Let’s talk language (and how it inspires!)

How much bread did the child eat?

Quelle quantité de pain mange l’enfant?

Cuánto pan come el niño?

The three sentences are written in 1. English, my native language; 2. French, a language in which I am fluent and which I taught to myself; and 3. Spanish, a language I am currently trying to learn. Language has always been something that has enraptured me, and it probably always will. If I could make a career out of learning languages, I would be the happiest girl in the world (cut to Fluent in 3 Months—he actually did it!)

As I move through the DuoLingo Spanish course, I’ve started to compare the new language to the ones I’ve been speaking for years—French and English. What I love most about learning Spanish is that it’s so similar to both languages in completely different ways. And since I’m completing the course in French, I am forced to recognize the difference between Spanish and French each time I complete a lesson, all the while manually translating to English.

Take the above sentences. The grammatical structure of the sentence in Spanish and French are the same, translated literally from both as “How much bread eats the child.” But note the differences—French requires “de” in between “Quelle quantite” and “pain” to make sense, while Spanish and English don’t need an article at all (“Cuanto pan” and “How much bread”). English needs that extra verb “did” that confuses so many students of English, and it tacks the main verb eat at the very end of the sentence. But all three languages give an article to “child”—”el nino,” “l’enfant,” “the child.”

I love breaking down language like this. It examines the subtle nuances that accompany the major differences between language—and I love discovering the similarities. Learning a language works my brain and opens my eyes to a new culture. It’s fantastic.

I challenged you to go learn a new phrase in a language you’ve always loved. Or go learn it all and make it an excuse to visit the country where it’s spoken.




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