Examine the pros and cons of learning Italian and Greek, so you can determine which language is better for you to learn.
So you’re ready to take on the task of learning a new foreign language (and believe me, it is a task). Maybe you’re doing it for fun, maybe it’s because you’re about to embark on some Mediterranean travel, or, perhaps you’re filling out your resume for future career opportunities.
Whatever the reason, you have a big decision to make on which language to choose. If you’re going back and forth between Greek and Italian, the good news is that both are great languages to learn with different challenges and benefits. This article will give you some insight into which one might be best for you.
Similarities Between Greek and Italian Languages
Both of these languages have Mediterranean roots. Learning either one will give you deep social, cultural, and artistic connections to ancient history, peoples, and science. Both Italy and Greece set the stage for much of what we hold in society today, including politics, religion, and social structure.
Both Greek and Italian have ancient linguistic roots, too, with modern-day Greek taking its basis from ancient Greek and Italian stemming from Latin. Although Greek uses a different alphabet than Italian, they began in the same place, with Latin coming from Greek origins. Thus, some Greek letters have similar sounds to what you find in Italian.
Both Greek and the original Latin have three genders for their nouns, as well as a case system. This means that depending on the role nouns and adjectives play in a particular sentence, they’ll change the way they are written.
However, once Latin evolved into Italian, the third gender and the case system were dropped. However, both Greek and modern-day Italian conjugate their verbs similarly.
Differences Between Greek and Italian Languages
Italian uses the Indo-European (or Latin) alphabet. Most of its letter sounds are the same as the ones that English makes. However, Greek has its own alphabet with a fully new (to you) set of letters and sounds.
It’s a Hellenic language, meaning that it not only has different sounds but a completely different grammar structure.
Greek has many letters that don’t correspond to any Italian or Latin ones, requiring you to learn some brand-new sounds. But that’s just one more benefit to the language—extra exercise for your brain (assuming you want the challenge 😉).
Which Language Is Easier To Learn: Greek or Italian?
Most native English speakers would say that learning Italian is easier than learning Greek, and I tend to agree. This is mainly due to the fact that Italian uses the same alphabet as English.
Although the letter sounds have different accents, they make approximately the same sounds as in English. Furthermore, all Romance languages have the same grammar structure (subject-verb-object). So, although each language has its idiosyncrasies and irregularities, learning or knowing one will help you learn the rest. That has been my experience with Spanish and Italian.
Greek, on the other hand, requires you to use a whole new alphabet. However, once you get a handle on this and know what sound each letter makes, many people would say that becoming proficient is no different than with any other linguistic study. It’s just one additional step.
Reasons To Learn Italian
Italian is the most romantic of all the Romance languages. If you learn Italian and use it in this beautiful country, you’ll be able to experience all the beauty, culture, and history that Italy holds in store.
There is something different about being in a country when you speak the language vs being an English-only speaking tourist. You get a fuller and richer experience.
Plus, you’ll have plenty of people to practice with along the way—Italian ranks as the fourth most-studied language the world over.
If you’re going to travel to Italy or any other European country, then studying Italian is going to give you a strong foothold for communicating with other people. Even if you spend time in France, Spain, Portugal, or Romania, you’ll be able to pick up some of these other languages since they share the same roots as Italian (all stemming from Latin).
Of course, having bilingual skills is going to benefit your career opportunities as well. Almost every employer will choose a well-qualified bilingual applicant over one who can only speak English. Learning Italian will give you a particular leg up if you’re hoping to work anywhere in Europe.
Reasons To Learn Greek
If you decide to learn Greek, you’ll be setting yourself up for success in learning many other languages down the line. Many other dialects, including English, take a good portion of their verbs and vocabulary from Greek roots. For example, every word that has the prefixes chrono-, macro-, micro-, photo- or poly- comes from Greek roots. Fun fact.
Because the Greek alphabet is probably fully new to you (unless you learned it when you pledged a sorority or fraternity, or as symbols in science or math class), this entire language will be an intense workout for your brain. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The more your brain is exercised learning a new language, the healthier it will be. Plus, it’ll make learning other foreign languages that use English’s same alphabet much easier down the road.
Even though Greek isn’t one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world, learning it will open you up to a culture and people who are friendly, exuberant, and full of hospitality.
There are 13 million people in the world who speak Greek as their first language, so you’ll be in good company practicing and using your new skills. Plus, you’ll be able to read Greek texts, if ancient Greek history is of particular interest to you. That makes for a unique historical experience.
Of course, knowing another language is a great skill to have on a resumé. If you have one that’s different than most other people though (i.e., Greek), you’ll set yourself apart from the crowd.
No one can answer the question “Which language is better to learn, Greek or Italian?” for you. You need to look at your linguistic, career, and social goals, and decide which of these languages will serve you best now and in the future. Of course, Italian might be easier to learn at the beginning, but the challenge of learning Greek is an exciting one to overcome.
Choose the one that will not only benefit you but that you have the most passion about delving into—enjoy the journey!
Whether to learn the Italian or Greek language totally depends on your personal goals and desires. Though somewhat similar, there are major cultural aspects that can influence your decision.
Most English-speakers agree that Italian is easier to learn than Greek given that we share a common alphabet. With Greek, you need to learn a whole new alphabet, with new phonetic sounds.