Italian Language History

The fifth most taught foreign language in the world

Italian, a Romance language, ranks twentieth in the world’s league table of most commonly spoken languages. Around 70 million native speakers speak this language in the world. Most Italian language speakers live in Italy, Malta, San Marino, Switzerland, Vatican City, Slovenia, France, and Croatia.

An additional 120 to 150 million non-native speakers have learned this language. These non-native language speakers include people in former Italian colonies in Africa like Libya and Eritrea. Likewise, there is a strong Italian community in South America. This is due to the thousands of Italian migrants who formed a very strong physical and cultural presence there. These migrants settled in Argentina, Uruguay, Southern Brazil, and Venezuela from the late 19th to the mid-20th century.

As a Romance language, it is a member of the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Italian language is also of particular importance due to the fact that it has the most similarities to Latin which is often deemed the basis of all Romance languages. In other words, all Romance languages branch from the Latin language.


Italian Dialects

Like most Romance languages, the Italian language also has a number of different dialects. Most of these different dialects are mutually intelligible. Italian speakers are all usually very proud of their own dialect. They even go as far as to claim that their dialect is the true version of the language. However, today the Tuscan dialect is Italian and is the official language of Italy.

Throughout history, the Italian language has had a lot of help spreading in popularity. Historical figures such as Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch have all had a part in the spread of the language. Through their world-famous writings, more and more people caught on to the language of Italy. Their works translated into a number of other languages. The works of these famous authors have also been taught in schools and universities throughout the world today.

Italian is the official language of Italy, which is one of the industrial democracies in the world today. This means that it still holds immense significance around the world. It also means that the need for translation into Italian services is as alive as ever before.


Origins and Roots of the Italian Language

Italian started to appear in written documents during the 10th century. The alphabet only has 21 letters, and some letters aren’t included as they appear in loanwords. The texts found from this time are also dialectal. These texts amplified into various dialects of the Italian language.  This proved how the differences between various dialects were present even in the written form of the language of Italy.

By the 14th century, the Tuscan dialect started to gain popularity as the language of Italy. This fact was due to the central position of the region within Italy. The Tuscan dialect also had many similarities with classical Latin and Vulgar Latin. These similarities were in the phonology and morphology of the languages.

Soon, the Tuscan dialect grew popular in political and cultural circles throughout Italy. It is important to remember, though, that Latin remained the main literary language until the 16th century. Italian contained many Latin words in their original form. Over time, Latin grew less popular as the Italian language became more and more popular.

The Tuscan dialect of the Italian language started being treated as the standard during the 15th and 16th centuries. During this standardisation of the language, all other dialects and tongues slowly and gradually started to disappear. This resulted in the pronunciation, syntax, and vocabulary of the Tuscan dialect becoming the foundation for the Italian language.

The First World War was the first real opportunity to form a unified language for Italy. This was because Italian soldiers from all over the country were coming together. These soldiers needed to find a uniform way to communicate. They decided to use the more formal Tuscan dialect taught in school. This helped them understand one another much better than they could using their own dialects.


Italian Translation Services

Renaissance Translations offers high quality language services including translations into Italian. Our expert team covers a wide range of industries including business, finance, tourism and more.

If you have a document, a website, a brochure or a video that you would like to translate to Italian, contact us to discuss your specific project translation needs. One of our friendly project managers will take your instructions and provide the best service possible.