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He studied Italian.

1. He studied a course on Italian.

2. He studied a course in Italian.

Which is the correct one? I think it would be fine to say studied a course on Italian/French If you went to a school and studied an Italian or French language course.

A native speaker might think otherwise.
Your comments are welcome.
Comments  
I'd say "he took a course in Italian"

In your examples, I'd use "in", or "an Italian course".
Well, first: we don't study a course, we take a course; we study Italian.

I took a course in Italian.-- this is the one that seems natural to me: Italian is the subject title.
I took a course on the evolution of the endoproct tentacular system. -- this explains the topic of the course rather than naming it.

Others may have different opinions.
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This durn time lag-- I didn't even see your post squeeze in there when I finally posted.
Oh no! I just wanted to state the fact that I know I've been scarce of late, and that I was glad that we think in the same direction!

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Number 2

If one studied a language as a language, such as in a linguistics department, it would be on Italian. For example, I took a course on the grammar and syntax of Italian. Therefore, you took a course "on" Italian. If one took a course on any subject in which the language was Italian, such as an English literature course in Italy, it would be in Italian. For example, I took course on English literature in Italian. Therefore, you took a course "in" Italian.

If one took a course for the purposes of learning Italian, it would vary depending on the time, place and manner.

In my era, an instructor had to be fluent in both the language of the students and the language under study. In other words, the instructor had to be bilingual. Therefore, the instructor taught us how to speak French, which included employing English. Thus, I took a course in English on French, or I took a course on French in English.


Today, students learn languages through the process of immersion and an instructor may be monolingual. For example, a native Italian, totally ignorant of English, can employ the Italian language for the purpose of teaching Italian to English speakers; a native Australian, ignorant of everything about Italy but the language, can employ the Italian language for the purpose of teaching Italian to English speakers. In both cases, one has taken a course in Italian. Therefore, I took a course in Italian, you took a course in Italian and so did everybody.

One could avoid the problem altogether by saying one took an Italian language course or one took an Italian studies course. Therefore, you took an Italian language course, I took an Italian studies course.

His Italian language textbook was written in English.

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