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Confuding related languages
Home > Guide > Tips & Tricks > Confusing two languages

If you speak several languages from the same family, like for example romance languages (french, italian, spanish, portuguese, romanian, rumantsch, catalan, sard etc...) or germanic languages(german, english, danish, etc...), then you have probably faced the problem of mixing words, expressions or syntax. This, of course, is the other side of the coin, as these languages are so closely related that once you master one correctly, learning the others is a matter of months. Passive understanding comes especially fast, as most words are "transparent". But what about speaking right?

I too face this problem, being a native speaker of french and a secondary speaker of spanish of italian, and I wrote this page to share my thoughts and ways to cope with this problem. Actually, if some reader has any remarks or experiences to share on this, I'd be as open as a baptist church on Sunday morning to hear whatever you have to say.

My method to cope with this is inspired from the way Pimsleur deals with closely similar words. When I encounter two words in two different languages that I tend to substitute for one another (like saying Questo coche me gusta in spanish or Esta macchina mi piace in italian), first I isolate the pair of conflicting words and then I repeat them side by side to contrast them and make the differences appear. In my example that would be :

  • Este coche / Questa macchina

  • Este coche / Questa macchina

and so on until you've got it. It's not bad to write it down, either. This usually works fine, but as I said, I'd be glad to learn your way of doing it.

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