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Italian as a 3rd language?

 

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Old February 06, 2009, 05:52 PM
ZeroTX ZeroTX is offline
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Italian as a 3rd language?

I have considered learning Italian as my third language, after English and Spanish. Do you guys have any opinions about that? I have been learning Spanish for 2 years and intend to continue actively studying it for at least 3 more and probably longer, because I want full fluency in Spanish.

However, I am already thinking about my third language. I want languages that have utility. I don't care about prestige or other peoples' opinions. I want to learn languages that will be useful to me.

So, for instance, English has its obvious uses to me as my native language in the United States. Spanish has obvious uses since I am 300 miles from Mexico and there are 20 million Spanish-speakers in the United States. There are at least 10 Spanish-language TV stations here and more radio stations than I can count. Spanish is the perfect second language.

But what about third? Italian seems useful to me, because I intend to (someday) do some traveling in Italy and I'm Catholic and would love to read Vatican documents in the Italian if they are written in Italian (I don't want to learn Latin).

On the bad side, my fear is that studying Italian will confuse my Spanish, due to the heavy overlap. There are too many similar, but still different words and I don't want to confuse the two. I also have a pretty good Spanish accent and don't want to confuse that with an Italian accent! So, I do have reservations.

Opinions welcomed!
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  #2  
Old February 06, 2009, 06:17 PM
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There is some overlap, to be sure, but Italian will prove to be a challenge. Confusing Spanish and Italian will most likely not happen (unless you confuse English and Spanish).
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Old February 06, 2009, 06:25 PM
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I don't remember the exact studies, but confusion between languages when learning them is something people think might happen, but in practice doesn't really happen. At the very beginning stages of natural language acquisition (not learning), when a child is acquiring more than one language, they often mix and match the two languages. But that stage passes rather quickly as the child automatically separates the two. The brain is quite adapted to language, and somehow separates each language. Even in studying code switching (switching between different languages mid-sentence), people are not mixing the language, they are switching from one to another based on some cue.

One thing that happened to me when I was studying German (after being fluent in Spanish), was that when conversing in German I would revert to Spanish instead of English when running into an unknown word.
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Old February 06, 2009, 10:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomisimo View Post
One thing that happened to me when I was studying German (after being fluent in Spanish), was that when conversing in German I would revert to Spanish instead of English when running into an unknown word.
I was thinking of possibly German instead of Italian as my 3rd language, too. What difficulty level would you assign it as compared with Spanish? I realize that it's harder.
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Old February 07, 2009, 02:54 PM
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Quote:
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I was thinking of possibly German instead of Italian as my 3rd language, too. What difficulty level would you assign it as compared with Spanish? I realize that it's harder.
I think it is one of the easier languages for an English speaker to learn. While English and Spanish have Latin in common, English and German are both Germanic languages and have a lot in common. German was also greatly influenced by Latin as well. I found German to be fairly easy, but by the time I started studying it, I had learned a lot about learning languages from previous experiences, which also made it easier. The case system is probably the hardest thing for an English speaker when learning German. Verb conjugations and noun adjective agreement are no harder than in Spanish. Word order is a bit tricky at times, but is easy to get the hang of. Overall, for an English speaker, I'd say Spanish and German would both be relatively easy to learn.
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Old February 11, 2009, 05:23 PM
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@ZeroTX: if you feel already comfortable enough in Spanish, Italian will be more or less easy to learn. Since you already know that despite similarities both languages are different, a solid knowledge of the rules in Spanish will immediately emphasize the differences when you learn the rules in Italian.
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