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Italian is a Romance language, known for its beautiful sounding rhythm. For those travelling to Italy, some knowledge of the language is not just useful in the practical sense, but can also enhance your experience of the country to a large degree.

Some Italians in Italy may be intimidated by those who do not speak their mother tongue, but they do become very talkative once they find foreigners who know some Italian. They are also quite forgiving when travellers make mistakes in the Italian vocabulary, grammar, or pronunciation, and corrections are always given with a smile.

The Italian language is spoken by about seventy million people worldwide, mostly in Italy itself. Among the different Romance Languages, the Italian language is the one that is most comparable to Latin when it comes to vocabulary as well as in grammar.

Italian is considered a simple language, and it has many dialects. It is of course Italy's national language, as well as being an official language in the Swiss cantons of Ticino and Grigioni. It is also spoken among Italian minorities in Istria, Slovenia as well as in Croatia. Italian is the second official language in the smallest independent nation of the world, the Vatican City. Italian-speaking people can also be found in Belgium, Venezuela, Luxembourg, Australia, Monaco, Germany, and Canada as well as in Albania, and in some countries in Africa. Italian was previously used as the official language of Malta before1934.

The following are the different dialects of Italian – Tuscan, Pugliese (Apulian), Central Marchigiano, Abruzzese, Piemontese, Cicolano-Reatino-Aquilano, Umbrian, Molisan, and Laziale as well as Brescian, Modenese, Sicilian, Milanese, and Bergamasc.

Each Italian city has a distinct dialect. The best Italian is said to be Tuscan dialects combined with inflections of Roman, or the lingua toscana in bocca romana. This is because Tuscan is believed to be the most similar dialect to Dante's Italian, and Romans are known for great word enunciations.

Italian is also known as the language of the arts and good food. Everywhere in the world, the Italian language is used when it comes to gastronomy. As we all know, it isn't difficult to find a cozy Italian bistro offering pasta or antipasti in practically any city in the world.

Unless one is planning to live in Italy, learning the Italian language is not usually done out of necessity but as a labour of love. Undoubtedly, Italian is considered as one of the chicest languages around, it is no wonder that when it comes to the world of high fashion and design, the language is indispensable.

Learning Italian is easier for people who speak one of the other Romance languages, such as French or Spanish, because of their striking similarities. Spelling Italian words is also a simple task, as most of the words in this language are spelled phonetically. Italian can be learned in less than twelve months for speakers of any of the Romance languages. English speakers who wish to study Italian can possibly be fluent in the language in 12 to 18 months. Audio tapes are also very helpful to students of Italian because these enable the learner to hear the correct rhythm and intonation of the language.

Pronunciation of most of the Italian words is not very difficult either, except for the rolled "r". People often find that the language is fun to learn because in time, they come to enjoy the wonderful rhythm of the language. Intonation is very important. Learning the Italian intonation is vital in mastering the language well, but luckily for English speakers, Italian's intonation is comparable to English intonation.

Italian grammar is also not at all difficult to master. Italian contains double consonants like the other languages based on the Latin alphabet, and these double consonants are germinated, or pronounced for a longer period of time as compared to single consonants. For example, if there is a doubled consonant, it signifies that the speaker should pronounce the vowel preceding to the doubled consonant longer, such as farfalle, a kind of Italian pasta, which is pronounced as "farfalle", or with long second a.

Italian also has a distinct stress in its pronunciation which is very important especially when speaking to native Italian speakers. The language has a complex conjugation system and students learning the language may be confused when they encounter irregularities in the plurals and in verb conjugations. However, these will all be learned properly in time. Another guide to pronunciation of Italian words is the sign on top of a letter, or the accento, which signifies that the letter should be accented.

The Italian language has already invaded other languages, in that Italian words can be found almost everywhere, particularly in art, architecture, culinary terms, literature, music, politics, as well as in science and even in the field of medicine.

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