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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 ?
A few words will suffice to address what, in my judgment, is the general position of the Italianists.
Anyone dipping into these Italian treatises on the art of the impresa quickly finds that they contain a host of competing rules and theories rather than any simple guide to received conventions or historical practice in the use of symbolic forms, but with Dorigen Caldwell's book we now have a reliable guide to the competing theories and their various proponents within Italy in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, a study that will--at last--put those of us who are not Italianists in full possession of the sources which writers outside Italy so quickly and so readily appropriated to their own national traditions in poetry and the visual arts.
The first took place in 1994 and dealt with Aspekte der Gegenreformation" (Aspects of the Counter-Reformation) from the points of view of historians, art historians, sociologists, Italianists, librarians, musicologists, social philosophers, legal historians, and literary historians coming from Germany, Italy, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.
For these and other lucidly discussed ideas, Vico and Naples deserves to be read not only by Italianists and early modern historians, but also by contemporary political theorists, especially those interested in the origins of contractualism.
Yet, in the theoretical and scholarly streams running between Italianists across the continents, one piece of luggage stands virtually empty and unnoticed, testament to the paucity of theory on those very marginal cultures "su base sessuale" noted by Ceserani as "problemi specificamente americani" (233).
Twenty years later, all Italianists will agree that Ascoli has fully justified the wait.
This is an important potential starting-point for anyone who does not know Deledda and her work, while it should also be of interest to Italianists who may know her rather well.
It will appeal not only to Italianists, but also to comparativists, to scholars with an interest in the novella and theory of fiction, to students of narratology.
Not only Italianists, but other social historians of many sorts could make good use of it.
Colleen Ryan-Scheutz (See RyanScheutz and Nuessel, this volume) has spearheaded a recent effort to enlist the expertise and counsel of Italianists throughout North America for the purpose of determining answers to just such questions.
In any event, further justification of the valorization of cultural studies as a tool for redefining our subject-position(s) and role as Italianists within the academy and the broader (U.
The authors are not Dante specialists, nor even, in some cases, Italianists, but scholars whose research in other areas bears impressive witness to the range and duration of Dante's influence, and to the multiplicity of forms and motivations involved in his appropriation.