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  • Italian is a member of the Italo-Dalmatian group of languages, which is part of the Italo-Western grouping of the Romance languages, which are a subgroup of the Italic branch of Indo-European.
  • Italian is the official language of Italy, San Marino and an official language in the Ticino and Grigioni cantons or regions of Switzerland. It is also the second official language in Vatican City and in some areas of Istria in Slovenia and Croatia with an Italian minority. It is widely used by immigrant groups in Luxembourg, the United States, and Australia, and is also spoken in neighbouring Malta and Albania. It is spoken, to a much lesser extent, in parts of Africa formerly under Italian rule such as Somalia, Libya and Eritrea.
  • there is 89% lexical similarity with French, 87% with Catalan, 85% with Sardinian, 82% with Spanish, 78% with Rheto-Romance, 77% with Romanian.
  • Standard Italian is based on the Tuscan dialects (Florence) and is somewhat intermediate between the languages of Southern Italy and the Gallo-Romance languages of the North. The long-established Tuscan standard has, over the last few decades, been slightly eroded by the variety of Italian spoken in Milan, the economic capital of Italy. Italian has double (or long) consonants, like Latin (but unlike most modern Romance languages, e.g. French and Spanish). As in most Romance languages (with the notable exception of French), stress is distinctive.
  • Italians say that the best spoken Italian is lingua toscana in bocca romana - 'the Tuscan tongue, in a Roman mouth.' The formative influence on establishing the Tuscan as the elite speech is generally agreed to have been Dante's Commedia, to which Boccaccio affixed the title Divina in the 14th century.
  • The dialects of Italian identified by the Ethnologue are Tuscan, Abruzzese, Pugliese, Umbrian, Laziale, Central Marchigiano, Cicolano-Reatino-Aquilano, and Molisano. Many of the so-called "dialects" of Italian spoken in Italy are different enough from standard Italian that they are considered to be separate languages by many linguists.
  • Enyclopaedia Britannica distinguishes the following dialects: Northern Italian, or Gallo-Italian; Venetan, spoken in northeastern Italy; Tuscan (including Corsican); and three related groups from southern and eastern Italy—(1) the dialects of the Marche, Umbria, and Rome, (2) those of Abruzzi, Puglia (Apulia), Naples, Campania, and Lucania, and (3) those of Calabria, Otranto, and Sicily.

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