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History of the Italian Language and Italian Alphabet

By Jacqueline Chinappi

The Italian language has evolved over the years and was not even a written language until the 10th century. Although the Tuscan dialect has become the official language of Italy, there are still many who speak their own regional dialects.

History of the Italian Language:

Italian written text first emerged during the 10 century AD. It appeared as simple notes within Latin texts, including poetry and legal documents. In the very early years there were no set rules for the “Italian written word” and the Italian people tended to write in their own regional dialect, which some still do to this day.

Several writers in Italy during the 13 century helped to make their own regional dialects popular among people. These writers included the famous Dante Alighieri who implemented the Tuscan of Florence, better known as la lingua Fiorentina, as the main language found in literature. This language was of dominant importance in literature, politics, and culture until the 16th century.

Through the years Latin was also used especially in scientific work. Over time the Latin words were omitted from the Italian language. While many dialects are still used in Italy the official language has evolved from the Tuscan dialect, which was first introduced by Dante Alighieri.

The Italian Alphabet

The English alphabet consists of 26 letters including vowels and consonants. Vowels are comprised of A-E-I-O-U and sometimes Y. All the other letters fall under the title of consonant. As with many other languages the Italian alphabet has fewer letters than the English alphabet; 21 letters to be exact.

Aa-a

Bb-bi

Cc-ci

Dd-di

Ee-e

Ff -effe

Gg-gi

Hh-acca

Ii-i

Ll-elle

Mm-emme

Nn -enne

Oo -o

Pp -pi

Qq-cu

Rr-erre

Ss-esse

Tt -ti

Uu-u

Vv –vi/vu

Zz-zeta

Italian Pronunciations:

a- ah

b- bee

c- chee

d- dee

e- eh

f- eff-eh

g- zhee

h- ahk-kah

i- ee

l- ehl-eh

m- ehm-eh

n- ehn-eh

o- oh

p- pee

q- koo

r- ehs-reh

s- ehs-she

t- the

u- oo

v- voo

z- dzeh-tah

Foreign Letters:

Letters which are considered foreign because they are not used in the Italian alphabet consist of j (i lunga), k (cappa), w (vi/vu doppia) x (ics) and y (i greca). These letters often only appear in borrowed words such as Kiwi or Yogurt.