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Translating Portuguese and Italian knowing Spanish and French!

Published : Saturday, 10 February, 2018 at 12:00 AM Count : 162
Samir Hussain Khan

Latin, today, is a dead language. Nobody speaks it. However, its descendants are alive and thriving, born from the colloquial Latin (aka Vulgar Latin) that arose when the Roman Empire conquered much of Europe. This essay will speak on the subject of three of such languages: Spanish, Portuguese, Standard French and Standard Italian.
In this essay, texts in Italian and Portuguese will be taken and attempted to be translated using the knowledge of Spanish and French to compare how close these languages are. The only dictionaries used here will be a Spanish dictionary and a French dictionary. On a personal note, I have studied Spanish and French to some extent and also use it to communicate in online message boards but not Portuguese or Italian. This essay is made to see how similar these languages are so I, or anybody else interested in these four languages, or has studied one of the four languages, may learn them. Therefore, the translations will not be exactly correct, but as correct as they resemble Spanish and/or French.
As a note, most of the text will be translated using knowledge of Spanish. The first part of this essay will deal with Portuguese and only Spanish will be used to deal with the text. French will play a minor role in deciphering the Italian text. All translations will be given in only Spanish. French will not be used alongside Spanish to translate the Italian text because, despite similarities in a few words, French possesses grammatical differences which differentiate it from the rest of the languages listed here, (i.e. rules for article placement before nouns and lack of pro-dropping). Despite the title, French will only play a minor role in the data analysis and Spanish will be the main focus.
"Existe uma luz, umnovo poder;
Umbrilho intenso, pramim, pravocê;
A chama do dragão vamos compartilhar.
Uma a uma, força nos guia;
Uma chama dentro de nósbrilha."
 "Existe una luz, un nuevo poder;
Un brillo intenso, por mí, por vosotros;
La llama del dragón vamos compartir.
Una a una, fuerza nos guía;
Una llama dentro de nosotros brilla."
"[There] exists a light, a new power;
An intense glow, for me, for you [all];
The flame of the dragon, we will share.
One by one, strength guides us;
A flame within us shines/ glows."
Immediately, we can pick out similarities and differences and see how close these languages are as a whole.
One notable feature in the texts is that certain words which end in '-m' in Portuguese end in '-n' in Spanish, such as 'um' vs 'un' and 'quem' vs 'quien'.
Portuguese also has a tendency to 'dissolve' the nasal consonant, resulting in nasal vowels. Spanish has no nasal vowels. There are Portuguese words which end in '-ão' and these directly correspond to the Spanish noun ending '-ón'. Examples can be found in the texts above.
Spanish pronounces stressed vowel syllables differently than Portuguese. Latin stressed 'e' diphthongised to 'ie' in Spanish and stressed 'o' became 'ue'. However, Portuguese makes no diphthongs for these vowels. The following words pairs show as follows: 'sinto/ siento', 'forca/ fuerza', 'nossa/ nuestra', 'quem/ quien'.
In conclusion, it is evident that Spanish and Portuguese are closely related. Geographically, they both originated in the same European peninsula (Iberian Peninsula). The differences listed here are only slight. It should, therefore, not be much of an issue for somebody who has knowledge of Spanish to begin learning the Portuguese language.
(To be continued)

The writer is a student of
Delhi Grammar School

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