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 ?
He painted studies from nature under the guidance of an Italian professor of painting, and studied medieval Italian life.
Getting to the ordinary laypeople in high medieval Italy requires both a medievalist's skills (consulting primary sources in Latin and medieval Italian dialects, in both printed and manuscript form) and a historian's rigor (often arguing against received interpretations of events and models used for interpreting those events).
I live in a small medieval Italian village, where paradise and purgatory intersect.
Medieval Italian does not respond well to literal paraphrase, so Young has had to use a modern diction to avoid sounding antiquarian.
The resulting form of government, a federal or compound republic, conferred many layers of institutional strength that previous republics, from ancient Rome to the medieval Italian city-states, did not possess.
Miller's analysis of the position of the palaces in relation to cathedral and piazza is especially significant for the development of the planning of the medieval Italian city.
Michele Temple's The Middle Eastern Influence on Late Medieval Italian Dances: Origins of the 29987 Istampittas (Edwin Mellen Press) is the 2002 winner of the Jose Rollins de la Torre Bueno Prize in Dance Literature[SM] given by the Dance Perspectives Foundation.
The volume contains essays by Michael Camille, `Signs of the city: place, power, and public fantasy in medieval Paris'; Daniel Lord Smail, `The linguistic cartography of property and power in late medieval Marseille'; Charles Burroughs, `Spaces of arbitration and the organization of space in late medieval Italian cities'; Andrzej Piotrowski, `Architecture and the Iconoclastic controversy'; Michael Kobialka, `Staging place/space in the eleventh-century monastic practices'; Valerie I.
With particular attention to Classical, Medieval Italian and Renaissance monuments, but ranging as far as Medieval Scandinavia and the tomb of Jim Morrison, Prof.
3) The Finance of the Commune of Siena, 1287-1355 (Oxford, 1970) and A Medieval Italian Commune: Siena under the Nine (Berkeley, 1981).
In the absence of a Consumer Price Index for the 12th century, these data must come from sources meant for other uses, such as the accounting records of medieval Italian merchants and the records left by European monarchs and nobles.
This is no heavy industry drudgery, it's a joyful team effort creating a fantasy including Leonardo's dusty, sketch-strewn workshop, a bawdy, medieval Italian tavern and even a replica of Florence's Duomo cathedral.