Italian Distribution

Italian is a Romance language currently spoken by some 66,000,000 people, of whom the vast majority live in peninsular Italy (including the Republic of San Marino). France, including Corsica, has about 260,000 Italian speakers and Switzerland more than 500,000 (the canton of Ticino). For a large, if decreasing, proportion of these speakers, standard Italian is not the language of the home, where dialectal forms are used.

Overseas (e.g., in the United States, where it is estimated that there are some 1,500,000 Italian speakers; in Brazil, with about 700,000 and in Argentina, with about 600,000) speakers sometimes do not know the standard language and use only dialect forms.

Standard Italian is widely used in the countries of Malta and Somalia. A pidgin Italian can still be heard in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, but has little extension. In Libya , also, its use is now dying out. Relics of a Jewish Italian (see Italkian) survive within Italy; an entire colony of 6,000 Corfu Jews, who used a Venetan dialect (see Venetan language) as a home language, was exterminated during World War II.

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