A language of Italy

Alternate Names

57,700,000 in Italy (European Commission 2012). Population total all countries: 63,783,247.

Language Status

1 (National). Statutory national language (1999, Law No. 482, Article 1.1).


Abruzzese, Central Marchigiano, Cicolano-Reatino-Aquilano, Laziale, Molisano, Pugliese, Tuscan, Umbrian. Regional varieties coexist with the standard language; some are inherently unintelligible. Aquilano, Molisano, and Pugliese are very different from other Italian varieties. Piemontese [pms] and Sicilian [scn] are distinct enough to be separate languages (1982 F. Agard). Venetian [vec] and Lombard [lmo] are also very different (1981 P. Cousson). The Napoletano dialect of Napoletano-Calabrese [nap] is reportedly unintelligible to standard Italian. Northern varieties are more similar to French and Occitan [oci] than to standard or southern varieties (1982 F. Agard; Vincent 1987). Lexical similarity: 89% with French [fra], 87% with Catalan [cat], 85% with Sardinian [srd], 82% with Spanish [spa], 78% with Ladin [lld], 77% with Romanian [ron].



Language Use

Most Italians use varieties along a continuum from standard to regional to local according to what is appropriate. Possibly nearly half the population do not use standard Italian as L1. Only 3% of Italy’s population could speak standard Italian when the nation unified in 1861. 16,670,000 also use English [eng]. 8,050,000 also use French [fra].

Language Development
Fully developed. Bible: 1471–1985.

Braille script [Brai], used since 1974. Latin script [Latn], primary usage.

Also spoken in:

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