Italian language

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Italian
italiano, lingua italiana
Pronunciation [itaˈljaːno]
Native to Italy, Switzerland (Ticino and southern Canton of Graubünden), San Marino, Vatican City, Slovenian Istria (Slovenia), Istria County (Croatia)
RegionItaly, Ticino and southern Graubünden, Slovenian Littoral, western Istria
Ethnicity Italians
Native speakers
69 million native speakers in the EU [1]  (c.2012) [2]
90 million total speakers
L2 speakers: 24 million
Latin (Italian alphabet)
Italian Braille
Italiano segnato "(Signed Italian)" [3]
italiano segnato esatto "(Signed Exact Italian)" [4]
Official status
Official language in


Recognised minority
language in
Regulated by Accademia della Crusca (de facto)
Language codes
ISO 639-1 it
ISO 639-2 ita
ISO 639-3 ita
Glottolog ital1282 [5]
Linguasphere 51-AAA-q
Map Italophone World.png
  Main language
  Former official language
  Presence of Italian-speaking communities
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Italian (italiano [itaˈljaːno] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ) or lingua italiana [ˈliŋɡwa itaˈljaːna] ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire and, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to it of the Romance languages. [6] Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland (where it is the first language in Canton Ticino and in the districts of Moesa and Bernina in Canton Graubünden), San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria (Croatia and Slovenia). It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece (Ionian Islands and Dodecanese), and is generally understood in Corsica (due to its close relation with the Tuscan-influenced local language) and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it still plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. [7] Italian is included under the languages covered by the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Romania, although Italian is neither a co-official nor a protected language in these countries. [8] [9] Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both Italian (either in its standard form or regional varieties) and other regional languages. [10]

Romance languages All the related languages derived from Vulgar Latin

The Romance languages are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin between the third and eighth centuries and that form a subgroup of the Italic languages within the Indo-European language family.

Vulgar Latin Non-standard Latin variety spoken by the people of Ancient Rome

Vulgar Latin or Sermo Vulgaris, also Colloquial Latin, or Common Romance, was a range of non-standard sociolects of Latin spoken in the Mediterranean region during and after the classical period of the Roman Empire. It is distinct from Classical Latin, the standard and literary version of the language. Compared to Classical Latin, written documentation of Vulgar Latin appears less standardized. Works written in Latin during classical times and the earlier Middle Ages used prescribed Classical Latin rather than Vulgar Latin, with very few exceptions, thus Vulgar Latin had no official orthography of its own.

Roman Empire Period of Imperial Rome following the Roman Republic (27 BC–476 AD)

The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of ancient Rome, consisting of large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean sea in Europe, North Africa and West Asia ruled by emperors. From the accession of Caesar Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, it was a principate with Italy as metropole of the provinces and its city of Rome as sole capital. The Roman Empire was then ruled by multiple emperors and divided into a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when it sent the imperial insignia to Constantinople following the capture of Ravenna by the barbarians of Odoacer and the subsequent deposition of Romulus Augustus. The fall of the Western Roman Empire to Germanic kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, is conventionally used to mark the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages.

Contents

Italian is a major European language, being one of the official languages of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and one of the working languages of the Council of Europe. It is the fourth most widely spoken first language in the European Union with 69 million native speakers (13% of the EU population) and it is spoken as a second language by 16 million EU citizens (3%). [1] Including Italian speakers in non-EU European countries (such as Switzerland and Albania) and on other continents, the total number of speakers is around 90 million. [11] Italian is the main working language of the Holy See, serving as the lingua franca (common language) in the Roman Catholic hierarchy as well as the official language of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Italian is known as the language of music because of its use in musical terminology and opera. Its influence is also widespread in the arts and in the luxury goods market.

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe security-oriented intergovernmental organization

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization. Its mandate includes issues such as arms control, promotion of human rights, freedom of the press, and fair elections. It employs around 3,460 people, mostly in its field operations but also in its secretariat in Vienna, Austria and its institutions. It has its origins in the 1975 Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) held in Helsinki, Finland.

Council of Europe international organization for defending human rights

The Council of Europe is an international organisation whose stated aim is to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. Founded in 1949, it has 47 member states, covers approximately 820 million people and operates with an annual budget of approximately 500 million euros.

Holy See Episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, Italy

The Holy See, also called the See of Rome, refers to the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope, which includes the apostolic episcopal see of the Diocese of Rome with universal ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the worldwide Catholic Church, as well as a sovereign entity of international law.

Italian was adopted by the state after the Unification of Italy, having previously been a literary language based on Tuscan as spoken mostly by the upper class of Florentine society. [12] Its development was also influenced by other Italian languages and to some minor extent, by the Germanic languages of the post-Roman invaders. The incorporation into Italian of learned words from its own ancestor language, Latin, is another form of lexical borrowing through the influence of written language, scientific terminology and the liturgical language of the Church. Throughout the Middle Ages and into the early modern period, most literate Italians were also literate in Latin; and thus they easily adopted Latin words into their writing—and eventually speech—in Italian. Its vowels are the second-closest to Latin after Sardinian. [13] [14] As in most Romance languages, stress is distinctive and, unlike most other Romance languages, Italian retains Latin's contrast between short and long consonants. [15] Almost all words and syllables finish with pure vowels, a factor that makes Italian words extremely easy to use in rhyming. Italian has a 7 vowel sound system ('e' and 'o' have mid-low and mid-high sounds); Classical Latin had 10, 5 with short and 5 with long sounds.

Tuscan dialect Italo-Dalmatian variety mainly spoken in the Italian region of Tuscany

Tuscan is a set of Italo-Dalmatian varieties of Romance mainly spoken in Tuscany, Italy.

The upper class in modern societies is the social class composed of people who hold the highest social status, usually are the wealthiest members of society, and wield the greatest political power. According to this view, the upper class is generally distinguished by immense wealth which is passed on from generation to generation. Prior to the 20th century, the emphasis was on aristocracy, which emphasized generations of inherited noble status, not just recent wealth.

Germanic languages Sub-branch Indo-European language

The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family spoken natively by a population of about 515 million people mainly in Europe, North America, Oceania and Southern Africa.

History

Origins

Dante Luca.jpg
Altichiero, ritratto di Francesco Petrarca.jpg
Dante Alighieri (top) and Petrarch (bottom) were influential in establishing their Tuscan dialect as the most prominent literary language in all of Italy in the Late Middle Ages.

During the Middle Ages, the established written language in Europe was Latin, though the great majority of people were illiterate, and only a handful were well versed in the language. In the Italian peninsula, as in most of Europe, most would instead speak a local vernacular. These dialects, as they are commonly referred to, evolved from Vulgar Latin over the course of centuries, unaffected by formal standards and teachings. They are not in any sense "dialects" of standard Italian, which itself started off as one of these local tongues, but sister languages of Italian. Mutual intelligibility with Italian varies widely, as it does with Romance languages in general. The Romance dialects of Italy can differ greatly from Italian at all levels (phonology, morphology, syntax, lexicon, pragmatics) and are classified typologically as distinct languages. [16] [17]

Middle Ages Period of European history from the 5th to the 15th century

In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern period. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.

In historical linguistics, sister languages are cognate languages; that is, languages that descend from a common ancestral language, the so-called proto-language. Every language in a language family that descends from the same language as the others is a sister to them.

Phonology is a branch of linguistics concerned with the systematic organization of sounds in spoken languages and signs in sign languages. It used to be only the study of the systems of phonemes in spoken languages, but it may also cover any linguistic analysis either at a level beneath the word or at all levels of language where sound or signs are structured to convey linguistic meaning.

The standard Italian language has a poetic and literary origin in the writings of Tuscan writers of the 12th century, and, even though the grammar and core lexicon are basically unchanged from those used in Florence in the 13th century, [18] the modern standard of the language was largely shaped by relatively recent events. However, Romance vernacular as language spoken in the Apennine peninsula has a longer history. In fact, the earliest surviving texts that can definitely be called vernacular (as distinct from its predecessor Vulgar Latin) are legal formulae known as the Placiti Cassinesi from the Province of Benevento that date from 960–963, although the Veronese Riddle, probably from the 8th or early 9th century, contains a late form of Vulgar Latin that can be seen as a very early sample of a vernacular dialect of Italy. [19]

Tuscany Region of Italy

Tuscany is a region in central Italy with an area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.8 million inhabitants (2013). The regional capital is Florence (Firenze).

Placiti Cassinesi

The Placiti Cassinesi are four official juridical documents written between 960 and 963 in southern Italy, regarding a dispute on several lands among three Benedictine monasteries and a local landowner. They are considered the first extant documents written in a Romance vernacular of Italy, along with the Veronese Riddle.

Duchy of Benevento duchy

The Duchy of Benevento was the southernmost Lombard duchy in the Italian peninsula, centered on Benevento, a city in Southern Italy. Lombard dukes ruled Benevento from 571 to 1077, when it was conquered by the Normans for 4 years before being given to the Pope. Being cut off from the rest of the Lombard possessions by the papal Duchy of Rome, Benevento was practically independent from the start. Only during the reigns of Grimoald, King of the Lombards and the kings from Liutprand on was the duchy closely tied to the kingdom. After the fall of the kingdom, however, alone of Lombard territories it remained as a rump state, and maintained its de facto independence for nearly three hundred years, though it was divided after 849.

The language that came to be thought of as Italian developed in central Tuscany and was first formalized in the early 14th century through the works of Tuscan writer Dante Alighieri, written in his native Florentine. Dante's epic poems, known collectively as the Commedia, to which another Tuscan poet Giovanni Boccaccio later affixed the title Divina, were read throughout the peninsula and his written dialect became the "canonical standard" that all educated Italians could understand. Dante is still credited with standardizing the Italian language. In addition to the widespread exposure gained through literature, the Florentine dialect also gained prestige due to the political and cultural significance of Florence at the time and the fact that it was linguistically an intermediate between the northern and the southern Italian dialects. [16] :22 Thus the dialect of Florence became the basis for what would become the official language of Italy.

Dante Alighieri Italian poet

Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri, commonly known by his pen name Dante Alighieri or simply as Dante, was an Italian poet. His Divine Comedy, originally called Comedìa and later christened Divina by Giovanni Boccaccio, is widely considered the most important poem of the Middle Ages and the greatest literary work in the Italian language.

The Florentine dialect or vernacular is a variety of Tuscan language, a Romance language, spoken in the Italian city of Florence and its "Contado". Being the language spoken in the capital city of the Tuscan state, it attracted and unified all other Tuscan varieties. A received pedagogical variant derived from it historically, once called la pronuncia fiorentina emendata, was officially prescribed as the national language of the Kingdom of Italy, when it was established in 1861.

<i>Divine Comedy</i> Long Italian narrative poem by Dante Alighieri

The Divine Comedy is a long Italian narrative poem by Dante Alighieri, begun c. 1308 and completed in 1320, a year before his death in 1321. It is widely considered to be the pre-eminent work in Italian literature and one of the greatest works of world literature. The poem's imaginative vision of the afterlife is representative of the medieval world-view as it had developed in the Western Church by the 14th century. It helped establish the Tuscan language, in which it is written, as the standardized Italian language. It is divided into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso.

Italian was progressively made an official language of most of the Italian states predating unification, slowly replacing Latin, even when ruled by foreign powers (like Spain in the Kingdom of Naples, or Austria in the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia), even though the masses kept speaking primarily their local vernaculars. Italian was also one of the many recognised languages in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Italy has always had a distinctive dialect for each city because the cities, until recently, were thought of as city-states. Those dialects now have considerable variety. As Tuscan-derived Italian came to be used throughout Italy, features of local speech were naturally adopted, producing various versions of regional Italian. The most characteristic differences, for instance, between Roman Italian and Milanese Italian are the gemination of initial consonants and the pronunciation of stressed "e", and of "s" in some cases: e.g. va bene "all right" is pronounced [vabˈbɛːne] by a Roman (and by any standard Italian speaker), [vaˈbeːne] by a Milanese (and by any speaker whose native dialect lies to the north of the La Spezia–Rimini Line); a casa "at home" is [akˈkaːsa] for Roman, [akˈkaːsa] or [akˈkaːza] for standard, [aˈkaːza] for Milanese and generally northern.

In contrast to the Gallo-Italic linguistic panorama of northern Italy, the Italo-Dalmatian Neapolitan and its related dialects were largely unaffected by the Franco-Occitan influences introduced to Italy mainly by bards from France during the Middle Ages, but after the Norman conquest of southern Italy, Sicily became the first Italian land to adopt Occitan lyric moods (and words) in poetry. Even in the case of Northern Italian languages, however, scholars are careful not to overstate the effects of outsiders on the natural indigenous developments of the languages.

The economic might and relatively advanced development of Tuscany at the time (Late Middle Ages) gave its language weight, though Venetian remained widespread in medieval Italian commercial life, and Ligurian (or Genoese) remained in use in maritime trade alongside the Mediterranean. The increasing political and cultural relevance of Florence during the periods of the rise of the Banco Medici , Humanism, and the Renaissance made its dialect, or rather a refined version of it, a standard in the arts.

Renaissance

The Renaissance era, known as il Rinascimento in Italian, was seen as a time of "rebirth", which is the literal meaning of both renaissance (from French) and rinascimento (Italian).

Pietro Bembo was an influential figure in the development of the Italian language from the Tuscan dialect, as a literary medium, codifying the language for standard modern usage. Pietro Bembo2.jpg
Pietro Bembo was an influential figure in the development of the Italian language from the Tuscan dialect, as a literary medium, codifying the language for standard modern usage.

During this time, long-existing beliefs stemming from the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church began to be understood from new perspectives as humanists—individuals who placed emphasis on the human body and its full potential—began to shift focus from the church to human beings themselves. [20] Humanists began forming new beliefs in various forms: social, political, and intellectual. The ideals of the Renaissance were evident throughout the Protestant Reformation, which took place simultaneously with the Renaissance. The Protestant Reformation began with Martin Luther's rejection of the selling of indulgences by Johann Tetzel and other authorities within the Roman Catholic Church, resulting in Luther's eventual break-off from the Roman Catholic Church in the Diet of Worms. After Luther was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church, he founded what was then understood to be a sect of Catholicism, later referred to as Lutheranism. [20] Luther's preaching in favor of faith and scripture rather than tradition led him to translate the Bible into many other languages, which would allow for people from all over Europe to read the Bible. Previously, the Bible was only translated into Latin, but after this development it could be understood in many other languages, including Italian. The Italian language was able to spread even more with the help of Luther and the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg. The printing press facilitated the spread of Italian because it was able to rapidly produce texts, such as the Bible, and cut the costs of books which allowed for more people to have access to the translated Bible and new pieces of literature. [21] The Roman Catholic Church was losing its control over the population, as it was not open to change, and there was an increasing number of reformers with differing beliefs. [22]

Italian became the language used in the courts of every state in the Italian peninsula. The rediscovery of Dante's De vulgari eloquentia and a renewed interest in linguistics in the 16th century, sparked a debate that raged throughout Italy concerning the criteria that should govern the establishment of a modern Italian literary and spoken language. This discussion, known as questione della lingua (i. e., the problem of the language), ran through the Italian culture until the end of the 19th century, often linked to the political debate on achieving a united Italian state. Renaissance scholars divided into three main factions:

Alessandro Manzoni sat the basis for the modern Italian language and helped creating linguistic unity throughout Italy. Alessandro Manzoni.jpg
Alessandro Manzoni sat the basis for the modern Italian language and helped creating linguistic unity throughout Italy.

A fourth faction claimed that the best Italian was the one that the papal court adopted, which was a mixture of the Tuscan and Roman dialects. Eventually, Bembo's ideas prevailed, and the foundation of the Accademia della Crusca in Florence (1582–1583), the official legislative body of the Italian language led to publication of Agnolo Monosini's Latin tome Floris italicae linguae libri novem in 1604 followed by the first Italian dictionary in 1612.

The continual advancements in technology plays a crucial role in the diffusion of languages. After the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century, the number of printing presses in Italy grew rapidly and by the year 1500 reached a total of 56, the biggest number of printing presses in all of Europe. This allowed to produce more pieces of literature at a lower cost and as the dominant language, Italian spread. [24]

Modern era

An important event that helped the diffusion of Italian was the conquest and occupation of Italy by Napoleon in the early 19th century (who was himself of Italian-Corsican descent). This conquest propelled the unification of Italy some decades after and pushed the Italian language into a lingua franca used not only among clerks, nobility, and functionaries in the Italian courts but also by the bourgeoisie.

Contemporary times

Italian literature's first modern novel, I promessi sposi (The Betrothed) by Alessandro Manzoni, further defined the standard by "rinsing" his Milanese "in the waters of the Arno" (Florence's river), as he states in the preface to his 1840 edition.

After unification, a huge number of civil servants and soldiers recruited from all over the country introduced many more words and idioms from their home languages ( ciao is derived from the Venetian word s-cia[v]o ("slave"), panettone comes from the Lombard word panetton, etc.). Only 2.5% of Italy's population could speak the Italian standardized language properly when the nation was unified in 1861. [25]

Classification

Italian is a Romance language, and is therefore a descendant of Vulgar Latin (the spoken form of non-classical Latin). [note 1] Standard Italian is based on Tuscan, especially its Florentine dialect, and is therefore an Italo-Dalmatian language, to which Sicilian and the extinct Dalmatian also belong, among a few others.

Unlike most other Romance languages, Italian retains Latin's contrast between short and long consonants. As in most Romance languages, stress is distinctive. In particular, among the Romance languages, Italian is the closest to Latin in terms of vocabulary. [27] Lexical similarity is 89% with French, 87% with Catalan, 85% with Sardinian, 82% with Spanish, 78% with Ladin, 77% with Romanian [7] [28] [29] and 70% with Portuguese.[ citation needed ]

One study analyzing the degree of differentiation of Romance languages in comparison to Latin (comparing phonology, inflection, discourse, syntax, vocabulary, and intonation) estimated that among the languages analyzed the distance between Italian and Latin is only higher than that between Sardinian and Latin. [30]

Geographic distribution

Use of the Italian language in Europe Idioma italiano.png
Use of the Italian language in Europe
Use of the Italian language in Europe and former use in Africa Lengua italiana.png
Use of the Italian language in Europe and former use in Africa

Italian is an official language of Italy and San Marino and is spoken fluently by the majority of the countries' populations. Italian is the third most spoken language in Switzerland (after German and French), and its use has moderately declined since the 1970s. [31] Italian is also used in administration and official documents in Vatican City. [32]

Due to heavy Italian influence during the Italian colonial period, Italian is still understood by some in former colonies. [7] Although it was the primary language in Libya since colonial rule, Italian greatly declined under the rule of Muammar Gaddafi, who expelled the Italian Libyan population and made Arabic the sole official language of the country. [33] A few hundred Italian settlers returned to Libya in the 2000s; today Italian is the most spoken second language in the country and serves as a language of commerce and sometimes as a lingua franca between Libyans and foreigners. [34] In Eritrea, Italian is at times used in commerce and the capital city Asmara still has one Italian-language school. [35] Italian was also introduced to Somalia through colonialism and was the sole official language of administration and education during the colonial period but fell out of use after government, educational and economic infrastructure were destroyed in the Somali Civil War.

Although over 17 million Americans are of Italian descent, only a little over one million people in the United States speak Italian at home. [36] Nevertheless, an Italian language media market does exist in the country. [37]

Italian immigrants to South America have also brought a presence of the language to that continent. According to some sources, Italian is the second most spoken language in Argentina [38] after the official language of Spanish, although its number of speakers, mainly of the older generation, is decreasing.

Education

Italian is widely taught in many schools around the world, but rarely as the first foreign language. Italian is the fourth [39] [40] most frequently taught foreign language in the world. [41] In the 21st century, technology also allows for the continual spread of the Italian language, as people have new ways for one to learn how to speak, read, and write languages at their own pace and at any given time. For example, the free website and application Duolingo has 4.94 million English speakers learning the Italian language. [42]

According to the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, every year there are more than 200,000 foreign students who study the Italian language; they are distributed among the 90 Institutes of Italian Culture that are located around the world, in the 179 Italian schools located abroad, or in the 111 Italian lecturer sections belonging to foreign schools where Italian is taught as a language of culture. [43]

Influence and derived languages

In blue color Buenos Aires, Argentina, where Cocoliche developed. Aglomerado Gran Buenos Aires.png
In blue color Buenos Aires, Argentina, where Cocoliche developed.

From the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, thousands of Italians settled in Argentina, Uruguay, southern Brazil, and Venezuela, where they formed a physical and cultural presence.

In some cases, colonies were established where variants of regional languages of Italy were used, and some continue to use this regional language. Examples are Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, where Talian is used, and the town of Chipilo near Puebla, Mexico; each continues to use a derived form of Venetian dating back to the nineteenth century. Another example is Cocoliche, an Italian–Spanish pidgin once spoken in Argentina and especially in Buenos Aires, and Lunfardo.

Lingua franca

Starting in late medieval times in much of Europe and the Mediterranean, Latin was replaced as the primary commercial language by Italian language variants (especially Tuscan and Venetian). These variants were consolidated during the Renaissance with the strength of Italy and the rise of humanism and the arts.

During that period, Italy held artistic sway over the rest of Europe. It was the norm for all educated gentlemen to make the Grand Tour, visiting Italy to see its great historical monuments and works of art. It thus became expected to learn at least some Italian. In England, while the classical languages Latin and Greek were the first to be learned, Italian became the second most common modern language after French, a position it held until the late eighteenth century when it tended to be replaced by German. John Milton, for instance, wrote some of his early poetry in Italian.

Within the Catholic church, Italian is known by a large part of the ecclesiastical hierarchy and is used in substitution for Latin in some official documents.

Italian loanwords continue to be used in most languages in matters of art and music (especially classical music including opera), in the design and fashion industries, in some sports like football [44] and especially, in culinary terms.

Languages and dialects

Linguistic map of Italy according to Clemente Merlo and Carlo Tagliavini (1937) Dialetti Italia 1939.png
Linguistic map of Italy according to Clemente Merlo and Carlo Tagliavini (1937)
Italy's ethno-linguistic minorities. Minoranze linguistiche it.svg
Italy's ethno-linguistic minorities.

In Italy, almost all the other languages spoken as the vernacular — other than standard Italian and some languages spoken among immigrant communities — are often imprecisely called "Italian dialects", [46] even though they are quite different, with some belonging to different linguistic branches. The only exceptions to this are twelve groups considered "historical language minorities", which are officially recognized as distinct minority languages by the law. On the other hand, Corsican (a language spoken on the French island of Corsica) is closely related to medieval Tuscan, from which Standard Italian derives and evolved.

The differences in the evolution of Latin in the different regions of Italy can be attributed to the presence of three other types of languages: substrata, superstrata, and adstrata. The most prevalent were substrata (the language of the original inhabitants), as the Italian dialects were most likely simply Latin as spoken by native cultural groups. Superstrata and adstrata were both less important. Foreign conquerors of Italy that dominated different regions at different times left behind little to no influence on the dialects. Foreign cultures with which Italy engaged in peaceful relations with, such as trade, had no significant influence either. [16] :19-20

Throughout Italy, regional variations of Standard Italian, called Regional Italian, are spoken. Regional differences can be recognized by various factors: the openness of vowels, the length of the consonants, and influence of the local language (for example, in informal situations andà , annà and nare replace the standard Italian andare in the area of Tuscany, Rome and Venice respectively for the infinitive "to go").

There is no definitive date when the various Italian variants of Latin—including varieties that contributed to modern Standard Italian—began to be distinct enough from Latin to be considered separate languages. One criterion for determining that two language variants are to be considered separate languages rather than variants of a single language is that they have evolved so that they are no longer mutually intelligible; this diagnostic is effective if mutual intelligibility is minimal or absent (e.g. in Romance, Romanian and Portuguese), but it fails in cases such as Spanish-Portuguese or Spanish-Italian, as native speakers of either pairing can understand each other well if they choose to do so. Nevertheless, on the basis of accumulated differences in morphology, syntax, phonology, and to some extent lexicon, it is not difficult to identify that for the Romance varieties of Italy, the first extant written evidence of languages that can no longer be considered Latin comes from the ninth and tenth centuries C.E. These written sources demonstrate certain vernacular characteristics and sometimes explicitly mention the use of the vernacular in Italy. Full literary manifestations of the vernacular began to surface around the 13th century in the form of various religious texts and poetry. [16] :21Although these are the first written records of Italian varieties separate from Latin, the spoken language had likely diverged long before the first written records appear, since those who were literate generally wrote in Latin even if they spoke other Romance varieties in person.

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the use of Standard Italian became increasingly widespread and was mirrored by a decline in the use of the dialects. An increase in literacy was one of the main driving factors (one can assume that only literates were capable of learning Standard Italian, whereas those who were illiterate had access only to their native dialect). The percentage of literates rose from 25% in 1861 to 60% in 1911, and then on to 78.1% in 1951. Tullio De Mauro, an Italian linguist, has asserted that in 1861 only 2.5% of the population of Italy could speak Standard Italian. He reports that in 1951 that percentage had risen to 87%. The ability to speak Italian did not necessarily mean it was in everyday use, and most people (63.5%) still usually spoke their native dialects. In addition, other factors such as mass emigration, industrialization, and urbanization, and internal migrations after World War II contributed to the proliferation of Standard Italian. The Italians who emigrated during the Italian diaspora beginning in 1861 were often of the uneducated lower class, and thus the emigration had the effect of increasing the percentage of literates, who often knew and understood the importance of Standard Italian, back home in Italy. A large percentage of those who had emigrated also eventually returned to Italy, often more educated than when they had left. [16] :35

The Italian dialects have declined in the modern era, as Italy unified under Standard Italian and continues to do so aided by mass media, from newspapers to radio to television. [16] :37

Phonology

Luke 2, 1–7 of the Bible being read by a speaker of Italian from Milan
Consonant phonemes
Labial Dental/
alveolar
Post-
alveolar
/
palatal
Velar
Nasal m n   ɲ
Stop p b t d k ɡ
Affricate t͡s d͡z t͡ʃ d͡ʒ
Fricative f v s z ʃ
Approximant   j w
Lateral l   ʎ
Trill r

Notes:

  • Between two vowels, or between a vowel and an approximant (/j, w/) or a liquid (/l, r/), consonants can be both singleton or geminated. Geminated consonants shorten the preceding vowel (or block phonetic lengthening) and the first geminated element is unreleased. For example, compare /fato/[ˈfaːto] ('fate') with /fatto/[ˈfatto] ('fact'). However, /ɲɲ/, /ʃʃ/, /ʎʎ/, are always geminated word-internally. [47] Similarly, nasals, liquids, and sibilants are pronounced slightly longer in medial consonant clusters. [48]
  • /j/, /w/, and /z/ are the only consonants that cannot be geminated.
  • /t, d/ are laminal denti-alveolar [, ], [49] [50] [51] commonly called "dental" for simplicity.
  • /k, ɡ/ are pre-velar before /i, e, ɛ, j/. [50]
  • /t͡s, d͡z, s, z/ have two variants:
    • Dentalized laminal alveolar [t̪͡s̪, d̪͡z̪, , ] [49] [52] (commonly called "dental" for simplicity), pronounced with the blade of the tongue very close to the upper front teeth, with the tip of the tongue resting behind lower front teeth. [52]
    • Non-retracted apical alveolar [t͡s̺, d͡z̺, , ]. [52] The stop components of the "apical" affricates is actually laminal denti-alveolar. [52]
  • /n, l, r/ are apical alveolar [, , ] in most environments. [49] [51] [53] The first two are pronounced as laminal denti-alveolar [, ] before /t, d, t͡s, d͡z, s, z/ [51] [54] [55] and palatalized laminal postalveolar [n̠ʲ, l̠ʲ] before /t͡ʃ, d͡ʒ ʃ/. [56] [57] /n/ has a velar allophone [ ŋ ] before /k, ɡ/. [58] [59]
  • /m/ and /n/ do not contrast before /p, b/ and /f, v/, where they are pronounced [ m ] and [ ɱ ], respectively. [58] [60]
  • /ɲ/ and /ʎ/ are alveolo-palatal. [61] In a large number of accents, /ʎ/ is a fricative [ ʎ̝ ]. [62]
  • Some accents from central Italy and southern Italy, such as the Roman, do not have the /ʎ/ sound; instead, it is pronounced as [j], or, sometimes, [ʝ].[ citation needed ]
  • In some speeches from northern Italy, geminates are not realised.
  • Intervocalically, single /r/ is realised as a trill with one or two contacts. [63] Some literature treats the single-contact trill as a tap [ ɾ ]. [64] [65] Single-contact trills can also occur elsewhere, particularly in unstressed syllables. [66] Geminate /rr/ manifests as a trill with three to seven contacts. [63]
  • The phonetic distinction between [s] and [z] is neutralized before consonants and at the beginning of words: the former is used before voiceless consonants and before vowels at the beginning of words; the latter is used before voiced consonants (meaning [z] is an allophone of /s/ before voiced consonants). The two can contrast only between vowels within a word, e.g. [ˈfuːzo] 'melted' vs. [ˈfuːso] 'spindle'. According to Canepari, [65] though, the traditional standard has been replaced by a modern neutral pronunciation which always prefers /z/ when intervocalic, except when the intervocalic s is the initial sound of a word, if the compound is still felt as such: for example, presento/preˈsɛnto/ [67] ('I foresee', with pre meaning 'before' and sento meaning 'I see') vs presento/preˈzɛnto/ [68] ('I present'). There are many words in which dictionaries now indicate that both pronunciations with [z] and with [s] are acceptable. Word-internally between vowels, the two phonemes have merged in many regional varieties of Italian, either as /z/ (Northern-Central) or /s/ (Southern-Central).

Italian has a seven-vowel system, consisting of /a, ɛ, e, i, ɔ, o, u/, as well as 23 consonants. Compared with most other Romance languages, Italian phonology is conservative, preserving many words nearly unchanged from Vulgar Latin. Some examples:

  • Italian quattordici "fourteen" < Latin quattuordecim (cf. Romanian paisprezece / paișpe , Spanish catorce , French quatorze /kaˈtɔʁz/, Catalan and Portuguese catorze )
  • Italian settimana "week" < Latin septimāna (cf. Romanian săptămână, Spanish and Portuguese semana, French semaine/s(ə)ˈmɛn/, Catalan setmana)
  • Italian medesimo "same" < Vulgar Latin *medi(p)simum (cf. Spanish mismo, Portuguese mesmo, French même/mɛm/, Catalan mateix; note that Italian usually uses the shorter stesso)
  • Italian guadagnare "to win, earn, gain" < Vulgar Latin *guadanyāre < Germanic /waidanjan/ (cf. Spanish ganar, Portuguese ganhar, French gagner/ɡaˈɲe/, Catalan guanyar)

The conservativeness of Italian phonology is partly explained by its origin. Italian stems from a literary language that is derived from the 13th-century speech of the city of Florence in the region of Tuscany, and has changed little in the last 700 years or so. Furthermore, the Tuscan dialect is the most conservative of all Italian dialects, radically different from the Gallo-Italian languages less than 100 miles to the north (across the La Spezia–Rimini Line).

The following are some of the conservative phonological features of Italian, as compared with the common Western Romance languages (French, Spanish, Portuguese, Galician, Catalan). Some of these features are also present in Romanian.

  • Little or no lenition of consonants between vowels, e.g. vīta > vita "life" (cf. Romanian viață, Spanish vida[biða], French vie), pedem > piede "foot" (cf. Spanish pie, French pied/pje/).
  • Preservation of geminate consonants, e.g. annum > /ˈan.no/anno "year" (cf. Spanish año/aɲo/, French an/ɑ̃/, Portuguese ano/ˈã.nu/).
  • Preservation of all Proto-Romance final vowels, e.g. pacem > pace "peace" (cf. Romanian pace, Spanish paz, French paix/pɛ/), octō > otto "eight" (cf. Romanian opt, Spanish ocho, French huit/ɥi(t)/), fēcī > feci "I did" (cf. Spanish hice, French fis/fi/).
  • Preservation of most intertonic vowels (those between the stressed syllable and either the beginning or ending syllable). This accounts for some of the most noticeable differences, as in the forms quattordici and settimana given above.
  • Slower consonant development, e.g. folia > Italo-Western /fɔʎʎa/ > foglia/ˈfɔʎʎa/ "leaf" (cf. Romanian foaie/ˈfo̯aje/, Spanish hoja/ˈoxa/, French feuille/ˈfœj/; but note Portuguese folha/ˈfoʎɐ/).

Compared with most other Romance languages, Italian has a large number of inconsistent outcomes, where the same underlying sound produces different results in different words, e.g. laxāre > lasciare and lassare, captiāre > cacciare and cazzare, (ex)dēroteolāre > sdrucciolare, druzzolare and ruzzolare, rēgīna > regina and reina, -c- > /k/ and /ɡ/, -t- > /t/ and /d/. Although in all these examples the second form has fallen out of usage, the dimorphism is thought to reflect the several-hundred-year period during which Italian developed as a literary language divorced from any native-speaking population, with an origin in 12th/13th-century Tuscan but with many words borrowed from languages farther to the north, with different sound outcomes. (The La Spezia–Rimini Line, the most important isogloss in the entire Romance-language area, passes only about 20 miles to the north of Florence.)

Some other features that distinguish Italian from the Western Romance languages:

  • Latin ce-,ci- becomes /tʃe, tʃi/ rather than /(t)se, (t)si/.
  • Latin -ct- becomes /tt/ rather than /jt/ or /tʃ/: octō > otto "eight" (cf. Spanish ocho, French huit, Portuguese oito).
  • Vulgar Latin -cl- becomes cchi/kkj/ rather than /ʎ/: oclum > occhio "eye" (cf. Portuguese olho/oʎu/, French oeil/œj/ < /œʎ/); but Romanian ochi/okʲ/.
  • Final /s/ is not preserved, and vowel changes rather than /s/ are used to mark the plural: amico, amici "male friend(s)", amica, amiche "female friend(s)" (cf. Romanian amic, amici,amică, amice, Spanish amigo(s) "male friend(s)", amiga(s) "female friend(s)"); trēs, sextre, sei "three, six" (cf. Romanian trei, șase, Spanish tres, seis).

Standard Italian also differs in some respects from most nearby Italian languages:

  • Perhaps most noticeable is the total lack of metaphony, though metaphony is a feature characterizing nearly every other Italian language.
  • No simplification of original /nd/, /mb/ (which often became /nn/, /mm/ elsewhere).

Assimilation

Italian phonotactics do not usually permit verbs and polysyllabic nouns to end with consonants, excepting poetry and song, so foreign words may receive extra terminal vowel sounds.

Writing system

The Italian alphabet is typically considered to consist of 21 letters. The letters j, k, w, x, y are traditionally excluded, though they appear in loanwords such as jeans, whisky, taxi, xenofobo, xilofono. The letter x has become common in standard Italian with the prefix extra-, although (e)stra- is traditionally used; it is also common to use the Latin particle ex(-) to mean "former(ly)" as in: la mia ex ("my ex-girlfriend"), "Ex-Jugoslavia" ("Former Yugoslavia"). The letter j appears in the first name Jacopo and in some Italian place-names, such as Bajardo, Bojano, Joppolo, Jerzu, Jesolo, Jesi, Ajaccio, among others, and in Mar Jonio, an alternative spelling of Mar Ionio (the Ionian Sea). The letter j may appear in dialectal words, but its use is discouraged in contemporary standard Italian. [69] Letters used in foreign words can be replaced with phonetically equivalent native Italian letters and digraphs: gi, ge, or i for j; c or ch for k (including in the standard prefix kilo-); o, u or v for w; s, ss, z, zz or cs for x; and e or i for y.

Before back vowel (A, O, U)Before front vowel (I, E)
PlosiveCcaramella /karaˈmɛlla/ candy CHchina /ˈkiːna/ India ink
Ggallo /ˈɡallo/ rooster GHghiro /ˈɡiːro/ edible dormouse
AffricateCIciambella /tʃamˈbɛlla/ donut CCina /ˈtʃiːna/China
GIgiallo /ˈdʒallo/ yellow Ggiro /ˈdʒiːro/ round, tour
Note: h is silent in the digraphs ch , gh ; and i is silent in the digraphs ci and gi before a, o, u unless the i is stressed. For example, it is silent in ciao /ˈtʃaː.o/ and cielo /ˈtʃɛː.lo/, but it is pronounced in farmacia/ˌfar.maˈtʃiː.a/ and farmacie/ˌfar.maˈtʃiː.e/.

Italian has geminate, or double, consonants, which are distinguished by length and intensity. Length is distinctive for all consonants except for /ʃ/, /dz/, /ts/, /ʎ/, /ɲ/, which are always geminate when between vowels, and /z/, which is always single. Geminate plosives and affricates are realized as lengthened closures. Geminate fricatives, nasals, and /l/ are realized as lengthened continuants. There is only one vibrant phoneme /r/ but the actual pronunciation depends on context and regional accent. Generally one can find a flap consonant [ɾ] in unstressed position whereas [r] is more common in stressed syllables, but there may be exceptions. Especially people from the Northern part of Italy (Parma, Aosta Valley, South Tyrol) may pronounce /r/ as [ʀ], [ʁ], or [ʋ]. [70]

Of special interest to the linguistic study of Regional Italian is the gorgia toscana , or "Tuscan Throat", the weakening or lenition of intervocalic /p/, /t/, and /k/ in the Tuscan language.

The voiced postalveolar fricative /ʒ/ is present as a phoneme only in loanwords: for example, garage[ɡaˈraːʒ]. Phonetic [ʒ] is common in Central and Southern Italy as an intervocalic allophone of /dʒ/: gente[ˈdʒɛnte] 'people' but la gente[laˈʒɛnte] 'the people', ragione[raˈʒoːne] 'reason'.

Grammar

Italian grammar is typical of the grammar of Romance languages in general. Cases exist for personal pronouns (nominative, oblique, accusative, dative), but not for nouns.

There are two basic classes of nouns in Italian, referred to as genders, masculine and feminine. Gender may be natural (ragazzo 'boy', ragazza 'girl') or simply grammatical with no possible reference to biological gender (masculine costo 'cost', feminine costa 'coast'). Masculine nouns typically end in -o (ragazzo 'boy'), with plural marked by -i (ragazzi 'boys'), and feminine nouns typically end in -a, with plural marked by -e (ragazza 'girl', ragazze 'girls). For a group composed of boys and girls, ragazzi is the plural, suggesting that -i is a general plural. A third category of nouns is unmarked for gender, ending in -e in the singular and -i in the plural: legge 'law, f. sg.', leggi 'laws, f. pl.'; fiume 'river, m. sg.', fiumi 'rivers, m. pl.', thus assignment of gender is arbitrary in terms of form, enough so that terms may be identical but of distinct genders: fine meaning 'aim, purpose' is masculine, while fine meaning 'end, ending' (e.g. of a movie) is feminine, and both are fini in the plural, a clear instance of -i as a non-gendered default plural marker. These nouns often, but not always, denote inanimates. There are a number of nouns that have a masculine singular and a feminine plural, most commonly of the pattern m. sg. -o, f. pl. -a (miglio 'mile, m. sg.', miglia 'miles, f. pl.'; paio 'pair, m. sg., paia 'pairs, f. pl.'), and thus are sometimes considered neuter (these are usually derived from neuter Latin nouns). An instance of neuter gender also exists in pronouns of the third person singular.

Examples: [71]

DefinitionGenderSingular FormPlural Form
SonMasculineFiglioFigli
HouseFeminineCasaCase
LoveMasculineAmoreAmori
ArtFeminineArteArti

Nouns, adjectives, and articles inflect for gender and number (singular and plural).

Like in English, common nouns are capitalized when occurring at the beginning of a sentence. Unlike English, nouns referring to languages (e.g. Italian), speakers of languages, or inhabitants of an area (e.g. Italians) are not capitalized. [72]

There are three types of adjectives: descriptive, invariable and form-changing. Descriptive adjectives are the most common, and their endings change to match the number and gender of the noun they modify. Invariable adjectives are adjectives whose endings do not change. The form changing adjectives "buono (good), bello (beautiful), grande (big), and santo (saint)" change in form when placed before different types of nouns. Italian has three degrees for comparison of adjectives: positive, comparative, and superlative. [72]

The order of words in the phrase is relatively free compared to most European languages. [69] The position of the verb in the phrase is highly mobile. Word order often has a lesser grammatical function in Italian than in English. Adjectives are sometimes placed before their noun and sometimes after. Subject nouns generally come before the verb. Italian is a null-subject language, so that nominative pronouns are usually absent, with subject indicated by verbal inflections (e.g. amo 'I love', ama 's/he loves', amano 'they love'). Noun objects normally come after the verb, as do pronoun objects after imperative verbs, infinitives and gerunds, but otherwise pronoun objects come before the verb.

There are both indefinite and definite articles in Italian. There are four indefinite articles, selected by the gender of the noun they modify and by the phonological structure of the word that immediately follows the article. Uno is masculine singular, used before z (ts/ or /dz/), s+consonant, gn (/ɲ/), or ps, while masculine singular un is used before a word beginning with any other sound. The noun zio 'uncle' selects masculine singular, thus uno zio 'an uncle' or uno zio anziano 'an old uncle,' but un mio zio 'an uncle of mine'. The feminine singular indefinite articles are una, used before any consonant sound, and its abbreviated form, written un', used before vowels: una camicia 'a shirt', una camicia bianca 'a white shirt', un'altra camicia 'a different shirt'. There are seven forms for definite articles, both singular and plural. In the singular: lo, which corresponds to the uses of uno; il, which corresponds to the uses with consonant of un; la, which corresponds to the uses of una; l', used for both masculine and feminine singular before vowels. In the plural: gli is the masculine plural of lo and l'; i is the plural of il; and le is the plural of feminine la and l'. [72]

There are numerous contractions of prepositions with subsequent articles. There are numerous productive suffixes for diminutive, augmentative, pejorative, attenuating etc., which are also used to create neologisms.

There are 27 pronouns, grouped in clitic and tonic pronouns. Personal pronouns are separated into three groups: subject, object (which take the place of both direct and indirect objects), and reflexive. Second person subject pronouns have both a polite and a familiar form. These two different types of address are very important in Italian social distinctions. All object pronouns have two forms: stressed and unstressed (clitics). Unstressed object pronouns are much more frequently used, and come before the verb (Lo vedo. 'I see him.'). Stressed object pronouns come after the verb, and are used when emphasis is required, for contrast, or to avoid ambiguity (Vedo lui, ma non lei. 'I see him, but not her'). Aside from personal pronouns, Italian also has demonstrative, interrogative, possessive, and relative pronouns. There are two types of demonstrative pronouns: relatively near (this) and relatively far (that). Demonstratives in Italian are repeated before each noun, unlike in English. [72]

There are three regular sets of verbal conjugations, and various verbs are irregularly conjugated. Within each of these sets of conjugations, there are four simple (one-word) verbal conjugations by person/number in the indicative mood (present tense; past tense with imperfective aspect, past tense with perfective aspect, and future tense), two simple conjugations in the subjunctive mood (present tense and past tense), one simple conjugation in the conditional mood, and one simple conjugation in the imperative mood. Corresponding to each of the simple conjugations, there is a compound conjugation involving a simple conjugation of "to be" or "to have" followed by a past participle. "To have" is used to form compound conjugation when the verb is transitive ("Ha detto", "ha fatto": he/she has said, he/she has made/done), while "to be" is used in the case of verbs of motion and some other intransitive verbs ("È andato", "è stato": he/she has gone, he/she has been). "To be" may be used with transitive verbs, but in such a case it makes the verb passive ("Ê detto", "è fatto": it is said, it is made/done). This rule is not absolute, and some exceptions do exist.

Words

Conversation

Note: the plural form of verbs could also be used as an extremely formal (for example to noble people in monarchies) singular form.

English (inglese)Italian (italiano)Pronunciation
Yes(listen) /ˈsi/
NoNo(listen) /ˈnɔ/
Of course!Certo! / Certamente! / Naturalmente!/ˈtʃɛrto//ˌtʃertaˈmente//naturalˈmente/
Hello! Ciao! (informal) / Salve! (semi-formal)/ˈtʃaːo/
Cheers!Salute!/saˈluːte/
How are you?Come stai? (informal) / Come sta? (formal) / Come state? (plural) / Come va? (general, informal)/ˌkomeˈstai/; /ˌkomeˈsta//ˌkome ˈstaːte//ˌkome va/
Good morning!Buongiorno! (= Good day!)/ˌbwɔnˈdʒorno/
Good evening!Buonasera!/ˌbwɔnaˈseːra/
Good night!Buonanotte! (for a good night sleeping) / Buona serata! (for a good night awake)/ˌbwɔnaˈnɔtte//ˌbwɔna seˈraːta/
Have a nice day!Buona giornata! (formal)/ˌbwɔna dʒorˈnaːta/
Enjoy the meal!Buon appetito!/ˌbwɔn‿appeˈtiːto/
Goodbye!Arrivederci (general) / ArrivederLa (formal) / Ciao! (informal)(listen) /arriveˈdertʃi/
Good luck!Buona fortuna! (general)/ˌbwɔna forˈtuːna/
I love youTi amo (between lovers only) / Ti voglio bene (in the sense of "I am fond of you", between lovers, friends, relatives etc.) /ti ˈaːmo/; /ti ˌvɔʎʎo ˈbɛːne/
Welcome [to...]Benvenuto/-i (for male/males or mixed) / Benvenuta/-e (for female/females) [a / in...]/beɱveˈnuːto/
PleasePer favore / Per piacere / Per cortesia(listen) /per faˈvoːre//per pjaˈtʃeːre//per korteˈziːa/
Thank you!Grazie! (general) / Ti ringrazio! (informal) / La ringrazio! (formal) / Vi ringrazio! (plural)/ˈɡrattsje//ti riŋˈɡrattsjo/
You are welcome!Prego!/ˈprɛːɡo/
Excuse me / I am sorryMi dispiace (only "I am sorry") / Scusa(mi) (informal) / Mi scusi (formal) / Scusatemi (plural) / Sono desolato ("I am sorry", if male) / Sono desolata ("I am sorry", if female)/ˈskuːzi/; /ˈskuːza/; /mi disˈpjaːtʃe/
Who?Chi?/ki/
What?Che cosa? / Cosa? / Che?/kekˈkɔːsa//ˈkɔːsa//ˈke/
When?Quando?/ˈkwando/
Where?Dove?/ˈdoːve/
How?Come?/ˈkoːme/
Why / BecausePerché/perˈke/
AgainDi nuovo / Ancora/di ˈnwɔːvo/; /aŋˈkoːra/
How much? / How many?Quanto? / Quanta? / Quanti? / Quante?/ˈkwanto/
What is your name?Come ti chiami? (informal) / Qual è il suo nome? (formal) / Come si chiama? (formal)/ˌkome tiˈkjaːmi//kwal ˈɛ il ˌsu.o ˈnoːme/
My name is ...Mi chiamo .../mi ˈkjaːmo/
This is ...Questo è ... (masculine) / Questa è ... (feminine)/ˌkwesto ˈɛ//ˌkwesta ˈɛ/
Yes, I understand.Sì, capisco. / Ho capito./si kaˈpisko//ɔkkaˈpiːto/
I do not understand.Non capisco. / Non ho capito.(listen) /noŋ kaˈpisko//nonˌɔkkaˈpiːto/
Do you speak English?Parli inglese? (informal) / Parla inglese? (formal) / Parlate inglese? (plural)(listen) /parˌlate iŋˈɡleːse/ (listen) /ˌparla iŋˈɡleːse/
I do not understand Italian.Non capisco l'italiano./noŋ kaˌpisko litaˈljaːno/
Help me!Aiutami! (informal) / Mi aiuti! (formal) / Aiutatemi! (plural) / Aiuto! (general)/aˈjuːtami//ajuˈtaːtemi//aˈjuːto/
You are right/wrong!(Tu) hai ragione/torto! (informal) / (Lei) ha ragione/torto! (formal) / (Voi) avete ragione/torto! (plural)
What time is it?Che ora è? / Che ore sono?/ke ˌora ˈɛ//ke ˌore ˈsono/
Where is the bathroom?Dov'è il bagno?(listen) /doˌvɛ il ˈbaɲɲo/
How much is it?Quanto costa?/ˌkwanto ˈkɔsta/
The bill, please.Il conto, per favore./il ˌkonto per faˈvoːre/
The study of Italian sharpens the mind.Lo studio dell'italiano aguzza l'ingegno./loˈstuːdjo dellitaˈljaːno aˈɡuttsa linˈdʒeɲɲo/

Question words

EnglishItalian [72] [71] IPA
what (adj.)che/ke/
what (standalone)cosa/ˈkɔːza/
whochi/ki/
howcome/ˈkoːme/
wheredove/ˈdoːve/
why, becauseperché/perˈke/
whichquale/ˈkwaːle/
whenquando/ˈkwando/
how muchquanto/ˈkwanto/

Time

EnglishItalian [72] [71] IPA
todayoggi/ˈɔddʒi/
yesterdayieri/ˈjɛːri/
tomorrowdomani/doˈma:ni/
secondsecondo/seˈkondo/
minuteminuto/miˈnu:to/
hourora/ˈo:ra/
daygiorno/ˈdʒorno/
weeksettimana/settiˈma:na/
monthmese/ˈme:se/
yearanno/ˈanno/

Numbers

EnglishItalianIPA
one hundredcento/ˈtʃɛnto/
one thousandmille/ˈmille/
two thousandduemila/ˌdueˈmiːla/
two thousand (and) nineteen (2019)duemiladiciannove/dueˌmiladitʃanˈnɔːve/
one millionun milione/miˈljone/
one billionun miliardo/miˈljardo/

Days of the week

EnglishItalianIPA
Mondaylunedì/luneˈdi/
Tuesdaymartedì/marteˈdi/
Wednesdaymercoledì/ˌmerkoleˈdi/
Thursdaygiovedì/dʒoveˈdi/
Fridayvenerdì/venerˈdi/
Saturdaysabato/ˈsaːbato/
Sundaydomenica/doˈmeːnika/

Months of the year

EnglishItalianIPA
Januarygennaio/dʒenˈnaːjo/
Februaryfebbraio/febˈbraːjo/
Marchmarzo/ˈmartso/
Aprilaprile/aˈpriːle/
Maymaggio/ˈmaddʒo/
Junegiugno/ˈdʒuɲɲo/
Julyluglio/ˈluʎʎo/
Augustagosto/aˈɡosto/
Septembersettembre/setˈtɛmbre/
Octoberottobre/otˈtoːbre/
Novembernovembre/noˈvɛmbre/
Decemberdicembre/diˈtʃɛmbre/ [73]

See also

Notes

  1. It is debated, that the Sicilian language is the oldest and direct descendant of Vulgar Latin. [26]

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Venetian or Venetan is a Romance language spoken as a native language by Venetians, almost four million people in the northeast of Italy, mostly in the Veneto region of Italy, where most of the five million inhabitants can understand it, centered in and around Venice, which carries the prestige dialect. It is sometimes spoken and often well understood outside Veneto, in Trentino, Friuli, Venezia Giulia, Istria, and some towns of Slovenia and Dalmatia (Croatia) by a surviving autochthonous Venetian population, and Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico by Venetians in the diaspora.

La Spezia–Rimini Line

The La Spezia–Rimini Line, in the linguistics of the Romance languages, is a line that demarcates a number of important isoglosses that distinguish Romance languages south and east of the line from Romance languages north and west of it. The line runs through northern Italy, very roughly from the cities of La Spezia to Rimini. Romance languages on the eastern half of it include Italian and the Eastern Romance languages, whereas Spanish, French, Catalan, Portuguese as well as Gallo‒Italic languages are representatives of the Western group. Sardinian does not fit into either Western or Eastern Romance.

Neapolitan language Italo-Dalmatian language spoken in Southern Italy

Neapolitan is a Romance language of the Italo-Dalmatian group spoken across much of southern Italy, except for southern Calabria, southern Apulia, and Sicily, as well as in a small part of central Italy. It is not named specifically after the city of Naples, but rather the homonymous Kingdom that once covered most of the area, and of which the city was the capital. On October 14, 2008, a law by the Region of Campania stated that Neapolitan was to be protected. While the term "Neapolitan language" is used in this article to refer to the language group of related dialects found in southern continental Italy, it may also refer more specifically to the dialect of the Neapolitan language spoken in the Naples area or in Campania.

Regional Italian is any regional variety of the Italian language. Such vernacular varieties and standard Italian exist along a sociolect continuum, and are not to be confused with the local indigenous languages of Italy that predate the national tongue or any regional variety thereof. The various forms of Regional Italian have phonological, morphological, syntactic, prosodic and lexical features which originate from the underlying substrate of the original language.

The phonology of Italian describes the sound system—the phonology and phonetics—of Standard Italian and its geographical variants.

Classification of Romance languages

The internal classification of the Romance languages is a complex and sometimes controversial topic which may not have one single answer. Several classifications have been proposed, based on different criteria.

French is a Romance language that evolved out of the Gallo-Romance spoken in northern France.

Khwarshi is a Northeast Caucasian language spoken in the Tsumadinsky-, Kizilyurtovsky- and Khasavyurtovsky districts of Dagestan by the Khwarshi people. The exact number of speakers is not known, but the linguist Zaira Khalilova, who has carried out fieldwork in the period from 2005 to 2009, gives the figure 8,500. Other sources give much lower figures, such as Ethnologue with the figure 1,870 and the latest population census of Russia with the figure 1,872. The low figures are because many Khwarshi have registered themselves as being Avar speakers, which is also considered their literary language.

Malecite-Passamaquoddy language Algonquian language

Malecite–Passamaquoddy is an endangered Algonquian language spoken by the Maliseet and Passamaquoddy peoples along both sides of the border between Maine in the United States and New Brunswick, Canada. The language consists of two major dialects: Malecite, which is mainly spoken in the Saint John River Valley in New Brunswick; and Passamaquoddy, spoken mostly in the St. Croix River Valley of eastern Maine. However, the two dialects differ only slightly, mainly in accent. Malecite-Passamaquoddy was widely spoken by the indigenous people in these areas until around the post-World War II era, when changes in the education system and increased marriage outside of the speech community caused a large decrease in the number of children who learned or regularly used the language. As a result, in both Canada and the U.S. today, there are only 600 speakers of both dialects, and most speakers are older adults. Although the majority of younger people cannot speak the language, there is growing interest in teaching the language in community classes and in some schools.

Old Spanish, also known as Old Castilian or Medieval Spanish, was originally a colloquial Latin spoken in the provinces of the Roman Empire that provided the root for the early form of the Spanish language that was spoken on the Iberian Peninsula from the 10th century until roughly the beginning of the 15th century, before a consonantal readjustment gave rise to the evolution of modern Spanish. The poem Cantar de Mio Cid, published around 1200, remains the best known and most extensive work of literature in Old Spanish.

Romagnol dialect Dialect of Emilian-Romagnol

Romagnol is a group of closely related dialects of the Emilian-Romagnol language spoken in the historical region of Romagna, which is today in the south-eastern part of Emilia-Romagna, Italy. The name itself is derived from the Lombard name for the region Romania. It is also spoken outside the region, particularly in the neighboring province of Pesaro-Urbino and in the independent country of San Marino. It is classified as a threatened language, due to older generations having “neglected to pass on the dialect as a native tongue to the next generation”.

The Proto-Samic language is the hypothetical, reconstructed common ancestor of the Sami languages. It is a descendant of the Proto-Uralic language.

As a member of the dialect continuum of Romance languages, Catalan displays linguistic features similar to those of its closest neighbors. The following features represent in some cases unique changes in the evolution of Catalan from Vulgar Latin; other features are common in other Romance-speaking areas.

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Bibliography