How many Libyans speak Italian

Countries where Italian is spoken




Origin of the Italian language

The Italian language developed from the Romance branch of the Indo-European languages, i.e. it comes from the original Latin that was spoken in the Roman Empire. Even during the time of the Roman Empire, Latin was the official and also used written language, but the people spoke a modification of it called Vulgar Latin, which regionally differed more or less from Latin. At the beginning of the Middle Ages, this became the forerunners of today's Italian language, which until the 16th century were more and more combined into a single language.

Even today, however, there are different expressions of the language even within Italy. There are numerous dialects, but all of them are based on the earlier Vulgar Latin. In order to distinguish the individual dialect families from one another, they are usually divided into northern, central and southern Italian.

Spread in the Italian colonies

Compared to the seafaring nations Spain and Portugal, Italy remained rather frugal during the colonial period and concentrated on a few areas on the Adriatic Sea and in Africa. The main Italian colonies were in what is now Libya, Somalia and Eritrea. Italian was established as the commercial language there, but could hardly penetrate into the everyday life of the population. Today, Italian is only taught as a second language in the former colonies. There are hardly any native speakers left.

Post-war migration

The Italian language experienced a remarkable spread during and after World War II. Although the war did not result in permanent border shifts, Italian guest workers were extremely welcome in northern Switzerland and just as numerous. They exerted so much influence in south-east Switzerland that Italian soon became an everyday language.

Today around half a million Swiss speak Italian. In the Swiss cantons of Ticino and Graub√ľnden, Italian is the only official language today.

Also through migration, several Italian communities have emerged in Brazil, the USA, Canada and Australia in the last few decades. However, they are considered to be an Italian minority that is limited to a few cities in the respective countries.