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 ?
John Baptist answered with that peculiar back-handed shake of the right forefinger which is the most expressive negative in the Italian language.
These books come within the context of the teaching of the Italian language program at Sultan Qaboos University which began last October and included a new collection of classic Italian books, books on basic grammar for beginners and audio CDs.
Al-Radhwan told Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) on Sunday that he also met with other high officials in the univeristy to discuss registering Kuwaitis in Italian language training courses and other preparatory classes to enable them to join the universities.
He explained that the Italian Language Week has been celebrated by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2001.
Talal Abu Ghazaleh and Italian ambassador to Jordan Patrizio Fondi, the two sides will organize cultural events and activities related to the Italian language and culture in Jordan.
It was an oft used marker to distinguish savage from civilized in the Italian language press during the period of mass immigration.
Fiorentino said from its inception, the Center for Italian Culture has grown in a variety of ways, starting out as a course in the Italian language and culture and expanding to a complete minor in the Italian language as well as six other courses offered in the program.
TUNIS, June 16, 2010 (TAP)- Minister of Vocational Training and Employment Mohamed Agrebi kickstarted, on Wednesday, a qualifying training session in Italian language at the Tunis-based Italian Cultural Centre.
Any overview of the work done by the education department of Sofia's Italian embassy, in conjunction with the Italian Cultural Institute, in spreading Italian language and culture, can only be positive thanks to the variety of initiatives undertaken in the current school year.
The Italian language is spoken by only 70 million people.
BAHRAIN is celebrating the 11th annual Italian language week, which includes the launch of the biggest Italian library in the Gulf.
Summary: CAIRO - The Italian Cultural Institute in Cairo begins celebrating the Italian Language and Culture Week on October 16.

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