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Pizza, pasta, lasagne – What is the link between these words? Italy, of course.
Like all Romance languages, Italian comes from ancient Vulgar Latin, the colloquial oral version of the Latin language. For this reason, Italian grammar is undoubtedly close to that of Latin, and some words are used nowadays exactly as they were in the past. However, the Italian language has not only been influenced by Latin but also by other languages, such as the pre-Latin Etruscan, Greek, Arabic, French, German and, recently, even English following the Second World War. It is the official language in Italy, the Republic of San Marino, Vatican City State, Switzerland, Slovenia and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. It is spoken by 250 million people around the world as their mother tongue or second language.
In recent years more and more international students have started to study Italian at school, so it has become the fourth most studied language in the world and the sixth in Europe. In certain countries of Central and Eastern Europe, such as Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia, a steadily increasing proportion of the population is likely to speak Italian as a second or third language compared to other language choices.
Italy was one of the founding members of the European Economic Community and then of the European Union, in which Italian is one of the official languages.