Which language sounds better, Italian or French?
French is very fluid and elegant, “langue fleuve” – like a river, they say, as the words are joined in one swoosh. It is also logical and clear, as the French philosophers said.
Italian is a singing language using vowels over and over. Just look at the best operas by Verdi or Puccini.
Both are beautiful, each in its way. Italian Is More Romantic Sounding Than French, and Thou French Is Also a Major Romantic Language, I Find Italian More Alluring And Better Sounding.
I’m a native English speaker fluent in French and spent about 2 years learning Italian. My ex-girlfriend from 2012 was born and raised in Italy. I visited her a few times in the country where we’d explored much of northern Italy together. I had relationships with French natives in France – where I’ve worked and lived for some time.
After being exposed to both languages, French sounds better than Italian. Really because French has liaisons, a song-like intonation, and a unique set of vowels you won’t find in Italian. Italian is much easier to pronounce than French because it’s more transparent.
How does Italian sound to non-Italian speakers?
Before I could speak Italian (I am British), what struck me was the beauty of language; one of the only languages with grammar largely influenced by sound, Italian is truly a melodic language.
Secondly, the speed at which it is spoken is especially impressive to English speakers. I doubt this is so special to other languages’ speakers, as many of them are spoken simultaneously, if not more quickly.
Although Italian in syntax and grammar is very different to English and most other non-Romance languages, speakers of other languages (from my experience as a speaker of English, French and a bit of Spanish) can often work out simple sentences or phrases from Italian, simply because many of our words are etymologically-rooted in Italian and Latin.
For a speaker of what is a Germanic language, the ability to work out words such as ‘dimenticare’ as something to do with forgetting due to our word dimentia (a disease with symptoms including memory loss) is very, well, satisfying.
Italian is melodic, beautiful and historical, and its status as a stage in the etymology of many languages gives it an even deeper significance when heard. It is not some alien-sounding language in which no word can be decoded; it sounds like the beautiful past.
Which language is closest to Spanish? Portuguese, Italian or French?
French is to be discarded at first since even though a Spanish speaker may pick some words, they tend to find French hard and strange; ask my classmates in French Class. The pronunciation is also very different from Spanish, to the point of understanding little French if you’ve never studied the language.
Italian has a pronunciation very similar to Spanish, Italian is easier to understand than Portuguese, but Italian has a slightly different grammar and vocabulary. Orally, Italian would be the closest to Spanish.
However, Portuguese is very close to Spanish in grammar and vocabulary. A Spanish speaker can easily understand a text in Portuguese without problems, but when I hear Portuguese, I understand very little compared to Italian.
This chart shows the evolution of Romance languages, which show both Portuguese and Spanish. So yes, Portuguese is the closest to Spanish, even with its significantly different pronunciation.
I’ve been studying Italian for some time now, and even when I can pronounce it extremely well, I frequently find myself going to dictionaries or translators to understand clearly something in Italian. In Portuguese, I’d sound really bad at first, but I’d be able to understand better.
Although significantly different from Spanish, French is eerily similar to Spanish in written form. I’ve also found Catalan very similar to Spanish, both in written form and spoken.
Now, I’d like to share, like others have done, a text sample in these languages. I have taken it from Idioma español – Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre
El español o castellano es una lengua romance procedente del latín hablado. Pertenece al grupo ibérico y es originaria de Castilla, reino medieval de la península ibérica. Se conoce también por el americanismo coloquial de castilla común en algunas áreas rurales e indígenas entre México, Perú y la Patagonia, pues el castellano se empezó a enseñar poco después de la incorporación de los nuevos territorios a la Corona de Castilla.
Espanhol ou castelhano é uma língua românica do latim falado. Pertence ao grupo ibérico e é originalmente de Castela, o reino medieval da península ibérica. Também é conhecido pelo americanismo coloquial castela comum em algumas áreas rurais e indígenas entre o México, o Peru e a Patagônia, desde que o espanhol começou a ser ensinado logo após a incorporação dos novos territórios à coroa de Castela.
Lo spagnolo o castigliano è una lingua romanza dal latino parlato. Appartiene al gruppo iberico ed è originario della Castiglia, il regno medievale della penisola iberica. È anche noto per l’americanismo castiglia colloquiale comune in alcune aree rurali e indigene tra Messico, Perù e Patagonia, poiché lo spagnolo ha iniziato a essere insegnato poco dopo l’incorporazione dei nuovi territori nella Corona di Castiglia.
L’espagnol ou le castillan est une langue romane du latin parlé. Il appartient au groupe ibérique et est originaire de Castille, le royaume médiéval de la péninsule ibérique. Il est également connu pour l’américanisme castille courant dans certaines régions rurales et indigènes entre le Mexique, le Pérou et la Patagonie, car l’espagnol a commencé à être enseigné peu de temps après l’incorporation des nouveaux territoires à la couronne de Castille.
L’espanyol o castellà és una llengua romanç procedent de el llatí parlat. Pertany a el grup ibèric i és originària de Castella, regne medieval de la península ibèrica. Es coneix també pel americanisme col·loquial de castella comú en algunes àrees rurals i indígenes entre Mèxic, Perú i la Patagònia, ja que el castellà es va començar a ensenyar poc després de la incorporació dels nous territoris a la Corona de Castella.
Spanish or Castilian is a Romance language from spoken Latin. It belongs to the Iberian group and is originally from Castile, the medieval kingdom of the Iberian peninsula. It is also known for the colloquial Americanism castile common in some rural and indigenous areas between Mexico, Peru and Patagonia since Castilian began to be taught shortly after the incorporation of the new territories to the Crown of Castile.
Greek is also a language with a phonemic inventory similar to that of Spanish but very far from it in all other senses.
What’s your opinion of the French language?
French native here
I love my language, but I admit it can drive you crazy. Here are a few points that make it beautiful but maddening:
- You may think French is a language, but it is two! Don’t assume one can write it properly even though they speak it fluently. Same thing (rarer though) the other way around: you might have been an excellent high school student and dominated all kinds of arcane rules (yes, I’m looking at you, accord du participe passé), and still not manage to talk your way to the nearest café. It is especially frustrating for my beloved Spanish speakers, who have the privilege of writing as they speak (sort of), and take it for granted.
- The different levels of formalism while speaking French are key to signalling the kind of conversation you want: ministers speak like ministers, thieves like thieves, and friends like friends. It makes it difficult for foreigners who wish to apply the many words they learned with their friends at work: half of them are slang or inappropriate for professional use. They should be avoided if you are to be taken seriously. This last point I understand as an artificial barrier to entry that the educated part of society erected as a defence, and it is a pity because it limits not only work opportunities for migrants but also for French natives who don’t master the nuances of the language.
- The doubles consonnes! Mon dieu are they hard to learn and to remember. I’ve been away from France for almost 20 years now, and sometimes struggle to remember them properly. I also discovered, while learning Spanish (almost no double consonants here, muchas gracias) and, later, Italian (aw my god, are they tricky too), that there is, in fact, no serious logic behind the current rules! We are taught at school that there must be two “n” in “professional”, but then you discover that Spaniards write professionally. English speakers are professional, so where is the logic here? And don’t even get me started on Italian, with their approfittare and attrezzatura.
I like to think of French as a beautiful but complicated evolution of Latin. And I am grateful and admiring of those brave enough to learn it as a foreign language. Keep trying! As for all difficult endeavours, the rewards are as great as the job is tough.
Why do Romance languages (Italian, French, etc.) sound exotic and pleasing to English ears, rather than other language groups such as Slavic?
Conditioning, mostly. Las lenguas se aprenden mejor en la cama. “The best way to learn a language is in bed.” You’re more likely to appreciate their language if you have good associations with people.
Italian and French evoke cultured, sexy, artistic, fashionable people. That’s just how Italy and France have mostly been packaged for centuries.
If Milan was famous for arms manufacturing and Paris was known for greasy, fat, unshaven slobs, then Italian and French would bring up different emotions. (There are greasy, fat slobs in France, and there are Italians who are terrible people. But overall, the association is positive.
Many folks hear Spanish and Portuguese and think, “mmm, sexy.” When English speakers hear those languages, most of us hear the jingle-jangle of pleasant things: happy music, sunshine, beaches, bananas, and coconuts.
People being massacred by the conquistadors probably heard Spanish and thought, “Terror.”
It’s not fair or rational, but Slavic languages are buried in our subconscious with “grey Communist hellholes… mud huts… frozen waste… barren steppes…. Warsaw: I Saw War.”
Slavic women in the fashion industry are changing our ideas about what a beautiful face and body look like. In the long run, that will also change our appreciation of Slavic languages. But the language has to be associated with those images. Do a bunch of Victoria’s Secret ads in Russian, and people will quickly change their minds.
FYI, we appreciate other Germanic languages in weird ways, too. Swedish sounds sexy to many English speakers, partly for the same reason: Sweden has incredibly good marketing. Danish and Dutch score lower on the “nice-sounding language” scale. (To me, Dutch sounds appalling, and Danes sound like they have a potato in their mouth.)
The catch is that Denmark and the Netherlands have fantastic marketing — it’s not like we associate those languages with bad or traumatic things — but sometimes even that can’t make up for how a language naturally sounds. Most people agree that Dutch is sandpaper for your ears. But if you had many positive associations with Dutch speakers or a gentle Danish grandmother, you’d probably score those languages higher.
German is the more classic case. Negative associations with that language have been seared into our brains through history and 75 years of movies about World War II. Germany is peaceful today, but it’s hard to eliminate that history.
I’m sure English gives some people nightmares, too, because of their personal experiences with a few nasty English speakers. Particular English accents can evoke bad feelings, even if the person speaking with that accent is a saint. It doesn’t make any sense. But what we like is rarely 100% rational.
Same mystery as why we’re attracted to certain people sexually but not to others. Conditioning has something to do with it. But that’s not all of it. We’re not entirely sure.
Which language sounds better, Italian or French?