The Romance group of languages consists of many languages including French, Romanian, Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, Provençal, and Italian. Italian is also called Italiano. It is the official language of Italy. Many other countries such as Switzerland, San Marino, Slovenia, Vatican City, and Croatia too have Italian as one of their official languages. Some areas of Africa were at one time colonised by Italy and the language is still used there. As with many other languages, migration of people to other countries like United States, Australia, South America, Canada, Monte Negro, and Malta has led to the spread of Italian in these regions too. .
Italian is the third most widely spoken language in Europe. Approximately 85 million people are estimated to be speakers of the language worldwide. Of these, close to 65 million people consider it their native language. However, what is popularly considered Italian is the Tuscan dialect. The language has many dialects that can be quite dissimilar to each other. Italy, in olden times, was a conglomeration of city-states with languages of their own. Thus, for example, the Tuscan dialect is considerably different from the one spoken in Sicily. Tuscan came to be popularly known as Italian due to the economic and political power Tuscany held in medieval times. At that time, Latin was the chosen language especially for literature but gradually, by the 16th century, Tuscan became prominent. .
As for the written word, Latin was used in most areas, especially literature. This was especially because most regions had their own dialect with no common language. The first document in Italian was found to have been written in the 10th century. Post that, many short texts in Italian with roots in Tuscan, were penned in literature. .
The Italian alphabet is derived from the Latin one and consists of 21 letters and that includes five vowels and 16 consonants. The Italian one does not have the letters J, K, W, X, and Y. However, with the influx of words with roots in other languages, these letters are now used in Italian as well. Sometimes, certain accents have to be used to modify vowel sounds. .
As mentioned before, many words from other languages have become part of the Italian language. Some of these additions are from German and French. Some Arabic words too have been incorporated into the language, mainly because of the closeness between Arabic and Spanish. Greek words found their way into Italian through scientific literature. .