It's in the family
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It's in the Family



The Italic Family

There is a lot of confusion as to the similarities between Italian and Spanish. The question is a valid one as these two languages are descendants of the Latin language, that means they belong to the same language family which is called the Italic family. This family includes several other languages like French, Portuguese, Catalan, Provencial and Romanian. What this means is that at some point in history, while Latin was still commonly spoken, a group (of rather large proportions) of Latin speakers relocated to the territory now occupied by Spain. Because of the time travel took back then, those speakers were not in direct contact with people speaking what we can consider the 'pure' (if there was ever such thing) Latin, and with time slight changes began to appear in the language they spoke. The new generations were born in a modified linguistic environment which made the local version of latin the only language they were exposed to and therefore acquired a purity of its own. Eventually, these slight changes increased to the point where people in Spain speaking their version of Latin could no longer be understood by the Latin speakers in what today is Italy. Once the 'versions' of Latin became mutually unintelligible (the people couldn't understand each other), linguists agree that they become independent languages.

Learning one language in a family

If we look at it from a practical point of view, it is true that learning one language in a family usually makes it easier to learn the rest of the languages in said group. A high level survey was conducted with a group of students attending a Spanish course New York City was endorsing at the moment to find out how their language studies could help them understand Italian. The same type of study was conducted with French students in the city (since there is a very high similarity between the syntax in those two languages) to see what the differences were. Surprisingly both groups reported a high rate of word and structure recognition to the texts they were exposed to. However, when asked to try the same thing amongst themselves (French students reading Spanish texts and vice-versa) they could only recognize a very small percentage of words.

Italian Course in New York or in Italy?

Luckily you don't need to rely on learning by approximation even if you are near the Big Apple. For those looking to expand their cultural cache and search for an Italian course New York has currently plenty of offers both to local and foreign students. For those with a bigger wallet and more time to invest the numerous Italian schools for foreigners in Italy remain the best choice.

Leaving was a bittersweet occasion, longing to get to France to start my studies but already missing this country. I promised myself I would come back to explore more of its hidden secrets and, why not, to learn Italian. The time to fulfill that promise is now and I look forward to my upcoming trip to Italy!

Top 10 Italian Expressions

  • Come stai? - How are you?
  • Va bene - OK
  • Buongiorno - Good morning, hello
  • Buonasera - Good afternoon, evening
  • Per favore - please
  • Grazie - Thank you
  • Prego - You're welcome, certainly
  • Prego? - What would you like?
  • Scusi - Excuse me
  • Posso? - May I?
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