07 April 2010
Posted in CULTURE AND TRADITIONS
Seen by many as one of the most melodic and enchanting languages in the world, the Italian language seems right at home in this beautiful country. The romance and musical sounds make it wonderful to listen to and songs in Italian are often chosen at weddings for their romantic sound.
The Italian language is, rather appropriately, a Romance language meaning that it is derived from Latin, and in fact it still resembles Latin more closely than any other living language. Italian developed in a patchwork fashion, with each region having its very own dialect, each quite different from the others. It was not until the unification of Italy in 1861 that one dialect was chosen to become “standard” Italian. This was the Tuscan dialect, already popular among writers, philosophers and politicians as it was the closest to written Latin.
Nowadays almost everyone in Italy speaks standard Italian, but local dialects have nonetheless survived. Some older people speak only in dialect, and most of the younger generations speak their local tongue as well as Italian. Even immigrants to Italy often find themselves learning the dialect of whatever area they have moved to!
Moving from region to region in Italy, you will notice a marked difference in the way people speak. Part of this is accent, but part of it is also dialect. The most isolated dialects are those of the deep South and the island regions of Sicily, whose dialect is close to medieval Latin and Sardinia, with a complex linguistic history leading to a dialect that could be classified as a truly independent language. These dialects, although very different to Italian, still sound Italian. It is in the far North of the country that French and German begin to influence the dialects resulting in local tongues that sound extremely different.
Italian itself is one of the easiest languages to learn from a pronuciation point of view, and is grammatically very simple for those who have already mastered French or Spanish. The best way to learn it, as with any language is to go to the country and have a full-immersion experience, and if you are truly passionate about Italy you can even attend Italian classes as part of your honeymoon experience, have readings of Italian poetry at your wedding or even exchange vows in Italian - with an interpreter to make sure you know what you are saying, of course! The best place for all of this is Italy itself, so to hear Italian spoken in its natural habitat, take a look at some of our beautiful locations.