Italian


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Italian

the official language of Italy and one of the official languages of Switzerland: the native language of approximately 60 million people. It belongs to the Romance group of the Indo-European family, and there is a considerable diversity of dialects

Italian

 

a language of the Romance group of the Indo-European languages. Italian is spoken in Italy (about 54 million people; 1971, estimate), in San Marino, in the Swiss canton of Ticino (Tessin), on the islands of Corsica and Malta, and among Italian emigrants (more than 7 million people), most of whom reside in the USA, Canada, Australia, and the Somali Republic (where Italian is one of the official languages).

Italian developed from Vulgar Latin after the fall of the Roman Empire. The first written records, in various dialects, date from the tenth to 12th centuries; the first literary documents date from the 13th century (the “Sicilian School” of poets). Italian dialects are divided into three groups: northern Italian (Gallo-Italian dialects of the Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Venice, and Istria), central-southern (Marche, Umbria, Latian, Campanian, Apulian, Abruzzese, Molise, Basilicata, and Sicilian dialects), and Tuscan (dialects of Florence, Siena, Arezzo, and Pisa). Some northern and central-southern dialects (the dialects of Venice, Milan, Naples, and Sicily) have written literary versions in addition to the spoken differences.

Common Italian was formed from the 14th-century Florentine dialect made popular by the Florentine writers Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio. In view of the fact that Italy lacked a single cultural and administrative center until 1871, Common Italian existed outside of Tuscany almost exclusively in written form as late as the 20th century and was accessible only to the literate segment of the population. In the 20th century, under the influence of radio and television, the oral literary norm is supplanting the dialects, adopting in turn a different dialect coloration in each region (italiano regionale).

The phonetic and morphological features of the Italian literary language (and the Tuscan dialects) include the following. All words in absolute final form end in a vowel sound. Seven stressed vowels (i, e, ε, a, ɔ, o, and u ) and a number of stressed diphthongs (uo, ie, io, ia, iu, and au) are distinguished. Vowel clusters occur frequently (lei, “she”; io, “I”; aiuola, “flower bed”; ghiaia, “gravel”). There is a characteristic opposition between single and double consonants (dita, “fingers”; ditta, “firm”; buco, “hole”; bocca, “mouth”). Articulation of the sounds is sharp and tense. Gender and number of nouns are expressed by inflection (rosa, “rose”;rose, “roses”; and capo, “head”; capi, “heads”), and definite and indefinite categories are expressed by articles (il/la, “the”; uno/una, “a”). There are no cases; their meanings are expressed by the use of prepositions (di, “of”; a, “to”; da, “from”). The grammatical meanings of person, number, tense, and mood are expressed by inflection of the verb. The indicative tense system consists of four simple and four compound forms. Word order is free.

REFERENCES

Boursier, E. Osnovy romanskogo iazykoznaniia. Moscow, 1952. (Translated from French.)
Migliorini, B. Storia della lingua italiana [2nd ed.]. Florence, 1960.
Mauro, T. de. Storia linguistica dellTtalia unita.Bari, 1963.
Rohlfs, G. Grammatica storica della lingua italiana e dei suoi dialetti, vols. 1–3. Turin, 1966–68.
Camilli, A. Pronuncia e grafia delVitaliano, 3rd ed. Florence, 1965.
Battaglia, S., and V. Pernicone. La grammatica italiana, 2nd ed. Turin, 1968.
Cappuccini, G., and B. Migliorini. Vocabolario della lingua italiana. Turin, 1955.
Palazzi, F. Novissimo dizionario della lingua italiana, 2nd ed. Milan [1964].
Prati, A. Vocabolario etimologico italiano.[Turin, 1951.]
Battisti, G., and G. Alessio. Dizionario etimologico italiano [vols.] 1–.Florence, 1968.

T. B. ALISOVA

References in classic literature ?
asked Don Quixote; to which the author replied, "Senor, in Italian the book is called Le Bagatelle.
You have opened my eyes," said the Italian gravely; "I will show the gentlemen the door.
But his quality of an Italian was no recommendation in these times, and his small, well-concealed fortune forbade attracting too much attention.
This," said she, "is nearly the sense, or rather the meaning of the words, for certainly the sense of an Italian love-song must not be talked of, but it is as nearly the meaning as I can give; for I do not pretend to understand the language.
Let Bonaparte know that Bartolomeo di Piombo wishes to speak with him," said the Italian to the captain on duty.
This," answered Ezza gravely, "is not the costume of an Englishman, but of the Italian of the future.
But you know what Italians are, and meanwhile the Grotto fell roaring on to the beach, and the saddest thing of all is that she cannot remember what she has written.
Walker, taking her hand pleadingly, "don't walk off to the Pincio at this hour to meet a beautiful Italian.
The Italian artists painted Italian Virgins, the Dutch painted Dutch Virgins, the Virgins of the French painters were Frenchwomen--none of them ever put into the face of the Madonna that indescribable something which proclaims the Jewess, whether you find her in New York, in Constantinople, in Paris, Jerusalem, or in the empire of Morocco.
He knifed another Italian in the street, and then he came to the works with the police on his heels, and he was taken here.
At that moment Anna Pavlovna came up and, looking severely at Pierre, asked the Italian how he stood Russian climate.
I ran through an Italian grammar on my way across the Atlantic, and from my knowledge of Latin, Spanish, and French, I soon had a reading acquaintance with the language.