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The Italian Language

The Italian language is a Romance language. These are languages that are primarily derived from the Latin language spoken by the Romans two thousand years ago. Although there are over 47 languages in the Romance category that are spoken in Europe, most of them are used by small groups of people. Of the living Romance languages, only six of them are spoken by more than ten million people. Italian is one such language, the other five are French, Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian and Catalan. There are approximately 65 million people who speak Italian as their primary language, most of these people live in the country of Italy. There are an estimated 20 million additional people who speak Italian world wide. These numbers place Italian fourth, behind Spanish, French and Portuguese for most popularly spoken of the Romance languages.

Standard Italian, as it exists today, only goes back to the middle of the 19th century. The Italian language though, traces its history back more than 900 years and one of the oldest of the Romance languages. Because of the history of the region and how Italy became a united country, there were strong regional differences in the language. Italy was composed of many city states similar to ancient Greece. The largest of these cities spoke a particular form of Italian. Over time there was a slow development of a standard form of Italian that was influence by great writers such as Dante. He wrote in the dialect of the city of Florence. Many educated people over time were influenced by the Florentine dialect and today's Italian owes much to the people of Florence. 

Italian is a popular choice for those wanting to learn a second language. It is ranked high for languages that are easy to learn. This is especially true for those whose native language is one of the other Romance languages. Many of the words are similar, having their source in the Latin language. Those whose native language is English often find Italian easy to learn. Although not a Romance language, English is heavily influenced by the Latin language. English speakers have found learning Italian to be easier than other languages not related to English.

Of course, the number of speakers of a language does not always indicate its importance. Italy, for example, has one of the most important economies in the world. Brand names for Italian products are well known. With the globalization of the economy, those speaking Italian are able to conduct business better with companies associated with Italian products. Many business people have chosen to learn Italian for this reason alone.

Italian is also spoken throughout Europe and the European Union has become one of the most important economic zones of the world. Italian is one of the four official languages of the country of Switzerland. It can be found spoken as a primary language at the Vatican and in certain areas of the countries of Slovenia and Croatia. Because of historical reasons, Italian is still spoken in parts of Africa, most notably in Libya, Eritrea and Somalia. 

Contact Axis Translations for assistance with Italian translation, transcription and interpreting.