Contemplating Romance Languages

I took four years of French in high school and consider my writing and reading comprehension stronger than my speaking and listening skills.  Over a month ago, I became preoccupied with the idea of learning Spanish via French, possibly picking up some Italian vocabulary too (and Portuguese eventually).  I knew there would be cognates, guessing that many adjectives and nouns would be similar.

One night, I looked up random words in French and translated them into Spanish and then Italian.  I was intrigued by the permutations/combinations of the possible similarities and differences.  For instance, the French and Spanish would be cognates and the Italian wouldn’t, the French and Italian would be cognates and the Spanish wouldn’t, the Spanish and Italian would be cognates and the French wouldn’t, all of them would be cognates or none of them would look anything alike.

From left to right, French = Spanish = Italian = Portuguese.  Words in blue are not like the others, words in green are not like each other at all, words in magenta are very similar to the others:

Pourquoi pas = porque no = perchè no = por que não
Merci beaucoup = muchas gracias = grazie mólto = muito obrigado
Pas du tout = para nada = per niente = de jeito nenhum
Peut-être = puede ser = forse = talvez 
Dépêchez-vous = darse prisa = sbrigati = se apresse
s’il vous plaît = por favor = per piecere = por favor
Jamais = nunca = mai = nunca

J’ai faim = tengo hambre = ho fame = eu estou com fome
Je te vois = te veo = ti vedo = eu te vejo
Je suis en accord = estoy de acuerdo = sono d’accordo = eu concordo
D’accord = correcto = va bene = OK
Je sais = yo se = lo so = eu sei
Je ne sais pas = No sé = non lo so = não sei
Je m’appelle = me llamo = mi chiamo = meu nome é
Je pense que oui = creo que sí = credo di si = eu penso que sim

Un peu = un poco = un po = um pouco
Mon ami = mi amigo = mio amico = minha amiga
Le fromage = el queso = formaggio = gueijo
L’eau = el agua = l’acqua = a água
Le soleil = el sol = il sole = o sol

La mer = el mar = mare = o mar
La piscine = la piscina = la piscina = a piscina
La plage = la playa = la spiaggia = a praia
La voiture = el coche = la macchina = o carro
Le stylo jaune = el bolígrafo amarillo = la penna gialla = a caneta amarela
Le ciel bleu = el cielo azul = il cielo azzurro = o céu azul
Le chien = el perro = il cane = o cachorro
Le petit chien = el perrito = il cagnolino = o cachorrinho
Le chat = el gato = gatto = gato
Le petit chat = el gatito = il gattino = o gatinho
Le miracle = el milagro = il miracolo = o milagre

Bjorkcup

My favorite example of all the words as cognates would have to be the words for “swimming pool” (la piscine, la piscina, la piscina, and a piscina).  My favorite examples of none of the words being similar to each other are the words for “the car” (la voiture, el coche, la macchina, o carro) and “okay/all right” (d’accord, correcto, va bene, OK).  My favorite example of the French being the odd one out is for the word “water” (l’eau).  The Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese all sound like “aqua,” but the French wants to be different.

Another good example of when the French wants to be unlike the others is the translation for “the last unicorn”:

la dernière licorne = el ultimo unicornio = l’ultimo unicorno = o ultimo Unicórnio

The 25th Anniversary edition DVD of The Last Unicorn (Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr., 1982) comes with Spanish subtitles (of the songs too).  When I rewatched it tonight, of course I put them on to see how many cognates there were with French and even English.

ladernierelicorne

This animated film can be considered a musical because there are three songs that are sung in the story world.  One of them is “Now That I’m a Woman.”  It’s a pretty short one, so I decided to compile the Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese translations of the English lyrics.

En Anglais:
Once,  I can’t remember

I was long ago, someone strange
I was innocent and wise and full of pain

Now that I’m a woman
Everything is strange.

Once, when I was searching
somewhere out of reach, far away
In a place I could not find
or heart obey

Now that I’m a woman
Everything has changed.

En Espagnol:
Una vez, y no puedo recordarlo

Hache mucho tiempo, fui, alguien extraño
Era inocente y sabio y estaba lleno de dolor

Ahora que soy una mujer
Todo es extraño

Una vez, cuando estaba buscando
Un lugur distante, muy lejano
En un lugar que no podia encontrar
Ni mi corazon podia obedecer

Ahora que soy una mujer
Todo ha cambiado.

En Français:
Une fois, je ne me souviens pas
J’étais jadis quelqu’un étrange
J’étais innocente et sage et plein de douleur

Maintenant que je suis une femme
Le tout est étrange

Une fois quand je cherchais
Quelque part éloigné, loin
Dans un endroit que je ne pouvais pas trouver
Mon coeur n’obéira pas non plus

Maintenant que je suis une femme
Le tout a changé.

En Italienne:
Una volta, non riesco a ricordare
tempo fa ero persona stana
Ero innocente e saggio e pieno di dolore

Ora che sono una donna
è tutto strano

Una volta, quando stavo cercando
da qualche parte lontano, lontano
in posto che non sono riuscito a trovare
nemmeno il mio cuore potrebbe obbedire

Ora che sono una donna
tutto è cambiato.

En Portugais:
Uma vez, eu não consigo lembrar
muito tempo atrás eu era alguém estranho
Eu era inocente e sábio e cheio de dor

Agora que sou mulher
Tudo é estranho

Uma vez, quando eu estave procurando
Em algum lugar distante, longe
Em um lugar que eu não consegui encontrar
Nem mesmo meu coração poderia obedecer

Agora que sou mulher
Tudo mudou.

3 thoughts on “Contemplating Romance Languages

  1. Nautilus

    In Romanian -an Eastern Romance language- “unicorn” is a common word nowadays, but the mythical creature was traditionally called “inorog”, a borrowing from Slavic. 🙂

    Reply
    1. sittingpugs Post author

      Now I’m curious about how it translates into other European languages. Hmmm…

      German = das letzte Einhorn
      Dutch = de laatste Eenhoorn
      Danish = den sidste enhjørning

      Macedonian = posledniot ednorog
      Polish = ostatni jednorożec
      Lithuanian = paskutinis vienaragis

      I actually never learned how to say it in Mandarin.
      最後獨角獸 = du jiao shou aka single angle creature.

      Korean = 마지막 유니콘 (majimak yoo-ni-kon)
      Japanese = 最後のユニコーン (Saigo no yunikōn)

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Contemplating Romance Languages Again | Sitting Pugs: Sports Movies

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