Italian is the fourth most studied language in the world (English maintains the first place, French is second place, and Spanish third) and it is the third most loved language according to bab.la Language World Cup 2014. This can be quite surprising if we take into account that Italian is barely spoken outside Italy. The biggest population of Italian learners can be found in South America because of the high number of Latin-Americans with Italian origins. For instance, in Argentina, the study of Italian has been compulsory since 1985.
What are the reasons behind such a success? Gathering the data and the opinions of several journalists, there seems to be a general consensus about the multitude of factors which contribute to the charm of the bella lingua. Let us have a look at them:
1) Italian culture and literature, from the classics (such as Dante) to contemporary writers.
2) The historical and natural heritage.
3) Opera, Italian is indeed its official language.
4) The melody of the language itself, often perceived as being beautiful by foreigners.
5) Obviously, the cuisine! The Italian words which are mostly widespread abroad are those belonging to this semantic field.
6) The prestige in sectors such as fashion and football.
7) Recently, there have arisen also economic reasons due to the globalization of markets.
It is striking that these reasons are not strictly practical. Everyone studies English because it is nowadays a requirement in the working environment. On the other hand, Italian is studied because of the cultural reasons attached to it. The European Union strongly encourages being at least trilingual: beside your native language, you should speak English and a language you are attached to. Is Italian your beloved language? 2015 has just started, your new year resolution could be starting to learn Italian!