Language schools » Italian schools

Italian schools

Argentina Austria Belgium
Canada Germany Italy
Russian Federation Scotland Spain
Switzerland Turkey United States


Italian language

Italian language, member of the Romance group of the Italic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages. 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, 24,000 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. 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.

Classification

Italian is most closely related to the other two Italo-Dalmatian languages, Sicilian and the extinct Dalmatian. The three are part of the Italo-Western grouping of the Romance languages, which are a subgroup of the Italic branch of Indo-European.

History

The history of the Italian language is quite complex but the modern standard of the language was largely shaped by relatively recent events. The earliest surviving texts which can definitely be called Italian (as opposed to its predecessor Vulgar Latin) are legal formulae from the region of Benevento dating from 960-963. Italian was first formalised in the first years of the 14th century through the works of Dante Alighieri, who mixed southern Italian languages, especially Sicilian, with his native Tuscan in his epic poems known collectively as the Commedia, to which Giovanni Boccaccio later affixed the title Divina. Dante's much-loved works were read throughout Italy and his written dialect became the "canonical standard" that others could all understand. Dante is still credited with standardizing the Italian language.

Italian has always had a distinctive dialect for each city, since the cities were up until recently city-states. A well-known Italian dictum has it that the best spoken Italian is lingua toscana in bocca romana - 'the Tuscan tongue, in a Roman mouth' (Tuscan dialects spoken with Roman inflection). The Romans are known for speaking clearly and distinctly, while the Tuscan dialect (supposedly influenced by Etruscan and Oscan) is the closest existing dialect to Dante's now-standard Italian.

In contrast to the dialects of northern Italy, the older southern Italian dialects were largely untouched by the Franco-Occitan influences introduced to Italy, mainly by bards from France, during the Middle Ages. The economic might and relative advanced development of Tuscany at the time (late Middle Ages), gave its dialect weight, though Venetian remained widespread in medieval Italian commercial life. Also, the increasing cultural relevance of Florence during the periods of 'Umanesimo' and Rinascimento (Renaissance) made its vulgare (dialect) a standard in the arts. Now, you know the history of Italian language, but if you want to learn some words, and basic phases, you can try some online translators who offer really good translations from Italian to other languages like English o Spanish. Translate here it.translate.net and learn the italian language.