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60 million

Other names

Official language

Italy, Switzerland, San Marino

Interesting Fact

About half of Italy's population is raised speaking regional dialects, and only learn standard Italian in school.


Italian is one of the world’s most influential and most taught languages.

It is spoken as a first language in many European countries and by minorities in countries including Libya, Somalia and Eritrea. Large expatriate communities exist in the USA and Australia.

Modern Italian is based on the variant of Italian spoken in Tuscany, which was adopted by the Italian government after the unification of Italy. Regional spoken variances are, however, still very large and in most regions the variant is so different it is normally classed as a separate language, as opposed to a dialect. The 20th century heralded the advent of television, which served to help all Italians learn a common language.

Language Length

Tends to be 15-20% longer than English.

Regional Differences

Too many to even start going through. They are basically different languages (see above).

False Friends

Due to shared roots, and much borrowing from one language to another, Italian and English share many words which allow us to misunderstand each other perfectly well.  Here are some examples:

Word in ItalianCorrect translation into English
TrivialeVulgar, Obscene
CasinoA complete mess, a brothel. Casinò (or casa di gioco) is the correct word for a casino in Italian.

Notable Grammar and Spelling Differences

  • Capitalization

    Days, months and names of languages are not capitalised in Italian. Otherwise similar to English.

  • Quotation marks

    Usually chevron style <<>>

  • Numbers

    The comma is used where English would use the decimal point and vice versa, e.g. 5.5 (English) = 5,5 (Italian), but 5,000 (English) is 5.000 (Italian).

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