How do Italians and Spaniards see each other ?

This probably going to paint with a ridiculously broad brush, but it’s a question that’s always fascinated me.

Being a native French speaker, I’ve had a passing familiarity with Italian and Spanish cultures relatively early. Both countries are not that far from mine, they’re both popular tourist destinations, there were significant numbers migrants who settled here before and after World War II, and our languages are clearly related.

Culturally, I remember Italian pop music being relatively fashionable when I was a kid. From the late 70s to the mid 80s, a couple of Italian songs would become hits here almost every year. Spanish songs seemed less popular but that trend has reversed, starting in the 90s. As far as actors are concerned, it wasn’t unusual (and still isn’t) to see Italian (Marcello Mastroianni, Ornella Muti, Monica Bellucci, Valeria Golino) or Spanish (Victoria Abril, Sergi López) stars in French movies. Similarly, there were a number Italian singers who also sang in French, usually adaptations of their own songs (Riccardo Cocciante, Angelo Branduardi). There must have been Spanish singers who did likewise, but I’m drawing a blank at the moment.

Back when I was in primary school, I remember being surprised, and intrigued when my teacher mentioned that parts of Italy had belonged to Spain for a while. Later, when I lived in London, I once saw an Italian student speaking Italian to a couple of Spanish girls, who answered in Spanish, and being fascinated that they could communicate farily well (although the Italian guy had a harder time understanding them than the other way around). For the record, when I asked them “Would you be able to that with French in the mix ?”, the three of them looked at me with shock and answered “No way !” :D.

Finally, there’s the famous rivalry in football, where it seems that there’s no such thing as a “friendly” match between the two nations, or so I’ve been told.

So, any anecdotes on that subject ? How do they see each other ? Are there any Italian or Spanish artists who had a career in the other country ?

Oh man, I was all ready to say “With their eyes.” But I see there’s more to the question.

Well there was that whole Christopher Columbus thing.

We’e had lots of threads about the mutual intelligibility of Spanish and Italian. The upshot is: If they are trying to communicate with each other, they can. If they are trying NOT to, they can accomplish that, too. :slight_smile:

As for French, I think you’d have good success with the written language. French pronunciation is notoriously not phonetic, while Spanish and Italian tend to be much better in that respect.

What is a friendly international football match? I’ve seen polite ones, but c’mon, friendly?

We see each other as sort of cousins. There’s some things in which we’re very much the same (we definitely love each other’s food, each other’s music, each other’s art); others in which we’re very different (there was a Fiat 500 campaign which got moved to Spain after being an Italian success… and they had to apologize so mightily, I think the guy doing the bowing managed to stick his head behind his knees multiple times).

Anecdote about the general artsy thing: I was in an Italian factory for a project and my manager-of-sorts (not my manager but he was supposed to be directing my work) was a dude everybody in the project had pegged as an asshole from day one. The radio was on and Tiziano Ferro’s “Perdono” was blaring for about the fifth time in as many hours, being the current number 1 in Italy. Manager suddenly stood up, switched off the radio and started ranting about how horrible Italian music was, and eventually after he winded down he ordered me to “play some music from Spain, at least that will be a change”. “You want music from Spain, or is it ok if it’s music in Spanish?” “:bulldog look: Just. In. Spanish. Will do.”

So I played the current number one in Spain, of course. Tiziano Ferro’s “Perdona,” c’mon, what were you expecting? After he left the room under a storm of laughter, the Italians congratulated me and I said “oh, I was actually nice. I could have been much, much nastier. I have this in my computer.” (I have to say, my mp3 has better sound).

Rafaella Carrá is known to Spaniards (who as a culture love nicks) above a certain age as “the blonde”; it’s funny because unless you’ve given context to indicate you are talking about another blonde*, it’s her. We share Miguel Bosé (who actually has [del]dual[/del] ok, quadruple by now, nationality), our actresses tend to jump over those biggish islands in the Med with enormous ease… Italian movies and TV series do well here (we share a lot of the sense of humor, and even of the bureaucracy). Many Italian writers have done well in Spain.

So yeah. Different countries? Sure. In the family? Yep. Sometimes we’re each other’s idiot cousin, but hey, what can you do, we’ve been in each other’s family tree for about two thousand years…

Oh, and speaking of Spaniards in France? You left out Jean Reno :smiley:

  • Tension-breaker after a meeting where knives haven’t been drawn because none were available. “OK guys, as that’s settled for the moment, let’s talk about the important things in life. ABBA. The brunette or the blonde?”

One thing that’s very different with respect to relationships between Spain and Italy, and Spain and many other European countries: the last time we went to war with each other was back when the Romans decided they liked our real estate. There weren’t years and years of war and peace and tension and trade and piracy between “Italy” and “Spain”; there were wars between some of our rulers and some other Italian rulers but being mad about that would be like being mad that a Castillian wife was a bitch to her Aragonese royal husband (or vice versa), it’s internal stuff, conflicts between states which were part of the same cultural zone and are now part of the same nation-state. I think that’s the reason we don’t really have much in the way of negative stereotypes or anything like that; many of the stereotypes that other people or even ourselves have about us apply to both. “Those guys are short, dark and loud” you don’t tell? “can’t speak without using their hands” what, you mean there’s people who can?

I guess “with telescopes, peering across the Mediterranean” doesn’t fit either.

Sort of like Alabama and Yorkshire?

Hi Nava, I was hoping you’d chime in.

Now, this is official terminology and you know it. :wink: .

Thanks, that’s exactly the sort of things I was curious about.

I guess that my fascination with this topic comes from the fact that, for the longest time, I had a box in my mind labeled “Italian culture & history and its interactions with French culture & history” and another one for “Spanish culture & history and its interactions with French culture & history”. It never occurred to me to join the dots and think about the interactions between Italy and Spain. It’s a bit as if you had two close friends whom you’ve always met with separtely for decades and then you realize that they’ve known and seen each other from the start without you being aware of it. “Wow, you guys have hung out together since forever ! And behind my back !” :smiley: .

Regarding Carrá, I have never heard of her, which is interesting because it would be an example of an artist popular both in Italy and Spain but unheard of in French-speaking countries, at least to my knowledge. The song is familiar, though. And supremely annoying. As for Ferro, that Spanish version of his only hit cracked me up, because, you guessed it, he also did one in French (although I now realize that only the verses are in French - unlike in Spanish, the lyrics of the chorus probably didn’t scan so well, what with all our silent endings). He sure is milking it for all it’s worth.

Apparently in the former case, even speakers who have never really experienced much of each others’ languages typically spontaneously invent a pidgin language known as Itagnolo (that is, even though it’s more or less invented from scratch by individuals when needed, it’s consistent enough to be a thing in its own right)

On a similar note, it seems that Argentinian Spanish has been heavily influenced by the dialects of Italian migrants, especially in terms of prosody and vocabulary.

That song of Carrá’s was used for the Spanish version of rickrolling before we knew there was such a thing as rickrolling.

That’s been his only big international hit, but I’ve heard other songs of his in Spanish radio; I figure he gets much more mileage back home.

Quickly reviving this thread after stumbling on this interview of Penélope Cruz… in Italian. I find it absolutely charming and she seems quite fluent.