Comparative Grammar of the French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese languages a must-compare for any westlang IAL

Saturday, July 07, 2012

That title comes across as a bit strange, but it is easy to explain. A few months ago Jennifer at ielanguages.com scanned and uploaded a very helpful book from the 19th century called a Comparative Grammar of the French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese languages, a 412-page work of art that compares the grammar of these four side by side. That page has three download links for the book as a pdf, and you'll notice that it compares them across two pages: French and Italian on the left side, and Spanish and Portuguese on the right. The book painstakingly goes over the grammar and usage of these four languages, such as how the article is used, how to use nouns of weight, where to put the personal pronoun when using the infinitive, etc. For example: 80. In French the personal pronoun is placed before the verb in the infinitive. Je vais le voir Italian: the pronoun is placed after the infinitive, which then suppresses its final e... Possiamo parlargli In Spanish also the pronoun is placed after the verb in the infinitive, and is joined to it. Para enseñarme The Portuguese pronoun is placed either before or after the infinitive, to which, in the latter case, it is joined by a hyphen... Devo-vos dizer Vindo visita-la And so on. It's a pity that the book is so old as some of the orthography is out of date and it would take quite a bit of effort with native speakers from all four languages to make the necessary changes to bring this up to date. However, as a checklist for a westlang IAL (one based on either Germanic or Romance grammar or vocabulary for example) it is perfect. Some parts are irrelevant for most IALS (how to determine the gender of a noun for example), but any creator of an IAL should be able to take a look at each and every section of the book and determine how his or her IAL matches up in usage. It is especially useful for very new languages without a real community, because without one it is difficult for the language creator to visualize all the areas in which the language will be used.

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