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The Italian Language: Statistics and Facts
Italian is the official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, Croatia and Slovenia. Italian is also an official language of the European Union. Currently, about 70 million people in the world are considered to be primary speakers of Italian, as well as approximately 20 million who speak Italian as their second language.
Italy is a country with a rich linguistic culture, characterised by the presence of numerous minority languages spoken in different regions of the country. Some regional languages of Italy are considered endangered, because the number of primary speakers is falling drastically. Completely different languages which are not Italian dialects are used in Italy, such as Corsican, Sicilian, Lombard and Romani. Italian belongs to the Romance language family and is derived from the vulgar (folk) Latin Indo-European language family.
Countries where Italian is spoken:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
United Arab Emirates
History of the Italian Language
The origins of the modern Italian language date back to Vulgar Latin, spoken in the Roman Empire. More precisely, all the modern Romance languages descend from the Vulgar Latin spoken by the Romans. Presently, Latin is no longer a spoken language, but the language group which was formed on its basis has gained popularity around the world and is now widespread in Europe.
In the 14th century, the Tuscan dialect of Italian became widely spread in many regions of Italy. Factors contributing to the recognition of the Tuscan dialect include the central geographical location of Tuscany and the city of Florence, which was prosperous at that time. The Tuscan dialect in Italian remained popular for centuries and was known as a dialect of the aristocracy in Italy.
Italy was unified in 1861, at which point the question of language standardisation became a topic of national importance, particularly in the Italian school system. Before the unification of Italy, residents of various regions of the future state had no practical reason to use a single, centralised language system. Since Italians all spoke different dialects, the introduction of a common language as a meaningful historical event led to an increase in literacy levels and a higher rate of discovery of Italian dialects. In the 19th century, the Italian language and its dialects were influenced by new trends of commonality and standardisation, which led to the formation of the modern Italian language in the form it is today.
- The Italian dictionary contains the largest number of Latin words, as compared to other Romance languages.
- The Italian alphabet is composed of only 21 letters.
- The Vatican is not a part of Italy; the Vatican is the smallest sovereign city-state and country in the world. Nevertheless, the Vatican is completely surrounded by Italy.
- Italy is shaped like a boot.
- There are three main volcanoes in Italy: Vesuvius, Etna and Stromboli.
- Italians tend to avoid the number 13, especially 13 people at the table - the symbol of the Last Supper.
- In Italy, the elderly represent a high percentage of the overall population, as well as one of the lowest birth rates in the world.
- Tourism is one of the largest economic sectors in Italy.
- The violin, piano, thermometer and typewriter were invented in Italy.
- The three colours of the Italian flag represent the following: green is for hope, white is for faith, and red is for the love of humanity.
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