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A Linguistic Comparison

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A Linguistic Comparison Italian and Spanish are two romantic languages that still exist today. Their roots trace back to Vulgar Latin, which emerged in Europe from classic Latin as people mixed in their native languages with Latin. Vulgar Latin did not deviate too much away from Latin, but it is different from Classical Latin, in the sense that speakers of this new language dropped endings in words and prepositions and added “slang” to Classical Latin. Since they both derive from what became the Romance language, there are many similarities between the two including syntax, and morphology. Spanish and Italian like all human languages in the world have a noun phrase and verb phrase as the main syntactic categories in a sentence. When we break the sentence structure down even more, we see that similarities between the two languages. An example of this can be seen when we look at the placement of adjectives in the sentence. Take for example the sentence “the German shepherd was clean” (English, fig 1) translated into both languages. In Italian it translates to “Il pastore tedesco era pulito” (Italian, fig 2). In Spanish the same sentence translates to “El pastor aleman estaba limpio” (Spanish, fig 3). Here we see that the structure of the noun phrase head is shepherd, pastore (italian), and pastor (spanish). The noun phrase then is subcategorized to a determiner and N’, then N’ is further sub-categorized to N’ then adjective. Unlike in English where N’ comes after the adjective in both Spanish and Italian, N’ comes before. If we say “the German shepherd was clean” we can see that the first part of the sentence which is the noun phrase, when further broken down, the noun comes after the adjective. In Italian there are also some exceptions where the adjective is placed before the head of the noun phrase such as grande (great or big), nouvo (new), vecchio (old), bouno(good), and a few others others. These translated into Spanish also follow the same syntax rule in the sentence. Though the similarities in syntax related to adjective placement are similar they are not they only similarities that make both languages to be alike. Possession is a quality that both languages express in very similar ways. Typically possession is used in the noun phrase. Following x-bar theory we can structure a noun phrase with a possevie determiner: NP->det and N’, then N’ is broken down to ->adj and N’ -> then N’ is broken down again to N. If we take for example the sentences “il mio libro è verde” (Italian, fig 4) and “mi libro es verde” (Spanish, fig 5) and categorize their structures the noun phrase would come first, followed by the verb phrase. In the noun phase the possessive adjective comes before the noun for both languages, just like in English. The main difference, however, is that in order to show possession in Italian one must have an article before the possessive adjective. The article conjugates with the gender of the noun, in the example we used “il” because the noun libro is a singular, male noun. The possessive adjective in Italian, in this case mio, is also conjugated based on the gender of the noun, whether it is singular or plural, and on who does the possession belong to. In Spanish we also conjugate the possessive adjective, but one does not need to add the determiner before the adjective in order for the sentence to be grammatically correct. The syntactic rule of always having the determiner before the possessive adjective has an exception when one talks about a family member. If the noun is singular such as brother, father, sister, aunt or uncle, one does not have to include the determiner. There is much proof to confirm that the two languages once came from the one precedent language from looking at similarities in syntax, not only that but they also have other similarities outside of syntax. After studying both languages I noticed that there are also similarities in morphology between Italian and Spanish. In the examples shown earlier, the determiner and possessive adjective change according to the head in the noun phrase. Likewise, there are also interesting details in morphology in the verb phrase of the sentence. In basic conjugation of a verb, the verb has to match and conjugate with the noun in the noun phrase that is directly tied to the verb. For example let’s take two sentences, “Pulisco la mia camera ogni giorno” (I clean my room everyday) “lei fa la spessa il martedi”(she does groceries on Tuesdays). In both sentences the verb suffix changes to match the noun. Typically for a first person verb the suffix conjugation in the verb is –o, (pulisco). For third person singular, or second person formal, it is –a (fa). In spanish the conjugation suffixes are not the same, but they follow the same rules with different suffixes. The same sentences can be translated to “yo limpio mi cuarto todos los dias” (I clean my room everyday) and “Ella hace las compras el martes” (she does groceries on Tuesdays). Here the verb conjugation for first person is –o, and third singular person is –e. In English the verb conjugation only chages by making the verb either in plural form or singular form with the s suffix. Of course there are some exeptions, but these suffixes in both languages apply to regular verbs in present tense, other tenses have their own suffixes, but the change in conjugation based on the noun remains the same; the same nouns are conjugated the same. Italian and Spanish are two Romantic languages derived from Vulgar Latin. By breaking down basic sentences we can see similarities in syntax, and morphology. Word order specifically with adjectives is similar quality in both languages. By using the x-bar theory we can see this breakdown and placement in syntactic category more clearly. The morphology in both languages when it comes to verb conjugation is similar, not necessarily on the suffixes themselves, but on the way they are conjugated. All verbs are conjugated based on the noun that modifies the verb. Gender and plurality of the noun are the two main aspects when deciding what suffix to use in verb conjugation. Each tense has its own conjugations for every verb, in both Spanish and Italian; however, there are some irregular verbs that do not follow typical conjugation rules, and so these endings differ from the rest. Spanish and Italian have an inter laying history, furthermore a single language they derived from, and by looking at some aspects in syntax and morphology one see proof that these two languages presently continue to have structural similarities.

Figure 5 Works Cited
"Placement of the Adjective ." orbilat.com. Orbis Latinus, 2011. Web. 1 Nov 2011. .
"Spanish-Language information and Resources." About Accredited Language Services. N.p., 2011. Web. 1 Nov 2011. .
N.S. Gill, . "Vulgar Latin - Learn Why Late Latin Was Called Vulgar." About.com. N.p., 2011. Web. 1 Nov 2011. .
Riga, Larese, Carla, and Chiara Maria Dal Martello. Ciao!. 6th. Heinle, 2006.
Willmer, Richard. "The Italian Language:Origins of the Italian Language." italian-language-study.com. N.p., 14 November 2009. Web. 1 Nov 2011. .

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