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Press release

The usage of Italian language, dialects and other languages in Italy

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Over the past 18 years, from 1995 to 2012, the share of people using the Italian language as their main language or in combination with the dialect has steadily increased in every context: in the family, with friends and when dealing with strangers. From 1995 to 2012 the prevailing use of Italian in the family increased by about 10 percentage points (from 43.2% in 1995 to 53.1% in 2012), by 10.3 percentage points the proportion of those who use Italian language with friends (from 46.1% to 56.4%), and by 13.4 percentage points the use with strangers (from 71.4% in 1995 to 84.8% in 2012).

The sole use of dialect, especially within the family, declined quite significantly over time: between 1995 and 2012 the percentage of those who spoke dialect only in their families decreased from 23.7% to 9%; from 16.4% to 9% when speaking with friends and from 6.3% to 1.8% when speaking with strangers.

In 2012, 91.3% of the population aged 18-74 claimed to be Italian native speakers; 3% had two native languages ​(including Italian) and 5.8% were not Italian native speakers. As a consequence of the presence of immigrants and linguistic minorities within the resident population, the share of those who spoke a mother tongue other than Italian was  8.8%.

With reference to the type of other known languages, 43.7% of the population (aged 18-74 years) spoke English, while another share of people spoke French (21.7%), German (4.8%), Spanish (4.5 %) or other languages (2.1%). For 5.1% of people resident in Italy (aged 18-74), Italian was spoken as a foreign language and not as mother tongue: therefore, Italian came third in the ranking of foreign language known, after English and French.

For information
Socio-demographic and environmental statistics directorate

Verzicco Liana
ph. +39 06 4673.3819

Baldazzi Barbara
ph. +39 06 4673.3818

Reference period: Year 2012

Date of Issue: 27 October 2014



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