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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



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.


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References in periodicals archive ?
The first criterion has to do with time: the Italianists envisage the century as the usual type of subject for investigation and regard as ingredients of the inner constitution of the century several time spans about which they can come to some agreement.
16) Indeed, if I may paraphrase Gramsci's assessment of periodic rekindlings of "la questione della lingua," with this debate on cultural studies "si sta imponendo una serie di altri problemi" (Quaderni del carcere 29, [section]3) that go from the specific--the real conditions of employment of Italianists in North America--to invest a discussion of critical method.
Some of the reasons why Italianists study phenomena connected to Italian culture in which also--but not exclusively--important literary texts find a place--, are due to the mere fact that, in order to construct an epistemological and hermeneutical correct context and path of analysis for the literary texts that we read in a class usually composed by non-Italian individuals, one has to provide students with a considerable amount of non-literary material ranging from the inevitable historical and political background to the social and economic situation of the moment.
Nor do I wish to imply that his critical stance is unshared by other Italianists.
Colleagues who are now entering the profession as young assistant professors or graduate students would find it hard to imagine the situation faced by Italianists interested in cinema some three decades ago.
As Italianists, we are concerned with the Italian dimension of identity and interaction as an always plural, shifting, and hybrid phenomenon.
Luigi Monga was, of course, a household face to the entire family of North American Italianists.
The visual arts being largely non-verbal, Italianists may instinctively find the subject of this book somewhat removed from their customary area of competenza.
The book has three primary audiences: Italianists studying the political theory of Renaissance city states; Briticists interested in the import of republican theory during the seventeenth-century; and Americanists tracing the lineage of colonial and revolutionary politics.
Beginning in the 1980s, he became one of the first Italianists in North America to recognize travel literature as a viable field for scholarship.
Personally, I am honored to have had the privilege to work with so many talented and worthy fellow Italianists.
This slim volume of Studi d'italianistica, the journal published bi-annually by the Association of Professional Italianists / Associazione professori d'italiano in Southern Africa, includes four of the ten essays presented on life-writing at a conference, The Importance of Italy, held at the Australian National University at Canberra in 2001 and sponsored by the Humanities Research Council at the Australia National University in Canberra.