Italian language

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Italian language,

member of the Romance group of the Italic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Romance languagesRomance languages,
group of languages belonging to the Italic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Italic languages). Also called Romanic, they are spoken by about 670 million people in many parts of the world, but chiefly in Europe and the Western Hemisphere.
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). The official language of Italy and San Marino, and one of the official languages of Switzerland, Italian is spoken by about 58 million people in Italy, 30,000 in San Marino, 840,000 in Switzerland, another 1 million in other European countries, and approximately 5 million in North and South America. Historically, Italian is a daughter language of Latin (see Latin languageLatin language,
member of the Italic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages. Latin was first encountered in ancient times as the language of Latium, the region of central Italy in which Rome is located (see Italic languages).
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). Northern Italian dialects are the Gallo-Italian—including Piedmontese, Ligurian, Lombard, and Emilian—and Venetian. Further south, the major dialects are Tuscan and various others from Umbria to Sicily. Sardinian, spoken on the island of Sardinia, is sufficiently distinct from other dialects to be considered by some a Romance language in its own right. The Rhaeto-Romance forms, similar to the dialects of northern Italy, are spoken in the border region between Italy and Switzerland. It is not known exactly when Italian could be distinguished from its parent tongue; however, no text in Italian is recorded before the 10th cent. A.D.

The idiom of Florence, one of the Tuscan dialects of Italian, became dominant from the end of the 13th cent. to the middle of the 14th cent., largely owing to the growing prestige of the city of Florence and the literary works written in the Florentine dialect during that period. These literary works included Dante's Divine Comedy and the vernacular writings of Petrarch and Boccaccio. Thus, although Italian had—and still has—a great many dialects, it was the culturally important idiom of Florence that in time gave rise to modern standard Italian. The dialect of the Italian capital, Rome, also has influenced modern standard Italian. The Roman alphabet is used for Italian. The employment of diacritics is limited to the grave (`) and acute (´) accents, which sometimes serve to make clear where the stress of a word is to fall (as in caffè=coffee); they also serve to distinguish between homonyms (as with ne = "of it" or "of them," but né … né = "neither … nor"). The pronunciation of the language follows the spelling very closely. Italian is often described both as the language of art and music and as the language best suited to singing. Since the Renaissance its general cultural importance has been considerable.


See I. Iordan et al., An Introduction to Romance Linguistics (1970); A. L. Lepschy and G. C. Lepschy, The Italian Language Today (1977); M. Harris and N. Vincent, The Romance Languages (1988).

References in classic literature ?
Non siete Spagnuolo," he said; "non siete Tedesco; siete Italiano.
Durante la crisi del cinema italiano (crisi che peraltro continua ad esistere secondo me), si invocava soprattutto la figura dello sceneggiatore come garante di un cinema mainstream, non di un cinema d'autore o di un cinema capace di rinnovarsi esteticamente.
According to reports, the fouryear-old's connections have already turned down a substantial offer for the dual Classic winner who last year won the Premio Parioli (Guineas) and Derby Italiano.
Italiano, 99, of West Boylston, passed away peacefully Friday, January 7th 2011 at Notre Dame Long Term Care Center in Worcester.
Il critico polacco Cezary Bronowski affronta, in questo bel volume (pubblicato in Polonia dall'Universita Kopernika, dove Bronowski e docente universitario di letteratura italiana), il teatro italiano tra le due guerre.
Al Shabab have agreed a deal that could be worth pounds 5million to Villanueva's club Audax Italiano, who play in Chile's premier league.
The company also offers Wine and Dine, Cucina Italiano, Chocolate on the Brain, Zarela's Mexican Kitchen, Mediterranean Afternoon and Desserts from the National Gallery of Art note cards.
Take, for instance, the production process on Robert's latest release, Mambo Italiano, adapted from Steve Galluccio's comedic stage play.
Bank Pekao is a part of UniCredito Italiano Group ("UCI"), one of the leading European financial groups.
The Pizza Slider and two versions of the Chicken Italiano Slider will tempt Cravers with a sensational new taste.
50pm 128th Derby Italiano (Group 2) Capannelle, 1m3f turf, 3yo+ NEWMARKET trainer Marco Botti returns to his native Italy today to saddle Ekasin in the Derby Italiano, but a minor share of the place money would look his best hope.
com)-- The Washington, DC Italian Language Meetup Group has announced the fall schedule for Cineforum Italiano.