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History of Italian
Quick Reference
  ·  Official Language
Italy, Switzerland
  ·  Common 2nd language of
San Marino, Vatican City, Sardinia, Yugoslavia
  ·  Number of Speakers
60 million
  ·  Origin
Romance language from Latin and has remained closer to Latin than any other romance language
  ·  Alphabet & Scripts
Roman alphabet but only 21 letters (j, k, w and y only appear in foreign words)
"One day Mercury, Jove's messenger was flying over Italy carrying a cornucopia filled with all the world's treasures. While he was flying, his little wings flapping, the cornucopia slipped from his hands and fell to the ground smashing into smithereens.

Mercury gathered up some of the pieces, which he managed to spread over the rest of the world, but many were left behind. And of course, amongst all those marvellous treasurers was the gift of language."
Dario Fo   

Italian is considered by many to be the most beautiful of the world's languages. Besides being spoken in Italy, it is one of the four official languages of Switzerland and is also widely spoken in the United States, Argentina, Canada and Brazil. All told, there are about 60 million speakers of Italian.

Italy was home and heartland of the Latin language and the Roman Empire (500 BC - AD 476). As the armies extended the boundaries of the Empire into much of the Continent of Europe, Latin was introduced everywhere as the new language of administration.

As the Empire began to crumble, the Latin of each region began to develop in its own individual way, being naturally influenced by the speech of the surrounding peoples. The languages that developed are known as the Romance languages (Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian). Italian has remained closer to the original Latin than any other of the Romance languages.

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Did you know?
There are no "primitive" languages. All languages have a system of sounds, words and sentences that can adequately communicate the content of culture.
Italian History
Italian Speaking
» Italy
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