|italiano, lingua italiana|
|Speakers||Native: 65 million (2012)|
L2: 3.1 million
Total: 68 million
italiano segnato esatto "(Signed Exact Italian)"
Official language in
An order and various organisations
Former co-official language
Presence of Italian-speaking communities
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|Literature and other|
Italian is also spoken by large immigrant and expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. 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. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both Italian (either in its standard form or regional varieties) and a local language of Italy, most frequently the language spoken at home in their place of origin.
Italian is a major
The standard Italian language has a poetic and literary origin in the writings of Tuscan and Sicilian 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, the modern standard of the language was largely shaped by relatively recent events. However, Romance vernacular as language spoken in the Italian 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 to 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. The Commodilla catacomb inscription is also a similar case.
The Italian language has progressed through a long and slow process, which started after the Western Roman Empire's fall in the 5th century.
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 Commediacode: ita promoted to code: it , to which another Tuscan poet Giovanni Boccaccio later affixed the title Divinacode: ita promoted to code: it , 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.: 22 Thus the dialect of Florence became the basis for what would become the official language of Italy.
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
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 syntactic gemination of initial consonants in some contexts and the pronunciation of stressed "e", and of "s" between vowels in many words: e.g. va benecode: ita promoted to code: it "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 casacode: ita promoted to code: it "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 (
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).
During this time, long-existing beliefs stemming from the teachings of the
Italian became the language used in the courts of every state in the
- The purists, headed by Venetian Pietro Bembo (who, in his Gli Asolanicode: ita promoted to code: it , claimed the language might be based only on the great literary classics, such as Petrarchand some part of Boccaccio). The purists thought the Divine Comedy was not dignified enough because it used elements from non-lyric registers of the language.
- Niccolò Machiavelli and other Florentines preferred the version spoken by ordinary people in their own times.
- The courtiers, like Baldassare Castiglione and Gian Giorgio Trissino, insisted that each local vernacular contribute to the new standard.
A fourth faction claimed that the best Italian was the one that the papal court adopted, which was a mixture of the
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.
Italian literature's first modern novel, I promessi sposi (
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", that is "your servant"), 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.
Italian is a
According to Ethnologue, lexical similarity is 89% with French, 87% with Catalan, 85% with Sardinian, 82% with Spanish, 80% with Portuguese, 78% with Ladin, 77% with Romanian. Estimates may differ according to sources.
One study, analyzing the degree of differentiation of Romance languages in comparison to Latin (comparing phonology, inflection, discourse, syntax, vocabulary, and intonation), estimated that distance between Italian and Latin is higher than that between Sardinian and Latin. In particular, its vowels are the second-closest to Latin after Sardinian. As in most Romance languages, stress is distinctive.
Italian is an official language of Italy and
Italian is also spoken by a minority in Monaco and France, especially in the southeastern part of the country. Italian was the official language in Savoy and in Nice until 1860, when they were both annexed by France under the Treaty of Turin, a development that triggered the "Niçard exodus", or the emigration of a quarter of the Niçard Italians to Italy, and the Niçard Vespers. Italian was the official language of Corsica until 1859. Italian is generally understood in Corsica by the population resident therein who speak Corsican, which is an Italo-Romance idiom similar to Tuscan. Italian was the official language in Monaco until 1860, when it was replaced by the French. This was due to the annexation of the surrounding County of Nice to France following the Treaty of Turin (1860).
It formerly had official status in
It formerly had official status in Albania due to the annexation of the country to the Kingdom of Italy (1939–1943). Albania has a large population of non-native speakers, with over half of the population having some knowledge of the Italian language. The Albanian government has pushed to make Italian a compulsory second language in schools. The Italian language is well-known and studied in Albania, due to its historical ties and geographical proximity to Italy and to the diffusion of Italian television in the country.
Due to heavy Italian influence during the Italian colonial period, Italian is still understood by some in former colonies such as in Libya. 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. A few hundred Italian settlers returned to Libya in the 2000s.
Italian was the official language of
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.
Italian is also spoken by large
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 after the official language of Spanish, although its number of speakers, mainly of the older generation, is decreasing. Italian bilingual speakers can be found scattered across the Southeast of Brazil as well as in the South, In Venezuela, Italian is the most spoken language after Spanish and Portuguese, with around 200,000 speakers. In Uruguay, people that speak Italian as their home language is 1.1% of the total population of the country. In Australia, Italian is the second most spoken foreign language after Chinese, with 1.4% of the population speaking it as their home language.
The main Italian-language newspapers published outside Italy are the L'Osservatore Romano (Vatican City), the L'Informazione di San Marino (San Marino), the Corriere del Ticino and the laRegione Ticino (Switzerland), the La Voce del Popolo (Croatia), the Corriere d'Italia (Germany), the L'italoeuropeo (United Kingdom), the Passaparola (Luxembourg), the America Oggi (United States), the Corriere Canadese and the Corriere Italiano (Canada), the Il punto d'incontro (Mexico), the L'Italia del Popolo (Argentina), the Fanfulla (Brazil), the Gente d'Italia (Uruguay), the La Voce d'Italia (Venezuela), the Il Globo (Australia) and the La gazzetta del Sud Africa (South Africa).
Italian is widely taught in many schools around the world, but rarely as the first foreign language. In the 21st century, technology also allows for the continual spread of the Italian language, as people have new ways 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.
According to the
As of 2022, Australia had the highest number of students learning Italian in the world. This occurred because of support by the Italian community in Australia and the Italian Government and also because of successful educational reform efforts led by local governments in Australia.
Influence and derived languages
From the late 19th to the mid-20th century, thousands of Italians settled in Argentina, Uruguay, Southern Brazil and Venezuela, as well as in Canada and the United States, 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.
Starting in late
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 18th 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.
Languages and dialects
In Italy, almost all the
The differences in the evolution of Latin in the different regions of Italy can be attributed to the natural changes that all languages in regular use are subject to, and to some extent 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.: 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
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.: 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.: 37
Consonant phonemes Labial Dental/
Velar Nasal m n ɲ Stop p b t d k ɡ Affricate t͡s d͡z t͡ʃ d͡ʒ Fricative f v s z ʃ (ʒ) Approximant j w Lateral l ʎ Trill r
- Between two vowels, or between a vowel and an approximant (/j, w/) or a liquid (/l, r/), consonants can be both singleton or
- /j/, /w/, and /z/ are the only consonants that cannot be geminated.
- /t, d/ are
- /k, ɡ/ are pre-velar before /i, e, ɛ, j/.
- /t͡s, d͡z, s, z/ have two variants:
- Dentalized laminal
- /n, l, r/ are apical alveolar [
- /m/ and /n/ do not contrast before /p, b/ and /f, v/, where they are pronounced [m] and [ɱ], respectively.
- /ɲ/ and /ʎ/ are alveolo-palatal. In a large number of accents, /ʎ/ is a fricative [ʎ̝].
- Intervocalically, single /r/ is realised as a trill with one or two contacts.
- 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. The two can contrast only between vowels within a word, e.g. [ˈfuːzo] 'melted' vs. [ˈfuːso] 'spindle'. According to Canepari, 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/ ('I foresee', with pre meaning 'before' and sento meaning 'I perceive') vs presento /preˈzɛnto/ ('I present'). There are many words for which dictionaries now indicate that both pronunciations, either [z] or [s], are acceptable. Word-internally between vowels, both phonemes have merged in many regional varieties of Italian, as either /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. Spanish catorce, French quatorze /katɔʁz/, Catalan and Portuguese catorze)
- Italian settimana "week" < Latin septimāna (cf. Romanian săptămână, Spanish and Portuguese semana, French semaine /səmɛn/, Catalan setmana)
- Italian medesimo "same" < Vulgar Latin *medi(p)simum (cf. Spanish mismo, Portuguese mesmo, French même /mɛm/, Catalan mateix; Italian usually prefers the shorter stesso)
- Italian guadagnare "to win, earn, gain" < Vulgar Latin *guadaniāre < Germanic /waidanjan/ (cf. Spanish ganar, Portuguese ganhar, French gagner /ɡaɲe/, Catalan guanyar)
The conservative nature 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
The following are some of the conservative phonological features of Italian, as compared with the common
- Little or no phonemic lenition of consonants between vowels, e.g. vīta > vita "life" (cf. Romanian vită, Spanish vida [ˈbiða], 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 /ˈaɲo/, French an /ɑ̃/, Romanian an, Portuguese ano /ˈɐnu/).
- Preservation of all Proto-Romancefinal 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. Romanian dialectal feci, 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 /fœj/; but note Portuguese folha /ˈfoʎɐ/).
Compared with most other Romance languages, Italian has many 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. 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 30 kilometres or 20 miles north of Florence.) Dual outcomes of Latin /p t k/ between vowels, such as lŏcum > luogo but fŏcum > fuoco, was once thought to be due to borrowing of northern voiced forms, but is now generally viewed as the result of early phonetic variation within Tuscany.
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 /ˈoʎu/, French œil /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 and amică, amice; Spanish amigo(s) "male friend(s)", amiga(s) "female friend(s)"); trēs, sex → tre, 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).
Italian has a shallow orthography, meaning very regular spelling with an almost one-to-one correspondence between letters and sounds. In linguistic terms, the writing system is close to being a phonemic orthography. The most important of the few exceptions are the following (see below for more details):
- The letter c represents the sound /k/ at the end of words and before the letters a, o, and u but represents the sound /tʃ/ (as the first sound in the English word chair) before the letters e and i.
- The letter g represents the sound /ɡ/ at the end of words and before the letters a, o, and u but represents the sound /dʒ/ (as the first sound in the English word gem) before the letters e and i.
- The letter n represents the phoneme /n/, which is pronounced [ŋ] (as in the English word sink or the name Ringo) before the letters c and g when these represent velar plosives /k/ or /g/, as in banco [ˈbaŋko], fungo [ˈfuŋɡo]. The letter q represents /k/ pronounced [k], thus n also represents [ŋ] in the position preceding it: cinque [ˈt͡ʃiŋkwe]. Elsewhere the letter n represents /n/ pronounced [n], including before the affricates /t͡ʃ/ or /d͡ʒ/ (equivalent to the consonants of English church and judge) spelled with c or g before the letters i and e : mancia [ˈmant͡ʃa], mangia [ˈmand͡ʒa].
- The letter h is always silent: hotel /oˈtɛl/; hanno 'they have' and anno 'year' both represent /ˈanno/. It is used to form a digraph with c or g to represent /k/ or /g/ before i or e: chi /ki/ 'who', che /ke/ 'what'; aghi /ˈagi/ 'needles', ghetto /ˈgetto/.
- The spellings ci and gi represent only /tʃ/ (as in English church) or /dʒ/ (as in English judge) with no /i/ sound before another vowel (ciuccio /ˈtʃuttʃo/ 'pacifier', Giorgio /ˈdʒɔrdʒo/) unless c or g precede stressed /i/ (farmacia /farmaˈtʃia/ 'pharmacy', biologia /bioloˈdʒia/ 'biology'). Elsewhere ci and gi represent /tʃ/ and /dʒ/ followed by /i/: cibo /ˈtʃibo/ 'food', baci /ˈbatʃi/ 'kisses'; gita /ˈdʒita/ 'trip', Tamigi /taˈmidʒi/ 'Thames'.*
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
- The acute accent is used over word-final ⟨e⟩ to indicate a stressed front close-mid vowel, as in perché "why, because". In dictionaries, it is also used over ⟨o⟩ to indicate a stressed back close-mid vowel (azióne). The grave accent is used over word-final ⟨e⟩ and ⟨o⟩ to indicate a front open-mid vowel and a back open-mid vowel respectively, as in tè "tea" and può "(he) can". The grave accent is used over any vowel to indicate word-final stress, as in gioventù "youth". Unlike ⟨é⟩, which is a close-mid vowel, a stressed final ⟨o⟩ is almost always a back open-mid vowel (andrò), with a few exceptions, like metró, with a stressed final back close-mid vowel, making ⟨ó⟩ for the most part unnecessary outside of dictionaries. Most of the time, the penultimate syllable is stressed. But if the stressed vowel is the final letter of the word, the accent is mandatory, otherwise it is virtually always omitted. Exceptions are typically either in dictionaries, where all or most stressed vowels are commonly marked. Accents can optionally be used to disambiguate words that differ only by stress, as for prìncipi "princes" and princìpi "principles", or àncora "anchor" and ancóra "still/yet". For monosyllabic words, the rule is different: when two orthographically identical monosyllabic words with different meanings exist, one is accented and the other is not (example: è "is", e "and").
- The letter ⟨h⟩ distinguishes ho, hai, ha, hanno (present indicative of avere "to have") from o ("or"), ai ("to the"), a ("to"), anno ("year"). In the spoken language, the letter is always silent. The ⟨h⟩ in ho additionally marks the contrasting open pronunciation of the ⟨o⟩. The letter ⟨h⟩ is also used in combinations with other letters. No phoneme /h/ exists in Italian. In nativized foreign words, the ⟨h⟩ is silent. For example, hotel and hovercraft are pronounced /oˈtɛl/ and /ˈɔverkraft/ respectively. (Where ⟨h⟩ existed in Latin, it either disappeared or, in a few cases before a back vowel, changed to [ɡ]: traggo "I pull" ← Lat. trahō.)
- The letters ⟨s⟩ and ⟨z⟩ can symbolize voiced or voiceless consonants. ⟨z⟩ symbolizes /dz/ or /ts/ depending on context, with few minimal pairs. For example: zanzara /dzanˈdzara/ "mosquito" and nazione /natˈtsjone/ "nation". ⟨s⟩ symbolizes /s/ word-initially before a vowel, when clustered with a voiceless consonant (⟨p, f, c, ch⟩), and when doubled; it symbolizes /z/ when between vowels and when clustered with voiced consonants. Intervocalic ⟨s⟩ varies regionally between /s/ and /z/, with /z/ being more dominant in northern Italy and /s/ in the south.
- The letters ⟨c⟩ and ⟨g⟩ vary in pronunciation between affricates depending on following vowels. The letter ⟨c⟩ symbolizes /k/ when word-final and before the back vowels ⟨a, o, u⟩. It symbolizes /tʃ/ as in chair before the front vowels ⟨e, i⟩. The letter ⟨g⟩ symbolizes /ɡ/ when word-final and before the back vowels ⟨a, o, u⟩. It symbolizes /dʒ/ as in gem before the front vowels ⟨e, i⟩. Other Romance languages and, to an extent, English have similar variations for ⟨c, g⟩. Compare hard and soft C, hard and soft G. (See also palatalization.)
- The affricate consonantsof English church and judge) before ⟨a, o, u⟩. For example:
Before back vowel (A, O, U) Before front vowel (I, E) Plosive C caramella /karaˈmɛlla/ candy CH china /ˈkina/ India ink G gallo /ˈɡallo/rooster GH ghiro /ˈɡiro/edible dormouse Affricate CI ciambella /tʃamˈbɛlla/ donut C Cina /ˈtʃina/ China GI giallo /ˈdʒallo/ yellow G giro /ˈdʒiro/ 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 /ˈtʃa.o/ and cielo /ˈtʃɛ.lo/, but it is pronounced in farmacia /ˌfar.maˈtʃi.a/ and farmacie /ˌfar.maˈtʃi.e/.
Italian has geminate, or double, consonants, which are distinguished by
Of special interest to the linguistic study of
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'.
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
|Definition||Gender||Singular Form||Plural Form|
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.
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.
The order of words in the phrase is relatively free compared to most European languages. 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'.
There are numerous
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 a verb conjugated for subject verb (La vedi. 'You see her.'), after (in writing, attached to) non-conjugated verbs (vedendola 'seeing her'). 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.
There are three regular sets of verbal
Note: the plural form of verbs could also be used as an extremely formal (for example to noble people in monarchies) singular form (see royal we).
|English (inglese)||Italian (italiano)||Pronunciation|
|Of course!||Certo! / Certamente! / Naturalmente!||/ˈtʃɛrto/ /ˌtʃertaˈmente/ /naturalˈmente/|
|Hello!||Ciao! (informal) / Salve! (semi-formal)||/ˈtʃao/|
|How are you?||Come stai? (informal) / Come sta? (formal) / Come state? (plural) / Come va? (general, informal)||/ˌkomeˈstai/; /ˌkomeˈsta/ /ˌkome ˈstate/ /ˌkome va/|
|Good morning!||Buongiorno! (= Good day!)||/ˌbwɔnˈdʒorno/|
|Good night!||Buonanotte! (for a good night sleeping) / Buona serata! (for a good night awake)||/ˌbwɔnaˈnɔtte/ /ˌbwɔna seˈrata/|
|Have a nice day!||Buona giornata! (formal)||/ˌbwɔna dʒorˈnata/|
|Enjoy the meal!||Buon appetito!||/ˌbwɔn‿appeˈtito/|
|Goodbye!||Arrivederci (general) / Arrivederla (formal) / Ciao! (informal)||(listen) /arriveˈdertʃi/|
|Good luck!||Buona fortuna! (general)||/ˌbwɔna forˈtuna/|
|I love you||Ti amo (between lovers only) / Ti voglio bene (in the sense of "I am fond of you", between lovers, friends, relatives etc.)||/ti ˈamo/; /ti ˌvɔʎʎo ˈbɛne/|
|Welcome [to...]||Benvenuto/-i (for male/males or mixed) / Benvenuta/-e (for female/females) [a / in...]||/benveˈnuto//benveˈnuti//benveˈnuta/ /benveˈnute/|
|Please||Per favore / Per piacere / Per cortesia||(listen) /per faˈvore/ /per pjaˈtʃere/ /per korteˈzia/|
|Thank you!||Grazie! (general) / Ti ringrazio! (informal) / La ringrazio! (formal) / Vi ringrazio! (plural)||/ˈɡrattsje/ /ti rinˈɡrattsjo/|
|You are welcome!||Prego!||/ˈprɛɡo/|
|Excuse me / I am sorry||Mi 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)||/ˈskuzi/; /ˈskuza/; /mi disˈpjatʃe/|
|What?||Che cosa? / Cosa? / Che?||/kekˈkɔza/ or /kekˈkɔsa/ /ˈkɔza/ or /kɔsa/ /ˈke/|
|Why / Because||Perché||/perˈke/|
|Again||Di nuovo / Ancora||/di ˈnwɔvo/; /anˈkora/|
|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 tiˈkjami/ /kwal ˈɛ il ˌsu.o ˈnome/|
|My name is...||Mi chiamo...||/mi ˈkjamo/|
|This is...||Questo è... (masculine) / Questa è... (feminine)||/ˌkwesto ˈɛ/ /ˌkwesta ˈɛ/|
|Yes, I understand.||Sì, capisco. / Ho capito.||/si kaˈpisko/ /ɔkkaˈpito/|
|I do not understand.||Non capisco. / Non ho capito.||(listen) /non kaˈpisko/ /nonˌɔkkaˈpito/|
|Do you speak English?||Parli inglese? (informal) / Parla inglese? (formal) / Parlate inglese? (plural)||(listen) /parˌlate inˈɡleːse/ (listen) /ˌparla inˈɡlese/|
|I do not understand Italian.||Non capisco l'italiano.||/non kaˌpisko litaˈljano/|
|Help me!||Aiutami! (informal) / Mi aiuti! (formal) / Aiutatemi! (plural) / Aiuto! (general)||/aˈjutami/ /ajuˈtatemi/ /aˈjuto/|
|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 faˈvore/|
|The study of Italian sharpens the mind.||Lo studio dell'italiano aguzza l'ingegno.||/loˈstudjo dellitaˈljano aˈɡuttsa linˈdʒeɲɲo/|
|Where are you from?||Di dove sei? (general, informal)/ Di dove è? (formal)||/di dove ssˈɛi/ /di dove ˈɛ/|
|I like||Mi piace (for one object) / Mi piacciono (for multiple objects)||/mi pjatʃe/ /mi pjattʃono/|
|what (standalone)||cosa||/ˈkɔza/, /ˈkɔsa/|
|two thousand (and) twenty (2020)||duemilaventi||/dueˌmilaˈventi/|
|one million||un milione||/miˈljone/|
|one billion||un miliardo||/miˈljardo/|
|one trillion||mille miliardi||/ˈmilleˈmiˈljardi/|
Days of the week
Months of the year
- Languages of Italy (includes "Italian dialects", dialetti)
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- ^ a b Recognized as a minority language by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
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L'italiano di oggi ha ancora in gran parte la stessa grammatica e usa ancora lo stesso lessico del fiorentino letterario del Trecento.
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- ^ See Koutna et al. (1990: 294): "In the late forties and in the fifties some new proposals for classification of the Romance languages appeared. A statistical method attempting to evaluate the evidence quantitatively was developed in order to provide not only a classification but at the same time a measure of the divergence among the languages. The earliest attempt was made in 1949 by Mario Pei (1901–1978), who measured the divergence of seven modern Romance languages from Classical Latin, taking as his criterion the evolution of stressed vowels. Pei's results do not show the degree of contemporary divergence among the languages from each other but only the divergence of each one from Classical Latin. The closest language turned out to be Sardinian with 8% of change. Then followed Italian — 12%; Spanish — 20%; Romanian — 23,5%; Provençal — 25%; Portuguese — 31%; French — 44%."
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Today, even though for political reasons English is the most widely taught foreign language in Albanian schools, Italian is anyway the most widespread foreign language.
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L'italiano come lingua acquisita o riacquisita è largamente diffuso in Venezuela: recenti studi stimano circa 200.000 studenti di italiano nel Paese
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