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Languages > Italian
Most Popular Italian Language Product Types
Baby - Kindergarten
My First Bilingual Book of Numbers in Italian & English
Italian New Testament, Riveduta Version (16 Cassettes) Bible
Children's Books
Alfie's Angels - Italian / English (Paperback)
Pied Piper Children's Book in Italian/English (Paperback)
Harper Collins Italian - Italian-English-Italian Dictionary
Prepara La Valigia - Italian Game
Handheld Dictionary
Langenscheidt - Eurotranslator III West
Keyboard for Italian - Italian Keyboard - Black USB
Keyboard Stickers
Keyboard Stickers for Italian (white)
Instant Immersion - Italian v2.0 (2 CD-ROM Set)
Microsoft Windows
Italian Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 Workstation OEM Version
Christ Stopped at Ebol (DVD)
Software - Windows
Language Learning Series - Italian
Grosset's Italian Phrase Book and Dictionary for Travelers (Paperback)
Word Processing
Press International Multilanguage DTP
Word to Word Dictionary
Word to Word Italian / English Dictionary (Paperback)
All Italian language product types

Language Information

Italian is considered by many to be the most beautiful of the world's languages. As the transmitter of the great culture of the Renaissance, its influence on the other languages of Western Europe has been profound. Besides being spoken in Italy, it is one of the four official languages of Switzerland, and is also widely spoken in the United States, Canada, Argentina, and Brazil. All told there are about 60 million speakers of Italian.

Italian is one of the Romance languages, and has remained closer to the original Latin than any of the others. its dialects, however, vary tremendously, often to the point where communication becomes a problem. The literary standard came into being in the 14th century, largely through Dante's Divine Comedy and the works of Petrarch and Boccaccio. Since these eminent authors chiefly used the dialect of Tuscany (especially Florentine), modern literary Italian is essentially Tuscan. Since 1870 the dialect of Rome has gained considerable prestige but it has still failed to eclipse the Florentine standard.

The Italian alphabet consists basically of 21 letters— j, k, w, x, and y appear only in foreign words. The letter c is pronounced k before a, o, and u, but ch before e and i (e.g., carcere—prison). Ch and cch are also pronounced k (chiave—key, bicchiere—glass). G is pronounced as a hard g before a, o, and u (gamba—leg), but as j before e and i (giorno—day). Gg before e and i is also pronounced j (oggi—today), gh before e and i is a hard g (lunghezza—length), gli followed by a vowel is pronounced lli as in "million" (biglietto—ticket), gn like the ny in "canyon" (ogni—every), and gu followed by a vowel as gw (guerra—war). Z and zz are generally pronounced ts (zio—uncle, prezzo—price), but sometimes as dz (pranzo—dinner, mezzo—middle). Sc before e and i is pronounced sh (pesce—fish).

The stress in Italian generally falls on the next to last or third from last syllable. The only written accent is the grave, which is used when-ever a word of more than one syllable stresses the final vowel (città—city). It is also used on words of a single syllable to distinguish between two words that would otherwise have the same spelling, as for example e, meaning "and," but è, meaning "is." And it also appears in a few miscellaneous words such as più (more) and già (already).

English words of Italian origin include umbrella, spaghetti, macaroni, broccoli, balcony, studio, casino, fresco, gusto, volcano, lava, stucco, gondola, regatta, malaria, bandit, incognito, vendetta, and inferno. In the field of music there are piano, viola, opera, sonata, concerto, oratorio, soprano, aria, solo, trio, quartet, allegro, andante, tempo, libretto, staccato, crescendo, maestro, and virtuoso.

Italian is spoken/used in the following countries:
Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Holy See (Vatican City), Italy, Monaco (Principality of), San Marino, Slovenia, Somalia, Switzerland, United States of America.

Language Family
Family: Indo-European
Subgroup: Romance

Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.

Writing Sample

Writing Sample


Easter really was near. The hills were clothed in green and the prickly-pear trees were in flower again. The girls had sown basil in the window boxes, and white butterflies came and perched on them. Even the broom on the lava field was covered with poor, pale little flowers. In the morning steam rose from the green and yellow slates on the roofs, where sparrows chattered noisily until sunset.

—GIOANNI VERGA, The House by the Medlar Tree

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