Vocabulary compared in various languages

Languages - My homepage

These are just comparisons of word similarities between languages, a commonplace for linguist but so interesting to the polyglot language learner. I made these lists for me, but as I directly used html I offer them to any interested reader on earth. If you love to learn languages and want to discuss this or the way you learn them, please contact me. I speak, read and write french, english, german and spanish, and I'm learning russian and italian, which I can only read by the time I write this. As russian readers of this page are supposed to understand the latin alphabet to have a defendable interest in it, I used my own transcription of the cyrrilic.

Indo european languages

Germanic   Slavic   Latin
English German   Russian   French Italian Spanish
English Deutsch   Russki   Français Italiano Español

one ein   adin   un uno uno
I ich   ya   je io yo
Some words are well known as being the same in most indo-european languages. They are the most basic, describing simple, enduring aspects of human life.


brother Bruder   brat   frère fratello hermano
buy kaufen   kupitj   acheter comprare comprar
to love lieben   lubitj   aimer amare querer
none kein       aucun ninguno ningun
car Wagen       voiture machina coche
foot Fuss       pied   pie
thief Dieb       voleur ladrone ladron
milk Milch   malako   lait latte late
cat Katze       chat   gato
How much Wieviel       Combien Quanto Cuanto
When Wann       Quand Quando Cuando
mother Mutter   matj   mère   madre
door Tür   dvjer   porte   porta
bread Brot   xljep   pain pane pan
us uns   nas   nous noi nosotros
money geld       argent soldi dinero
head Kopf       tête   cabeza
cow Kuh       vache   vaca
here hier   zdjes   ici qui aqui
two zwei   dva   deux due dos
name Name   nazvanye   nom nome nombre
less weniger   menchiyi   moins meno menos
water Wasser   voda   eau aqua aqua
to call rufen   zvatj   appeler chiamar llamar
to be named
(to be called)
heissen   minya zavut
(they call me)
  s'appeler chiamarsi llamarse
In latin languages and russian your name is what the call you, so the this suggests the first function of a name could be to call (draw the attention, summon) someone.


to find finden       trouver trovare encontrar
to be located
(to be found)
sich befinden       se trouver trovarsi encontrarse
today heute   sitchas   aujourd'hui oggi hoy
yesterday gestern   ftchira   hier ieri ayer
before bevor   ranchiye   avant avanti antes
the day before
vorgestern   pazaftchira   avant-hier l'altro ieri anteayer
tomorrow morgen   zaftra   demain domani mañaña
morning Morgen   utra   matin mattina mañaña
after nach   poslyie   après dopo despues
the day after
übermorgen   poslyiezaftra   après demain dopodomani pasado mañaña
good gut   xaracho   bon buono bueno
well gut       bien bene bien
language Sprache   yizik   langue lingua lengua
tongue (anat.) Zunge   yizik   langue lingua lengua
The assimilation of the tongue (body part) and the tongue (language spoken) is the same in all the languages surveyed.


to must müssen       devoir devere debere
man Mann   muchina   homme uomo hombre

The similarities between the latin/romanic languages is not surprising if we consider their recent and powerful common ancestor, latin, which also gave birth to portuguese, romanian, galician, catalan, and many other languages which are now considered as regional "dialects", as a national language won over them in the 19 th century.

These strong similarities across close and less close languages illustrate, for the language learner, the fact that the more you know, the easier it is to learn more. Or, as the economist in me would put it, the marginal cost of learning a language is declining. I once heard the story of a man who learned the three major latin/romanic languages at once, but I never tried. The similarities come to your attention by themselves when you learn a new word and you try to connect it with something already present in your mind, but of course this can lead you to some inevitable confusion, like committing hispanisms in italian or (more difficult) germanis in english. My own doctrine is, try to avoid them as much as you can, but never be shy of speaking a language you don't know by fear of committing errors.