Before you begin working your way to foreign language fluency, it helps to understand the culture behind the language you’re learning. After all, language exists to help a group of people express their ideas and beliefs. Italy is an old country with a rich history and culture. As you begin your Italian language program, gaining a strong grasp on this history, the values, and the etiquette will help you rapidly achieve success. In particular, Italians are animated talkers who draw strangers into the conversation.
If you have been extremely frustrated by what is being offered in Italy when it comes to making a phone call or sending a piece of mail, never fear. Where you can take solace is that Italians are famously great at having face to face conversations. Known as “conversazione,” Italians believe the best way to communicate is to do it face to face.
While Americans tend to think that a conversation should be private, Italy is a place where people will go out of their way to draw in strangers to their conversation. There are still “piazze” all over the country where people from all walks of life gather just to talk with one another. These aren’t just conversations about the weather or who won the big game.
These conversations tend to involve attempting to quell a feud or argument and to celebrate people’s good news. The Italians often pride themselves in being able to talk to anyone at any time and any place. While people in the United States will often to go to the beach looking for the ability to get away from everybody, in Italy it’s quite the opposite. The people in this country love to go to the beach to see other people and talk to them about their day, their lives, and what their plans for the rest of the day. It’s not unusual to see perfect strangers line up their chairs one after another to share their days.
If you do indeed find yourself traveling to Italy, you are going to want to know a bit more about the place. Starting from the very beginning, Italian has been considered a romantic language. While it is indeed considered a “romantic” language, there was a time when it was a language that was forced on those who were conquered by the Roman people. In Italy, the Italian language has about 57.7 million people speaking it with a total of around 64 million people who can speak it in a smattering of 29 different countries.
As is the case with most other countries around the world, the spoken dialect can change depending on which parts of the country you are in. You can think of this as the same way you are going to hear a slightly different version of English if you are in a place like Fort Payne, Alabama compared to somewhere like New York City.
Just like in the United States, the written version of Italian is the same no matter where in Italy you find yourself. The dialects are a bit different in Italy because the language has been around so long (hundreds of years longer than what you see in English in North America). There were also a ton of different states that have been split into different sections throughout the years. One place where Italian is considered the official language that you probably wouldn’t expect is Switzerland. This again goes back to the Swiss Guard at Vatican City.