“A Thousand Words in Less Than One Minute”
“André Maurois [French novelist] has recounted an incident between soldiers who met in the trenches during World War I. A Portuguese soldier offered to teach a French soldier a thousand words of Portuguese in less than one minute for 100 francs. The French soldier accepted. ‘Look,’ said the Portuguese, ‘all the words you have in French that end in -tion are the same in Portuguese, except that they end in -ção . . . There are over a thousand of them and they are all feminine gender, just like French. That took less than a minute, didn’t it? One hundred francs, please.’”—Native Tongues, by Charles Berlitz.
Often this same principle applies in converting English words into French, Spanish, Italian or Portuguese, and vice versa. Thus many words ending in -tion in English have the same spelling in French, but sometimes with accents added. In Spanish the -tion becomes -ción; in Italian -zione; in Portuguese -ção. Example: nation: nation (Fr.); nación (Sp.); nazione (It.); nação (Port.).