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The official language of Italy is Standard Italian, which is based on the Tuscan dialect of the language. Standard Italian was adopted as the official language following the unification of the country in 1861, as prior to that time a variety of mutually intelligible but distinct regional dialects (many of which are still spoken today in many parts of the country) had developed.
As well as Italian dialects, there are also a variety of other languages spoken in various parts of the country including Venetian, Neapolitan, Sicilian and Sardinian. There are also communities that speak German, Franco-Provençal, Slovene, Ladin, Friulian, Catalan, Albanian, and dialects of Greek and Croat.
Learning to speak Italian is a very useful skill if you plan to visit Italy, whether for business or pleasure. Being able to speak to people in their own tongue will certainly add to the experience, and of course, if you're doing business with Italians, speaking to them in their own language, is sure to be a big advantage.
The good news is that learning Italian need not be impossibly difficult. Today there are a variety of resources that can help you quickly learn the basics, and then gradually move towards becoming fluent. As well as books and audio courses, there are many useful web sites which teach the Italian language, and of course software programs for your computer. With the help of these aids, you might be surprised at quickly you can be speaking like a native!
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Learn Italian Web SitesHere are some web sites to help you learn Italian:
Software for Learning ItalianIf you want to learn Italian, here is some software that may help:
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Books for Learning ItalianHere are some books about learning to speak Italian:
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