Dialect or Language
The Italian language is the only official language of Italy. Until 1861, however, Italy was a loose network of small states with each having own language. One of the unifying forces at the time was the Roman Catholic Church, and this year the Sa die da Sardigna (the Sardinian National Day) Mass, was celebrated in the “limba” dialect, a variant of the Sardinian language.
While the history behind the official usage of Italian is a long one, essentially, when the Savoy Kingdom unified all these states under its crown, the decision was made that the literary Florentine variant of Italian would become standard across the country. A major factor in this decision was that Florentine literature (Dante, Petrarca and Boccaccio to name a few) was read widely throughout Italy, and therefore was considered part of the national identity.
The newly standard language was taught in schools as part of a federal schooling program that made the instruction mandatory everywhere, however the usage of regional languages persisted and remain an integral part of Italy’s regional cultures.
Interestingly enough, Italian dialects are not truly dialects as a dialect is a variant of a codified language and many of these “dialects” developed independently with their own grammar and vocabularies. This would technically classify them as their own languages. Currently, there are 32 minority languages, all of them derived from the Latin.
For more info on each of the minority languages, click here!
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