Italian is not only the official language of Italy, but also one of the four official languages spoken in Switzerland. It is also widely spoken in Croatia, Slovenia and the French island of Corsica; and is surprisingly the second most popular language spoken in Argentina. With its roots firmly in ancient Latin it is classed as one of the Romance languages, like French, Portuguese and Spanish. Italian shares a high degree of grammatical commonality with those languages, and many similar words.
Many other languages have been influenced by Italian culture over the centuries, particularly with regards to food, music, architecture and literature. Who doesn’t love a pizza, or a bowl of pasta enjoyed al fresco? We happily listen to an orchestra accompanying a maestro on the piano, or a choir singing a cappella. In the art world famous Italians include Dante Alighieri, the author of La Divina Commedia (The Divine Comedy), Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni who painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome; and more recently, Umberto Eco, who wrote Il Nome della Rosa – the story behind the 1986 medieval whodunnit movie and 2019 TV series, The Name of the Rose.
When learning Italian it is good to remember that “si legge come si scrive” it reads as it is written, with every vowel being enunciated clearly, using a lilting, sing-song intonation. As with other Romance languages nouns are masculine or feminine, and corresponding adjectives have different endings in order to agree with them.