Approximately 63 million people in the world speak Italian as their first language. An additional 3 million speak Italian as a second language. Various sources differ slightly, but Italian is around the 20th most-spoken language in the world. Italians speak Italian. However, due to the high degree of intelligibility between Spanish and Italian, we understand each other if we do not speak too fast. Both languages come from Latin and they share a lot of vocabulary and grammar. Italian belongs to the Romance branch of the Indo-European language family. Like the other Romance languages, it is a descendant of Vulgar Latin spoken by the Romans and imposed by them on the peoples under their rule. Therefore, it shares many characteristics with other Romance languages.
Which countries speak Italian as an official language?
It is spoken by 57.7 million people in Italy with a total worldwide 64 million speakers in some 29 countries (Ethnologue). Italian is the national, or de facto national, language of Italy, San Marino, Vatican City, Switzerland, and some areas of Slovenia and Croatia.
What languages are mainly spoken in Italy?
A number of minority languages are also spoken in Italy. Many of them have been classified as historical language minorities by the government of Italy, including French, Greek, German, Sardinian, Albanian, Occitan, Croatian, Slovene, Ladin, Friulian, Catalan, and Franco-Provencal.
Can Italian speakers understand Spanish?
Not all Spaniards and not all Italians speak those languages, respectively, or might only speak them as second languages. Barely. They are somewhat intelligible. ... Many Romanian and Spanish speakers can understand a bit of what is being said in Italian, but it is not as easy the other way around.
What is the most similar language to Italian?
In particular, among the Romance languages, Italian is the closest to Latin in terms of vocabulary. Lexical similarity is 89% with French, 87% with Catalan, 85% with Sardinian, 82% with Spanish, 78% with Ladin, 77% with Romanian and 70% with Portuguese.
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Recently extinct languages
Date Language Language family
October 2, 2012 Cromarty dialect of Scots Black Isle dialect Germanic
October 24, 2010 Pazeh Kulon-pazeh Formosan languages
August 20, 2010 Cochin Indo-Portuguese Creole Vypin Indo-Portuguese Portuguese-based Creole
January 26, 2010 Aka-Bo Bo Andamanese
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