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Romance Profile

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Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
Joined 6889 days ago

4228 posts - 8259 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 1 of 13
16 July 2011 at 10:20pm | IP Logged 
INTRODUCTION
The Romance languages are a sub-group of the Indo-European languages spoken around the world. All of them arose from Latin which itself is classified as an Italic language within Indo-European. Approximately 800 million people are native speakers of a Romance language, and most of these are found in Europe and the Americas. Some of these languages have been used as a lingua franca normally as a legacy of past colonial/imperial expansion by entities governed by speakers of a Romance language.

The primary attraction of the Romance languages for many potential learners is their ubiquitousness, utility and for some of the languages, a perceived link to cultural sophistication. Learning resources designed for English-speakers for the highest-profile Romance languages are plentiful. Despite their popularity for learners of foreign languages, studying a Romance language can be a credible but rewarding challenge. Seven of the Romance languages: Catalan, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Romansch and Spanish are national languages and with the exception of Catalan, Romanian and Romansch are well-supported by learning material for English-speakers. In any case, exposure/immersion via travel as part of an independent learning plan for any of these aforementioned languages are feasible endeavours. Studying Galician or Occitan are also feasible endeavours even though these aren't used as official national languages. Learning materials for English-speakers for lesser-known dialects/languages such as Aragonese, Aromanian, Piedmontese or Sardinian may be more difficult to find and those interested in such dialects/languages may thus need to rely on materials that use a closely-related Romance language as the intermediary language.

As with any other language, the associated culture of the respective Romance speech communities can be sufficient encouragement for someone to study a Romance language. The modern culture of many Romance speakers is broadly “Western” in being informed to a certain degree by Christianity and social or artistic movements experienced throughout Europe. However there are native-speakers of Romance languages in the Americas and Africa whose cultural orientation is more closely aligned to cultures other than the “Western” one.


TRAVEL OPPORTUNITIES
Romance languages may be encountered anywhere because of the aforementioned legacy of colonial/imperial expansion or education in these languages. As official languages, Romance languages dominate this sphere in Central and South America, and are also used officially in much of Africa, parts of Canada and certain areas of western and southeastern Europe.


COUNTRIES (not exhaustive)
Africa: Angola, Madagascar, Mozambique, and much of central and western Africa (e.g. Gabon, Senegal, Zaïre),
Asia: China (Macau), India (Goa, Pondicherry)
Americas: All of Central and South America (except Guyana and Suriname), Canada
Europe: Andorra, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Moldova, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Switzerland


SPEAKERS
Approximately 800 million are native speakers of a Romance language


LINGUISTIC CHARACTERISTICS/FEATURES OF INTEREST TO THE POTENTIAL LEARNER IN LATIN AND SELECTED ROMANCE LANGUAGES

LATIN
- stress may fall on the first, second-last or third-last syllable depending on the word’s syllable weight (sometimes described as contrast between “heavy” and “light” syllables)
- pitch-accent (disputed)
- widespread vowel reduction
- basic word order tends to be (S)OV but use of cases allows for flexible word order (especially in poetry) and is governed by needs for emphasis as desired
- masculine, feminine and neuter
- 6 tenses in indicative mood
- 3 moods
- 6 cases
- definiteness marked by context and demonstrative pronouns instead of articles preceding nominals
- possible two-tiered T-V distinction
- arguably pluricentric because of Classical, Vulgar and Ecclesiastical Latin
- limited mutual intelligibility with living Romance languages (topic is complicated by the attempt at comparing a dead language with living ones)
- peculiarity: Certain words/forms can change meaning depending on if they are in singular or plural (e.g. fīnis “boundary, end” ~ fīnēs “territory”; opera “labor, work” ~ operae “worker”)
- possibly a few thousand speakers (based on users of Latinum podcasts)
- well-supported for English-speaking learners

---

CATALAN
- stress tends to fall on one of the last three syllables of a word
- no pitch-accent
- moderate vowel reduction
- basic word order tends to be (S)VO
- masculine and feminine
- 8 tenses in indicative mood
- 4 moods
- largely reliant on 1 case (personal pronouns show limited declension)
- definiteness marked by articles preceding nominals
- basically two-tiered T-V distinction, but some dialects have three-tiered distinction
- pluricentric with two standards (~ “Central Catalan” versus “Valencian/Western”)
- some mutual intelligibility with Occitan (including Provençal), French and Spanish but precise level of intelligibility depends on the level of exposure to all languages in question
- peculiarity: a past tense with a form of anar + infinitive
- 11.5 million speakers
- moderately supported for English-speaking learners

FRENCH
- stress often falls on the final syllable of a clause/phrase/string of words (or penultimate syllable of the clause/phrase/string if the final one is a schwa)
- no pitch accent
- moderate vowel reduction
- basic word order tends to be SVO
- masculine and feminine
- 10 tenses in indicative mood
- 4 moods
- largely reliant on 1 case (personal pronouns show limited declension)
- definiteness marked by articles preceding nominals
- two-tiered T-V distinction
- pluricentric with three main standards (Canadian, International, Parisian) and a few varieties that are lower-profile or difficult to classify (e.g. Acadian, Swiss French, Walloon)
- noticeable but sometimes asymmetric mutual intelligibility with Occitan and Walloon; less with other Western Romance languages.
- peculiarity: strong difference between written and spoken registers e.g. simple past tense virtually unused in speech
- 265 million speakers
- very well-supported for English-speaking learners

ITALIAN
- stress placement is lexical (i.e. it can fall on any syllable as it depends on the word and interaction of morphological and/or phonological factors) but there is a tendency for it to be on the second-last syllable
- modified pitch-accent
- limited vowel reduction
- basic word order tends to be SVO
- masculine and feminine
- 8 tenses in indicative mood
- 4 moods
- largely reliant on 1 case (personal pronouns make distinctions for direct or indirect objects)
- definiteness marked by articles preceding nominals
- Two-tiered T-V distinction, but third form “voi” that falls between the extremes of informality and formality is used in some dialects and contexts (e.g. instruction manuals/advertisements)
- not pluricentric
- some mutual intelligibility with French, Sardinian and Spanish but exact level depends on speaker’s exposure to all languages in question. Some dialects/languages spoken in northwestern Italy are transitional to Occitan (including Provençal)
- peculiarity: as with English, use of the subjunctive is giving way to the indicative (cf. English "If she was..." instead of "If she were...")
- approximately 80 million speakers
- well-supported for English-speaking learners

PORTUGUESE
- Main stress can fall on any of a word’s last three syllables.
- no pitch-accent
- moderate vowel reduction
- basic word order tends to be (S)VO
- masculine and feminine* (limited evidence of neuter suggested for example by isto, isso and aquilo.)
- 10/11 tenses in indicative mood
- 3 moods
- largely reliant on 1 case (personal pronouns make distinctions for direct or indirect objects)
- definiteness marked by articles preceding nominals
- largely two-tiered T-V distinction but details differ between European and Brazilian Portuguese
- pluricentric with two main standards: European and Brazilian
- substantial mutual intelligibility with Galician; some mutual intelligibility with Spanish
- peculiarities: split futures/conditionals and a conjugated infinitive (especially in European Portuguese)
- approximately 270 million speakers
- well-supported for English-speaking learners

ROMANIAN
- stress can fall on any syllable as it is governed by interaction of morphological and/or lexical considerations
- no pitch-accent
- no vowel reduction
- basic word order tends to be (S)VO
- masculine, feminine and neuter
- 10 tenses in indicative mood
- 5 moods
- 3-5 cases depending on how one counts them
- definiteness marked by postponed suffixes.
- broadly two-tiered T-V distinction but distinction is subdivided further in formal and informal address (e.g. tu <> dumneata; voi <> dumneavoastră)
- pluricentric with two main standards: Moldovian and Romanian
- noticeable mutual intelligibility with Aromanian; somewhat less with Istro-Romanian and Megleno-Romanian. There is limited but asymmetric mutual intelligibility with Italian and even less with other Western Romance languages.
- peculiarities: location and development in the Balkans has led to Romanian's noticeable divergence from other Romance languages and Latin. (e.g. Balkan Sprachbund's traits of postponed definite articles and the almost total loss of infinitive; 14% of Romanian vocabulary is borrowed from Slavonic; presumed substratum in Romanian of the extinct Dacian language which is possibly related to Albanian)
- approximately 25 million speakers
- moderately-supported for English-speaking learners

SPANISH
- stress often falls on any of the last three syllables of a word and its position is governed more by morphological or lexical factors
- no pitch-accent
- degree of vowel reduction depends on the variety in question (e.g. Mexican Spanish shows moderate vowel reduction; Castilian Spanish shows little to none)
- basic word order tends to be (S)VO
- masculine and feminine* (limited evidence of neuter suggested by ello, esto, eso or aquello, and lo before nouns derived from adjectives representing abstract concepts)
- 8 tenses in indicative mood
- 3 moods
- largely reliant on 1 case (but personal pronouns show distinctions for accusative, dative, prepositional, genitive and comitative)
- definiteness marked by articles preceding nominals
- two-tiered T-V distinction but respectful singular form requires verb to be in third person singular. Details of the distinction also vary depending on dialect or variety in question (e.g. usted is often used in Colombia for )
- pluricentric and sometimes simplified as Castilian (European) and Latin American Spanish. The exact number of varieties/norms is difficult to ascertain since norms overlap and it is even possible to divide into standards/norms corresponding to each Hispanic-speaking country (roughly 20 standards/norms)
- some mutual intelligibility with Catalan, Galician and Portuguese; somewhat less with Occitan
- peculiarity: Castilian Spanish is among a handful of languages that actively use the voiceless dental fricative θ ('th' as in English thing). Spanish as spoken in Latin America and southern Spain is often distinguishable from Castilian Spanish because of the lack of θ.
- estimated 500 million speakers
- very well-supported for English-speaking learners


BOOKS OF INTEREST ON ROMANCE LANGUAGES IN GENERAL
- Akire, Ti and Rosen, Carol. Romance Languages: A Historical Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. (new textbook tracing the development of major Romance languages from Latin. It comes with exercises in the chapters to reinforce understanding of the content)
- Boyd-Bowman, Peter. From Latin to Romance in Sound Charts. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1980 (A technically-oriented manual that may be attractive to the linguist or serious learner who is interested in comparing the sound systems of French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish and the sound changes since the era of Latin that took place to generate the modern phonemic inventories. Note the absence of Romanian from the comparisons despite the title; this may suggest the author’s cultural bias toward “established” Western Romance languages or a lack of training in Romanian)
- Harris, Martin and Vincent, Nigel (eds.). The Romance Languages. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. (Somewhat technical and not focused on comparison but commonly-cited and used standard descriptive manual of the Romance languages)
- Posner, Rebecca. The Romance Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. (A technically-oriented manual that may be attractive to the linguist or serious learner who is interested in comparative linguistics involving all Romance languages, notwithstanding some errors suggesting lack of familiarity with the development of Romance languages other than French and Latin)


LINKS
Aprendiendo las Lenguas Romances
Are Romance Languages Unclassifiable?
Books Comparing Romance Languages?
Book on Romance Languages – help?
Catalan Profile
For English-Speaker: Germanic or Romance?
French – Most Difficult “Roman” Language?
French Profile
Gender Congruency in Romance Languages
Grammar Book for Romance Languages
Greek’s Relationship to Romance Languages
How Many Romance Languages…
Italian Profile
Latin & Today’s Romance Languages
Latin and the Romance Language Family
Latin As A Supplement to Romance Languages
Latin Profile
Latin, Romance Languages, ‘the’s and ‘a’s
Learning A Second Romance Language
Learning Families of Languages
Learning Occitan
Learning Portuguese as a Fourth…
Most Beautiful Romance Language
Most Difficult Romance Language?
On Learning Romance Languages
Portuguese from Fr, It, and Sp?
Portuguese Profile
Romance Languages Are Difficult!
Romance Language Family Learning Sequence
Romance Language Learning Sequence
Romance Language Mutual Intelligibility
Romance Language Question
Romance Language Verbal Tenses
Romanian Profile
Similarities Romance Languages
Simultaneous Study of 3 Romance Languages
Spanish Profile
Two Romance Languages at a Time
Which Romance Language Next?

AUDIO SAMPLES OF ROMANCE LANGUAGES AT RHINOSPIKE.COM
Catalan
French
Italian
Portuguese
Romanian
Spanish

AUDIO SAMPLES OF ROMANCE LANGUAGES AT YOUTUBE.COM
Aragonese
Aromanian
Friulian
Galician
Occitan
Piedmontese
Romansch
Sicilian

COMMENTS FROM THOSE WHO HAVE “BEEN THERE” WITH AT LEAST TWO ROMANCE LANGUAGES

datsunking1 wrote:
I think the thing that set me back the most and nearly closed to the door to language learning was not learning with an open mind. It was very easy for me to question "why?" or try to find a formula for coming up with phrases, articles, or the correct verbs. If I learned without question, and "dove into" the language, many of the harder things in Romance languages and languages in general would have disappeared for me. I never understood the conjugations, I thought they were stupid, until I realized that every language has their own version of this, and there's no way around it. It makes perfect sense, and in order for me to learn Spanish effectively, I couldn't question anything I was reading or listening to. If they said it, so would I. I chose to learn Spanish first because of its widespread influence throughout the western hemisphere (don't forget Spain too!) its music, culture, and the opportunities I had to use it. It's more common than French, and much easier to accquire as a second language compared to French because it doesn't have nasal sounds. If you look for an understanding in the language, instead of grilling grammar, fluency comes on its own, without pain. Spanish has opened doors for me I would have never had: friendships, business opportunities, and a whole new view of the world. Now that I've learned it (for the most part, I can ALWAYS improve), I can't picture myself without it. Romance languages are very encouraging because you're able to make quick progress and show what you've learned almost immediately. Learning Spanish is one of the best choices I've ever made.

I think the BEST part about those is that once you reach a high level in a Romance language, you can communicate quickly when learning the others. I'm able to understand about 60% of spoken Portuguese and a tiny bit of Italian. I feel much more comfortable reading. With little study I'm able to read nearly anything in Portuguese and understand a good part of it, enough to understand the main points. Italian is similar but not as close, I haven't studied it for very long. I think the "learning at a discount" really pays off :)


Fasulye wrote:
In Germany French and Latin are school languages at grammar schools, so pupils who attend this kind of school get the chance to learn one of both of these Romance languages at a very young age. Teachers recommend Latin for those pupils who find a solid base on grammar structure important and are interested in the Roman Empire and its literature and French for those who directly want to learn another modern language besides English and want to have private or professional contact with France and are interested in its culture. At School both languages have the reputation of not being so easy. The background of these two school languages is helpful when learning Spanish or Italian, although the pronouncation of these two languages differs much from French. There are more similarities of French, Spanish and Italian in grammar, for example all three languages use the same kind of subjunctive tense. The closest Romance language to Latin is Italian, which is historically not surprising. I would not recommend starting to learn Italian and Spanish simultanously, because this combination is very tricky as especially these languages can easily be mixed up.

So this is my comment of language experience and I hope that you can integrate some of this. I know that the school situation of for example the United States is much different, of course.


Iversen wrote:
My studies of the Romance languages started out on the lecical level: Latin scientific names for animals and Italian words in musical scores. I can't pinpoint the exact date where I started my homestudy of Italian and Spanish, but it was after I had English and German in school so presumably I was around 12 years old. I used to parallel textbooks written by a Danish couple named Kirchheiner - and I had no audio sources. The first time I used Italian in practice was in 1972 on my first Interrail tour, where I was 18 years old. Spanish had to wait until 1976. I faintly remember that I had Latin classes in the soalled 'realskole', i.e. while I was around 13 years old - I passed something called the 'small' Latin test, and later on I added the 'middle' Latin test. I had French classes in the 'Gymnasium' (high school) when I was 15-18 years old. My teacher was a supporter of the natural method (and an excellent teacher), but after 2½ years he gave up and switched to oldfashioned grammar-translation - else most of the pupils would have flunked their exam. He also had the habit of posing me questions in Italian and Spanish, which was the nearest thing I came to having instruction in these languages.

At the University of Århus I first studied comparative literature (with minimal French, more English and German), and then I studied French as my main subject. However during this period I followed some of the ordinary courses in Italian, and I had classes with just me and a native teacher in Romanian for three years. I also took courses in Portuguese, Old French and Old Occitan, but only to read those languages, not to speak them. I became a specialist of Romance gammar during my last study years and got the highest note possible twice in grammatical subjects. After my exam, which I got in January 1982 I dropped my occupation with languages because I could see that the job perspectives were dire at the university level, and it was only my travelling that kept French and to some extent Spanish alive.

In 2006 I found HTLAL and decided to relearn my languages, and I started out with Romanian, followed by Portuguese (which I never had been able to speak). Right now I claim that I can speak French, Portuguese, Castillian, Catalan, Italian and Romanian, and I can write and to some extent speak Latin. Besides I can to varying degrees read all the smaller Romance languages and dialects, but in some cases I have not heard them in in their spoken form. So basically I just have to get better at writing and speaking the Romance languages, there is nothing more to learn from scratch.


liddytime wrote:
Romance languages tend to be infectious! Once you have one in your system you want to pick up another and another and another...

I doubt that there is a "best" Romance language to start out with if one wants to learn several of them.

If I did have to pick one, however, I would pick Spanish. Spanish was my first foreign language. Growing up in Southern California I was unintentionally surrounded by it. I heard it on the radio, on TV, from passing cars, in restaurants, everywhere! My family and I also took several 3-4 week vacations down through the Baja peninsula where little English was spoken. 3 years of Spanish was required in our district's High Schools. Well, Spanish or French .... but there was only one period of French offered compared to seven for Spanish ... so it was pretty clear which of the two we were encouraged to take.

In the United States (as much as politicians would hate to admit) Spanish is the closest thing we have to a second official language. Here in the United States, Spanish is the primary language spoken at home by over 35.5 million people aged five or older.[1] There are at least 45 million Hispanics who use Spanish as either a first or second language,[2] and there are at least six million students of the Spanish language .

1."Selected Social Characteristics in the United States: 2007". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-10-09.
2.Instituto Cervantes (Enciclopedia del español en Estados Unidos)
3.Instituto Cervantes' Yearbook 2006-07

See also: "Spanish Language in the United States"

This aside, Spanish opens up the vast worlds of Central and South America as well as continental Spain. It is truly a global language and one of the key languages in the world today.

1. Spanish is a nice gateway to the Romance languages for several reasons.

2. Its pronunciation is straightforward and very predictable. While there are noticeable regional differences the sound system of Spanish tends to be both reproducible for English speakers and easily comprehensible.

3. There are many cognates between Spanish and English which tend to be useful for circumlocuting unknown vocabulary words. While these exist in the others as well, it seems that English speakers identify them in Spanish more easily than, say French.
Its grammar, while similar to the other Romance languages does seem to me a touch simpler than the others. Thus it might be good for an initial foray in to the family such as to boost one's confidence a bit.

4. Finally, Spanish has a large shared vocabulary with the other Romance languages. It is estimated that the lexical similarity between Italian and Spanish is estimated at 82%.   The lexical similarity with Portuguese is greater at 89%. The lexical similarity between Spanish and French or Romanian is about 75% and 71% from Ethnologue.

After having a good command of Spanish, I personally found it very easy to learn Portuguese and Italian. I have not formally studied any French but by knowing the other languages I can pretty much pick up any newspaper article in French and understand 85% of it. (understanding spoken French is a whole other kettle of fish however!) I have not attempted Catalan yet but I assume it too would be fairly simple to learn.

Things to be careful of when taking on more than one Romance language:

1. The vocabularies are similar, but by no means identical!   In Italian cucina (koo-chee-nah) is "kitchen" but in Spanish it sounds very close to the word for pig ( "so ... do you work in the pig a lot?") ! You could be babbling on and on in Italian only to realize after several minutes (and several confused looks) that you were using all Portuguese idioms. You are going to make these embarrassing mistakes ... a lot! Be good natured about it and have a sense of humor about it. People tend to be more amused with these mistakes than irritated by them. Alternatively you could always just tell them you left your brain at home...

2. The syntax (verb forms in particular) tends to be similar between Romance languages, but, again NOT identical! Pay close attention to how, say , Italian uses the past progressive compared to Spanish ; the Spanish subjunctive compared to Portuguese. There are subtle differences as to how the different forms have evolved over the past several centuries in their respective countries. Pay mind to them as you are learning each language.

3. Watch a lot of TV in your target language. When I find that my Spanish ( or Italian, or Portuguese ...) is getting rusty, I will watch a few hours of TV in that language. I find soccer matches, futbol, to the rest of the world, a good, entertaining way to accomplish this. After a few hours I am almost always thinking and talking in my target language and not mixing it up with my other Romance tongues. If futbol isn't your bent, telenovelas or movies would work fine too. The key is to actively immerse yourself in it. Listen to every word and even better, invite some friends over and speak nothing but that language for a few hours.


ProfArguelles wrote:
The intellectual challenge of getting to know an entire language family is quite rewarding, and with a family like the Romance one, I do believe there is a logical approach to doing this, though the sound advice given above -- namely that you should learn them in the order to which they appeal to you -- should take precedence over the strategy I will outline below.

First of all, if in the abstract one wants to go at them most efficiently, then I do not believe that the Spanish > Portuguese > Italian > French is the wisest move. Why? Well, presuming that this endeavor is undertaken early in a polyglot's career, Portuguese is so similar to Spanish that there is likely to be a fair amount of confusion and interference as well as transfer. Also, because you will be lacking in language learning experience, you will still have to work relatively hard at it. However, if you were to learn Spanish and then French, by the time you got to Portuguese and Italian, you would be less likely to confuse them, and with your greater experience, acquiring them might be so easy that you get them in the bargain rather than just at a discount.

At any rate, going at it this way would only give you four, and what about the other languages in the family? How many are there? The question of dialect vs. language can grow quite thorny here. Romansch was only recogized as a language in the 1930's because Mussolini was making territorial claims to all Italian speaking lands. Subsequently, Italian itself is increasingly broken down into dialects - the population (65,000,000) has not changed for decades, but the number of speakers on census forums is now often only 40,000,000 or so, the other 25,000,000 supposedly speaking dialects that are presumably soon to be recognized as Italianate languages. Indeed, visit Wordtheque, the wonderful resource for texts and recordings that is based in Italy, and you will find material in a good dozen different "Italian" dialects.

Well, the most commonly recognized languages that anyone embarking on a romance of Romance would surely want to have are:

Latin
French
Catlan and Occitan
Spanish and Portuguese
Italian and Romanian

I have grouped them by genetic affinity, those on the same line being closer to each other than they are to the others. Incidentally, the Latin family is subdivided into so many minute branches that is hard to list them all. Catalan, for instance, is classified as:

Indo-European > Italic > Romance > Italo-Western > Western > Gallo-Iberian > Ibero-Romance > East Iberian.

Well, to return to our hypothesis: a young potential polyglot wants to learn all 8 before possibly hunting down some dialects as well on his own. In what order should he procede? I think the best would probably be:

French
Spanish
Latin
Italian
Catalan
Portuguese
Occitan
Romanian

Here is why:

1. French. Anyone embarking on this project will clearly have scholarly inclinations. French is the most useful scholarly reference and resource languages for all subject matters, not just languages. So, you will get the most mileage from French should you decide to abort the project and go into another field, and you will have access to priceless learning materials for the other languages should you continue.

2. Spanish. Castillian is the most widely spoken of them all and so will be of greatest practical conversational use as well as providing an excellent foundation for further growth.

3. Latin. Latin is literally the mother of them all, the core, the hub, the thread that ties them together. The rest are not only her daughters, they are literally living dialects of Latin, and it is generally recogized philological principle that it is far easier to go from a standard language to a dialect than it is to go in reverse. The suggestion that it might be possible to learn all the Romance languages without knowing Latin just because she is "dead" will surely cause all the great 19th century philologists to turn over in their graves, for they would most certainly all assert to a man that being well versed in Latin is an invaluable cornerstone in the construction of polyglottery.

4. Italian. Italian is the most direct outgrowth of Latin, so learning them back to back will provide invaluable intutitive understanding of the way languages change and are related to each other.

5. Catalan. By the time you have a solid mastery of French, Spanish, Latin, and Italian, you may well be able to acquire further Romance languages by simple intensive immersion in them. Catalan is probably the best for this because it is a minority language and so its speakers are most receptively grateful to the efforts of outsiders to learn their tongue. Furthermore, by studying Catlan at this point you will have studied one family from each subgroup.

6. Portuguese. At this stage, if you can manage a trip to Portugal or Brazil and you simply converse as much as you can while studying the grammatical subtleties on your own, you should simply be able to pick this up.

7. Occitan. Occitan is not really a spoken language, though some census figures give it the entire 12,000,000 inhabitants of the south of France. You should be able acquire it at this stage by simply reading Provencal literature intensively.

8. Romanian. Romanian is indeed the most difficult because it is the most different. It was cut off from the others for most of its history, and so it is full of Slavic words. Plus, it has a somewhat more complex grammatical structure. So, since you will probably have to do some real learning again for this one, you want to have as much as possible to transfer from all the others.

---

Nephilim, if you want to know how long it will take you to learn these languages in terms of hours and you do a bit of research on the matter, you will find that, by FSI standards, these are all considered "easy" languages in which an person with average language learning proficiency should attain their level 2+ (between limited working proficiency and minimum professional proficiency) after 720 hours of study. As you yourself noted, there are lots of variables that enter into the matter, but consideration of these figures should give you some sort of a guideline for getting started.

Let's say your first Romance language does take that long. Your second one might as well, but the whole point of learning an entire family is to see the relationships between them, and there are so many here that the time it takes you to acquire them will certainly decrease after a point, probably sooner rather than later.

If Italian is the language that interests you the most, you should certainly begin with it. However, I do not believe that it (or any other, for that matter) is truly appreciably easier to the point that it would be a good strategy to begin with it. Latin is indeed more complex than the living languages in terms of grammar, but since you will probably not want to speak it actively but only read it passively, learning to do so should not take any more time than "mastering" a living tongue, and perhaps far less.

I believe I myself learned the Romance languages in pretty much the order I gave above, and I don't really know how to say how much time I devoted to them because I don't feel that I ever leave off learning, though of course I draw a distinction between learning new material and enjoying the use of a language.

I probably spent 11 or 12 inefficient years on French because I learned it in school.

I learned to read Latin in a single intensive semester in college, then let it languish, but revived it by reviewing the textbook on numerous occasions over the years before I spent an intensive month or so focusing entirely upon it, since which time my reading ability has not lapsed again, but continues to thrive.

I taught myself Spanish grammar and the rudiments of conversation in just a few months as well, but I never really tried to speak it for years. Then I began listening to tapes in it while I went running, then conversing with acquaintances, then lived for a month with a Mexican family, and a few years later took intensive two week programs (1 on 1 tutorials) in both Ecuador and Peru.

I let these languages "sink in" by using them as much as I could (reading and speaking) for several years. I then went to Italy after doing no more than shadowing Assimil's Italian course and I found that my Italian was quite workable. I studied the grammar while traveling around and have since worked enjoyably though Assimil's advanced course and read much literature in the language.

I tried to do the same thing (shadow the method then visit the land) with both Occitan and Catalan. However, I couldn't find anyone to speak Occitan to me in all of southern France, and by the time I got to Barcelona I had come down with a terrible flu and so I spent the entire time in my hotel bed. I did understand what I heard around me, however, and I have since spent more time on the language and am sure I will be more successful when and if I ever get back there.

I learned Portuguese simply by conversing with a Brazilian student a few hours each week. At first I blantly spoke Spanish, but I used her speech as a model for converting mine. I have since shadowed several methods and read a great deal in it and I now have semi-regular occasion to converse in it.

I did some field research in Romansch in a similar fashion (speaking Italian but converting it to the speech of my tutor), but only for a week and have not since kept it up.

I have never yet had any actual exposure to Romanian, but I have shadowed it, studied its structure, and read a bit.

[Ed.: Prof. Arguelles' comments are from messages nos. 12 and 16 in the discussion Romance Language Learning Sequence. Message no. 16 answers Nephilim's question about time required to reach semi-fluency in Romance languages.)


vilas wrote:
I think that if you learn a romance language , then is very easy to learn another .
The first step to learn a language , to me , is to decode words,terms,verbs . And if you know a romance language there are a lot of similarities between them that help.
Usually I don't study grammar ,(or only the bare minimum),
I read , i listen I talk.
Then there are accents.I remember that when I have read for the first time a portuguese written text I understood almost everything but I had problems to understand pronunciations, for instance, I had difficulties with the portugueses but almost no problems with brazilians and angolans. When I speak Spanish and I don't know a word , usually I use the equivalent portuguese words and 90% of the times I make myself understood(and the other way around)
I learned French for 5 years at school, but I use it very rarely.
After I studied (without any effort) the latin based conlang Interlingua , now I can read easily Catalan and Occitan.
To me Roumanian is incomprehensible , like chinese or arabic.


Edited by Chung on 22 August 2011 at 4:00am

14 persons have voted this message useful



Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
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Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 2 of 13
16 July 2011 at 10:36pm | IP Logged 
As with the Balto-Slavonic and Finno-Ugric profiles, this one for Romance is designed for people who are interested in learning their first Romance language but are unsure of which one to pick. I hope that this brief profile will help potential learners focus their choice. In addition I encourage others who have studied at least two Romance languages as foreign languages to post comments or send a PM to me and I will then incorporate their comments into the main profile as time allows.

My interest in Romance is less than in Balto-Slavonic and Finno-Ugric and much of my knowledge in languages other than French (and to a certain degree Latin and Romanian) are from second-hand descriptions of the Romance languages. I do not vouch for the infallibility of the listed characteristics of the Romance languages above and welcome corrections from native speakers if my lists of characteristics show mistakes (for example I'm unsure of the existence of pitch-accent in Romanian and Spanish (although I don't recall there being any in Romanian when I was studying it a few years ago).

In addition, I am open to expanding the list of languages to Galician and Occitan (or even something as low-profile as Istro-Romanian) as long as someone more qualified could present to me a list of characteristics in the same format as above. The consistency within these profiles aids comparison, I believe.

Whenever I get around to it I'll look into starting the profile for Germanic languages, and possibly even the Turkic ones. However much will depend on whether I can extract the relevant "boring" details as well as whether I can solicit enough testimonials from people who speak or have learned several languages within each language group/family.

Comments and/or suggestions are welcome.
1 person has voted this message useful



Mooby
Senior Member
Scotland
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707 posts - 1219 votes 
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Studies: Polish

 
 Message 3 of 13
16 July 2011 at 11:39pm | IP Logged 
Once again, thanks for taking the time to do this Chung.
Although there is a mass of information available, it's nice to see these languages summarised
in a way that facilitates comparison.
Turkic language profile sounds a great idea.
1 person has voted this message useful



Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
Joined 6889 days ago

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Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 4 of 13
17 July 2011 at 1:59am | IP Logged 
No problem, Mooby.
1 person has voted this message useful



smallwhite
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Australia
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537 posts - 1045 votes 
Speaks: Cantonese*, English, Mandarin, French, Spanish

 
 Message 5 of 13
17 July 2011 at 7:31am | IP Logged 
FRENCH
...
- basic word order tends to be (S)VO

I think French is SVO without brackets?
3 persons have voted this message useful



vilas
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Italy
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Speaks: Spanish, Italian*, English, French, Portuguese

 
 Message 6 of 13
17 July 2011 at 1:18pm | IP Logged 
I think that if you learn a romance language , then is very easy to learn another .
The first step to learn a language , to me , is to decode words,terms,verbs . And if you know a romance language there are a lot of similarities between them that help.
Usually I don't study grammar ,(or only the bare minimum),
I read , i listen I talk.
Then there are accents.I remember that when I have read for the first time a portuguese written text I understood almost everything but I had problems to understand pronunciations, for instance, I had difficulties with the portugueses but almost no problems with brazilians and angolans. When I speak Spanish and I don't know a word , usually I use the equivalent portuguese words and 90% of the times I make myself understood(and the other way around)
I learned French for 5 years at school, but I use it very rarely.
After I studied (without any effort) the latin based conlang Interlingua , now I can read easily Catalan and Occitan.
To me Roumanian is incomprehensible , like chinese or arabic.
2 persons have voted this message useful



Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
Joined 6889 days ago

4228 posts - 8259 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 7 of 13
17 July 2011 at 4:06pm | IP Logged 
Thank you for your input, smallwhite and vilas. I've added it to the profile.
1 person has voted this message useful



vilas
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Italy
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531 posts - 722 votes 
Speaks: Spanish, Italian*, English, French, Portuguese

 
 Message 8 of 13
17 July 2011 at 6:41pm | IP Logged 
On pote apprender le linguas romanic como un gruppo per le projectos Eurorom 4 e “Sieben Siebe”.

(Languages of this post: Rnglish Interlingua, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, French, Italian,)
The Eurom-4 project is a method for the simultaneous study of Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese.

The project was developed during a period of three years at the Universities of Lisbon, Salamanca, Rome, and Aix-en-Provence (France).

This course is intended for adults who speak a Romance language and who wish to understand one, two or three more Romance languages without achieving an active knowledge of these other languages.
The Universities of Aachen and Frankfurt in Germany have devel

Le projecto Eurom 4 es un methodo pro le studio simultanee del linguas espaniol, francese, Italiano e portugese.

Le projecto esseva disveloppate durante un periodo de tres annos in le universitates de Lisbon, Salamanco, Romam e Aix-en-Provence (Francia).

Iste curso es destinate a adultos qui parla un lingua romanic e qui vole comprender un, duo, o tres linguas romanic sin complir un cognoscimento active de iste altere linguas.

Le universitates de Aachen e Frankfurt in Germania ha disveloppate un altere simile projecto (Die Sieben Siebe), que include omne le linguas romanic.



El proyecto Eurom 4 es un método para la estudio simultáneo de las lenguas español, francés, Italiano y portugués.

El proyecto fue desarrollado durante un period de tres años en las universidades de Lisboa, Salamanca, Roma y Aix-en-Provence (Francia).

Este curso está dirigido a adultos que hablan una lengua romance y que desean entender una, dos o tres lenguas romances sin lograr un conocimiento activo de estos otros idiomas.

Las universidades de Aachen y Frankfurt en Alemania, han desarrollado otro proyecto similar (Die Sieben Siebe), que incluye todas las lenguas romances.



El projecte Eurom 4 és un mètode per a la estudi simultani de les llengües espanyol, francès, italià i portuguès.

El projecte va ser desenvolupat durant un període de tres anys a les universitats de Lisboa, Salamanca, Roma i Aix-en-Provence (França).

Aquest curs està dirigit a adults que parlen una llengua romanç i que volen entendre una, dues o tres llengües romàniques sense aconseguir un coneixement actiu d’aquests altres idiomes.

Les universitats de Aachen i Frankfurt a Alemanya han desenvolupat un altre projecte similar (Die Sieben Siebe), que inclou totes les llengües romàniques.



O projeto Eurom 4 é um método para o estudo simultâneo das línguas Espanhol, Francês, Italiano e Português.

O projeto foi desenvolvido ao longo de um período de três anos na Universidade de Lisboa, Salamanca, Roma e Aix-en-Provence (França).

Este curso é destinado a adultos que falam uma língua românica e que desejam entender um, dois ou três línguas românicas, sem alcançar um conhecimento activo destas outras línguas.

As universidades de Aachen e Frankfurt, na Alemanha, desenvolveram um projeto similar (Die Sieben Siebe), que inclui todas as línguas românicas.



Le projet Eurom-4 du projet est une méthode pour l’étude simultanée de l’espagnol, français, italien et portugais.

Le projet a été élaboré sur une période de trois ans à l’Université de Lisbonne, Salamanque, Rome et Aix-en-Provence (France).

Ce cours est destiné aux adultes qui parlent une langue romane et qui souhaitent comprendre un, deux ou trois autres langues romanes, sans parvenir à une connaissance active de ces autres langues.

Les Universités d’Aix et à Francfort en Allemagne, ont développé un autre projet similaire (Die Sieben Siebe), qui comprend toutes les langues romanes.



Il progetto Eurom-4 è progetto per lo studio simultaneo di spagnolo, francese, Italiano e portoghese.

Il progetto è stato sviluppato su un periodo di tre anni presso l’Università di Lisbona, Salamanca, Roma e Aix-en-Provence (Francia).

Questo corso è destinato agli adulti che parlano una lingua romanza e che desiderano comprendere uno, due o tre altre lingue romanze, senza giungere ad una conoscenza di queste altre lingue.

Le Università di Aquisgrana e Francoforte in Germania, hanno sviluppato un progetto simile (Die Sieben Siebe), che comprende tutte le lingue romanze.






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