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Thread: Can Spanish and Portuguese speakers understand Italian?

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    Can Spanish and Portuguese speakers understand Italian?





    I don't know why they're surprised. :)


    Non si fa il proprio dovere perchè qualcuno ci dica grazie, lo si fa per principio, per se stessi, per la propria dignità. Oriana Fallaci

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    Very cool video. I have always loved the Spanish spoken by Mexicans. Sweet and pleasant to hear. The Italian accent is quite popular in Brazil. Many in Brazil speak what is called Italianate Portuguese, that is, a Portuguese with an Italian accent, mainly in the states of São Paulo and in the southern states of Brazil. Yes. For me these languages are mutually intelligible, needing only a more detailed explanation of the meaning of one or the other word, when necessary. We just have to be careful with the cognates. Interesting :)

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    Perhaps because I have already got some basic Italian vocabulary from listening so much to operas, it's sometimes been far easier for me to understand spoken Standard Italian than spoken Spanish, particularly because Spanish speakers tend to use too much lenition in their consonants almost to the point of making them drop entirely, and they speak way too fast for the standards of an average Brazilian Portuguese speaker (pretty much the same issue we have with European Portuguese speakers, who are very easily understood by us if only they decide to speak less incredibly fast and with a clearer enunciation than they usually do).

    Italian and Brazilian Portuguese are both more phonologically conservative - compare e.g. "jewel" Italian [dʒɔjɛlːː o], Portuguese [ʒɔjɐ] vs. Spanish [xodʒa, xoʒa, xoʝa, xoʃa] -, consonants are pronounced in a firm and clear way with no phonetic lenition, and in my experience Italians tend to speak in a more carefully articulated and less hurried way than Spanish speakers.

    Were it not for that, I'd say we Portuguese speakers could understand perhaps 85-90% of any spoken Spanish video or audio without any exposure to Spanish lexicon and grammar, and in fact sometimes we do when it's a more formal or solemn occasion, and people are made to speak with a higher self-awareness about their own speech.

    I'm not sure the opposite is true, though. Perhaps because of the complex phonology of nasal vowels, semivowels and diphthongs in Portuguese, in my experience Spanish speakers have a lot more trouble understanding us.

    In Chile I had to explain what I wanted several times before I could get a salesman to understand that banheiro (Brazilian Portuguese for restroom) is the same thing as baño (as they usually say in Chile for casa de baño), even though the two words are obviously closely related. I thought that could've been caused by our way of pronouncing banheiro, which is not [baɲejɾo] as some Spanish speaker might expect, but [bɐ̃j̃ejɾu].

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    Perhaps because I have already got some basic Italian vocabulary from listening so much to operas, it's sometimes been far easier for me to understand spoken Standard Italian than spoken Spanish, particularly because Spanish speakers tend to use too much lenition in their consonants almost to the point of making them drop entirely, and they speak way too fast for the standards of an average Brazilian Portuguese speaker (pretty much the same issue we have with European Portuguese speakers, who are very easily understood by us if only they decide to speak less incredibly fast and with a clearer enunciation than they usually do).

    Italian and Brazilian Portuguese are both more phonologically conservative - compare e.g. "jewel" Italian [dʒɔjɛlːː o], Portuguese [ʒɔjɐ] vs. Spanish [xodʒa, xoʒa, xoʝa, xoʃa] -, consonants are pronounced in a firm and clear way with no phonetic lenition, and in my experience Italians tend to speak in a more carefully articulated and less hurried way than Spanish speakers.

    Were it not for that, I'd say we Portuguese speakers could understand perhaps 85-90% of any spoken Spanish video or audio without any exposure to Spanish lexicon and grammar, and in fact sometimes we do when it's a more formal or solemn occasion, and people are made to speak with a higher self-awareness about their own speech.

    I'm not sure the opposite is true, though. Perhaps because of the complex phonology of nasal vowels, semivowels and diphthongs in Portuguese, in my experience Spanish speakers have a lot more trouble understanding us.

    In Chile I had to explain what I wanted several times before I could get a salesman to understand that banheiro (Brazilian Portuguese for restroom) is the same thing as baño (as they usually say in Chile for casa de baño), even though the two words are obviously closely related. I thought that could've been caused by our way of pronouncing banheiro, which is not [baɲejɾo] as some Spanish speaker might expect, but [bɐ̃j̃ejɾu].
    I did study Spanish in high school, so it's hard for me to judge as far as Spanish is concerned. However, when I spent a summer semester in Barcelona, some Catalans adamantly spoke only Catalan. If I spoke slowly they could understand me and I could understand them. As Duarte pointed out, an occasional word would have to be explained in a sentence.

    As for Portuguese, I had a wonderful Portuguese nanny for a couple of years. She became like a dear friend to me and remains so. Again, I spoke in Italian to her and she spoke Portuguese to me, and we got along just fine. My friends were often quite amused to hear my son jabbering away in Portuguese. Unfortunately, he's lost most of it. :)

    It may be my imagination, but I thought perhaps my ease with both Catalan and Portuguese had something to do with the fact that I grew up hearing the Ligurian dialect. It's closer, imo, to these languages than is "standard" Italian, i.e. Tuscan. Or maybe it's just that since the "core" of the word is usually what is spoken in those dialects, I recognize it in other languages.

    Or perhaps it's as one of the people on the video said: for some reason Italian speakers can understand other Romance languages better than they can understand us.

    As for French, I found written french very easy. (I read somewhere we have more cognates with French than other romance languages.) Pronunciation was a little harder.

    Then, I think there's a difference person to person. Some people just can make the "leap" from language to language faster than others.

    Maybe you could try seeing how this sounds to you...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1RaZx8qbLc

    And this...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJqHV-lo0oE

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    Perhaps because I have already got some basic Italian vocabulary from listening so much to operas, it's sometimes been far easier for me to understand spoken Standard Italian than spoken Spanish, particularly because Spanish speakers tend to use too much lenition in their consonants almost to the point of making them drop entirely, and they speak way too fast for the standards of an average Brazilian Portuguese speaker (pretty much the same issue we have with European Portuguese speakers, who are very easily understood by us if only they decide to speak less incredibly fast and with a clearer enunciation than they usually do).

    Italian and Brazilian Portuguese are both more phonologically conservative - compare e.g. "jewel" Italian [dʒɔjɛlːː o], Portuguese [ʒɔjɐ] vs. Spanish [xodʒa, xoʒa, xoʝa, xoʃa] -, consonants are pronounced in a firm and clear way with no phonetic lenition, and in my experience Italians tend to speak in a more carefully articulated and less hurried way than Spanish speakers.

    Were it not for that, I'd say we Portuguese speakers could understand perhaps 85-90% of any spoken Spanish video or audio without any exposure to Spanish lexicon and grammar, and in fact sometimes we do when it's a more formal or solemn occasion, and people are made to speak with a higher self-awareness about their own speech.

    I'm not sure the opposite is true, though. Perhaps because of the complex phonology of nasal vowels, semivowels and diphthongs in Portuguese, in my experience Spanish speakers have a lot more trouble understanding us.

    In Chile I had to explain what I wanted several times before I could get a salesman to understand that banheiro (Brazilian Portuguese for restroom) is the same thing as baño (as they usually say in Chile for casa de baño), even though the two words are obviously closely related. I thought that could've been caused by our way of pronouncing banheiro, which is not [baɲejɾo] as some Spanish speaker might expect, but [bɐ̃j̃ejɾu].
    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    I did study Spanish in high school, so it's hard for me to judge as far as Spanish is concerned. However, when I spent a summer semester in Barcelona, some Catalans adamantly spoke only Catalan. If I spoke slowly they could understand me and I could understand them. As Duarte pointed out, an occasional word would have to be explained in a sentence.

    As for Portuguese, I had a wonderful Portuguese nanny for a couple of years. She became like a dear friend to me and remains so. Again, I spoke in Italian to her and she spoke Portuguese to me, and we got along just fine. My friends were often quite amused to hear my son jabbering away in Portuguese. Unfortunately, he's lost most of it. :)

    It may be my imagination, but I thought perhaps my ease with both Catalan and Portuguese had something to do with the fact that I grew up hearing the Ligurian dialect. It's closer, imo, to these languages than is "standard" Italian, i.e. Tuscan. Or maybe it's just that since the "core" of the word is usually what is spoken in those dialects, I recognize it in other languages.

    Or perhaps it's as one of the people on the video said: for some reason Italian speakers can understand other Romance languages better than they can understand us.

    As for French, I found written french very easy. (I read somewhere we have more cognates with French than other romance languages.) Pronunciation was a little harder.

    Then, I think there's a difference person to person. Some people just can make the "leap" from language to language faster than others.

    Maybe you could try seeing how this sounds to you...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1RaZx8qbLc

    And this...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJqHV-lo0oE
    Brazilian Portuguese X European Portuguese


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    Quote Originally Posted by Duarte View Post
    Brazilian Portuguese X European Portuguese

    Strange. The Brazilian Portuguese words are closer to ours most of the time I think.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Strange. The Brazilian Portuguese words are closer to ours most of the time I think.
    Many linguists say that Brazilian Portuguese remained close to the Portuguese brought by Portuguese colonizers in the 16th and 17th centuries, both in cadence and as in the use of words considered archaic in European Portuguese. The justification would be a later influence of French in European Portuguese, a fact that did not occur in the colony.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    I did study Spanish in high school, so it's hard for me to judge as far as Spanish is concerned. However, when I spent a summer semester in Barcelona, some Catalans adamantly spoke only Catalan. If I spoke slowly they could understand me and I could understand them. As Duarte pointed out, an occasional word would have to be explained in a sentence.

    As for Portuguese, I had a wonderful Portuguese nanny for a couple of years. She became like a dear friend to me and remains so. Again, I spoke in Italian to her and she spoke Portuguese to me, and we got along just fine. My friends were often quite amused to hear my son jabbering away in Portuguese. Unfortunately, he's lost most of it. :)

    It may be my imagination, but I thought perhaps my ease with both Catalan and Portuguese had something to do with the fact that I grew up hearing the Ligurian dialect. It's closer, imo, to these languages than is "standard" Italian, i.e. Tuscan. Or maybe it's just that since the "core" of the word is usually what is spoken in those dialects, I recognize it in other languages.

    Or perhaps it's as one of the people on the video said: for some reason Italian speakers can understand other Romance languages better than they can understand us.

    As for French, I found written french very easy. (I read somewhere we have more cognates with French than other romance languages.) Pronunciation was a little harder.

    Then, I think there's a difference person to person. Some people just can make the "leap" from language to language faster than others.

    Maybe you could try seeing how this sounds to you...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1RaZx8qbLc

    And this...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJqHV-lo0oE
    I actually think the phonology of Ligurian (what little snippet of it that I have heard, let me clarify) resembles that of Catalan and perhaps a bit less so that of European Portuguese, indeed.

    I couldn't understand the dialect in the video any better than standard Tuscan Italian, but I couldn't help noticing that the sounds are much closer to Catalan, Occitan and even a bit of French than any standard Italian that I have heard. I think that could facilitate understanding people speaking in Catalan and perhaps even in French, indeed.

    Of all the most spoken Romance languages, I have only very serious trouble understanding Romanian (due to phonetic divergence as well as non-Romance lexicon) and French (because it's just too insane in the way it evolved phonetically, so that I find it reasonably easy to understand written French, but spoken, especially casual French sometimes sounds like it could be Danish or Russian to me and it wouldn't be far less intelligible, lol; they also have a "problem" with that very fast pace of speech that I talked above in my other answer).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Duarte View Post
    Many linguists say that Brazilian Portuguese remained close to the Portuguese brought by Portuguese colonizers in the 16th and 17th centuries, both in cadence and as in the use of words considered archaic in European Portuguese. The justification would be a later influence of French in European Portuguese, a fact that did not occur in the colony.
    Indeed, the vocabulary of BP tends to be more conservative than the vocabulary of EP, especially in its formal, literary language.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    I actually think the phonology of Ligurian (what little snippet of it that I have heard, let me clarify) resembles that of Catalan and perhaps a bit less so that of European Portuguese, indeed.

    I couldn't understand the dialect in the video any better than standard Tuscan Italian, but I couldn't help noticing that the sounds are much closer to Catalan, Occitan and even a bit of French than any standard Italian that I have heard. I think that could facilitate understanding people speaking in Catalan and perhaps even in French, indeed.

    Of all the most spoken Romance languages, I have only very serious trouble understanding Romanian (due to phonetic divergence as well as non-Romance lexicon) and French (because it's just too insane in the way it evolved phonetically, so that I find it reasonably easy to understand written French, but spoken, especially casual French sometimes sounds like it could be Danish or Russian to me and it wouldn't be far less intelligible, lol; they also have a "problem" with that very fast pace of speech that I talked above in my other answer).
    Yes, that was my impression as well, not just with Catalan, but with Occitan poetry.

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    In fact, Occitan and Ligurian are both spoken in Monaco and in some parts of Italy. Geographically, it makes all the sense in the world. Now, Catalonia is more spread towards the south, but the Catalan origin is in the north of the Pyrenees (the current France). Only with the Muret battle, which Catalans lost, Catalonia changed course and moved southwards. But until then, Occitaine and Catalonia were linked together. I imagine that people in the current south of France, Catalonia and Western Italy were speaking the same language, basically.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Farstar View Post
    In fact, Occitan and Ligurian are both spoken in Monaco and in some parts of Italy. Geographically, it makes all the sense in the world. Now, Catalonia is more spread towards the south, but the Catalan origin is in the north of the Pyrenees (the current France). Only with the Muret battle, which Catalans lost, Catalonia changed course and moved southwards. But until then, Occitaine and Catalonia were linked together. I imagine that people in the current south of France, Catalonia and Western Italy were speaking the same language, basically.
    Yes, that makes sense to me, too, Farstar.

    As I said, I had very little difficulty understanding Catalan, and they understanding me, whereas my friend and travel partner, an American Spanish major had a great deal of difficulty with Catalan.

    It makes sense. For most of history, it was easier to travel by water than it was by land, and these areas were connected by the Mediterranean. Even before that, there are the Ligures.

    "In pre-Roman times, the Ligurians occupied present-day Italian regions of Liguria, Piedmont south of the Po river and north-western Tuscany, and the French region of PACA. However, it is generally believed that around 2000 BC, the Ligurians occupied a much larger area, including much of northern western Italy up to all of northern Tuscany north of the Arno river, southern France and presumably part of modern Catalonia, in the north-east of Iberian Peninsula.[2][3][4]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ligures

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    Woman speaking Occitan...


    It definitely sounds like the western "Gallo-Italian" languages, and I could understand a lot of it.

    She definitely looks like us too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Woman speaking Occitan...


    It definitely sounds like the western "Gallo-Italian" languages, and I could understand a lot of it.

    She definitely looks like us too.
    Occitan is (was!) spoken throughout a big area. Occitan, then, consists of a series of almost unintelligible dialects (what is a dialect and what is a language is just a political decision: look at the "dialects" of German).

    I think this woman must come from the border between France and Italy (Provence? Val d'Aosta?), since she uses French words, very clearly, and some Italian. As a Catalan speaker, I cannot understand her at all.

    Instead, look at the video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-5e_gOe00U

    As a Catalan, I can understand most of it. This Occitan (the Langedocian one, in the French border with Catalonia) is, in my opinion, some kind of old Catalan.

    There is an ongoing discussion to consider Occitan and Catalan as parts of the same language. Clearly, politics is against this (irrespective of the intellectual merits of the idea).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Woman speaking Occitan...


    It definitely sounds like the western "Gallo-Italian" languages, and I could understand a lot of it.

    She definitely looks like us too.
    I understood the French sounding words and bits of sentences here and there, but that's about it. (I come from the "langue d'ol" territory)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Farstar View Post
    Occitan is (was!) spoken throughout a big area. Occitan, then, consists of a series of almost unintelligible dialects (what is a dialect and what is a language is just a political decision: look at the "dialects" of German).

    I think this woman must come from the border between France and Italy (Provence? Val d'Aosta?), since she uses French words, very clearly, and some Italian. As a Catalan speaker, I cannot understand her at all.

    Instead, look at the video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-5e_gOe00U

    As a Catalan, I can understand most of it. This Occitan (the Langedocian one, in the French border with Catalonia) is, in my opinion, some kind of old Catalan.

    There is an ongoing discussion to consider Occitan and Catalan as parts of the same language. Clearly, politics is against this (irrespective of the intellectual merits of the idea).
    She gives her name, Isabelle, and I think the area, which sounds like Mende, in the first sentence. If I'm correct and it's Mende, it's at the edge of the Massif Central, nowhere near Italy.



    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mende,_Loz%C3%A8re

    It seems there are sub-categories of Occitane: Languedocien, Limousin, Auvergnat, Provencal, Vivaro-Alpine, and Gascon.

    Perhaps her sub-"dialect" is closer to Auvergnat? I don't know. We have someone from the Auvergne on this Board; hope he sees this. He might be able to tell us more about it.

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    2 members found this post helpful.
    She is from the Aubrac region, north of Mende (département of Lozère).Her dialect is close to Auvergnat, though a tinge "southern-shifted". She is certainly intelligible to me.

    That said, she is clearly a zealous learner, and did hear a lot of local dialect spoken in her early days, but she obviously never used the dialect as a first language. She drops French words here and there, when local words do exist, and the phonology is on occasion at best an acceptable approximation. She herself quite honestly admits she's no more than a passionate amateur.

    The Occitan dialects were exactly what we call a dialect continuum, from Provençal in the east to Béarnais in the west, linking, somehow, Italian dialects to Spanish ones, with both an east-west gradient and a north-south gradient, both gradients combined making mutual intelligibility increasingly difficult with distance.

    That said, in my grandparents' Auvergnat dialect, the days of the week (except for Sunday), for example, were extremely close to their Catalan cognates : /djiljü/ /djimar/ /djimekr/ /djidzeù/ /djiveñdr/ /djisat/

    I read Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan and Italian without (much) difficulty. I understand the gist of a conversation in spoken Catalan, Italian, and, to a lesser degree, in Portuguese. I understand virtullay nothing in spoken Spanish.
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    As amazing it could seem, "spanish" is the castillan dialect born around Basque country, the most specific and borderline of all the neo-latine dialects there. It owe its success to the reconquista for a big part.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Farstar View Post
    Occitan is (was!) spoken throughout a big area. Occitan, then, consists of a series of almost unintelligible dialects (what is a dialect and what is a language is just a political decision: look at the "dialects" of German).

    I think this woman must come from the border between France and Italy (Provence? Val d'Aosta?), since she uses French words, very clearly, and some Italian. As a Catalan speaker, I cannot understand her at all.

    Instead, look at the video:


    As a Catalan speaker, I cannot understand her at all.
    .
    You have not understood anything?

    I thought I understood at the beginning:

    Hello, how are you doing? My name is Isabel.

    Then she talks about the villages of which her father and mother are, who worked in a hospital, (I don't know if I understood very well that her father worked in a northern European country) and spoke her language, those who came They also talked to the house. In December they organize a festival of poets. You will receive a mother with a child who studies at the Lyceum which is in first course and they speak the language everywhere under the door, the child wants to hear her speak and speak and thus she learns.

    The tongue is the roots and it is speaking and speaking so that it does not die.

    It comes to say that you have to know where you are from and knowing where you come from you can go all over the world.


    A little roughly, if I listen to it 10 times more I will understand it even better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hrvclv View Post
    She is from the Aubrac region, north of Mende (département of Lozère).Her dialect is close to Auvergnat, though a tinge "southern-shifted". She is certainly intelligible to me.

    That said, she is clearly a zealous learner, and did hear a lot of local dialect spoken in her early days, but she obviously never used the dialect as a first language. She drops French words here and there, when local words do exist, and the phonology is on occasion at best an acceptable approximation. She herself quite honestly admits she's no more than a passionate amateur.

    The Occitan dialects were exactly what we call a dialect continuum, from Provençal in the east to Béarnais in the west, linking, somehow, Italian dialects to Spanish ones, with both an east-west gradient and a north-south gradient, both gradients combined making mutual intelligibility increasingly difficult with distance.

    That said, in my grandparents' Auvergnat dialect, the days of the week (except for Sunday), for example, were extremely close to their Catalan cognates : /djiljü/ /djimar/ /djimekr/ /djidzeù/ /djiveñdr/ /djisat/

    I read Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan and Italian without (much) difficulty. I understand the gist of a conversation in spoken Catalan, Italian, and, to a lesser degree, in Portuguese. I understand virtullay nothing in spoken Spanish.
    Interesting! Is Auvergnat still spoken somewhere by young people? Or is it a language condemned to disappear in a few decades?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carlos View Post
    You have not understood anything?

    I thought I understood at the beginning:

    Hello, how are you doing? My name is Isabel.

    Then she talks about the villages of which her father and mother are, who worked in a hospital, (I don't know if I understood very well that her father worked in a northern European country) and spoke her language, those who came They also talked to the house. In December they organize a festival of poets. You will receive a mother with a child who studies at the Lyceum which is in first course and they speak the language everywhere under the door, the child wants to hear her speak and speak and thus she learns.

    The tongue is the roots and it is speaking and speaking so that it does not die.

    It comes to say that you have to know where you are from and knowing where you come from you can go all over the world.


    A little roughly, if I listen to it 10 times more I will understand it even better.
    I did not explain myself well. I said that as a Catalan speaker I cannot understand anything, by helping myself with Catalan (i.e. Isabelle's language and Catalan are clearly different), as opposed to what happens to Langedocian, which I mostly understand in a natural and effortless way. But for sure I could understand some things, by putting some effort.

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    https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/the-troubadours/italian-and-catalan-troubadours/29DA8977EC14653DF99AF7CE92F3D9D8



    https://muse.jhu.edu/article/430167/summary


    https://fit-ace-frenchofitaly-mediev...t/?page_id=181
    In italian his name would be Bartolomeo Giorgio



    My cousin patrick in Toulouse france can only communicate to me in writing occitan and I reply in venetian .............I can understand 60-70% ..................listening to it , I understand basically zero
    his family (ancestors) moved there in 1910........so the linguistic gap is not that long
    I do not understand written french from L'Oil group
    Last edited by torzio; 28-02-20 at 20:48.

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Anyone who speaks and reads "ITALIAN" can do quite well with written French. We share more vocabulary with French than with any other Latin based language. Pronunciation is different. It's much easier to understand spoken Spanish than spoken French.

    This just popped up on my youtube feed. It's from a series where they conduct a simple conversation in X language and provide subtitles in English to help in language acquisition. I think it's a good idea.

    The one that popped up asks French people which language they find the most beautiful. I return the compliment. After Italian I find French the most beautiful/then Portuguese/Spanish.

    It's a good way to see how much you can understand of spoken French.


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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    She gives her name, Isabelle, and I think the area, which sounds like Mende, in the first sentence. If I'm correct and it's Mende, it's at the edge of the Massif Central, nowhere near Italy.



    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mende,_Loz%C3%A8re

    It seems there are sub-categories of Occitane: Languedocien, Limousin, Auvergnat, Provencal, Vivaro-Alpine, and Gascon.

    Perhaps her sub-"dialect" is closer to Auvergnat? I don't know. We have someone from the Auvergne on this Board; hope he sees this. He might be able to tell us more about it.
    IMHO her Occitan sounds heavily influenced by Parisian French, so that's probably why her speech doesn't sound very "Catalan-like".

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    2 members found this post helpful.


    Castellano antiguo. Old Spanish. Thank God that the ç and the f disappeared for the h among other affected sounds. In modern Spanish the v is pronounced the same as the b but my mother still pronounced the v different from the b

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