If you have tried learning French and Italian at any point in your life, you would be able to identify some similarities in the two languages. But is this just a coincidence, or are they really similar?
The truth of the matter is, the French and Italian languages share about 89% lexical similarity. This means that native Italians who have never heard French in their life would be able to understand what they read in French, and vice versa.
Let’s Talk About the Origins
Both French and Italian are known to be Romance languages. But, no, we don’t mean that they were used solely in wooing a beloved, but instead that they were derived from Latin.
Latin was the language used during the height of the Roman Empire. When the empire collapsed in the 5th century, several other dialects started to arise. Vulgar Latin was quite popular within the Roman territories.
While several of these derivative languages are used today, just a few are similar in vocabulary and grammar.
French and Italian share the same story, but they originate from different areas. The Gauls initially conquered France before being occupied by the Romans. After the Germanic wars, local languages started to change, and Latin began to develop.
The French language spread out further than Italian due to France’s progress in colonial power. This is precisely why, today, French is an official language in almost 30 countries across the globe. (Source: Language Star)
How is French and Italian Different from Each Other?
While we know that they are quite similar to each other, let us talk about what makes them different.
Lexically speaking, 85% to 90% are similar. The two languages are quite the same, but they do have differences in pronunciation and syntax. Let’s discuss;
- The Italian alphabet is composed of 21 letters – 16 consonants and 5 vowels. The French alphabet on the other hand, has 26 letters, exactly like the Modern English alphabet.
- Both languages have several grammatical differences especially in the use of pronouns and plural words.
- There is no definite article in French, whereas in Italian articles are commonly used.
- While the origins of the two languages may be the same, the pronounciations of certain letters are quite different. In Italian ther is no guttural French r sounds. It is pronounced with a slight trill instead.
Based on people who speak both French and Italian, it would be difficult to carry out a conversation if you only know one of the other even if you are speaking reasonably clearly. This is because of the differences in pronunciation, grammar, and even syntax. (Source: Language Star)
What Other European Languages are Similar to One Another?
Yes, other European languages are similar to one another. The critical factor is to know their base origin and their history.
An example is; Spanish and Portuguese. In addition, some languages cross from the Romance language but sound similar to Slavic, such as Romanian and Russian.
But like how French and Italian are similar, there are significant differences in how they are used and how the people helped their language evolve into something unique for their own country. (Source: Language Star)