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Do you know?
Italian is a major European language.
It is the second most spoken native language in the European Union, with 67 million speakers.
Globally 85 million people speak Italian.
Italian is the official language in Italy, San Marino, and Vatican City. It is one of the official languages in Switzerland.
History of the Italian Language
Italian is a Romance language that belongs to the Indo-European family of languages. Like other Romance languages, Italian stems from Vulgar Latin, a language spoken by the commoners and less educated people in ancient Rome. Before the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, Latin was imposed as the 'madre france' or shared language across the territory. It was only after the fall, the local languages started flourishing and began to play an important role in daily social life. However, Latin continued to dominate the language used in the courts, churches, and universities for many more centuries.
The first documents that were written in Italian came out between 960 and 963. These were four legal documents known as the Placiti Cassinesi. During the beginning of the 13th century, the regional Italian started to gain prominence in literature. A significant contribution to this regard was made by Sicilian poets and later by the poets from Tuscany. Dante Alighieri, Giovanni Boccaccio, and Francesco Petrarch are three of the most important poets of this period who helped establish the legitimacy of regional Italian in written language.
The rise of the Tuscan vernacular was slowed down in the 14th century but again gained momentum during the 1500s and 1600s. While Latin was still being used as the dominant language of university teaching, more specialized subjects like poetry and mathematics were taught in vernacular. During this period, initiatives were taken to translate and publish many great works of literature in Italian.
While the Tuscan dialect continued to dominate as the language of literary expression, there was still no unified language known as Italian until 1861. As the Italian peninsula was divided into several city-states, the common people used their own local dialects. French and other languages also heavily impacted the language due to invasion and trade relations.
During the mid-eighteenth century, a nationalistic surge swept across several city-states. At that time, many prominent writers started using Tuscan or Florentine dialect as the only national language to be used in their literary works. Later in 1861, during the unification of Italy, Tuscan was declared as the national language of unified Italy.
Why learn Italian?
How to learn Italian?
Is it hard to learn Italian?
Italian is one of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers. Although they stem from two different root languages, they share many common vocabularies. Learning Italian becomes even easier if you have exposure to any other Romance language. Besides, Italian is a phonetic language. That means the words sound more or less similar to how it is written.
What makes it challenging to learn Italian?
In Italian, the verb conjugations change according to the person, number, and tense. That means you will need to learn and memorize numerous conjugations to express yourself in Italian. The subjunctive mood is another tricky area that requires understanding and practice. English speakers find this part fairly difficult, particularly because subjunctive construction is not so common in English.
Besides, like other Romance languages, Italian assigns gender to every noun, including inanimate objects. Moreover, Italian has a greater number of pronouns than English. Also, pronoun placement is not static; sometimes, it is placed before the verb, sometimes after. This may seem confusing and overwhelming.
The pronunciation is pretty straightforward for Italian; however, picking up the melody of the language can be challenging for a non-native speaker. It may take a lot of hard work and practice to speak the language accurately.