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This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. October Origins[ edit ] Dante Alighieri top and Petrarch bottom were influential in establishing their Tuscan dialect as the most prominent literary language in all of Italy in the Late Middle Ages.
During the Middle Agesthe established written language in Europe was Latin, though the great majority of people were illiterate, and only a handful were well versed in the language.
In the Italian peninsulaas in most of Europe, most would instead speak a local vernacular. These dialects as they are commonly referred to were born from Vulgar Latin over the course of centuries, evolving naturally unaffected by formal standards and teachings.
They are not in any sense "dialects of" standard Italian, that itself started off being one of these local tongues, but sister languages of Italian. Mutual intelligibility with Italian varies widely, as it does with Romance languages in general.
The Romance dialects of Italy can differ greatly from Italian at all levels phonologymorphologysyntaxlexiconpragmatics and are classified typologically as distinct languages.
However, Romance vernacular as language spoken in the Apennine peninsula has a longer history. In fact, the earliest surviving texts that can definitely be called vernacular as distinct from its predecessor Vulgar Latin are legal formulae known as the Placiti Cassinesi from the Province of Benevento that date from —, although the Veronese Riddleprobably from the 8th or early 9th century, contains a late form of Vulgar Latin that can be seen as a very early sample of a vernacular dialect of Italy.
Dante's epic poems, known collectively as the Commediato which another Tuscan poet Giovanni Boccaccio later affixed the title Divina, were read throughout the peninsula and his written dialect became the "canonical standard" that all educated Italians could understand.
Dante is still credited with standardizing the Italian language. In addition to the widespread exposure gained through literature, the Florentine dialect also gained prestige due to the political and cultural significance of Florence at the time and the fact that it was linguistically an intermediate between the northern and the southern Italian dialects.
Italian was progressively made an official language of most of the Italian states predating unification, slowly replacing Latin, even when ruled by foreign powers like Spain in the Kingdom of Naplesor Austria in the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetiaeven though the masses kept speaking primarily their local vernaculars.
Italian was also one of the many recognised languages in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Italy has always had a distinctive dialect for each city because the cities, until recently, were thought of as city-states. Those dialects now have considerable variety. As Tuscan-derived Italian came to be used throughout Italy, features of local speech were naturally adopted, producing various versions of regional Italian.
The most characteristic differences, for instance, between Roman Italian and Milanese Italian are the gemination of initial consonants and the pronunciation of stressed "e", and of "s" in some cases: In contrast to the Gallo-Italic linguistic panorama of northern Italythe Italo-Dalmatian Neapolitan and its related dialects were largely unaffected by the Franco- Occitan influences introduced to Italy mainly by bards from France during the Middle Agesbut after the Norman conquest of southern ItalySicily became the first Italian land to adopt Occitan lyric moods and words in poetry.
Even in the case of Northern Italian languages, however, scholars are careful not to overstate the effects of outsiders on the natural indigenous developments of the languages. The economic might and relatively advanced development of Tuscany at the time Late Middle Ages gave its language weight, though Venetian remained widespread in medieval Italian commercial life, and Ligurian or Genoese remained in use in maritime trade alongside the Mediterranean.
The increasing political and cultural relevance of Florence during the periods of the rise of the Banco MediciHumanismand the Renaissance made its dialect, or rather a refined version of it, a standard in the arts.
Renaissance[ edit ] The Renaissance era, known as il Rinascimento in Italian, was seen as a time of "rebirth", which is the literal meaning of both renaissance from French and rinascimento Italian. Pietro Bembo was an influential figure in the development of the Italian language from the Tuscan dialect, as a literary medium, codifying the language for standard modern usage.
During this time, long-existing beliefs stemming from the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church began to be understood from new a perspectives as humanists —individuals who placed emphasis on the human body and its full potential—began to shift focus from the church to human beings themselves.
The ideals of the Renaissance were evident throughout the Protestant Reformationwhich took place simultaneously with the Renaissance.
After Luther was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church, he founded what was then understood to be a sect of Catholicismlater referred to as Lutheranism.
Previously, the Bible was only written in Latinbut after the Bible was translated, it could be understood in many other languages, including Italian. The Italian language was able to spread even more with the help of Luther and the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg.
The printing press facilitated the spread of Italian because it was able to rapidly produce texts, such as the Bible, and cut the costs of books which allowed for more people to have access to the translated Bible and new pieces of literature.
The rediscovery of Dante's De vulgari eloquentia and a renewed interest in linguistics in the 16th century, sparked a debate that raged throughout Italy concerning the criteria that should govern the establishment of a modern Italian literary and spoken language.
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