Italian 101: Facts about the Italian language
When you want to learn another language it is advisable to check some things before you ‘hit the books’. Every language is different and some are easier than other. Some languages have an easy way of pronouncing and reading words but the grammar could be quite difficult and vice versa. Variations are practically endless.
Let’s say for example that you’ve decided to study Italian. Before you attend your first lesson or even start looking for a good language school such as Studioitalia, here are some facts you should know before you start.
Italian Language History
Italian is considered as the world’s most romantic and melodic language and it is the most desirable languages to learn so no wonder many people are striving to master this enchanting language. The history of the Italian language is actually illustrated in the history of Italy itself and vice versa.
Classified as one of the Romance languages, Italian falls into the family of Indo-European languages and it derived from Latin. Actually, the Italian language probably most closely resembles Latin. Unlike other languages that you can hear on in their ‘native’ country, Italian has ‘stretched’ its arms across the borders of Italy and you can hear it in Switzerland, Corsica, Sicily, some parts of the Adriatic Sea and also in some of the former Italian colonies such as Somalia. Just like many other languages, Italian aside from Italy, of course, is the official language in many countries such as the Vatican, San Marino, Switzerland and Slovenia.
The impact of the Italian language on the world through cuisine, music, art, architecture and science is huge and it’s influence is very prominent in other languages. After all, we all use the words ‘ciao’ and ‘pizza’.
Since Italian is quite widely spread it’s bound to have different dialects and even within the Italian border, you can notice different dialects. The most popular ones are Tuscan, Friulian and Ladin, Venetian, Neapolitan and Sicilian.
Italian Language Grammar
Now that we have covered the historical background let’s focus a bit on the grammar. The first thing worthy of mentioning are the pronouns. Unlike some languages where personal pronouns are necessary, you don’t have to use personal pronouns in the subject of the sentence in Italian. Why is this? Well this is mainly due to the fact that the verb ending provides information about the subject and personal pronouns are mainly used in order to emphasize the subject.
What about the singular or plural? In some languages you can’t really tell the difference whether it’s singular or plural and you have to look at the context. However in the Italian language, you can gather a lot of information from the pronoun, here’s how:
When you want to say ‘I’ (referring to yourself) you say ‘io” and when you want to say ‘we’ (referring to a group where you’re included) you say ‘noi’.
If you want to refer to a single person that you are familiar with, you would use ‘tu’ and when you want to refer to a group that you are also familiar with (so this is plural) you would use ‘voi’. Also keep in mind that ‘Voi’ (‘voi’ with a capital ‘V’) can also be used as a reference to someone who you are not so familiar with.
When referring to a female person (that you’re familiar with) you would normally use ‘lei’ as in ‘she’ but this term can also be used in the form of ‘Lei’ (notice the capital ‘L’) where it’s used as a ‘polite’ form of ‘tu’ (you). And when you’re referring to a male person (that you are familiar with) you would use ‘lui’.
Aside from using ‘voi’ for an unfamiliar group reference, you can also use ‘Loro’ or ‘loro’ (again, notice the capital ‘L’).
Infinitive forms of verbs can have one of three endings: -are; -ere or -ire and most Italian verbs are regular.
We will use the verb ‘mangiare’ (notice that ends with ‘-are’) which means ‘to eat’ and we will indicate that something is happening right now.
Depending on the verb’s ending (infinitive form) the ending will change if we are talking about us (first person), a second or third person and also if it’s in singular or plural.
1st person the ending is -o
2nd person the ending is -i
3rd person the nding is -a
1st person the ending is -iamo
2nd person the ending is -ate
3rd person the ending is -ano
1st person (singular) ‘Io mangio’ or just ‘Mangio’ (I eat)
2nd person (singular) ‘Tu mangi’ (you eat)
3rd person (singular) ‘Antonia mangia’ (Antonio eats)
1st person (plural) ‘Noi mangiamo’ (We eat)
2nd person (plural) ‘Voi mangiate’ (You eat)
3rd person (plural) ‘loro mangiano’ (they eat)
Forming a questions is very similar to most European languages. You simply raise the intonation at the end of the sentence. Noi mangiamo?
When it come to writing, Italian is written using the Latin alphabet. Italians use both acute and grave accents for marking words with irregular stress.
We understand that this many information at once could be overwhelming, but it will start making sense when you start going in deeper and deeper into your Italian studies. You will see that Italian is actually quite easy to learn and you will enjoy it even more.
If you’re thinking about learning the Italian language, why don’t you join us for an Italian language course? Check out our special Facebook promotion here.