55,000,000 in Italy. Population includes native bilinguals of Italian and regional varieties, who may use Italian as L2. Population total all countries: 61,068,677.
Also in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Egypt, Eritrea, France, Germany, Israel, Libya, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Paraguay, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Switzerland, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vatican State.
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].
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.