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Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
|Subject:||Te/Ti, Me/Mi, Se/Si of Spanish and Italian|
|Question:||I've noticed an interesting phenomenon in Spanish and Italian -- when it's 'te' in Spanish, it's 'ti' in Italian and vice versa, like Spanish "Te Amo" vs Italian "Ti Amo" and Spanish A ti vs Italian A te. This is the same for 'me' and 'mi', "a mi" in Spanish and "a me" in Italian. The Spanish say "me interesa" and the Italians say "m'interessa" (from mi interessa). Then also for 'si' and 'se', the Spanish say "como se dice" and the Italians say come "si dice." The Spanish say 'si' for if and the italians 'se'. It seems like there is a pattern of 'e' and 'i' in Italian and Spanish, like when it's 'i' in Spanish it's 'e' in Italian and vice versa. Can you explain this pattern to me? I'm sure it has to do with how they evolved from Latin. Thank you!|
|Reply:||Hi, Elisa, I'm not an expert on historical Romance, but I do know that there was consderable switching around with the high front and mid front vowels in the development of Late Latin (Vulgar Latin), certainly in the history of Spanish. One fairly early change in Vulgar Latin was the loss of the distinction between long vowels and short vowels in Latin. The different patterns *might* be due to differences in Latin vowel length, but you need to check a historical grammar of Romance to be sure. Jim James L. Fidelholtz Graduate Program in Language Sciences Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades Benem'erita Universidad Aut'onoma de Puebla, M'EXICO|
|Reply From:||James L Fidelholtz click here to access email|