The Italian language in Italy and worldwide: How many speakers?

The Italian language in Italy and worldwide: How many speakers?

How many people speak the Italian language all around the world?

Italy has a total population of 60 million people and the official language is Italian. 61,860,418 people speak Italian as a native language. In addition, 16,957,243 people speak Italian worldwide as non-native speakers.

What is the Italian language related to?

Talking about the Italian language obviously takes you to stereotypes related to it. Let’s go over these together:

  • “Italians are pizza and spaghetti eaters.” Yeah, that could be true. Italians eat pasta almost every day and pizza once a week, even if they are on a diet!
  • “Italians talk with their hands.” It’s a scientific truth: everybody gesticulates to express themselves in a better way, but yes, let’s consider this stereotype true too.
  • “Italians are loud.” No less than our Spanish, German and English neighbours! 😉
  • “Italians are always late.” It depends on the appointment. We’re hardly ever late for work. If it’s a meeting with friends, that’s another matter.
  • “Italians drink espresso and cappuccino all day long.” INCORRECT. We meet for coffee to spend time with our loved ones. Cappuccino is only for breakfast, unlike other cultures.
  • “Italians are disorganized.” Try telling that to my best friend. She is one of the most organized people I have ever known. And she managed to make me an organized person too!
  • “Italians can’t speak English.” Of course, it’s not easy to get rid of our distinctive accent but that’s not true. At least, we try! 😊

Curious facts about the Italian language

  1. It derives from vernacular Latin (as opposed to ancient Latin).
  2. When Latin merged with the languages of the invaders (Lombards, Franks, Goths), it resulted in the vernacular Latin. This is where Italian derives. Dante Alighieri was the first one to believe that the vernacular had to replace the Latin. His work De vulgari eloquentia (1303-1305) is dedicated to this topic.
  3. So many dialects are spoken in Italy that, according to reputable sources, it is impossible to count them. Experts divide Italy into three major dialectal areas: northern, central and southern.
  4. When the Kingdom of Italy was founded in 1861, 80% of Italians were illiterate.
  5. At school, we learn standard Italian, but more often, we use colloquial Italian, which is not always grammatically correct!
  6. In Italian, you can read how it is written and the written word is similar to how it sounds.

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