spanish and italian

sterzha   Friday, January 21, 2005, 08:48 GMT
Is it true that Spanish and Italian are interintelligible.
Brennus   Friday, January 21, 2005, 09:22 GMT

Not quite. Speakers of both languages would obviously recognize a lot of individual words in each other's languages, however, if "Hello" and "Good day!" are Buenas Dias to you, I don't think you would readily recognize Buon Giorno! which is actually a little closer to French Bon Jour!

Standard Italian is based on the Tuscan dialect. Romance linguists claim that of all the Italian dialects that are spoken, the Sicilian, Apulian and Venetian dialects share the greatest number of features in common with Spanish. Engadine and Friulian, spoken near the Swiss and Austrian borders, are considered a little closer to French and Catalan --- even separate languages by some.
javier   Friday, January 21, 2005, 09:41 GMT
As a Spanish speaker, I can understand many words in Italian and sometimes,for example giving directions, I've spoken with a Italian in Spanish and he understood me, and viceversa. Another thing is that I am not capable to speak in Italian
sterzha   Friday, January 21, 2005, 10:25 GMT
wow that is really interesting. What other languages are interintelligible? That'd be cool if there was a language close to english that could be understood by the speakers.
Someone   Friday, January 21, 2005, 10:56 GMT
The closest language to English, Frisian, is completely unintelligible to English speakers.
Garota de Ipanema   Friday, January 21, 2005, 11:04 GMT
Brazilian Portuguese and European (or Continental) Portuguese are not interintelligible. Portuguese people understand Brazilians but Brazilians do not understand Portuguese people...

Therefore, Portuguese movies are subtitled when shown in Brazil, and Portuguese soap operas must be dubbled into Brazilian Portuguese when they are shown on Brazilian TV stations.

We find Spanish easier to understand than Continental Portuguese!!!
sterzha   Friday, January 21, 2005, 11:14 GMT
how similar are german from germany, german from austria and german from switzerland?
alfonso   Friday, January 21, 2005, 11:58 GMT
The standard written form of German is essentially the same for all three countries, TV news broadcasts are in standard German, but in Switzerland they pronounce standard German with their own distinct accent.

In Germany, standard German is also widely spoken in homes and in the general society, although in some provinces like Bavaria local dialect is very prevalent.

Different regions of Germany, Switzerland, Austria all possess their own dialects, but in some regions of Germany dialects are threatened with extinction. As a general rule, the wider apart the dialects are spaced, the less mutual intelligibility there will be between speakers of those dialects.

In Switzerland everyone speaks Swiss German, although standard German was the preferred language of the upper classes until World War I. After WWI, perhaps in an attempt to distance themselves from Germany, Swiss German became the preferred language. Standard German is used in classrooms, news broadcasts, writing, political debates; Swiss German everywhere else. Many Swiss Germans consider standard German to be a foreign language which many will struggle to master. Recently, there has even been some talk of importing teachers from Germany into Switzerland to improve the level of standard German spoken by Swiss pupils, to avoid the mishmash of German and dialect currently employed by some local Swiss teachers.

Many people from Germany or Austria would find it very hard to understand Swiss German, although people living near the border would have no problems. TV programs in Swiss German will be dubbed before being shown in Germany.

But in theory at least, inhabitants of these three countries should be able to readily communicate with one another by conversing in standard German.
sterzha   Friday, January 21, 2005, 12:19 GMT
wow thanks Alfonso that is interesting that they are so different. Would they be a lot more different than Scottish accent and American accent then? Do they use different words or is it just the accent?
Fredrik from Norway   Friday, January 21, 2005, 13:17 GMT
Swedes and Norwegians have no problems understanding each other. With a little extra attention and effort Norwegians and Danes can also easily talk. Swedes and Danes have to try a bit harder, but actually all languages in Scandinavian (excluding Finnish and Icelandic) are totally interintelligable.

I also think Faroese people and Icelanders can undersdtand each other.

And I think Dutchmen understand Germans but not the other way around!
Ed   Friday, January 21, 2005, 14:18 GMT
Slavic languages are interintelligible sometimes.
Tiffany   Friday, January 21, 2005, 16:37 GMT
I agree wholly with what Brennus said and Italian and Spanish being interintelligible. It is not quite so, but there are so many similarities that a Spanish person and an Italian person will figure out what the other is saying.

As for interintelligible - how are Dutch and Afrikaans? I hear the two populations can still understand each other easily.
Jordi   Friday, January 21, 2005, 17:15 GMT
One must be very careful between Spanish and Italian. Just to say one example: "burro" is donkey in Spanish and butter in Italian. Apart from that, there are many more "false friends", the more you are educated the more you can understand both languages. It helps if you know neighbouring languages. The fact is syntax and morphology (verbs) have also got differences. Standard Romance languages are always easier than local dialects because they rely heavily on a Latin-Greek heritage (also the case for English, at least).
Written Spanish is far closer to written Portuguese than any other Romance language although differences in speech (specially accent) make it more difficult. The Portuguese understand the Spanish better than the Spanish understand the Portuguese, although bilingual Catalan speakers learn Portuguese quite easily (they obviously are bilinguals in Spanish).
The fact is that if you know three Romance languages you probably can read the rest because what isn't in one is in the other. Furthermore, you can really learn to speak most of them. I am fluent in Spanish, Catalan, Occitan and French. I'm reasonably fluent and understand 90% of Italian (I only studied it for one year) and I understand 90% of written Portuguese and probably undertstand 75% of spoken Portuguese after getting used to the accent after a couple of weeks of exposition to International Portuguese TV. I find written Romanian somewhat puzzling (due to Slavisms mainly) although I can understand about half the words and find Sardinian somewhat odd although I can figure out what they are saying since Sardinian has a few thousands words of Catalan origin (the Catalan language was official in Sardinia until the 18th century). I must say I studied a few years of Latin as well and that helps.
All Romance-language speakers should be taught a second Romance language compulsarily and English as a lingua franca (you know, to get around the other quarter of the world.) That only leaves two quarters out but it's still quite a lot.
Giovanni   Friday, January 21, 2005, 19:33 GMT
This guy is a genius of the language. I take my hat off to you
François   Friday, January 21, 2005, 19:57 GMT
<<wow thanks Alfonso that is interesting that they are so different. Would they be a lot more different than Scottish accent and American accent then? Do they use different words or is it just the accent?>>

If you're referring to Swiss German vis-à-vis Standard High German, the differences are not just in accents but in actual vocabulary. Also, the varieties of dialects vary greatly from one region to another so that a single Standard German word can have an assortment of Swiss translations.

Standard German - Swiss German
Dienstag - Tseeschtig
Abend - Obik
Guten Tag - Gruëzi

Another thing is that the Swiss (incl. the German-speaking citizens) have historically looked to France as their cultural leader and have borrowed many words from French instead of German:

das Trottoir - der Bürgersteig
das Retourbillet - die Rückfahrkarte
das Velo - das Fahrrad
der Coiffeur - der Friseur
das Salär - das Gehalt
der Poulet - das Hähnchen
das Biscuit - der Keks
die Serviertochter - die Kellnerin
der Camion - der Lastkraftwagen
das Postbureau - das Postamt
der Kondukteur - der Schaffner
die Glacé - das Speiseeis
Salü! - Tag!
das Lavabo - das Waschbecken