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What Language Do They Speak in Italy?

What Language Do They Speak in Italy

Italy, a land known for its rich history, awe-inspiring architecture, and a cuisine that has marked its presence across the globe, has much more to offer than just scenic beauty and delectable dishes. One of the aspects that make Italy intriguing is its language – Italian. Through the lens of language, one can unearth the diverse cultural tapestry of this beautiful country. This article unfolds the linguistic landscape of Italy, where love for tradition and a sense of modernity coexists.

Key Takeaways

Official LanguageItalian
Regional LanguagesLombard, Sicilian, Neapolitan, Sardinian, Friulian, Ladin, and others
Foreign Languages SpokenEnglish, German, French
Language EducationEnglish is a mandatory subject in schools.
Language’s Global StandingItalian is the 20th most spoken language in the world.

The Linguistic Heritage of Italy

Italy’s linguistic journey is as fascinating as its history. Rooted in the heart of the Roman empire, the Italian language has Latin at its core. However, it has absorbed words and phrases from various other languages over centuries, reflecting Italy’s position at the crossroads of different cultures.

Italian: The Official Language

Italian, derived from Latin, is the official language of Italy and is spoken by around 93% of the population. It’s a Romance language, sharing roots with French, Spanish, and Portuguese among others.

Number of SpeakersAround 60 million in Italy, 85 million worldwide
OriginEvolved from Vulgar Latin
Similar LanguagesFrench, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian
Global InfluenceSignificant in the fields of art, music, and cuisine

Regional Dialects: A Mirror to Italy’s Cultural Diversity

Italy is a mosaic of cultures and traditions, and this is vividly reflected in its regional dialects. Some of these dialects are so distinct that they are considered languages in their own right.

  • Lombard: Spoken in Northern Italy, especially in the Lombardy region.
  • Sicilian: A unique dialect with Arabic, Greek, and Norman influences, spoken in Sicily.
  • Neapolitan: Rich in expressions and humorous phrases, spoken in Naples and surrounding areas.
  • Sardinian: Often considered a separate language due to its distinct nature, spoken in Sardinia.

Foreign Languages: Bridging Borders

With globalization, the linguistic scenario in Italy has seen the inclusion of various foreign languages. English, in particular, has become quite prevalent, especially among the younger population and in the business realm.

  • English: Widely taught in schools and used in business settings.
  • German: Spoken in some parts of Northern Italy, close to the Austrian border.
  • French: Spoken in areas near the French-Italian border.

Learning Languages: A Window to the World

Language education holds a significant place in Italy. From a young age, students are exposed to languages other than Italian, primarily English. The aim is to prepare the young generation for a globalized world, and also to foster a sense of appreciation for different cultures.

Level of EducationLanguage Exposure
Primary EducationMandatory English classes, Optional second foreign language
Secondary EducationContinued English education, Choice of a second foreign language

Italian Language Beyond Borders

Italian language has not confined itself within the boundaries of Italy. It’s a language of art, music, and fashion, making its presence felt on the global stage. Moreover, the vast Italian diaspora has also contributed to the spread of the Italian language and culture worldwide.

The Global Footprint

  • Music: Italian is the language of classical music. Terms like allegro, crescendo and soprano are Italian in origin.
  • Fashion: Italy is a powerhouse of fashion, and Italian is a significant language in the global fashion industry.
  • Cuisine: Italian cuisine is loved worldwide. Words like pizza, pasta, and espresso are universal.

Italian Diaspora: Spreading the Language and Culture

The Italian diaspora has led to communities of Italian speakers in many different countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, and Argentina. These communities serve as conduits for Italian culture and language, keeping the linguistic traditions alive beyond the Italian shores.


The language of Italy is a beautiful reflection of the country’s rich heritage and cultural diversity. Italian, with its melodious tune and historic significance, continues to be a significant player on the global stage, spreading the charm of Italian culture far and wide.