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The official language of Italy is Italian, spoken by about 59,000,000 people, but regional languages do coexist with the standard language. Therefore, part of the population are native bilinguals of Italian and a regional language, and some of them may use Italian only as second language. Other languages spoken by minority groups stemming from other countries or regions of Europe are referred to as minority languages. Read more about minority languages in Italy.
Languages of Italy
(Standard Italian and the other languages spoken in Italy)
Reversely, Italian is also spoken in many other countries, due to the presence of Italian immigrants in these countries. For a list of the countries where Italian is spoken, see further. Italian is also the official language in a number of other countries. See: countries with Italian as their official language.

Languages spoken in Italy

Italian is a Romance language and a direct descendant of Latin, more precisely, vulgar Latin. Today's Standard Italian is based on the Tuscan language of Florence of the 14th century. The impulse towards an Italian linguistic standard was given by such authors as Dante Alighieri, Petrarch and Boccaccio, who all wrote in their native Tuscan. Due to the political and cultural importance of Florence in the 14th century, Tuscan soon became a lingua franca for cultured Italy and no alternative ever disputed Tuscan's positon as a national language. The first Italian grammar compiled by Leon Battista Alberti was a manuscript of 1495 with the title "Rules of the Florentine language". Note, however, that today's Tuscan pronounciation is quite different from Standard Italian, especially the 'g' sound which ressembles an aspired 'h'.

Some of these regional languages (like Sardinian, Sicilian and Lombard) are quite different from Standard Italian and often inherently unintelligible to speakers of other regional languages or Standard Italian. Northern varieties are closer to French and Occitan than to standard italian or southern varieties. More about regional languages in Italy.

Other languages spoken by minority groups within Italy are due to the successive migration flows Italy has seen in the past centuries. Some of these minority languages are known as diaspora languages. More about the minority languages spoken in Italy.

A number of languages formerly spoken and written in Italy no longer exists today, but evidence of their past existence can still be witnessed in Museums and archelogical sites, especially in Tuscany and Umbria. These languages are considered extinct or dead languages today.

Countries which have Italian as their official language

Italian is also the (or one of the) official language(s) of the following countries:
Other Countries where Italian is spoken:

Italian is also widely known and taught in Monaco and in the neighbouring island of Malta and served as an official language of the country until English was enshrined in the 1934 Constitution. It is also widely used  in France (Corsica and Nice) and in Albania.

Italian has spread widely across the world as the language of Italian emigrants and is spoken in 23 more countries among which Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Eritrea, Israel, Libya, Liechtenstein, Paraguay, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, the USA.

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See Also:
Regional Languages of Italy
Minority Languages of Italy
Italian loanwords in English
Extinct Languages of Italy
Italian language courses in Italy
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