The Italian language is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. It is the second most widely spoken native language in the European Union with 67 million native speakers. About 13.4 million EU citizens speak Italian as their second language. Including all Italian speakers around the world, the total number of Italian speakers is about 85 million people.
Italian is a major European language. It is one of the official languages of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and one of the working languages of the Council of Europe. Italian descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire and sounds most similar to Latin or Spanish. Like other Romantic languages, its grammar consists of showing agreement of nouns and adjectives, two genders (masculine and feminine), the use of definitive articles, and a system of perfect and progressive tenses for verbs.
Italian’s standard literary form is based on the dialect of Florence; however, it also has several dialects and local variants. These dialects include those of Northern Italian, Gallo-Italian, Venetian, and Tuscan, as well as the groups of southern and eastern Italy. Additionally, Italian dialects are influenced by other countries’ languages in which Italian is spoken, such as English in New York and Spanish in Buenos Aires. Italian is known as the “language of music” because of its use in musical terminology (adagio, crescendo, etc.) and opera. It also has a large influence in the arts and the luxury goods market.
Italian is the official language of Italy, San Marino, and the Vatican City (together with Latin). Italian is also an official language of Switzerland, along with German, French, and Romansh. In Switzerland, Italian is spoken in Ticino and Graubünden cantons. It was formerly an official language in Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, and still plays a significant role in some sectors. Italian is a common language in France, specifically in the Alps and Côte d-Azur, as well as had official minority status in small western communities in Croatia and Slovenia. Italian formerly had official minority status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, and Greece. Expatriate communities in the Americas speak Italian, such as the United States, Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, Paraguay, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico. Each of these countries’ native languages heavily influences the Italian dialect spoken there.
Full list of countries with a relatively sizeable number of Italian speakers: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Belgiu, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Malta, Egypt, Eritrea, Farnce, Germany, Israel, Libya, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Paraguay, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Runisia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Venezuela.
The official language of Italy, San Marino, and Vatican City is Italian, but the language is spoken in at least 28 other countries as well.