Learning to Speak Italian

Most Romance languages have long given up the contrast on long and short consonants in Latin. But just like most Romance languages, Italian also has a distinct stress. Italian is considered to be the closest language that would resemble the dead language—Latin.

About 63 million people have Italian or Italiano as their native tongue. It is primarily spoken in Italy but other places that have Italian language spoken among other languages are Switzerland, Marino, and the Vatican City. Minorities speak Italian from nations like Croatia, France, Romania, and Slovenia.

Former colonies such as Ethiopia, Somalia, Libya and Eritrea also speak the language. Most important of all, immigrants who have gone to places like Venezuela, the US, Australia, Argentina, Germany, France, Uruguay and Canada also help in spreading the language.

What Makes the Italian Alphabet Unique

Most Romance languages have long given up the contrast on long and short consonants in Latin. But just like most Romance languages, Italian also has a distinct stress. Italian is considered to be the closest language that would resemble the dead language—Latin. Its lexical similarity to French is at 89 ; 87 for Catalan; Sardinian is at 85 ; Spanish is at 82 ; 77 with the Romanian language and 52 with Maltese.

Referred to as il parlar gentile or the gentle language by its speakers, Italian continues to make use of the Latin alphabet on majority of its words. The standard Italian alphabet does not have the letters J, K, W, X and Y. But nowadays, X is quite common in some words, so do words that have the extra letter J. J is often read as I in most Italian words and is evident on the names of places like Bojano (pronounced Bo ya no), Joppolo (Iopolo) or Jesi (Iesi).

J is now discouraged in modern Italian and is no longer a part of the contemporary Italian alphabet. The current alphabet now has 21 letters with each of these letters having an Italian equivalent such as in the case of gi for j; c or ch for k; s, ss, or cs for x; u or v for w; and i for y.

Accents are very important with the Italian language. It is evident on the acute accent that is being used on the letter E (for example: perché). The grave accent is used in words like (té for tea). This same accent is used on the letters A, I, O, and U to make the stress fall on the final vowel of a certain word (such as in gioventú meaning youth).

H is often silent when used in most words like ho, hai, hanno, or ha; Z is read with a dz or ts sound (/dz/ or /ts/). Thus, the word Zanzara is read as dzan'dzara (meaning mosquito) and the word nazione is read as na tssjone.

These are only a few unique rules of the Italian language.

Conversational Italian Words

1.Sí—means yes.
2.Certo—means Of course.
3.Ciao!—means Hello.
4.Arrivederci—means Goodbye.
5.Buon Giorno—means Good day.
6.Buona Sera—means Good evening.
7.Come sta—means How are you?
8.Mi dispiace—means Sorry.
9.Di nuovo—means Again.
10.Scusi—means Excuse me.
11.Grazie—means Thank you.
12.Buon appetite—means Bon appetite.

Seven Days of the Week

•Monday—Lunedi
•Tuesday—Martedi
•Wednesday—Mercoledi
•Thursday—Giovedi
•Friday—Venerdi
•Saturday—Sabato
•Sunday—Domenica

Counting Up to Twenty

1.Uno
2.Due
3.Tre
4.Quattro
5.Cinque
6.Sei
7.Sette
8.Otto
9.Nove
10.Dieci
11.Undici
12.Dodici
13.Tredici
14.Quattrodici
15.Quindici
16.Sedici
17.Diciassette
18.Diciotto
19.Diciannove
20.Venti

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