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Differenze Linguistiche (English: Linguistic Differences) is a series of vertical rage comics illustrating various stereotypes or misperceptions associated with Western languages and their phonetic systems. The comics are usually centered around a single word or a phrase that is phonetically translated into multiple languages.
The meme originated with the Italian Facebook group Differenze Linguistiche created on February 27th, 2012. The first image example (shown right below) presented different ways to say “I love you” in Italian, English, French, Spanish and with emphasis on the rather harsh-sounding German translation “Ich Liebe Dich.”
Humorous illustration of linguistic differences has been noted prior to the rage comic series. The most notable prototype of the series (shown left), which highlights the Spanish word for banana (“plátano”) with a look of disapproval" emoticon, was created sometime in 2010 and posted via FunnyJunk on November 9th, 2010. A similar image for the word pineapple (shown right) also followed after.
Throughout March of 2012, the rage comic series was picked up by internet humor blogs and communities across multiple language regions, spawning derivative images on a number of Spanish, Italian and English-language websites, including Memebase, FunnyJunk and 9gag among others. As the meme continued to spread, the Facebook page saw significant growth in subscription and even led to a copycat Facebook page with the same name. In less than a month since its launch, the official Facebook page has accumulated 16,000 likes.
The comics adhere to a standard three-column format: the first column has flags representing the language, the second column has a rage face describing the perceived “emotion” of the phrase in that language, and the third column has the translation of the phrase in the respective language. The majority of the examples make fun of German and its rough-sounding words, in comparison to softer-sounding Romance languages.
In popular culture, certain languages like German have been characterized as “guttural” languages, especially by English speakers or the speakers of Romance languages (such as Italian and Spanish). The speakers of these languages are mostly unfamiliar with sounds that are pronounced from the back of the throat, which are prevalent in German. Although English is a Germanic language as well, its lexicon has been heavily influenced by French (thanks to the Norman conquest of England in the Middle Ages), and thus it has many words and sounds in common with the Romance languages.