Thursday, December 9, 2010

Comparing English with Romance Languages

The richness of the English Language will allow you to make distinctions that you don’t find in other languages. The Italian language with its vocabulary of about 260,000 words, cannot, for instance, distinguish between house and home neither can French nor Spanish.

Here is a list of Italian words and their corresponding English meanings: casa=house, home, ombra=shade, shadow, ora=now ,hour, piano=slow, plan, musical instrument, ancora=again, yet, still, ricetta=prescription, recipe, lingua=tongue, language, pesca=peach, fishing, perché=why, because, costume=dress or suit, custom, ospite=host, hostess, guest, nipote=niece, nephew, grandchild, grandson, grand-daughter, sentire=to hear, to feel, fare=to do, to make.
On the other hand, Italians have hundreds of names for pasta and some of them don’t sound too appetizing to foreigners, such as: capellini” (little hair), “vermicelli” (little worms), “strozzapreti” (priest stranglers).

In Spanish, the word casa is used to indicate both house and home even though the proper word for home is hogar , the word lengua indicates tongue and language, the word sombra refers to shade and shadow, the word receta is used for prescription or recipe. French is not any different as they use maison for house and home, langue for tongue and language, and ombre for shade and shadow.

I should also mention that even English has some words that correspond to more than one word in French, Spanish and Italian. Here are some examples:
English                 French                      Spanish                             Italian
To know           savoir, connaître          saber, conocer                    sapere, conoscere
Right                droite, droit, raison     derecho, razon, correcto   destra, diritto, ragione, corretto

Some say that there are between 6,000 and 7,000 languages in the world, others say between 7,000 and 10,000 and that two languages will die each month in the 21st century. In addition, only a small number of the major languages will be left by the end of the 21st century.

1 comment:

  1. It is not true that the word home is only translated to casa in Spanish. THe word hogar means home. The richness of romance languages surpasses the simplicity of anglosaxon ones.