What makes a language romantic? To understand this we must first examine what defines a romantic language; Wikipedia defines romance languages as modern languages that have evolved from vulgar Latin between the third and eighth centuries. These include Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian. Ask 10 people on the street what they think are the most romantic languages in the world, and the chances of them listing some or all of the above are relatively high.
So what is it that makes a romantic language sound romantic? Some attribute it to the dialect being euphonic. What is euphony you might wonder? It is exactly what it sounds like. A sound that is pleasing or sweet to the ear. Euphonic words contain many consonants with soft or muffled sounds (like L, M, N, and R) instead of consonants with harsh, percussive sounds (like T, P, and K).
Does euphonic necessarily translate to romantic though? Big 7 Travel interviewed their readers around the world and ranked the 50 most euphonic languages and accents. What made the top 5?
1. Kiwi, New Zealand
2. South African African (Africaans)
Euphonic, yes. Romantic, though? That might require a bit more investigation.
French, the Official Language of Love
French is especially euphonic due to its pronunciation, as French speakers avoid pronouncing the consonant at the end of a world unless followed by a vowel. This makes the words flow together better and sound more pleasing.
Italian, the Language of Rhythm
Some may argue the rhythmic cadence of a language could attribute to its romance. Italian is known for its musicality, making it wonderfully pleasant to listen to. The Italian language’s rhythmic distribution of consonants and vowels contributes to its sing-songy sound. In fact, did you know that almost all Italian words end with a vowel? This, paired with Italy’s long history of poetry, prose, and opera, and the expressive gesticulation of a native Italian means it’s no wonder Italian is widely considered one of the world’s most romantic, fiery and formidable languages.
Spanish, the Language of the World
Not dissimilar to Italian and French, Spanish has the euphonic characteristic of soft consonants and long vowels, and a melodic tone to it. While difficult to learn, Spanish verb conjugations make it easy to create rhymes in Spanish, making it the perfect language for music and poetry. According to some composers, they just couldn’t find any other language than Spanish that gives the same freedom to compose such songs. One of the most widely spoken languages in the world, one could argue that the Spanish language is the most romantic language in the world, as there are nearly 600 million people saying ‘te amo’, across the globe.
Portuguese, the Language of Music
“Eu te amo”
The Portuguese language is extremely rich in a range of vowel sounds. Vowels open the throat wide, which gives singers power, and range. Portuguese consonants have a percussive quality to them, and when the use of both of these are employed the language has a beautiful musical sound to it. Portuguese has words that are unique to its language, for example, the word saudade, used for the feeling of longing, melancholy, desire and nostalgia, which has a certain romance to it, or cafuné, the act of running your fingers through someone’s hair in a loving way. Pretty romantic, we think.
Romanian, the Forgotten Romance Language
Due to its geographical location, Romanian is often overlooked as a romantic language and generally associated with the Slavic family. However, as it is also derived from Latin, it is closely related to Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese. While unique in sound due to its location and the influence of Slavic languages over time, it is still a Romance language at its core. For example, încântat, (meaning, pleased to meet you or – enchanted) bears similarity to ‘encantado’
in Spanish, and the French word ‘enchanté’. Dating over 1,700 years old, it is the only Romance language that survived in a territory invaded and occupied by Slavic and Uralic populations.
Honorable Mention: Japanese
While not a Romance language derived from Latin roots, Japanese is considered to be a beautiful, romantic and passionate language. Due to long-held cultural customs, it is not customary to outwardly express a verbal “I love you” in Japanese. However, people often express their love in a complex and layered way, with formality and politeness. While not necessarily as upfront with their emotions like Western or European cultures, the Japanese have many beautiful ways of expressing emotion to one another.
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