What you didn't know about the Italian language

What you didn't know about the Italian language


Italian is, of course, the official language of il bel paese, Italy, that is common knowledge. What not everyone knows is that a variety of other languages and dialects are also recognized in Italy at the regional level. For example, German (in South Tyrol) and French (in Valle d'Aosta) are co-official languages, but many other regional languages are recognized, such as Ladin, Griko, Sardinian, Sicilian and Piedmontese. And then there are many other smaller languages: UNESCO identifies 31 endangered languages within Italy alone.

It is extra interesting that the concept of "dialect" is approached differently in the Italian language than in many other language areas. Whereas dialects are often seen as a variant of the dominant language, in Italy they are rather considered a parallel language, which has undergone a similar development from Latin, but for historical reasons did not become the dominant language.

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Historical facts about the Italian language

To begin with, Italian has been declared the official language of Italy not once but twice: first by Mussolini's fascist regime, in 1925, and then again in the first Constitution of the Republic of Italy, in 1947. In the first case, Italian was seen as the exclusive language; in the second, explicit space was built in for regional languages and language variation.

Now if you think that this makes the Italian language older than the country of Italy, you are absolutely right. But even if you take the term "country" a little more loosely and consider the modern republic, the fascist dictatorship and the kingdom of Italy as one country (because, after all, it kept roughly the same borders), the unification of Italy as a nation-state still came hundreds of years later than the emergence of the Italian language. Whereas Victor Emanuel II became the first king of a united Italy in 1861, the history of the Italian language is often traced back to the 14th century. Indeed, in the late Middle Ages, a new vernacular arose then from "vulgar Latin," the vernacular Latin derived from the more formal classical Latin. From Tuscany in particular, a cultural flowering period then began, driven by writers who consciously chose to write in the Tuscan vernacular, such as Boccaccio, Dante and Petrarch.

Translating Italian: a nice challenge

Many people think Italian is a beautiful language, with beautiful sounds and rhythms. What you rarely hear, however, is that it is also one of the things that makes Italian translation difficult. Because Italian offers room to adapt sentence structure to the rhythm and sounds, such as by omitting a finite form or playing with word order, this poses an additional challenge for a translator. Furthermore, the Italian language belongs to a different language family than the Dutch; this is a Romance language, while we speak a Germanic language. This makes the grammatical differences greater than those between, say, Norwegian and Dutch. Moreover, we know relatively few Italian loanwords here (apart from a cookbook full of culinary terms, of course).

Fortunately, there are people who enjoy that challenge. When a translation agency offers Italian, they work with people who have often made their passion their job and translate Italian on a daily basis. These are specialists with a love for the job, who know the differences between languages well and do their utmost to deliver a fluent translation, preferably with some real Italian 1sprezzatura. After all, Italian translation is challenging, but also a pleasure to do for a true Italophile. If you are looking for a Italian translation agency, Scriptware Translations is of course happy to help you with a good Italian translation. Feel free to contact us with any questions or request a free quote so that we can get started for you as quickly as possible.

1Sprezzatura is an Italian term from the Renaissance that is difficult to translate, but can be described as "studied nonchalance," "effortless grace" or "the appearance of effortlessness." The seventeenth century spoke of "lossigheydt." he word refers to an attitude – both literally and figuratively – that indicates that you do not belong to the common people, but are part of an elite that knows how things should be. In art, the term is used for the loose, apparently improvised painting technique of Titian, Frans Hals, Velázquez and Rembrandt, among others.

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