Learning Romance: getting personal with pronouns

So, it’s already looking and sounding complex but then I am starting out with the Duolingo app alongside phrase book and dictionaries, trying to follow Romanian and Italian in parallel. Serves me right, you might say…

The personal pronouns: I, you, he/she, etc, already show similarities with the other Romance languages, Italian included, but not consistently similar to any one. It’s clear that these languages have all followed different paths. It’s a challenge, but then that’s nothing less than I was expecting.

‘I’ is io in Italian, and eu in Romanian, with eu pronounced a little like the Spanish yo for ‘I’. ‘You’ is tu in all three of these languages (and French tu šŸ˜‰).

‘He’ is el and ‘she’ is ea in Romanian, with ea sounding much like the Spanish ella but without any stress on the e. In Italian the equivalents are lui for ‘he’ (sounding more like the French ‘Louis’ than lui) and lei for ‘she’. Clearly different but then a clear difference can help when I’m using them in practise.

The Italian and Romanian ‘we’ and ‘you’ (plural) are noi and voi. But ‘they’ heads off in different directions again, as loro in Italian, and in Romanian ele and ei for the masculine and feminine forms.

Strange, until you look closer, that the pronouns for both languages originate from…

Latin ego, tu, is/ea/id (m/f/n) nos, vos, ei/eae/ea (m/f/n pl).

Romanian eu, tu, el/ea (m/f) noi, voi, ele/ei (m/f)

Italian io, tu, lui/lei (m/f) noi, voi, loro (m/f)

The Romanian verb to be is similar to its cousins too, but sufficiently different to be a bit confusing so far. I’ll return to it in another blog when I’ve worked it out, because in Romanian it seems to vary more than in Italian and the other Romance languages, with gender in particular.

The next step is to get to grips with the alphabet in both languages. I’ve had a quick look but focused so far mainly on the app, and trying to work out the rules from the examples. I think I need to get my head around the phonetics of the two languages so I can predict what words will sound like off the page. See you next blog!

Published by John Humphreys

Education and leisure industry professional with over 30 years' experience and a focus on delivering international experiences and employability development.

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