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I Love You: Similarities between Languages

How do you say I Love You in French? In Spanish? Italian? Are there any similarities between the languages?

Languages are uniquely human. Once you begin to study a second or third language, you will begin to notice how similar languages can be. Even if the languages are spoken in countries on opposite sides of the world, languages all have some commonalities.

Original Languages Carry Over Today

There are over 6,000 languages, but most of them originated from very few early languages that actually were written. These include languages from early cultures in Greece, Israel, Egypt, Sumeria, Babylonia, Phoenicia, Rome, and China. Remnants of these ancient languages still exist and they continue to make languages across the world very similar.

Romance Languages and Their Similarities

Students learning French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian often see many similarities with vocabulary and grammar. These languages all share the roots from Latin, which has been a dead language for many generations. Students immediately recognize root words, conjugations, and sentence structure. One phrase that shows the similarities between the languages it the English phrase, “I love you.” The French say, “Je t’aime.” The Spanish say, “Te amo,” which is one letter away from the Italian, “Ti amo.”  The Portuguese show their love by saying, “Eu te amo.”

Common Sounds in the Germanic Tongue

The Germanic languages, like English, German, and Dutch also share many similarities, too. The same phrase, “I love you,” looks and sounds the same. The German version may not look just like the English version, but once you hear, “Ich liebe dich,” you will notice the similarities between the “V” and the “B” in love and liebe. The Dutch version, “Ik hou van jou,” also sounds like the other two versions.

Asian Languages and the Rhythm of Accents

Interestingly, the Japanese version, “Aishiteru,” may not look like the European versions of “I love you,” but it contains many of the same syllables and accented sounds. Even the long ‘u’ sound at the end of the phrase is reminiscent of the English version and even the Dutch version, along with other languages. Other Asian cultures have similar sounding phrases. The Koreans say, “Sarang Heyo,” and the Filipinos say, “Mahal kita.” Those in Indonesia say, “Saya cinta padamu.” After looking at many of the Asians languages, the phrase does begin to look related. The Mandarin Chinese show their affection with, “Wo ai ni.”

Connections throughout History

Studying languages is not just about communicating, but about studying cultures, too. Historical events play a big role in the development of languages all over the world and the similarities remind us how much we have in common with humans all over the world.

Homework: find someone and say to him/her I Love You in a another language.


3 thoughts on “I Love You: Similarities between Languages

  1. In Spain we usually say Te quiero. “Te amo”, though perfectly understable and correct, sounds somehow weird to me.

    In Catalan, a romanic language too, we say “t’estimo”.


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