What is the official language of the European Union?

Mi5 Mick   Monday, July 26, 2004, 15:14 GMT

You think the French easily understand Italian? I don't believe that. I believe you speak and think in Italian and French, so you bring the 2 closer together in your mind. I'm francophone but I don't know any Italian. When I watch the Italian channel RAI, they speak so fast I can't understand anything except for a few words in isolation, rarely the context.

92% phonetically close? Quite a few sounds in French don't exist in Italian, like the 4 nasals, "u", the 3 "eu" sounds as in "ne", "feu", "coeur" - that's 8 important sounds. Also the "r" uvular and maybe more like the open "o" which I think Spanish doesn't have. Does rhythm count? Syllables in Italian have stress and accentuation marks; French keeps the same tempo.

Does that mean English speakers can understand German? Because I don't... all I know are things like "gouten tag", "vie gets", etc.
Damian   Monday, July 26, 2004, 15:33 GMT
<<University of Edinborough>>


I don't doubt for one minute that there is a Gaelic Department there. I just feel a wee bit fazed to see the name of my home city, the Capital of Scotland, spelt that way..... and you come from Scotland yourself, Ceasar, which is even more alarming!

I'm puzzled....but to be honest it doesn't take much to do that to me...I'm quite a simple soul really........ ;-)

Anyway, I hope your dream of an entirely Gaelic speaking Scotland is realised some day.......forgive me if I don't share your optimism. Sadly. As I mentioned in an earlier post, when I go round and about in central EDINBURGH, I am much more likely to hear any one of a whole array of foreign languages being spoken than I am our own home grown Gaelic! Sorry, Ceasar....it's true. Especially now the Festival is almost upon us.

I will endeavour to increase my own knowledge of Gaelic if it's any consolation to you, though.
Jose   Monday, July 26, 2004, 15:36 GMT
Spanish is my first language, but i can understand some italian
if watch a italian movie for example, while i can understand no french, in no situation,
i think the reason is more phonetic than grammatical, the sounds in spanish and italian sound very similar to me, we pronounce most of the consonatnts the same also,

whereas french has a lot sounds that are unfamiliar to my ears , so if you a take a word that's written alike in french, italian and spanish , most of the times, you will find that it sounds almost the same in spanish and italian, but i might sound totally different in french.
Jordi   Monday, July 26, 2004, 16:58 GMT
The reason why Romance languages except French -all the way from Italy to Portugal- are more understandable for the illiterate speaker is because French is the language which is further away from its far Latin past (morphology and pronunciation, mainly, but quite an amount of Germanisms as well since French is evolved Latin spoken by romanised Germanic tribes: the Franks and others). I have studied a few years of Latin and speak fluent Italian, Occitan, Catalan and Spanish. I'm also fluent in French and have a wide passive knowledge of Portuguese (I have read Portuguese literature and magazines.) All Romance language linguists will confirm than French has evolved more than the rest and, to a lesser extent, Castilian Spanish also has due to its neighbourhood to Basque related dialects. Actually, the most "central" languages in all the Latin continuum are Occitan and Catalan, which happen to be very close and were much closer in the Middle Ages. Occitan and Catalan speakers are closer to all the rest since they speak quite conservative evolved Latin and occupy a central space amongst all the others. Unfortunately, they are not state languages and they aren't taken into the consideration they should. I would say that most Romance language speakers have a certain degree of aural understanding (my mother who never studied Italian spoke in a mixture of Spanish and Catalan to her Italian friends in Australia and they could understand each other quite well). French would be the most difficult language for other Romance language speakers. The only reason why it has always been widely spoken by other Romance language speakers (the elites and educated speakers) since the Renaissance is because of political power and prestige from the 16th to the mid-20th century. As a matter of fact, the reason why English has become so popular in countries like Spain, Portugal or Italy is because it's now "more prestigious" and even easier to learn than French in the long run although similarities can make you think otherwise in starters' level. A lot of the French aren't too happy about this but it's a fact. I'm qualified in several Romance languages and I've given classes in the past to primary school children and I can assure you I know what I'm speaking about. Standard French is difficult even for the French although it has a great language, culture and tradition. If we'd had to remake a new Latin language for all the territory the best choice would be Occitan and Catalan with input from the rest. Unfortunately, that is science fiction and it will never do.
Dulcinea del Toboso   Tuesday, July 27, 2004, 02:23 GMT

No, I haven't yet been to Hungary but my plans are to go there in a few years. By then, my knowledge of the language should be much better than it is now (I know only simple phrases and words). It would be good if I could find and contact some of the many dozens of my cousins there, and with whom we've lost contact, but being that my family name is so common (Horvath), that will be quite a task.
Mi5 Mick   Tuesday, July 27, 2004, 02:29 GMT

"(morphology and pronunciation, mainly, but quite an amount of Germanisms as well since French is evolved Latin spoken by romanised Germanic tribes: the Franks and others). "

How do you account for the origin of nasals in French? I've heard or rather read from casual users that this is a Celtic trait. Is it true?

And how about the unique vowel combinations such as "ui" (as opposed to "oui") that don't exist in other European languages including German and Dutch? (non-French don't pronounce this correctly)
Jordi   Tuesday, July 27, 2004, 08:18 GMT
We would have to look up the bibliography but I've also read that French also has a Celtic influence. After all weren't the Gaulois some sort of Gaels? (Wales). The fact is the difference u/ü only exists in French and Occitan amongst the Latin language continuum since it is absent from all Iberian and strictly Italic varieties but it does also exist in Germanic languages. As far as diphtongs are concerned we would also have to check their origin and we have hardly the place and time. The fact is French and Spanish are the most aberrant and most evolved languages from a strictly Latin continuum point of view. Roumanian, of course, is a completely different story since it has evolved apart and with Slavonian languages around it. It's funny when I read in other threads that English should have remained as an Old English pure Germanic evolution without the influence of French (and Latin!). French isn't precisely the purest Latin language either and, from a strictly scholarly point of view, Rome and her daughters gave much more to Great Britain and the world than the Barbarian tribes ever did although one must always be proud of all the components that make up a culture and a language . After all, isn't that what neighbourhood and exchange is all about? Germany taught some of the finest Latin during centuries and also gave great scholars in that language and the German language also has its share of latinisms.
Compare Latin "fames/famis" " with Italian "fame", Occitan and Catalan "fam", French "faim", Spanish "hambre" and Portuguese "fome". This is just a random example of how Occitan and Catalan represent a "central variety" of Latin amongst the others since they get nearer to French without getting apart from the rest, except Spanish that breaks, it this case, the continuum. The only other Latin variety without an initial "f" is the Gascon-Occitan dialect where they have "ham" since that variety also grew close to Basque related dialects in the Pyrenees, a language where initial "f" words don't exist.
Mi5 Mick   Tuesday, July 27, 2004, 09:08 GMT
Yep, by Celtic I meant Gaulois and I'm sure there is a connection between Gaul and Gael and Galway.

"The fact is the difference u/ü only exists in French and Occitan amongst the Latin language continuum since it is absent from all Iberian and strictly Italic varieties but it does also exist in Germanic languages."

-I think this is the same for the French "eu" sounds. ie. they are Germanic like "u".

As I wrote before, I wonder if "ui" as in "juillet" exists in any other language other than French?
nic   Tuesday, July 27, 2004, 09:45 GMT

It's easier for a french to learn italian in comparison to learn spanish. Spanish is difficult for french to learn.
If you read some italian when you are french, it's easy to understand, not the case for spanish.
At least, that's what you learn at scholl, french is 92% close with sardinian and italian, spanish is far away.
There are several french accent, example with the R which is "roled" by bourguignons...

At least, if you try to understand a little bet italian and its accent, there aren't difficulties to understand in comparison of spanish.

About french ancestors, they are not galic (gaulois) but gallo-roman it's like anglo-saxon for english.

A few words compared :
a feaw words : mangiare manger, partir partir, venir venir, bambin bambino,

due deux (dos in spanish) bla bla bla.

When i read spanish i just understand a few words, at least french and italians borders are neighboors, between spain and italy there is the sea. There has been many centuries before borders were defined.
nic   Tuesday, July 27, 2004, 10:21 GMT
Mi5 Mick,

As a breton told me, there is a connection between breton and welsh, they can understand each others. Bretons used to leave (or live i never know) in England before the anglo-saxon came.

Gaul(s) with an S is a generic term to design several celtic tribes : gaules transalpine (France) and Gaule cisalpine (north Italy). And i don't know if celtibere (spanish side) were included in Gauls.
French is the result of a mix bet gaulois and romans : gallo-roman.

As i told you (but you did not seem to believe), because of german invasions, you can notice some germnic influences in french and italian 2, lombards in Italy are the best example. Some italians have german for 1st language (Frioul Venety : italian Tyrol, in a city like Tarvizzio you will hear more more italian who speak german than italian), for french as you must know they are alsacians. I don't think it's the case for Spain (but i am not a spacialist in History of course). The bast example of these influences is Swiss where these 3 languages coexists (the 4th romanche).

As i wrote, you can read Curzio MALAPARTE, who explains why french and italians are cousins like Norwegians and swedish are.

My family is originally from south east form my french family side, i grow up in Lyon which has been built by romans, italians (Florentins precisly), many italian architects leaved and worked there, you can notice some east influences 2 (Czeh precisly).
Mi5 Mick   Tuesday, July 27, 2004, 10:36 GMT

As if if Italian wasn't hard enough for me to understand audially, Spanish is worse.

However, If you're talking about the written language then it's completely different; someone French could understand written English and I could probably understand written Italian. But as Jose said there are too many differences phonetically. eg. a simple word like "Le" in French sounds like "lait" (milk) in Italian. When you string many of these little differences together in a sentence, it gets more and more complicated audially.

The mute "e" in French changes pronunciation patterns too. eg. Je te le fais pas dire ~ Ch'te l'fais po dir'. eg. Ils vont venir nous voir ~ I' vont v'nir nous voir. Like "ui" in "juillet", another combination that doesn't exist in other languages is like the one in "croir" ~ "crwar" and "oeil" in "feuil". So the spelling is exactly the same in many instances, but the pronunciation is very different.

The main ancestors were Franks too (Germanic tribe) don't forget, giving rise to "France", as well as Gaulois and Roman hence "Gallo-roman". I don't know the name of the Celts of Spain but I'm sure they were all related somehow between the regions of France and the British isles.
nic   Tuesday, July 27, 2004, 10:44 GMT
Yes but le is in italian the feminine plurial : le ragezze, sorry but the french le in plurial is "les". So as you can see it it's the same plurial

le machine = les machines
nic   Tuesday, July 27, 2004, 10:53 GMT
I never said the main ancestors were not franks because franks are gallo-roman 2, you can go to Koëln (cologne) if you 're interested in.
To say Franks are french ancestors is not really true, for the simple reason they only invader l'ile de France and gave their name to the same country. franks are the ancestors of franciliens but not for bourguignons who were the burgondes, auvergnats who were arvernes, provençaux...

Franks have been quiclky integrated by the franciliens who did not use any more their germanic language but had no choice to to use the vulgar latin.

Celts of Spain are Celtibères (we say it like that in french).

Celts have nothing to see with british isles for at the beginnig, they are originally from Austria. That's where their civilisation was born
nic   Tuesday, July 27, 2004, 11:04 GMT
I don't think a french who does not know anything about english can read it and understand it.

What is it , qu'est ce que c'est, of course bien sur, je lis un livre de philosophie i am reading a philosophy book, ok on se retrouve à cinq heures pour manger un morceau et puis on ira ai cinema, ok let see us at five, we will eat something and go to cinema.
Do you seriously think?
nic   Tuesday, July 27, 2004, 11:10 GMT