THE ITALIAN LANGUAGE TODAY
This article is about
Characteristics of the Italian language and its importance in the global world
The official Italian language
Italian is the official language spoken in Italy, in some neighboring countries (Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City), and it’s one of the official languages in the European Union.
The Italian language derives from Latin and the Florentine vernacular
It is one of the Romance or Neolatine languages, this means that it derives from the Latin spoken in ancient Rome (and until now in the Catholic Church), such as Spanish, French, Portuguese, Romanian, and other minor languages.
It was formed and evolved by the Florentine vernacular written and spoken in Tuscany in the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance.
Where and by whom the Italian language is spoken
It is spoken as mother tongue by approximately 60 million of Italians and by about 4 million of Italians living abroad. It is one of the most spoken languages in other countries by about 3 million people. Italian is spoken as second language in Malta, Albania, Monaco, Corsica, and in the neighboring territories of France, Slovenia, Croatia, and Austria.
It is also spoken as a second language by about 80 million descendants of Italian origin who emigrated abroad in the last century (especially Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, England, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela), by about 5 million immigrants residing in Italy, and by a considerable number of Italian language learners who have studied and are studying Italian for cultural, scholastic, professional reasons, or simply for passion.
The Italian language studied in the world
It is currently in the twentieth place among the most spoken languages in the world. According to a recent survey made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Italian appears to be the fourth most studied language in the world. There are approximately one million Italian language learners who study Italian in Italy in Italian language schools and in universities for foreigners, and abroad in Italian language schools, universities, Italian cultural institutes, in the committees of the Dante Alighieri societies, in innumerable culture associations.
The Italian language in continuous evolution
It is regulated by the Accademia della Crusca, a prestigious linguistic center based in Florence, founded back in 1583 when the Florentine vernacular began to spread as a cultured national language.
Although in everyday communication about 10 thousand words are used, it is made up of about 800 thousand words.
It is a constantly evolving language. Each year, new words are added to the spoken jargon that have become everyday use, new words deriving from science and technological discoveries, and new words borrowed from other languages (especially English).
Influence of Latinisms, Anglicisms, and Frenchisms in the Italian language
In its vocabulary there are many words of various origins, Latinisms, Anglicisms, Frenchisisms, and to a lesser extent also from Germanisms and Iberisms. Often these words are pronounced as original as in the language of origin, other times they are adapted to Italian phonetics and writing.
The Italian language and dialects
Although the written Italian language is unique throughout Italy and in the world, the language spoken is flanked by different regional dialects with accents, words and characteristics often totally different from each other. An Italian always understands the regional provenance of another Italian who speaks with his own dialectal inflection. The macro areas of Italian dialects are: northern, Venetian, Tuscan, Roman, central, southern, Sicilian, Sardinian.
The Italian language: an important language in the world
Italian is an important language especially for the rich culture that Italy has expressed in its long history in every period. From art to architecture, from literature to science, from opera to light music, from cooking to food products, from high fashion to design, from cinema to Made in Italy. No other country in the world has produced such a varied and vast culture. No other country in the world has influenced world culture so decisively.
director – Istituto Il David