Roberto Benigni, 1997
The Italophone World
Welcome to the Self-Access Centre materials database
The SAC is here to provide you with opportunities to study Italian outside class time. If you need advice and guidance on what to study, you should talk to your class tutor, who will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and make recommendations on what to study.
A bit about the language
Italian (italiano) is a Romance language spoken by about 60 million people in Italy, and by another 10 million Italian descendants in the world. It is also spoken by an additional 125 million people as a foreign language. In Switzerland, Italian is one of four official languages, spoken mainly in the cantons of Grigioni and Ticino. It is also the official language of San Marino, as well as the primary language of Vatican City. Standard Italian, adopted by the state after the unification of Italy, is based on Tuscan (in particular on the dialects of the city of Florence). Its development was also influenced by the other Italian dialects and by the Germanic language of the post-Roman invaders.
Italian derives from Latin, and is the closest national language to Latin. Unlike most other Romance languages, Italian retains Latin's contrast between short and long consonants. 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 Rhaeto-Romance and 77% with Romanian. Italian is written in the Latin alphabet.