Italian (Italian: italiano) is a Romance language spoken by about 70 million people primarily in Italy. Standard Italian is based on Tuscan dialects and is somewhat intermediate between the languages of Southern Italy and the Gallo-Romance languages of the North. The long-established Tuscan standard has, over the last few decades, been slightly influenced by the variety of Italian spoken in Milan, the economic center of Italy. Like many languages written using the Latin alphabet, Italian has double consonants; however, contrary to, for example, French and Spanish, double consonants are pronounced as long (geminated) in Italian. As in most Romance languages (with the notable exception of French), stress is distinctive. Out of the Romance languages, Italian is generally considered to be the one most closely resembling Latin in terms of grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation.
Italian is the official language of Italy and San Marino, and is an official language in Ticino and Grigioni cantons of Switzerland. It is also the second official language in Vatican City and in some areas of Istria in Slovenia and Croatia with an Italian minority. It is widely used by immigrant groups in Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium, the United States, Canada, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, and Australia, and is also spoken in neighbouring Albania. It is spoken, to a much lesser extent, in parts of Africa formerly under Italian rule such as Somalia, Libya and Eritrea. It is also widely known and taught in Monaco and in the neighbouring island of Malta and served as an official language of the country until English was enshrined in the 1934 Constitution.
Italian is an official language of Italy, the European Union, San Marino, Switzerland and Vatican City. It is also an official language in the Istria County (Croatia) and municipalities of Koper, Piran and Izola (Slovenia).
The dialects of Italian identified by the Ethnologue are Tuscan, Piemontese, Abruzzese, Pugliese (Apulian), Umbrian, Laziale, Central Marchigiano, Cicolano-Reatino-Aquilano, and Molisan. Other dialects are Milanese, Brescian, Bergamasc, Modenese, Bolognese, Sicilian and so on, essentially one per city.
Also the Corsican language has strong similarities to Italian and most linguists consider it as a Tuscany dialect, the closest to modern Italian.
Many of the so-called dialects of Italian spoken around the country are different enough from standard Italian to be considered separate languages by most linguists and some speakers themselves. Thus a distinction can be made between "dialects of (standard) Italian" and "dialects (or languages) of Italy".
Sources: University World and Wikipedia
Info about studying Italian language:
- Learn Italian in Italy - Find information about Italian language schools and courses in Florence, Milan, Rome and Siena.
- Study Italian in Italy - Young and dynamic agency born with the aim of connecting schools and students from all over the world. Find here more information about Italian language schools and Italian language courses in Italy.
- Study Italian at the seaside, where it is spoken! Info on Italian language courses. Full immersion Italian classes in the seaside city of Viareggio, Italy.
Info about studying in Italy:
- Guide to Study in Italy: Find universities and colleges in Italy. If offers also pratical information for students that are planning to study in Italy.