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36 Interesting Facts About the Italian Language

(Last Updated On: August 26, 2023)

Good morning in Italian Language is called “Buongiorno”, Like other Roman languages, Italian is from Latin, with over 85 million people speaking in the Italian language. In addition to being the national language of Italy, the Italian language is the official language of San Marino, Switzerland, Slovenia, and Vatican City.

Unbeknownst to many, the melodies of the Italian language might have graced your lips today, whether you were conscious of it or not. Consider, for instance, the simple act of placing an order for a delectable pizza, stepping foot into a banking establishment, or savoring the velvety decadence of a cappuccino — each of these seemingly mundane actions trace their roots back to the enchanting realm of Italian origins.

Diving into a comparative perspective of language, one finds Italian traversing a distinct path, far removed from the juggernauts like English and Chinese. Yet, within this unique sphere, Italian occupies a seat of profound eminence, quietly wielding its influence on a global scale. Contrary to flaunting astronomical figures, Italian exudes a subtle allure, quietly weaving its way into the tapestry of remarkable popularity across the globe.

Interesting Facts About the Italian Language

It is also one of the most frequently spoken languages ​​in Argentina and the United States of America. It is the fifth most studied language in the United States of America. There are many other interesting facts we bet you didn’t know. Now, let us embark on a journey of discovery as we unravel intriguing facets of the Italian language, a language that echoes through history and culture.

1. Twenty-one characters in the alphabet

Italian Alphabet There are only 21 characters in the Italian alphabet. J, k, w, x, and y characters are missing from it, they are not part of Italian. But if you see a letter somewhere in an Italian text, it must be borrowed from another language, perhaps English or Spanish.

2. Five vowels in a word!

Soqquadro, in English meaning Mes meaning Italian, is the only word that doubles. Using double q is specifically allowed for this word! Also, the word Aiuole (plural of aiuola) is the shortest word to contain all the five vowels.

3. Power connection!

The standard unit of measurement of power (voltage to be precise), the volt is actually from Italy. Alessandro Volta invented electricity and the SI unit was chosen as the Volt to honor him. Learn Top Languages for Travelers, Students, Immigrants, for Personal Interest.

4. Tongue Twister!

According to the Italians, the longest Italian word is 26 letters in the precipitevolissimevolmente and means to you as fast as possible.

However, the longest term according to research is esofagodermatodigiunoplastica, which refers to surgery after the removal of the stomach and esophagus.

And the toughest tongue twister in Italian is ‘Trentatré trentini entrarono a Trento tutti e trentatré trotterellando’, which translates as Thirty-three people from Trento entered the city, all thirty-three waddling’.

5. False friend!

There are words that are similar to some words in other languages ​​but have completely different meanings, we call them false friends. For example, una camera in Italian means room and not a camera. The word for the camera in Italian is macchina fotografica.

6. The alphabet accommodates solely 21 letters.

Like different Romance languages (and English), Italian makes use of Roman characters. Nevertheless, it accommodates 5 fewer letters than English: it lacks the letters j, ok, w, x, and y. If you happen to see these letters in Italian textual content, it means the phrase has been borrowed from one other language.

7. The phrase “volt” comes from an Italian inventor.

Everybody is aware that Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb, however, his invention would have been ineffective if it weren’t for Alessandro Volta, who found electrical energy. “Volt”, the usual measuring unit of electrical energy (in English and Italian), comes from his identity.

8. Italian isn’t simply spoken in Italy

Although the vast majority of Italian audio systems reside in Italy, Italian additionally holds official or co-official language standing in San Marino, Switzerland, Slovenia, and the Vatican City. Italian is the second-most spoken language in Argentina and has large inhabitants of the native audio system in the US.

9. The longest phrase accommodates 29 letters.

The longest phrase in Italian is the 29-letter esofagodermatodigiunoplastica, which refers to a reconstructive surgical procedure associated with the elimination of the abdomen.

A greater-known monstrous phrase is precipitevolissimevolmente, which suggests “very quick”, although it has “solely” 26 letters.

10. The earliest Italian-language textual content is over 1000 years outdated.

The Placiti Cassinesi are 4 juridical paperwork written sometime between the years 960 and 963 and are thought of to be the primarily written paperwork within the Italian language. They cope with a land dispute between three Benedictine monasteries and a neighboring landowner.

11. Within the 14th century, the author Dante Alighieri single-handedly supplied guidelines for written Italian.

Dante Alighieri is most well-known for his Divine Comedy (colloquially known as “Dante’s Inferno”), wherein he takes the reader by means of inferno, purgatory, and paradise. His intensive writings have been used as the idea for written Italian, and thus many types and grammar guidelines of the Italian language derive from his works.

12. Italian dialects may be dramatically completely different from one another

The usual dialect of Italian relies on the Tuscan dialect. Nevertheless, there are a number of regional dialects in Italian, and a few of them are so completely different from one another that they’re not mutually intelligible.

In reality, some linguists have proposed that the Sicilian dialect needs to be categorized as its personal language.

13. Italian is the official language of classical music

If you happen to ever see a classical music rating, you’ve most likely come through phrases like crescendo (get louder), staccato (indifferent), and forte (loud), all of which come from Italian.  It’s because musical notation was invented in Italy in the course of the Renaissance, and thus grew to become the usual language utilized in classical music.

14. Italian didn’t change into a single, official language till 1861.

Although varied dialects of Italian have been around for hundreds of years, it wasn’t till Italy unified that a typical model of the language emerged. In 1861, only about 2.5% of Italy’s inhabitants may converse what’s now referred to as customary Italian.

15. Father of the Italian language!

Although the Italian language was used and spoken, it was not standardized until Dante Aligieri. Dante Aligieri is often referred to as the father of the Italian language. He was working on The Divine Comedy (La Divina Commedia) which he completed in 1320, a year before his death.

Most writers and poets used Latin for their work, but Dante chose to write his masterpiece in Italian (then known as the Tuscan dialect) which set its standard in high culture.

16. Only 2.5% of Italians knew Italian when it became their national language!

Well-known writers and linguists such as Dante and Petrarch were mainly responsible for becoming the Tuscan dialect or the national language of Italy. Finally, when Italy finally became a united nation, it accepted Italian as its mother tongue. However, at that time, less than 2.5% of Italians were able to communicate in their native tongue.

17. The first known written Italian lesson!

The first known written text in the Italian language is considered to be the Placiti Cassinesi, which was a legal document of a land dispute between the Southern Italian Monasteries.

18. A musical instrument!

The music lovers must be familiar with words like forte, crescendo, alto, soprano, and tempo. These Italian words have become a standard of classical music around the world.

19. The fourth most studied language in the United States of America!

Italian is the fourth most learned foreign language in the United States after Spanish, French, and German.

20. The word “America” comes from Italian

Shifting our focus to the intriguing annals of history, we unveil a revelation that might just spark a twinkle of surprise in your eyes: the appellation “America” boasts roots entrenched in the realm of Italian etymology. Indeed, this term pays homage to none other than Amerigo Vespucci, the intrepid Italian explorer of the 15th century. It was Vespucci who, with keen discernment, demarcated the North and South American continents as distinct entities, separate from the vast expanse of Asia.

21. Over 1 million Americans speak Italian at home

Venturing across the vast expanse of the United States, one encounters the resonant voices of over a million individuals who call Italians their linguistic haven within the walls of their homes. While the number of Italian speakers has seen a decline in recent times, pockets of neighborhoods continue to reverberate with the mellifluous cadence of this language, particularly within the Northeast.

Notably, Italian asserts itself as the sixth most prevalent non-English language in New York, while securing the seventh position in New Jersey. This linguistic mosaic engenders significant implications in domains ranging from healthcare to education, serving as a testament to the language’s enduring presence.

22# 63.4 to 85 million people speak Italian

Drawing our attention to the numerical and cultural nuances, we unearth a fascinating fact: a staggering populace ranging from 63.4 million to 85 million individuals fluently converse in Italian as their native tongue, spanning continents and cultures. Learn Top Languages for Travelers, Students, Immigrants, for Personal Interest. In the annals of language, Italian claims the 21st position in the hierarchy of the world’s most widely spoken languages.

Italy itself plays host to a substantial contingent of Italian speakers, numbering around 58 million. However, the European Union embraces an additional 64 million individuals who proudly herald Italian as their linguistic heritage, fortifying its stature as the third most prevalent indigenous language within the EU’s domains.

In summation, the symphony of the Italian language, despite its modest numerical presence, resonates with profound cultural and historical significance. Its roots delve deep into the corridors of time, intertwined with the explorations of intrepid adventurers and the rich tapestry of global communication.

23. Does the Italian Language Truly Evolve from Latin?

Ah, the memories of grappling with Latin at school — the rhythmic repetition of “rosa rosae rosae rosam rosa rosa.” A nostalgic journey indeed! However, the Italian we speak today doesn’t trace its lineage to the Classical Latin you toiled over in classrooms. Instead, it emerges from the Vulgar variant, the colloquial tongue of soldiers, peasants, and dwellers of the Roman provinces. This vibrant evolution mingles with influences from the “invaders”: Longobards, Goths, and Franks.

24. Exploring the Diversity of Dialects in Italy

Embrace the astounding fact that Italy boasts such a myriad of dialects that enumerating them becomes a perplexing task, as per the Encyclopaedia Treccani. Scholars, for the sake of clarity, bifurcate Italy into three expansive dialectal territories:

  • The La Spezia-Rimini demarcation divides the northern terrain from the central expanse.
  • The Roma-Ancona juncture serves as the boundary between the central region and the southern domain.

Currently, the prominent dialects encompass Neapolitan, spoken by 5.7 million, Sicilian by 4.7 million, Venetian by 3.8 million, Lombard by 3.6 million, and Piedmontese by 1.6 million individuals.

25. Unveiling the Literacy Transformation

A glance back to the birth of the Italian Kingdom in 1861 reveals a staggering reality — a staggering 80% of Italians were illiterate, while a meager 0.89% boasted primary school education. Fast forward a century, and in 1961, illiteracy plummeted to below 9%. By 1971, this figure dwindled to slightly over 5% of the Italian populace. Presently, it stands at approximately 2%, yet functional illiteracy, touching 28% of the population, reveals the complex landscape of comprehension challenges.

26. Embarking on the Journey of Learning Italian

Venturing into the realm of acquiring Italian as a foreigner might seem a daunting expedition. The BBC sheds light, remarking, “In Italian, you read how you write […]. The pronunciation is clear. The vocabulary is similar to other languages of Latin origin. […] While some aspects of the language may seem difficult at first, you just need to grab a few simple rules to be able to communicate in a variety of situations.” Thus, if you’re treading the path of learning Italian, let’s not discouragement you from finding a place!

27. Unearthing the Earliest Glimpse of Italian

Time transports us to the most distant echoes of the Italian language — a notary deed from 960 A.D., known as the Placito Capuano. This parchment captures the account of a land dispute near the Capua monastery, encapsulating the essence of an era.

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28. From Dialects to Unity: The Evolution of Standard Italian

Intriguingly, the tapestry of Italy’s linguistic history, replete with myriad dialects, threads its way to the unification of standard Italian as the official language.

According to linguist Tullio De Mauro, this journey toward linguistic unity wasn’t solely shaped by education; it was molded by an array of forces: the press, migration, bureaucracy, the armed forces, compulsory military service, and wartime necessity, which compelled soldiers from diverse regions to communicate in Italian for mutual understanding. The advent of radio and television played a substantial role in this symphony of linguistic harmony.

29. Unveiling the Unique Linguistic Quirk

Amid the linguistic medley, a peculiar word emerges: “soqquadro,” a term denoting a state of utter chaos and confusion. A linguistic gem indeed!

30. Delving into Neostandard’s Italian

Delving deeper, one encounters Neostandard Italian — a variation bearing intriguing divergences from the standard version taught in schools. This distinctive variant, as linguists highlight, boasts distinct traits. For instance, the type 3 if-clause (expressing impossibility) often embraces two “imperfetto indicativo” verbs: “Se venivi prima, trovavi ancora posto” (If you came earlier, you still had a place).

The richness of Italian never ceases to amaze me. As you embark on your linguistic journey, remember that understanding the intricacies of the Italian language unveils a captivating world waiting to be explored. Learn Top Languages for Travelers, Students, Immigrants, for Personal Interest.

31. A literary language, used by writers and poets

Once upon a time, Italian thrived as a tool wielded by the maestros of the written word — writers and poets who crafted symphonies of language. In the aftermath of the Roman Empire’s decline, the Italian peninsula sprouted a garden of regional languages, each rooted in the fertile soil of Latin. As time meandered, these languages embarked on unique journeys of divergence and evolution.

But a turning point emerged in the 14th century, an epoch hailed as the Renaissance’s zenith. During this era, the intellectual elites of Italy cast their gaze toward the Tuscan variant spoken around Florence. This dialect, rendered illustrious by the likes of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, gradually crystallized into the bedrock of the standardized Italian we hold dear today.

32. Italian has both regional languages and regional dialects

As we delve deeper, a fascinating paradox of Italian diversity unfolds — a coexistence of both regional languages and dialects. Here, complexity thrives. Linguists muse upon the languages preceding unification, such as Venetian and Neapolitan, distinct entities birthed independently from Latin, bearing marked deviations. Ironically, these independent voices are often dubbed “dialects.”

Amid this mosaic, Italian itself dons the cloak of “dialects,” traditional renditions reflecting localized articulations of standard Italian. These dialects often mirror the underpinning regional languages. For example, consider the phrase “we are arriving,” which assumes three distinctive forms:

  • Standard Italian: stiamo arrivando
  • Venetian: sémo drio rivàr
  • Venetian dialect: stémo rivando

33. Italian became the official language of Italy in 2007

Believe it or not, the title of the “official language of Italy” eluded Italians until the surprising year of 2007. Yes, this revelation may strike you as astonishing, yet it reflects the relatively recent establishment of standardized Italian. Before Italy’s unification, it existed as a patchwork of city-states, sharing common threads of culture but distinguished by their unique, closely related tongues.

The unification process, culminating in Italy’s emergence as a sovereign nation in 1861, imbued standardized Italian with paramount importance in education. A consequence was the exponential growth of Italian speakers. Remarkably, even today, a staggering 50% of Italians intertwine their proficiency in Italian with the use of regional languages.

34. Italian’s Global Reach and Recognition

Italain’s sphere of influence extends far beyond Italy’s borders. Its official language status finds resonance in diverse domains. Notable among them are Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, Istria County in Croatia, and Slovene Istria in Slovenia.

The European Union extends a gracious nod by acknowledging Italian as one of its esteemed 24 official languages. Beyond official capacities, Italian is recognized as a minority language across an even broader spectrum, encompassing nations like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, and Romania.

35. Italian is the Language of Romance and Passion

Ah, the symphony of Italian, often hailed as the “language of love.” A perpetual tussle for romantic eminence unfolds between Italian and French. However, a compelling revelation from a CNN poll echoes through the ages — native English speakers have crowned Italian with the coveted title of the “sexiest accent.” Clearly, an irresistible allure dances within the tapestry of abundant vowels…

36. Italian’s Musical Heartbeat

Italian’s charms are not confined to eloquence alone; they resonate in the realm of melody. Even if the world of musical instruments remains uncharted terrain, you’ve undoubtedly encountered fragments of Italian vocabulary in those formative school years. Learn Top Languages for Travelers, Students, Immigrants, for Personal Interest.

Words like “tempo,” “crescendo,” and “soprano” all trace their lineage to the fertile soils of Italy. The reasons are twofold: Guido d’Arezzo, the progenitor of modern musical notation, hailed from Italian shores, and these musical terminologies flourished during the Renaissance, a period dominated by Italian composers whose harmonies echoed across the European soundscape.

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