to say that is the furthest language from the others, because of its isolation. It's the language I know the less, but it seems like being more archaic in grammar, and full of Slavic vocabulary. Some own features are declensions, the determinate article as a sufix and neuter gender.

    Other languages? Occitan very similar to Catalan (it's like old Catalan for us), and Galician like a Portuguese dialect.

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    Re: Which Latin languages are more closely related to each other

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamant7 View Post
    Other languages?
    Sardinian, from the little I have read, seems closest to Italian in pronunciation, but this may be because of Italian influence on its vocabulary: e.g., for the meaning "white", it has both the Italian-looking form biancu and also the older term abru < Lat. albus.

    The vocabulary also has a noticeable Iberian component (perhaps due to the period of Spanish rule over Sardinia): e.g., fentana "window", b(r)uscare "to look for, find" and chèrrere "want" (another word for "want" is bòliri < *vol-).

    Sardinian also has archaic features that no other Romance languages have (e.g. fachere "to do" and giachire "to lie (down)" preserve the velar "c" sound of Latin facere and iacere), or that none of the well-known Romance languages have (e.g. definite article su < Latin ipsum, and the preservation of 3rd singular -t and 3rd pl. -nt (finit "he finishes", finint "they finish")).

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    Re: Which Latin languages are more closely related to each other

    Quote Originally Posted by Gavril View Post
    Sardinian, from the little I have read, seems closest to Italian in pronunciation, but this may be because of Italian influence on its vocabulary: e.g., for the meaning "white", it has both the Italian-looking form biancu and also the older term abru < Lat. albus.

    The vocabulary also has a noticeable Iberian component (perhaps due to the period of Spanish rule over Sardinia): e.g., fentana "window", b(r)uscare "to look for, find" and chèrrere "want" (another word for "want" is bòliri < *vol-).

    Sardinian also has archaic features that no other Romance languages have (e.g. fachere "to do" and giachire "to lie (down)" preserve the velar "c" sound of Latin facere and iacere), or that none of the well-known Romance languages have (e.g. definite article su < Latin ipsum, and the preservation of 3rd singular -t and 3rd pl. -nt (finit "he finishes", finint "they finish")).
    Yes, Sardinian seems to be the most archaic language, maybe due to its insularity. A Mario Pei's study showed that the differentiation degree of Sardinian in comparison to Latin was 8%, (Italian 12, Spanish 20 and French 44).

    The definite article derived from ipsum is also preserved in Balearic Catalan, es (m.), sa (f.) and s' (before vowel).

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    Re: Which Latin languages are more closely related to each other

    What about Corsican? Does someone speak Corsican here? As far as I know, it's close to Northern Italian, right? And may be, to Sardinian (supposition)

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