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 periodicals archive ?
The imbrication of many texts--such as legal, autobiographical, fictional, journalistic, and oral narratives that feed into each other--portrays cultural developments in an Italophone context (Prakash 12).
The statements made by a leading scholar in the field, one of the most respected individuals in Italophone Etruscan archaeology, exposed the lack of engagement and deliberate avoidance of archaeological theory in the sub-discipline.
La deception des milieux democratiques et liberaux dans l'espace germanophone et italophone notamment, des milieux qui avaient espere de grandes reformes, la prise en compte de leurs aspirations nationales et unitaires, est connue.
4) In my To Hyphenate, especially 20-27, 33-42, I also approach, among other things, the necessity of a more representative term for Italophone culture in the United States.
25) If Petrarch really met Laura in the church of Saint Clare of Assisi, in Avignon, and if she was born near Vaucluse, (26) was she a member of the Italophone community like Petrarch, or did she speak Occitan, as Guido Cavalcanti's beauty of Toulouse may have done?
Ce sont les lusophones qui se trouvent le plus souvent en mobilite ascendante alors que le groupe italophone est le plus souvent immobile.
Under the umbrella of the festival, the International Italophone Radio-TV Group held its 1996 meeting to discuss the state of Italian-language broadcasting.
In an Italian context, researchers such as Antonio Caronia have theorised posthuman or cyborg phenomena for an Italophone readership, chronicling their development across the centuries and mapping their multifaceted morphologies as central figures of science fiction.
De Fina and Bizzoni hint as much in the Introduction where they explain that in the last twenty years there has been an upsurge of interest in the evolution and the state of the Italian language as it exists in the Italophone communities abroad.
constructions of gender and race in Italian and Italophone writing.