Overview of the Italian Language
Italian is a beautiful Romance language that was based on Tuscan and Vulgar (simple) Latin. It is the official language of Italy and has several local dialects, especially Florentine. It is the official language of Vatican City and most communications within the Catholic Church. Its main lexicon is from the Tuscan language spoken by the upper class in Florence.
One of the most influential people who helped solidify the language was the Florentine writer, Dante. His collective works became the standard for literate Italians and made the Florentine dialect the official language for most of the country. It slowly replaced Latin in the unifying city-states and was one of the first languages that was recognized in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
Many dialects of the same language were used throughout the country. During the Renaissance, there was much contention between different factions as to which dialect was true Italian. Some groups thought that Dante’s works represented the pure tongue while others favored their own area’s vernacular. It was not until 1612 that an official Italian dictionary was published that brought standardization to the language. Even as late as 1861, many Italians favored their regional dialect. Less than 10% spoke the standardized language.
There are still several places in the world that have an Italian language influence. According to statistics, Italian rates as the fourth foreign language that is taught in high school. Italian is the official language of written music and is has great influence in the art world. As an evolving language, it continues to add to its vocabulary with technology and cultural changes.
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