Italian, often considered one of the most beautiful languages in the world, is a Romance language still spoken in the same region where Latin first spread. The new language emerged only centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire; the standard form spoken today comes from the Tuscan dialect of the city of Florence. The great Italian poets Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio all wrote in Tuscan, which contributed to the rise of the language.
Today, Italian is used mainly in Europe: it’s an official language of Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, and Vatican City and is also spoken by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia. There are about 65 million native speakers of Italian and another 20 million speak Italian as a second language.
Italian and the Livemocha Community
- Brazil and the United States have, by far, the largest numbers of Italian learners on Livemocha
- Italy has over 12 times more Italian speakers on Livemocha than any other country
- Italians on Livemocha are particularly interested in the Balkans – over 5% of all learners of Croatian, Serbian, and Romanian are Italian
Italian Fun Facts
Opera was used as a political tool during the 19th century Italian Unification. Victor Emmanuel II, King of Sardinia, used opera composer Giuseppe Verdi’s name for his slogan Viva VERDI! In the slogan, “Verdi” referred to Vittorio Emmanuele Re D’Italia (Victor Emmanuel King of Italy).
In the early 14th century, poet Dante Alighieri wrote his masterpiece La Divina Commedia (“The Divine Comedy”) in Italiano volgare, a mixture of Tuscan and Sicilian dialects. This is considered the earliest example of the use of a standardized Italian language.
“Eppur si muove
”(And yet it moves). Philosopher and scientist
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) whispered these famous words
after being forced by the Church to recant his theory that the Earth moves around the Sun.