Italian makes use of Latin script for writing, as well as 21 of the Latin alphabet letters (excluding j, k, w, x and y), with added grave and acute accents used to emphasize vowel sounds. Like several other Romance languages, it shares several similarities with its relatives in this large family that include French and Romanian. Most of its modern vocabulary comes from Latin and it is also closest in structure with spoken Latin. Lexical similarities can also be found to varying degrees in other Romance languages including Portuguese, Spanish and Catalan.
Throughout Italy, where the majority of native speakers are, there were historically distinctive dialects unique to each city in the country. Till today, these dialects are often referred to as Regional Italian and minor differences exist in vowel openness and consonant length among other features. Standard Italian language however, is mostly Tuscan-derived.
Sometime between the late 19th and mid-20th century, a few thousand Italians occupied countries across South America like Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela and Southern Brazil. These migrant communities continue to grow and use variants of the different regional languages that resemble their native tongue.
Other emigrant communities from Italy are widely dispersed around the world. The largest group of speakers in order of decreasing figures are found in: America, Canada, Australia and South/Central America.
At a glance here are some exciting facts about the language and its speakers: