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.

Bibliography

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 ?
Under this process, the committee rather dwindled in importance; the Suffrage shrank; she vowed she would work harder at the Italian language; she thought she would take up the study of birds.
"Body o' me," exclaimed Don Quixote, "what a proficient you are in the Italian language! I would lay a good wager that where they say in Italian piace you say in Spanish place, and where they say piu you say mas, and you translate su by arriba and giu by abajo."
John Baptist answered with that peculiar back-handed shake of the right forefinger which is the most expressive negative in the Italian language.
Was not acquainted with the Italian language. Could not distinguish the words, but was convinced by the intonation that the speaker was an Italian.
Paula Amadi confirmed that the Italian language is one of the most studied languages and the most widely used in the world, not only in the EU but also in the United States, Canada, Latin America, North Africa and the Horn of Africa and Australia, because of the presence of Italian communities in those countries.
NNA - Education and Higher Learning Minister, Elias Bou Saab, on Thursday patronized the Italian Language Day ceremony that has been organized by the educational center for studies and development and the Italian embassy, in presence of the Italian ambassador Giuseppe Morabito and a number of dignitaries, at the Unesco Palace in Beirut.
Following an astounding transformation that has taken place in the course of the last 150 years, the Italian language has reached all social strata throughout the country, with slight regional differences in pronunciation and lexis.
KARACHI -- Italian Cultural Centre will launch one year diploma and certificate course in Italian language at University of Karachi (UoK).
The book, a pictorial collection of churches in Pakistan, has been translated into the Italian language.
The embassy said in a press statement today that the scholarships aim at boosting cultural, technological and economic cooperation and spread the Italian language.
The word Bulgarian has been used in the Italian language with a very derogatory connotation and has recently entered the media slang in the country, according to a Bulgarian TV channel.
* Helen Zubisky, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW); Collina Italiana, LLC, an Italian language and cultural center; and Beth Franzese signed the other new leases.

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