Alternative name(s): italien (fr), italiano (it), Italiaans (nl), italienska (sv)

Language family: Indo-European

Language Group: Romance

Geographical use: Italy, Switzerland, Ethiopia (as trade language), on Corsica, in Monaco, San Marino, Somalia and Venezuela

Information: Just like other Romance languages, Italian has its origin in Latin. Of all Romance languages Italian is closest to Latin. The evolution of the Italian language is characterized by a large number of dialects. From the period after the fall of the West Roman empire onwards until the 14th century each dialect tried to defend its position as well as possible. In the 14th century the Toscan dialect became most important. The reason for this was not only the central position of Toscany on the peninsula, but also the flourishing trade of the most important Toscan city, Florence. Furthermore, of all dialects Toscan is closest to classical Latin.

In the 15th and 16th centuries Toscan was used as a basis to try to set a common pronunciation, syntax and vocabulary. The Accademia della Crusca, founded in 1583, succeeded in this mission and published the first officially recognized Italian dictionaries.

In current Italian Latin features of Toscan were maintained, but the vocabulary was adapted.
If you know Latin or any other Romance language, it is not difficult to learn Italian. The greatest difference with French or Spanish is the creation of plural form: plurals are not formed with -s or -es, but with -e for most female words, and -i for male words.